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Take a look at this following sentence:
“Мария гуляла в парке с 7 собаками”
If you’re not 100% sure how you would say the number “7” here, then this article is for you.
Многочисленые Сложности Склонения/The Numerous Difficulties of Declination
You’re in class, reading a text aloud for your classmates, when you come across the following sentence.
“Мария гуляла в парке с 7 собаками”
The sentence looks simple on paper and you understand it fully, but something about the number seven troubles you. You know that in Russian cardinal numbers also decline according to the different grammatical cases but you so rarely need to do this that you can’t remember any of the forms. If this sounds like you, then bookmark this page and keep reading to find out everything you need to know to decline all the Russian cardinal numbers from 1 to 999,999.
One – Один/Одна/Одно/Одни
Let’s start with the lowest and the simplest number, one. On the one hand, it seems like the number one is quite complicated to decline because it has four different grammatical forms – masculine, feminine, neuter, and plural (yes, sometimes you can have one of something plural in Russian, for example одни часы – one clock/watch). On the other hand, all of these forms decline almost exactly like regular adjectives, so it’s super easy to remember all of them.
*Animate/Inanimate forms (кого/что)
Two/Three/Four – Два/Две/Три/Четыре
Two also has the problem of having more than one grammatical form but this time there are only two. Despite this difference this difference, two, three, and four all follow largely the same declination pattern.
*Animate/Inanimate Masculine/Inanimate Feminine
From Five to Nineteen – С пяти до девятнадцати
The numbers five through nineteen follow a different declination pattern but this one is also relatively simple to understand. Just be careful with how the form of the number eight changes.
Twenty/Thirty – Двадцать/Тридцать
Nothing difficult here – Twenty and thirty follow the same conjugation pattern as all the numbers from 5-19.
Did you ever wonder why the number сорок is so different from the other Russian numbers? One theory is that the word was actually adopted from Greek and integrated into the Russian language by merchants from the Kievian Rus who traded in Byzantium. These traders usually sold their wares in groups of forty, so they quickly learnt and adopted the Greek word. Regardless of its strangeness, the word is incredibly simple in terms of declination, having only two possible forms.
Fifty/Sixty/Seventy/Eighty – Пятьдесать/Шестьдесать/Семьдесять/Восемьдесать
The numbers fifty, sixty, seventy, and eighty are a little more complicated. In Russian, each of these numbers is made up of two component numbers. When declining fifty, sixty, seventy, and eighty, both of these component numbers decline and, as a result, unlike the other multiples of ten mentioned above, where you need change only the end of the number when declining them, here you’ll need to make changes both at the end and in the middle of the word.
Ninety/One Hundred – Девяносто/Сто
Two more super simple numbers. Both ninety and one hundred decline in the same way as forty and have only two forms each.
Two Hundred/Three Hundred/Four Hundred – Двести/Триста/Четыреста
These numbers are a little bit more confusing than one hundred. Like with 50, 60 , 70, and 80, each of these numbers are made up of two component numbers and they both decline. The most important thing to remember here is that the first half of these numbers decline according to the declination rules for two, three, and four respectively, whilst the second halves are declined according to the rules for declining сто into the plural version of each case.
Five-Nine Hundred – Пятьсот/Шестьсот/Семьсот/Восемьсот/Девятьсот
These numbers decline similarly to two, three, and four hundred. This time however their first halves will decline according to the same rules used for five-nine.
1000 and multiples of – Тысяч и больше
If you’re talking about one thousand of something then just follow the normal rules for declining the word тысяч. If you are working with any multiple of a thousand however, then there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, unlike two – nine hundred, тысяч is written seperately from any number that precedes it. Secondly, when working with multiples of a thousand the word тысяч is declined into plural cases only, the only exception to this being when declining multiples of a thousand ending in 2, 3, and 4 (e.g. 2, 83, 954, etc.) into the nominative and accusative cases.
*multiples ending in 2-4/multiples ending in 5 or above
Putting it all together
You may be wondering about the numbers between 1 and 999,999 which aren’t specifically listed here, say for example 43. Well this number is really just two numbers you already know how to decline сорок and три. So lets say you need to say 43 in the dative case, well then you just take the dative form of forty (сорока) and the dative form of three (трём) and put them together – сорока трём. This works for every number not specifically listed in this article, from those as simple as 43 to those as complicated as 562,384.
The other main thing you need to know in order to use declined cardinal numbers correctly is to understand how they impact the case of the noun they describe. There are three main rules regarding this.
Firstly, when using the number 1, 21, 31 or any other quantity ending one, the noun you are describing will decline into a singular case unless it can only be plural (like часы).
Я увидел сорок одного человека.
I saw forty one people.
Она послала письмо одной женшине.
She sent a letter to one woman.
Он владел двадцатью одними часами.
He owned twenty one clocks.
If you are using a number ending in 2-4 with the nominative case then the noun will be in genitive singular. This is also true when using these numbers with the accusative case if the noun you are describing is inanimate.
Пятьдесять две собаки пробежали мимо меня.
Fifty two dogs ran past me.
Эти три Строителя построели за год тысячу четыре дома.
These three builders built a thousand and four houses in just one year.
Семьдесять три школы участвует в конкурсе.
Seventy three schools are taking part in the competition.
In any and all other cases the noun should be in the plural form of the relative case.
Дмитрий какой-то странный; он ест двумя вилками.
Dmitrii is kind of strange; he eats with two forks.
Вчера я увидел двух кошек на крыше.
Yesterday I saw two cats on the roof.
Я попросил его никому ничего не рассказывать о моём секрете, а он рассказал о нём пятидесяти трём человекам за один день!
I told him not to tell anyone anyone about my secret but he told 53 people in just one day!
Мария гуляет с семьюстами пятьюдесятью двумя тысячами двумястами сорока восемью собаками.
Maria is walking with seven hundred and fifty two thousand two hundred and forty eight dogs.
Follow these three rules and you should master using declined cardinal numbers in no time at all. Should you then start worrying about how cardinal numbers affect verb conjugation and adjectives, you might want to check out this article (https://derzhavin.com/en/pages/907/46/) and this article (https://derzhavin.com/en/pages/907/43/) respectively.