. 7
( 17)


plural if the quality is manifested as different types: ghtdh’nyjcnb ˜perversions™,
´,yjcnb ˜abilities, talents™.

4.1.9 Number: figurative uses of number
A plural noun is said to achieve the effect of hyperbole when it is known
that only one thing is involved, but it is unclear how productive this strategy
is; the two most recent examples from the 1980s cited by one source involve
eybd†hcbntns ˜universities™,15 a quote from Gorky.

14 15
Klenin 1983, especially 103. Brusenskaia 1992:44.
Table 4.2 Uses of case

case function example
no m i n a t i v e
predicate argument agent/subject Vfljyyf<nom> jxtym k/,bkf vfnm. Jlyfrj jyf<nom> evbhftn jn
hfrf. ˜Madonna loved her mother. But she dies of cancer.™
predicative if no temporal-aspectual-modal Jy ,sk uthjq<nom> , jhltyjyjctw<nom> .
restriction ˜He was a hero, a medal-wearer.™
preposition complement missile classi¬ed in type (of people) dsqnb d k/lb<nom> ˜go among the people™
adnominal --- ---
ac c u s a t i v e
predicate argument patient/object Эnj vtyz<acc> yt ckbirjv elbdbkj.
˜That did not surprise me much.™
predicative state predicated of patient/object §5.2.4 gjcflbnm tuj ujkjuj<acc> yf jckf
˜set him naked on an ass™
preposition complement direction of missile towards locus §4.2.3 d ˜into™, yf ˜onto™, j ˜against™, gjl ˜under™, xthtp ˜across™, ghj
˜through™, etc.
adnominal --- ---
predicate argument argument of quantifying or negated Dhtvtyb<gen> yt [dfnfkj.
predicate; partitive ˜There wasn™t enough time.™
nt, rnj yb cnhjxrb<gen> bp rybub yt xbnfk . . .
˜those who haven™t read a line from the book . . .™
Ult vj;yj dsgbnm gbdf<gen>?
˜Where can one drink some beer?™
predicative ---
preposition complement frustrated contact of missile with locus jn ˜away™, lj ˜up to™, dljkm ˜along™, etc.
adnominal analogous to patient of transitive or xthxtybt rfhn<gen> ˜drawing of maps™
agent of intransitive §4.5.3
Table 4.2 (cont.)

case function example
da t i v e
predicate argument goal of transfer of patient/object Tq<dat> gkfnbkb cnbgtylb/.
˜They paid her a scholarship.™
goal of imposed modality Yfv<dat> yflj ,snm ujnjdsvb r cfvjve [elitve.
˜To us is necessary to be prepared for the worst.™
predicative ---
preposition complement movement towards locus §4.2.3 r ˜to(wards)™, etc.
adnominal if analogous to predicate
predicate argument synecdochic relation of agent and Jyb gbnfkbcm jlybv h;fysv [kt,jv<ins> .
patient interaction ˜They lived on only rye bread.™
predicative if state subject to Cyfxfkf jy ,sk uthjtv<ins> , pfntv --- dhfujv<ins> ˜At ¬rst he
temporal-aspectual-modal was a hero, then --- an enemy.™
restriction §5.2.
preposition complement missile in synecdochic contact with part c ˜with™, gjl ˜beneath™, yfl ˜above™, pf ˜behind™, gthtl ˜before™,
of locus §4.2.3 vt;le ˜between™
adnominal if analogous to predicate wbybxyjt ghtyt,ht;tybt vytybtv<ins> uhf;lfy ˜cynical neglect
of citizens™ opinion™
loc ative
predicate argument missile located in vicinity of locus Gjkr cjchtljnjxbkcz d ktce<loc> .
˜The regiment was concentrated in the forest.™
predicative static contact of subject with locus Z yt ,sk d Vjcrdt<loc> .
˜I was not in Moscow.™
preposition complement static contact of missile with locus §4.2.3 d ˜into™, yf ˜onto™, j ˜about™, ghb ˜in presence of ™, gj
˜following on™
adnominal location of event nominal cjchtljnjxbdfybt gjkrf d ktce<loc>
˜the concentration of the regiment in the forest™
174 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Another not strictly transparent use of number involves situations in which
there is a distributive relationship among a plural set of possessors and a set of
possessed entities. Usually the plural is used ([50--51]):

[50] Jyb ikb vtlktyyj, ybprj jgecnbd ujkjds<pl> .
They walked slowly with their heads lowered.
[51] Rhfcysq Rhtcn pfybvfkcz celm,fvb<pl> njkmrj gjkbnbxtcrb[ pfrk/xtyys[.
The Red Cross was concerned with the fates only of political prisoners.

The singular means the possessed entities are not separate entities. A body part
is not an independent entity but part of the predicate -- in [52], the manner of

[52] Jyb dctulf ldb;encz c jgeotyyjq ujkjdjq<sg> , xnj,s yt bcgsnsdfnm kbiytuj
cjghjnbdktybz djple[f.
They always move with lowered head, in order not to experience extra wind

With an abstract noun such as cel,m’, the singular can be used for plural indi-
viduals in an essential sense of ˜whatsoever the fate would be™ ([53]).

