How to count things

Russian has a very strange rule for nouns if they follow numbers.

Do you remember how strangely we speak about the time?  We say:

  • 1 час – 1 o’clock / 1 hour
  • 2, 3, 4 часа – 2, 3, 4 o’clock / 2, 3, 4 hours
  • 5 (and more) часов – 5 o’clock / 5 hours

So the rule of changing of words works not only for the word “час”. It also works for any noun following the numbers. For example:

  • 1 телефон – 1 telephone
  • 3 телефона 2 telephones
  • 10 телефонов – 10 telephones

So we don’t change words with the number 1.

  • 1 дом, 1 машина (1 house, 1 car)

We put a noun into the genitive case singular form if it follows numbers 2, 3 or 4.

  • 2 дома, 2 машины (2 houses, 2 cars)

We put a noun in the genitive case plural form if it follows any number more than 5 and till 20. After 20 the choice depends on the last number (1 – no change, 2-4 – genitive singular, 5 and more – genitive plural).

  • 5 домов, 5 машин (5 houses, 5 cars)

Pay attention!

After the number 20 the choice depends on the last number:

21 дом, 22 дома, 25 домов.

Don’t forget that masculine and feminine nouns have different endings in the genitive case. This is why  we say, “2 дома и 2 машины; 5 домов и 5 машин”.

 

So let’s see how you understand the rule. Here in the picture you can see some food:

  1. апельсин – orange
  2. персик – peach
  3. ананас – pineapple
  4. банан – banana
  5. гриб – mushroom
  6. яблоко – apple
  7. хотдог – hot dog

fruit

How many oranges, bananas, pineapples, peaches, mushrooms, hot dogs and apples do you see?

I hope you have said:

Я вижу:

  • 2 апельсина,
  • 4 персика,
  • 1 хотдог,
  • 5 ананасов,
  • 8 грибов,
  • 4 персика,
  • 6 бананов
  • 3 яблока.

Keep practicing with counting things and very soon you will be perfect with it!

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