Russian Nouns in the Instrumental Case (How to Guide) - Live Fluent

Russian Nouns in the Instrumental Case (How to Guide)

Я пью кофе с молоком.

I drink coffee with milk.

Ольга разговаривала с Борисом.

Olga was talking with Boris.

Они говорили с родителями.

They spoke with their parents. 

It's fairly easy to tell from the example above that the Russian word "с" corresponds to the English "with". The only difference being that in Russian we have to change the ending of the noun that comes after "with". Nouns with this ending change are part of the instrumental case. 

In my opinion the instrumental case is one of the easier cases in the Russian language. There aren't very many exceptions and the word endings are quite predictable. Let's take a look:

Instrumental endings: masculine and neuter nouns

The basic endings for masculine and neuter nouns in the instrumental case is -ом

nominative

instrumental

язык

-ом

языком

окно

-ом

окном

Soft ending + stressed = ём ending

If the masculine or neuter noun ends in a soft sign and the ending is stressed we use the -ём ending. 

nominative

instrumental

словарь

-ём

словарём

король

-ём

королём

Soft ending + unstressed = -ем ending

If the ending of a masculine/neuter noun is soft but is unstressed, then we use the -ем ending.

nominative

instrumental

музей

-ем

музеем

платье

-ем

платьем

Instrumental case endings: feminine nouns

The basic  instrumental case ending for feminine nouns is -ой.

nominative

instrumental

книга

-ой

книгой

школа

-ой

школой

Soft consonant ending + stressed = ёй

In the instrumental case feminine nouns that end in a stressed soft consonant use the -ёй ending. 

nominative

instrumental

семья

-ёй

семьёй

Soft consonant ending + unstressed =ей

If a feminine noun ends in a soft consonant but is unstressed it uses the -ей ending in the instrumental case. 

nominative

instrumental

неделя

-ей

неделей

кухня

-ей

кухней

Feminine nouns that end with "ь" = -ью ending

There's a special ending for feminine nouns that end with the soft sign (ь): -ью

nominative

instrumental

тетрадь

-ью

тетрадью

кровать

-ью

кроватью

мать

-ью

матерью*

дочь

-ью

дочерью*

*these nouns are two common exceptions to the rule because their stem changes.

Instrumental endings for plural nouns

Plural nouns that have a hard stem will use the -ами ending (it doesn't matter is they're masculine, feminine, or neuter). Plural nouns that have a soft stem will use the -ями ending (again irrespective of gender). 

nominative

instrumental

студент

-ами

студентами

студентка

-ами

студентами

вечер

-ами

вечерами

письмо

-ами

письмами

музей

-ями

музеями

кровать

-ями

кроватями

платье

-ями

платьями

Two common exceptions

There are two common exceptions to the usual instrumental plural endings: 

nominative

instrumental

люди

-ей

людьми

дети

-ей

детьми

Conclusion

There you have it, nouns in the instrumental case! To be honest you'll probably find this case to be one of the easier ones to use and remember. Nevertheless it's still an important case to learn, as you will be using it a lot. 

Try using the instrumental case in your next Russian conversation!

About the Author Hannah R

Just a typical girl with a sweet tooth and a love for Slavic languages!

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