[53] B[ edtkb, b ybrjulf jyf yt epyfkf j, b[ lfkmytqitq celm,t<sg> .
They were led away and she never found out about their further fate.

4.1.10 Morphological categories of nouns: case
Case is expressed by nouns and other constituents of arguments, and in this
respect is self-evidently a property of arguments. But case is chosen according
to the way the argument ¬ts into context. It is therefore natural to discuss
the choice of case when the contexts for arguments are discussed, above all
with predicates (§5). For reference, Table 4.2 lists the major uses of cases, with
references to the discussion of uses elsewhere.

4.2 Prepositions

4.2.1 Preliminaries
Prepositions combine with nouns, imposing a case on the noun.16 Combinations
of preposition and noun function as argument phrases. Semantically, preposi-
tions locate a mobile entity -- the m i s s i l e -- in a space of possible locations
relative to a speci¬c l o c u s , the referent of the noun used with the preposi-
tion. For example, in Fylhtq hfpdthyek gthtlj vyjq rfhns ˜Andrei spread out

Hill 1977 treats the expansion of ligature {n}. In those prepositions for which Hill observed varia-

tion, the Uppsala Corpus, composed of more recent texts, shows further generalization of {n}.
Arguments 175

maps in front of me™, the missile is maps, which are distributed in space relative
to the locus, the speaker™s ¬eld of vision. The space can be physical space, as
in this instance, or more abstractly, a space of possible states. Thus in ltcznrb
utjkjujd gthtl ytq ,kfujujdtkb ˜dozens of geologists did obeisance before her™,
the missile is the geologists or, better, their behavior, which adopts a certain
attitude (reverence) in the presence of the locus.
How prepositions behave depends on how old they are. The oldest, p r i m a r y,
prepositions in effect de¬ne what we think prepositions should be.

[54] Primary prepositions (govern various cases)
d<\loc ∼ \acc> ˜in™, j(,)<\loc ∼ \acc> ˜about™, yf<\loc ∼ \acc> ˜at™, ghb<\loc> ˜at, in the
presence of ™; ghj<\acc> ˜through™, xthtp<\acc> (∼ x†htp);17 pf<\ins∼\acc> ˜behind™,
yfl<\ins> ˜above™, gjl<\ins ∼ \acc> ˜under™, gthtl<\ins> ˜in front of ™; r<\dat> ˜to™,
gj<\dat ∼ \loc(\acc)> ˜along, after™; c<\gen ∼ \ins ∼ \acc> ˜with; off of ™, e<\gen> ˜near, at™,
lj<\gen> ˜up to™, bp<\gen> ˜out of ™, jn<\gen> ˜away from™, ,tp<\gen> ˜without™

Primary prepositions, which as a group govern various cases, have abstract as
well as concrete, spatial meanings. Primary prepositions are not used without
a noun as adverbs. Primary prepositions are unstressed and generally monosyl-
labic, except for the fact that prepositions that end in a consonant acquire a
linking, or l i g a t u r e , vowel {o} under certain conditions (gthtlj vyjq ˜in front
of me™, j,j dctv ˜about everything™). The negative particles yb and y† are moved
in front of primary prepositions: yb c rtv ˜with no one™, yb gthtl rtv ˜before
no one™, yt r xtve ˜not for anything™, as is the pronominal operator rjt: rjt c
rtv ˜with this or that person™, rjt d rfrb[ ˜in certain kinds™. Primary preposi-
tions have a further morphophonemic property. Immediately after a primary
preposition, third-person pronouns acquire a ligature consonant, spelled as ¤y≥,
pronounced [n˛]: pf ybv ˜behind him™, pf ytq ˜behind her™, c ybv ˜with him™,
j yb[ ˜about them™, gthtl ybv ˜before him™. Third-person possessives do not use
this ligature: gjl b[ bvtytv ˜under their name™, c tt ctcnhjq ˜with their sister™.
The {n} ligature thus distinguishes genitive argument pronouns (jn yb[ ˜from
them™) from possessives (jn b[ ntnb ˜from their aunt™).
Closest to primary prepositions are root prepositions, often derived from
noun roots:

[55] Root prepositions (governing genitive)
´nbd ˜against™, ˜between™, ,k«p ˜near™, lkz ˜for™, dlj ˜alongside™, chtl« ˜in the
ghj ´km
midst™, v«vj ˜past™, rhj ˜except™, h’lb ˜for the sake of ™, rheuj ˜around™, dy†
´vt ´v
˜outside of ™; crdj <\acc> ˜through™, v†;le<\ins> ˜between™

