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Accusative vs Nominative

When should I be used accusative case instead of nominative? I had this same question when I was learning Russian and I thought I solved it but it's been awhile and I'm confused again. Why say "я люблю кашу." instead of "я люблю каша."?

May 24, 2015



I hope I don't confuse you, but the accusative for is for the direct object of the sentence. So for example, in your sentence "я люблю кашу," "I like porridge", the object is porridge because it is the thing that is being liked in the sentence. It is the noun directly being acted on. The nominative is for the subject. The "я" is already in the nominative case. There is usually one subject. So if you had the sentence "I hit windows", windows would be in the accusative case, if translated, because windows is the thing that is being hit by the subject. In the sentence, I throw the ball, Ball is in the accusative case because "I" am the subject and the ball is what I am throwing; it is the direct object. In the sentence, I throw the ball to the boy. "I"- the subject goes in the nominative case, the "ball"- goes in the accusative case, and the "boy" would go in the dative case, as the indirect object because it is who the ball is being thrown to. It is this case system that allows for flexibility in word order. I hope this helps.


Just to add on to what collegetiger said - in the example you give, in English, the order is what gives the meaning. Saying "I like porridge (oatmeal)" is a very different sentence from "Porridge likes me"!

In Ukrainian (and Russian and other inflected languages), the word order is flexible because of the cases. Я люблю кашу, Кашу я люблю, люблю кашу я, кашу люблю я etc. all mean the same thing. The emphasis has changed (and some word orders are weirder than others/best to stick to how you're taught while you're still learning), but the essential meaning has not.

You actually use something similar in English all the time without maybe realising it or thinking about it too closely. I and me. I is effectively in the nominative, me is in effectively the accusative. If I go back to your example sentence in English, "Porridge likes I" would be wrong (as well as being weird ;)) and "Me likes porridge" would also be wrong (though less weird).

That's essentially what you're doing when you use the accusative and the nominative. If you can recognise and use I/me, he/him, she/her, they/them, then you have basically got it.

(NB: I think English was an inflected language once upon a time, which is why we have vestiges of the system, but I'm not sure of my language history. However, what actually matters is that to some extent, we do have this accusative/nominative structure, and you likely use it correctly all the time without thinking about it. Ergo, you can do it in Ukrainian too :D)

The main difference is that in Ukrainian, it doesn't just apply to pronouns: the porridge changes too. "I like porridge" Я люблю кашу. "Porridge likes me" Каша мене любить :D

Hopefully that helps instead of confuses. I know I had zero idea what a case was when I started learning Russian, and it wasn't explained as well as it might have been, and realising that we had something like it in English would've helped me a lot!

(and also fingers crossed I didn't make any silly mistakes in my Ukrainian 8-o)


I think, you mean inflected or fusional language :) A declining language is a language on the decline.


That's what I get for attempting to make sense at 2am 8-o :-)


Obviously, Engish, being a Germanic language, used to be inflected to a degree (though, 1500-year-old "English" was already quite different from 1500-year-old "German").

For example, modern English brother's, heart's, girl's comes from Germanic Genitive case (initially for masculine and neuter nouns, then extended for everything).


In short, we use nominative for subjects that do some actions. For example in Russian,

  • Человек идёт, стоит, сидит, бежит (The person walks, stands, sits, runs)
  • Я читаю, пью, ем, пою, вожу, ищу (I read, drink, eat, sing, drive, look for)

Also we use nominative to define some person or object using the verb to be (which is omitted in Present tense in Russian sentences). For example,

  • Это - машина, картина, ноутбук, окно, мяч (It is a car, painting, laptop, window, ball)
  • Я - инженер, водитель, врач, художник, пожарный (I am an engineer, driver, doctor, artist, firefighter )
  • Она - медсестра, библиотекарь, учительница (She is a nurse, librarian, teacher)
  • Машина - красная, дорогая, быстрая (The car is red, expensive, fast) - All adjectives are in nominative case too

All the words in the previous example are in the nominative case, including pronouns "Это, я, она" and the noun "машина" (a car).

In the other hand, we use accusative case for the words that represent objects that take some actions done by subjects. Example:

  • Девушка читает книгу - The girl reads a book (Девушка is a subject who acts and книга is an object that takes an action; so, девушка is in nominative and книга is in accusative - книгу )
  • Ты ведёшь машину - You drive a car. (Машина is in accusative case - машину, because it takes an action, it is driven by you)

A confusing moment is that accusative form coincides with nominative form for nouns of masculine and neuter gender. For example,

  • Мяч лежит на полу. A ball is on the floor. Мяч is in the nominative case. (masculine)
  • Я пинаю мяч. I kick the ball. Мяч is in the accusative case.
  • Окно - большое. The window is big. - Окно is in the nominative case (neuter)
  • Я открываю окно. I open the window. Окно is in the accusative case

I hope it helps, and good luck in learning languages!


Thank you all! I get it now.


Because in english order of words is very important. But in ukrainian (russian) order of words is not so important. If you say: "Я люблю кашу" or "Кашу я люблю" or "Люблю я кашу" it will complitely understandable for me. Because you use the specifice end of the word (кашУ instead каша). This end of the word establish a relationship between words in sentence, almost no matter where in the sentence the word being. :)

In relation to "When to use accusative case instead of nominative" my answer is practice. More and more practice. Like a child is learning a language.

Sorry for my english and good luck.

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