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Dative case - to need (нужно)

In dative case, is nuzhno (нужно) considered a noun or a verb? The lesson indicates that the translation for "Do you need vegetables?" is "Vam nuzhny ovoshchi?" or "Tebe nuzhny ovoshchi?" Dative case for neuter nouns changes the "o" to "y". I can't find an explanation anywhere. Is it conjugated like a verb? If so, I can't seem to find those conjugations anywhere online.

I'm very confused.

January 12, 2016


  • 119

нужно and надо are predicate adverbs, нужно can also be classified as a short predicate adjective or at least a word derived from one. A more modern description for such impersonal words is category of state.

In any case, надо / нужно work as a predicate in the sentence. The person or other entity which "needs" something is in the Dative:

  • Мне нужно больше спать.
  • Мне надо работать.

The past forms are надо было and нужно было. You can in fact start with было (especially with нужно) but it is way more common to use было second—and this is the form we use in the course:

  • Мне надо было работать.
  • Нам нужно было больше читать.

MORE ADVANCED STUFF about their difference

Надо is considered a bit more colloquial, though it is not very well supported by actual usage (for one, надо is not unheard of in academic papers).

Нужно is derived from a short form of нужный, so you can use нужен/нужно/нужна/нужны with nouns, too. The object needed will be the grammatical subject of the sentence. Надо is mostly used with verbs (it has no gendered forms):

  • Мне нужен борщ. (you cannot use надо here)


It's an adjective: "Нужный/Nuzhniy". It describes the objects that are needed.

You could think of the literal translation as "For someone, something is needed".


So, for example, I need a dress would be "mne nuzhnoe plat'e"? And "I need a shirt" would be "mne nuzhnaya rubashka"? Sorry. I'm still confused.


"Нужно" - it's a short form: нужен (m), нужна (f), нужно (n), нужны (pl). We don't use full forms in such situations.

"I need a dress" - "мне нужно платье"

"I need a shirt" - "мне нужна рубашка"


That makes much more sense. Thank you.


Isn't нужно an adverb? It ends in -о.


It's an adjective, short form, singular neuter. Its ending changes depending on the number/gender; adverbs are undeclinable.


Oh. It makes sense. нужны is plural as you need plural vegetables.


Yes! I found the info I have on short adjectives and it makes total sense now. Thank you! It was driving me nuts.

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