17 Xthtp is said to have two variants, a stressed variant implying devoicing before a following sono-
rant or vowel (x†htp y†crjkmrj vby©n [c˛ ‹erιsn˛ esk´l˛k´] ˜after several minutes™) and an unstressed
„˛ „
variant without devoicing (xthtp jryj [c˛ ‹ιr˛ιzøkno„] ˜through the window™).
176 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Like primary prepositions, root prepositions are generally not used alone
as adverbs (exceptions: v«vj, rheuj ´v). Most govern the genitive (exceptions:
crdj <\acc> , v†;le<\ins> ). As a class, they are phonologically more autonomous
than primary prepositions, in that most are stressed, and some have two syl-
lables. They count as phonological words, inasmuch as ¬nal voiced obstruents
are devoiced before words beginning with vowels or sonorants: crdj vjhj
´pm ´pysq
nev’y [s˛m] ˜through a cold fog™, crdj jxr« [s˛ø] ˜through glasses™. Almost all
root prepositions use the {n} ligature. Only dyt has resisted: dyt tt ˜outside of
her™. Negative particles yb and y† and pronominal rjt are generally anomalous
in either order: — yb ,kbp xtuj, — ,kbp ybxtuj, — yb rhjvt rfrb[, — rhjvt ybrfrb[,
— rjt rhjvt xtuj (but rhjvt rjt-xtuj ˜except for something or another™, yb vt;le
rfrbvb bysvb j,kfcnzvb ˜not between any such other areas™). The exception is
lkz (yb lkz rjuj, rjt lkz xtuj). This preposition, whose only vowel is not stressed
and undergoes reduction, might be considered to have moved into the class of
primary prepositions.
Next come a large number of p r e f i x a l prepositions, etymologically a pre¬x
or preposition and a case form of a noun. Some govern the genitive, others the
dative case.

[56] Pre¬xal prepositions (governing genitive)
´rjkj ˜around™, dj ´pkt ˜next to™, dv†cnj ˜in place of ™, dyenh« ˜inside of ™, gj
j ´ckt
˜after™, djrh©u ˜around™, gjpfl« ˜after™, dgthtl« ˜in the front of ™, gjd†h[ ˜above™,
´nbd ˜opposite™, cp’lb ˜behind™, gjchtl« ˜in the middle of ™, archaic jrh†cn
[57] Pre¬xal prepositions (governing dative)
dck†l ˜after™, yfdcnh†xe ˜towards™, djghtr« ˜against™

Pre¬xal prepositions often have more than one syllable and are stressed (imply-
ing devoicing of obstruents before following sonorants and vowels: djrh©u v†cnf
[km˛] ˜around the place™). Some can be used independently without a noun; some
of those that take the dative can follow the noun: gjikf vyt yfdcnhtxe (possi-
ble) ˜she came towards me™, cvjnh/ tq dcktl (usual) ˜I follow her with my eyes™.
Negative particles (yb, y†) and rjt are anomalous in either order (— yb jrjkj xtuj,
— jrjkj ybxtuj, — rjt jrjkj rfrb[, — jrjkj rjt-rfrb[). Pre¬xal prepositions split in
the way they use the ligature {n}. Those governing the dative do not use {n}
(dcktl tve ˜after him™) and seem doomed never to develop {n}, while those gov-
erning the genitive have generalized the {n} ligature, in some instances quite
recently. As late as the nineteenth century, some common pre¬xal prepositions
did not use {n} consistently: djrh©u 15 percent without {n}, j ´rjkj 25 percent
without {n}. Both ¬nished generalizing {n} during the course of the twentieth
century. (V†;le also generalized {n} in the early part of the twentieth century.)
Arguments 177

Table 4.3 Properties of prepositions

free ligature
ligature {o} {n}
stress cases occurrence
yb, rjt
√ √ √
— —
primary acc, gen, dat, loc, ins
√ √
— — —
root gen (1 acc, 1 ins)
√ √ √
— —
pre¬xal (\gen) gen
√ √
— — —
pre¬xal (\dat) dat
√ √
— — —
convert acc, gen, dat

The last to go is dyenh«, which in the ¬rst half of the twentieth century still
used {n} only half of the time; it now uses {n} consistently.
After pre¬xal prepositions follows an open group of words or phrases that are
used as prepositions, in that they occur with a noun and impose a semantic
operation on the noun. Some are phrases composed of preposition and noun (gj
´djle ˜on the basis of™, dj dh†vz ˜during™, d jnyji†ybb ˜in relation to™, d xbck†
˜among, in the number of™). Others are developing from gerunds (,kfujlfhz ´
˜thanks to™, ytcvjnhz yf ˜despite™), and, possibly, comparatives (gh†;lt ˜before™,
h’ymit ˜earlier™, gj´p;t ˜later™). These new c o n v e r t prepositions generally do
not elicit the {n} ligature, except in less than standard Russian: hfymit ytuj
˜earlier than him™ (2,080 xx on the web), d jnyjitybb ytuj ˜in relation to him™
(7,160 xx on the web).18
Prepositions can be arranged in a list by group, with the properties that are
characteristic of the groups as a whole (Table 4.3). The older the preposition, the
greater number of the characteristic properties of prepositions it has.

