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I'm Eating With Boris vs. I'm Eating Boris 🤔; The Russian Instrumental Case

The Instrumental Case in Russian

The meaning of a phrase in Russian can be communicated by modifying the form of its nouns.

In this article I’ll attempt to describe how we can use the instrumental case to modify nouns in order to convey meaning.

When To Use The Instrumental Case?

The instrumental case can be used for…

An action being performed using an object.

I am eating with a fork.
я емвилкой.

The accompaniment of a process, person, or object, with another person or object.

I am eating with Boris.
я ем с борисом.
The man with a book.
мужчинас книгой.
The sandwich with chicken.
сэндвичс курицей.

Things occuring within seasons.

I go cycling in Spring.
я катаюсь на велосипедевесной.

In all of these cases it is the object (fork, Boris, book, chicken, Spring) that changes to take its instrumental form. The subject (I, the man, the sandwich) does not change form.

Without the instrumental case, those same phrases can get a bit weird…

I am eating a fork.
я ем вилка.
I am eating Boris.
я ем борис.
The Man Book.
мужчина книга.
The Sandwich Chicken.
сэндвич курица.
I go cycling Spring.
я катаюсь на велосипеде весна.

The use of “с”

The с can be used to indicate the acompaniment of something. For example…

я ем с борисом - I am eating with Boris. (He’s there and we’re eating together).

я ем борисом - I am eating with Boris. (But I’m using Boris as a tool in order to eat, using his hands to feed myself).

In addition to the above, we use the instrumental case with some specific verbs, and the case also has it’s own pronouns. Which I’ll address in another post.

Published Apr 29, 2022