4.2.2 Ligature {o}
Primary prepositions sometimes add a ligature vowel {o} to forestall clusters
that might arise when the ¬nal consonant of the preposition meets the initial
consonant(s) of the next word.19 Whether {o} is used depends on how idiomatic
the combination is and on the phonological properties of the impending cluster.
Other things being equal, {o} is more likely to be used if the combination
of preposition and head word is conventional and idiomatic: d cnjhjyt jnj dct[
˜off to the side of all™ still preserves the vowel even when it is lost in novel
combinations, jnkbxty jn dct[ lheub[ ˜distinct from all others™. Roots can be
ranked according to the criterion of idiomaticity. The two pronominal roots

18 19
Via Google (<15.IX.02>). Rogozhnikova 1964.
Table 4.4 Prepositions and ligature {o}

pronoun vy-, dc-, quanti¬er non-syllabic nominal root same place and manner of
vyju-, dnjh- k,-, ly-, hn-, kml-
preposition articulation other clusters

d(j) dj vyt, dj vyjub[, dj dctq, dj cyt, dj kmle, dj hne dj dhtvz, dj d cnhtvz, d cdjtq ;bpyb,
dj dnjhjv, dj xnj, dj dpfbvjltqcndbb, dj d Lytgh, d cnhfyt
crjkmrj Dkflbvbht, dj dpukzlf[
c(j) cj vyjq, cj dctvb, cj dct[, cj k,f, cj lyz, cj lyf, cj cj ccskrjq, cj cnjhjys, cj cj ldjhf (c ldevz) // c
cj vyjubvb, cj dnjhsv kmljv, cj kmdbysvb, cj cdjtq, cj crhbgjv, cj lkbyysv, c rkfl,bof, c
cwtys, cj cgbyjv, cj ,kfujlfhyjcnm/, c
cyjv // c h;fdxbyjq
gktvzyybwtq, c dkfub
chtljq, cj pyfybtv // c
lkbyysvb (cj dkj;tyysv vt;le
ybvb rkbyjv)
r(j) rj vyt, rj dctve, rj rj ldjhe, rj dljdt, rj
rj cye, rj lye, rj ly/ // r rj {hbcne, rj Rkbvtwrjve //
dnjhjve, rj vyjubv lyzv r rkfccbwbpve, r Rkfdlbb, dhtvtyb // r
r [hfytyb/ pkjrfxtcndtyyjve, r
pyfyb/, r cdjtq, r
cyb;tyb/, r lkbyyjve, r
ldthb, r dhfxfv, r ldev
yfl(j), gjl(j) yfl ldthzvb, yfl lheubvb yfl cnhfyjq, gthtl dkfcnm/,
gthtlj vyjq, gjlj vyjq // gjlj kmljv (gjl kmljv b
gthtl(j) gthtl dctv, gthtl cytujv), yfl(j) k,jv, gthtl dcnhtxtq, gthtl
vyjubvb ghj,ktvfvb gthtl cyjv, gjl lyjv ghbpsdyjq, gthtl [vehsv
bp(j), jn(j) bpj hnf, bpj lyz d ltym, jnj bp lkbyys[, jn ldjhf, bp jn dhtvtyb, jn ghelf, jn
bp dct[ (bpj dct[ cbk), jn
lde[, jn pyfybz, jn gkj[juj, jn dphjcks[, jn
dct[ (d cnjhjyt jnj dct[), hnf, jnj lyz // jn kmlf
bp dctuj, jn vyjub[, jn lheujuj, jn nhe,s, jn rybu
dnjhjuj lheptq
j(,(j)) j,j dctv, j,j vyt, j,j j,j kmlt (j, ktl) ----- -----
xnj-nj elfhbkcz
Arguments 179

vy- and dtcm (dc-) are the most likely roots to elicit the ligature, then come quan-
ti¬ers vyju- and dnjhjq. Other roots, even if they have the same phonological
structure, are less likely to use the ligature: cj vyjq (— c vyjq) ˜with me™ > cj
vyjubvb (±c vyjubvb) ˜with many™, (±cj vyj;tcndjv) c vyj;tcndjv ˜with a
set™ > (— cj vytybtv), c vytybtv ˜with the opinion™, c vyjujktnybv ˜with many-
The use of {o} also depends on the phonological structure of the potential
cluster at the juncture of preposition and word. Two considerations are relevant.
First, inasmuch as the ligature compensates for a shortage of vowels, the vowel-
less prepositions d, c, r use the ligature more than those that have a vowel,
such as yfl, bp, jn, gjl; disyllabic gthtl is the least likely of all (only gthtlj
vyjq). The ligature is likely to occur before roots that lack a vowel (in oblique
cases): kj,/k,- ˜forehead™, hjn/hn- ˜mouth™, ltym/ly- ˜day™, ljy/ly- ˜bottom™, cjy/cy-
˜dream™. Second, the nature of the potential cluster is relevant. The ligature
dissimilatively separates consonants that are similar in place and/or manner of
articulation (cj cwtys ˜from the stage™, rj {hbcne ˜to Christ™). Some combinations
are illustrated in Table 4.4.20
The ligature vowel is preserved in Slavonic idioms: dj bvz ˜in the name™, dj
bp,t;fybt ˜in avoidance of™ (otherwise: d bcnjhb/ ˜into history™, d bp,eire ˜into
the hut™), dj ukfdt ˜at the head of™ (otherwise: d ukfdyjv ˜in the main™).
J(,(j)) has three forms. Plain j is the most general form. At the opposite
extreme, j,j occurs only in: j,j vyt ˜about me™, j,j dctv ˜about everything™,
j,j kmlt ˜about the ice™ (or now, j kmlt). J, occurs with a following vowel,
regardless of what part of speech the word belongs to: j, эnjv ˜about that™,
j, j[hfyt ˜about a guard™, j, jgfcyjq ntyltywbb ˜about a dangerous tendency™,
j, euhjpt ˜about a threat™, j, bpj,bkbb ˜about an abundance™. Words beginning
with Cyrillic ¤t≥ are pronounced with [j] before the vowel. In recognition of this
consonantal [j], words beginning in ¤t≥ take j rather than j, by a ratio of seven
to one: j tt ceotcndjdfybb ˜about its existence™, j tlbycndt ˜about unity™, though
gthtgbcrf j, theylt ˜correspondence about nonsense™, ljrkfl j, tuj ecnfyjdrt
˜report about its installation™. There are exceptions, in both directions, that relate
to idiomaticity. J, occurs in idioms: rfr hs,f j, k=l ˜like a ¬sh out of water
[against ice]™. But the consonant in j, can fail to appear before b when it is the
¬rst vowel of a participle, an unidiomatic combination: j bvt/ob[cz htpthdf[
˜about the available reserves™.

4.2.3 Case government
A preposition determines the case of the noun phrase with which it combines.
Many prepositions govern only one case. Different prepositions that govern the

20 Examples primarily from the Uppsala Corpus.
180 A Reference Grammar of Russian

same case have some similarity in meaning. The exposition below is organized
according to cases.

Dative: The primary preposition r is the dative preposition par excellence: it
presents the locus (the dative noun) as a goal or ¬nal destination for change in
the position of the mobile entity; it governs the dative and only the dative.
A number of newer prepositions govern the dative (djghtr« ˜contrary to™,
,kfujlfhz ˜thanks to™, cjuk’cyj ˜consistent with™, cjjnd†ncndtyyj ˜correspond-
ing to™, yfpkj ˜in spite™). The dative expresses a directed relationship between the
missile and the locus.
The primary preposition gj occurs with three or arguably four cases. In its old
meaning of distribution over space or time, it used the dative: gj ekbwt ˜along
(different points in) the street™, gj chtlfv ˜on (successive, one-after-another)
Wednesdays™. When a missile is distributed in groups of a certain quantity --
one, two, thirty, etc. -- gj once took the dative, which still occurs with units: gj
(jlyjve) rfhfylfie ˜one pencil per . . .™ (§4.3.11).

Genitive: Primary prepositions governing the genitive portray a missile in the
vicinity of the locus, but the contact is less than complete in some way. Lj
expresses an approach to the locus that falls short of the destination, while lkz,
more abstractly, states a modal destination -- the locus is something whose well-
being is intended to be affected. C ˜from off™, bp ˜out of™, jn ˜away from™ indicate
the removal of a missile from the vicinity of the locus, as do the compound
prepositions bp-pf ˜out from behind™ and bp-gjl ˜out from under™. E ˜nearby, chez™
reports a relation in the neighborhood, or sphere of in¬‚uence, of the locus.
Many root and pre¬xal prepositions take the genitive. Like the primary prepo-
sitions that take the genitive, they also present a situation in which the missile
is located in the vicinity of the locus but does not come into complete contact:
dlj ˜alongside™, d,kbp« ˜near to™, gjchtl« ˜in the middle of™. V†;le ˜between™,
though it generally uses the instrumental, still uses the genitive to express a po-
sition between two paired and parallel entities (vt;le cnhjr ˜between the lines™,
vt;le cndjkjd cjcty ˜between the trunks of the pines™).

Locative: Prepositions that use the locative establish that the mobile entity is in
contact with the locus: d ˜in, at™, location at a punctual locus; yf ˜on, at™, location
on a surface; j, location in contact in a space encompassing the locus; ghb ˜in the
presence of™, coincidence and contact, as opposed to absence of coincidence, in
a domain; the domain can be spatial (ghb ujhjlcrb[ ljvf[ ˜with city houses™, ghb
cnfywbb ˜at the station™) or temporal-modal (ghb Trfnthbyt ˜during the time of
Catherine the Great™, ghb gjuheprt ˜during loading™, ghb yjdjkeybb ˜during a new
Arguments 181

moon™). Gj ˜upon, after™ with the locative expresses location in the immediate
temporal and causal wake of some event (gj ghbtplt ˜upon arrival™).
Only the oldest, primary, prepositions take the locative. D and yf take another
case along with the locative. When the missile moves toward and comes into
contact with the locus, d and yf govern the accusative. J(,) does as well, in
the sense of contact against a surface: djkys hfp,bdf/ncz j crfks ˜waves beat
against the cliffs™. The distributive sense of gj with the dative was mentioned

Instrumental: The instrumental is used with c in the sense of contact with the
locus; and more than mere contact, c means that the missile and the locus play
similar roles in the state or event.
The instrumental is used with four prepositions that express position on one
of the planes of a three-dimensional object: yfl ˜on top of™ and its opposite
gjl ˜underneath™, pf ˜behind™ and its opposite gthtl ˜in front of™. Only primary
prepositions can take the instrumental, except for vt;le.

Accusative: Few prepositions use the accusative exclusively: ghj ˜through™, xthtp
˜through, over™, crdj ˜through™. Newer prepositions do not adopt the accusative.
The accusative expresses motion with d, yf, j, which otherwise take the loca-
tive. In a similar fashion, the prepositions that take the instrumental to describe
static position on the perimeter of the locus -- yfl, gjl, pf, gthtl -- once expressed
motion towards by using the accusative, but this usage has been fading. Gthtl
and yfl take the instrumental: Z dcnfk gthtl ybv<ins> yf rjktyb<acc> ˜I kneeled
before him on my knees™ (where yf rjktyb has the accusative of motion), gjlyznm
yfl tt ujkjdjq<ins> dtytw ˜to raise the wreath over her head™. Gjl can still take
the accusative: pfktpfkb gjl rhjdfnb<acc> ˜[they] crawled under the beds™; z b[
rkfk gjl vfnhfc<acc> ˜I placed them under the mattress™; idiomatic gjgflfnmcz
gjl here ˜to come under the hand of™; jyf ikf gjl here c ybv ˜she walked arm-
in-arm with him™. With pf, the instrumental expresses either a static position
behind the locus, [jlbk pf yt/ ˜he walked behind her™, or adopting a position
behind the locus, rnj-nj gj,t;fk r rfkbnrt, jy ,hjcbkcz pf ybv<ins> ˜someone
ran up to the gate, he hurried after him™ (though: gthtctcnm pf lheujq cnjk<acc>
˜to sit at another table™).
Gjl and pf use the accusative in a range of idioms. With gjl with the ac-
cusative, the locus can be understood as a model for the missile (gjl vhfvjh<acc>
˜like, as if marble™), as an adapted function (j,jheljdfkb gjl ntfnh<acc> ˜they
¬xed it as a theater™, cyzkb gjl lfxe<acc> ˜they rented it to serve as a dacha™),
as a framework for an activity (gtkb gjl ubnfhe<acc> ˜they sang to the guitar™;
gjl hfcrfns<acc> fgkjlbcvtynjd ˜to torrents of applause™), or as a boundary
182 A Reference Grammar of Russian

of incomplete approach (gjl gznmltczn<acc> ˜coming up on ¬fty years of age™;
gjl rjytw<acc> gbcmvf ˜near the end of the letter™). Pf uses the accusative to
express: modal cause (dbyf pf ytelfxb<acc> ˜fault for the failures™); on behalf
of, in exchange for ([kjgjnfnm pf ;tyobye<acc> ˜to make efforts on behalf of
the woman™; lzlz gjkexbk pf jgthtnne<acc> yt,jkmijq ujyjhfh ˜uncle received
a small payment for the operetta™); interval of time or space over which some-
thing signi¬cant happens (pf ytcrjkmrj<acc> vbyen ˜over the course of several
minutes™; pf ytcrjkmrj<acc> ifujd dbltkcz lsv ˜at a distance of several steps
smoke was visible™; pf xfc<acc> lj j,tlf ˜an hour before dinner™; pf nhb<acc>
ljvf lj eukf ˜three houses before the corner™).
C with the accusative expresses an approximate measurement: c ytltk/<acc>
-lheue/ ˜for a week or maybe two™; dpvf[yekf xthysvb htcybwfvb (rf;lfz cj
cgbxre<acc> njkobyjq) ˜she ¬‚uttered her eyelashes (each the thickness of a
Gj uses the accusative to express the ¬nal, inclusive boundary of an interval
of time or motion: c jctyb 1927 gj dtcye<acc> 1929-uj ujlf ˜from the fall of 1927
through the spring of 1929™, gj lheue/ cnjhjye<acc> ˜over on the opposite side™.
Gj has come to use the accusative in its distributive sense with most numerals
other than single units.

Nominative: While it might seem inconceivable to use the nominative case with
prepositions, what is apparently the nominative case is used in two idioms: xnj
эnj pf theylf<nom> ˜what is that for nonsense™ and dsqnb d k/lb<nom> ˜go among
the people™ (the nouns are not ¬xed). In the latter, the nominative, if it is that,
is a residual carry-over from a time when complements of prepositions had not
yet adopted the merger of accusative and genitive with animates.

4.2.4 The use of yf and d
D and yf both express the location of a missile in contact with the locus. To a
large extent, the choice between the two is determined by the meaning of the
noun that names the locus. D can be considered the more general. Yf expresses
contact of a missile with a physical locus conceived of as a surface, as something
more than a one-dimensional point and as less than a three-dimensional con-
tainer: yf Эkm,hect ˜on Elbrus™, yf cntyf[ ˜on the walls™, yf Ctdthyjv Rfdrfpt
˜in the Northern Caucasus™, yf dthfylt ˜on the veranda™, yf ekbwt ˜on the street™,
yf fkmgbqcrb[ keuf[ ˜in alpine meadows™, yf gjke ˜on the ¬‚oor™, yf gkfnj ˜on
the plateau™, yf gthbathbb ˜on the periphery™, yf hfpys[ rjynbytynf[ ˜on vari-
ous continents™, yf Keyt ˜on the moon™, yf dnjhjv эnf;t ˜on the second ¬‚oor™,
yf nhfdt ˜on the grass™, yf rkfl,bot ˜in the graveyard™, yf Vfhct ˜on Mars™,
yf vfktymrjv jcnhjdt ˜on a small island™, yf yfib[ эrhfyf[ ˜on our movie
Arguments 183

screens™. Layered surfaces take yf: yf lyt ˜on the bottom™, yf gjdth[yjcnb ˜on the
By association, the locus of yf, being a surface, is a place where activity occurs:
yf ,fpfht ˜at the bazaar™, yf djrpfkt ˜at the station™, yf gjxnt ˜at the post of¬ce™,
yf cjkywt ˜on the sun™, yf genb ˜on the journey™, yf hsyrt ˜at the market™, yf
Rfhtkmcrjv ahjynt ˜on the Karelian front™, yf cjdtcnb ˜on one™s conscience™.
Often the sense of activity overshadows the physical location: yf ajhevt ˜at
the forum™, yf atcnbdfkt ˜at the festival™, yf cj,hfybz[ nhelzob[cz ˜at meetings
of workers™, yf pfctlfybb ˜at the meeting™, yf ytlfdytq ghtvmtht ˜at a recent
premiere™. Eras are also sites where events occur: yf ghjnz;tybb ˜throughout
the course™, yf gthds[ gjhf[ ˜at the beginning™, yf эnjq cnflbb ˜at this stage™, yf
ysytiytv эnfgt ˜at the current stage™, yf cnfhjcnb ˜in old age™. Thus, yf expresses
location on a surface, and, abstractly, the site of activity.
External body parts are surfaces where activity occurs or missiles come into
contact with the person: c cevrjq yf ,jre ˜with a purse on the side™, he;mt yf
gktxt ˜a ri¬‚e on the shoulder™, yf ,tlht ˜on the hip™, yf tt cgbyt ˜on her back™, yf
tuj ujkjdt ˜on his head™, yf ukfpf[ ˜in the eyes™, yf cj,cndtyyjq ireht ˜on one™s
own skin, risk™.
Vehicles and the associated activity of locomotion are a special case. One can
travel yf ,jhne ˜on board™, yf gfhfi/nf[ ˜by means of parachutes™, yf rjhf,kt
˜on the ship™, yf tuj dtkjcbgtlt ˜on his bicycle™, yf эktrnhbxrt ˜on the suburban
train™, yf vfibyt ˜in a car™. Conveyances, however, can sometimes be viewed
as containers in which missiles can be located: D vfibyt cbltkb gjkrjdybr b
ktqntyfyn ˜in the car there sat a colonel and lieutenant™; vyt ghtlkj;bkb jlyj
vtcnj d vfibyt ˜I was offered a place in the car™.
Thus to a large extent, the choice between d and yf is determined by the noun,
though some nouns, like the words for conveyances, can use both prepositions.
R©[yz is another such noun. D re[yt makes the locus a unit of architecture. It can
be one part of a whole that is opposed to other, analogous, parts of the whole:

[58] Nfrbv j,hfpjv, vs vjukb ujdjhbnm, xnj e yfc xtnsht rjvyfns. D gthdjq pf
gthtujhjlrjq j,jcyjdfkbcm Dkflbvbh b z, d re[yt pf gtxrjq cgfkf Ktyf, d
,jkmijq rjvyfnt ;bkb j,t vjb cnfhibt ctcnhs.
Thus we could say we had four rooms. In the ¬rst behind the partition Vladimir
and I were based, in the kitchen behind the stove slept Lena, and in the large
room lived my older sisters.

Here the kitchen is one room, one unit in a set of rooms, each containing
inhabitants. With d, the kitchen is one unit among many, and it can itself
contain parts: d re[yt cnjzkj djctvm cnjkjd ˜in the kitchen there stood eight
tables™. Thus using d re[yt is thinking in synecdoche -- in parts and wholes. Yf
184 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 4.5 Triplets with yf, d

location motion towards motion away
yf<\loc> , d<\loc> yf<\acc> , d<\acc> c<\gen> , bp<\gen> .

Vzcf yf ,fpfht<loc> yt ,skj. --- Nfr ds gjqlbnt yf Ntgthm yt yflj nfcrfnm c
˜There was no meat at the ,fpfh<acc> b regbnt ct,t ,fpfhf<gen> eujkm.
bazaar.™ ˜Now it won™t be necessary to
lheujuj wsgktyrf.
˜--- So go to the bazaar and drag coal from the bazaar.™
buy yourself another chick.™
K/lb cbltkb yf re[yt<loc> . Hfplfkcz c re[yb<gen> tuj
Dct[ enjr gthtcnhtkzk b
˜People sat in the kitchen.™ ghbytc yf re[y/<acc> . ujkjc.
˜All the ducks he shot and ˜His voice rang out from the
brought to the kitchen.™ kitchen.™
Dc/ djqye ;bkb jyb d R dtxthe ghbt[fkb d ctkj Dj dhtvz pfce[b ghbdtpkb
cjctlytv ctkt<loc> . Dkflbvbhcrjt<acc> . xeljndjhye/ brjye <j;mtq
˜The whole war they lived in ˜Towards evening we came to vfnthb bp ctkf<gen> .
the next village.™ the village of Vladimirskoe.™ ˜During the drought they
brought the miraculous
icon of the Mother of God
from the village.™
Gthtikb d re[y/<acc> .
D re[yt<loc> pf gtxrjq cgfkf Jyf ghbytckf bp re[yb<gen>
˜They went into the kitchen.™ эktrnhbxtcre/ gkbnre.
˜Lena slept in the kitchen ˜She brought a hot-plate from
behind the stove.™ the kitchen.™

re[yt is a plane with no precise boundaries; it is a theater where life happens,
as in [59] and Osip Mandelshtam™s poem [60]:

[59] B djn эnb xe;bt k/lb cbltkb yf re[yt, tkb, gbkb, cvjnhtkb cjxedcndtyyj,
xnj-nj dcgjvbyfkb.
And those strangers sat in the kitchen, eating, drinking, looking sympathetically,
recalling something.
[60] Vs c nj,jq yf re[yt gjcblbv. / Ckflrj gf[ytn ,tksq rthjcby.
Let™s you and I sit together in the kitchen. / With the sweet smell of white

Both d and yf express static location. As noted above, the accusative expresses
motion towards the locus. Corresponding to each sense is a distinct preposition
governing the genitive, resulting in triplets (Table 4.5): c, removal from a surface,
is paired with yf, location on or motion onto a surface, and bp, exit from a
container, is paired with d, location in or motion into a container.
Arguments 185

4.3 Quantifiers

4.3.1 Preliminaries
Quanti¬ers are operators which, by applying to nouns, impose a count, whether
exact or approximate, on the entities involved. (If no noun is used with the
quanti¬er, the entities that are counted are determined from the context.) Com-
binations of quanti¬ers and nouns behave as argument phrases, and can be used
as subjects or oblique domains, and so on. Quanti¬ers have some properties that
allow them to be grouped together, and at the same time, there are differences,
especially morphological, among them (see Table 4.6).21 The bulk of the quanti-
¬ers, in the middle of Table 4.6, can be termed g e n e r a l n u m e r a l s .
In addition, it is necessary to distinguish between numerals that occur with-
out other numerals and c o m p l e x numerals, those composed of more than one
numeral: ld’lwfnm nh« ˜twenty-three™, ld†cnb gzny’lwfnm ˜two hundred ¬fteen™,
nßczxf nh«cnf ld† ˜one thousand three hundred two™. Ordinal numerals, not con-
sidered further here, do not impose case on the quanti¬ed noun; they are pure
adjectives modifying the noun. In complex ordinals, all but the ¬nal component
are invariant (or nominative) forms of the numeral, and only the ¬nal compo-
nent is an adjective: z gthtifuyek uhfym cnj ltdzyjcnjuj ujlf ˜I have crossed
the boundary of the hundred ninetieth year™, ns hjlbkcz d (nsczxf ltcznmcjn)
gznmltczn dnjhjv ujle ˜you were born in (nineteen) ¬fty-one™. As in the last ex-
ample, dates are expressed with ordinals. In general, ordinals themselves are
pure adjectives, and do not require further attention.
It will be useful to begin with general numerals.

4.3.2 General numerals
Quanti¬er phrases, and numerals in particular, behave differently depending on
whether the case of the whole phrase is direct -- nominative or accusative -- or
an oblique case.
In an oblique case, quanti¬ers act as modi¬ers, adopting the same oblique
case as the noun: genitive ([61]), dative ([62]), locative ([63]), instrumental ([64]):

[61] ytj,sxfqyfz ajhvf gytdvjybb e gznb<gen> vjkjls[ ve;xby<gen>
an unusual type of pneumonia in ¬ve young men

21 The basic text is Mel chuk 1985[a]. On the nature of the constituency, see Corbett 1993. Halle
1994 has a rule of Concord that applies to oblique quanti¬ers but does not apply to quanti¬ers
in nominative or accusative, which instead use the default genitive. General numerals are said
to be nouns, paucals adjectives. Franks 1995 treats the formal description of quanti¬er argument
186 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 4.6 Types of quantifiers

quanti¬er type examples

singleton jl«y ˜one™, [plural] ˜some™
msc=nt ld’ ∼ fem ld† ˜two™, nh« ˜three™, xtnsht ˜four™
paucal ´

high integers & teens gz ˜¬ve™, l†cznm ˜ten™, jl«yyflwfnm ˜eleven™, ltdzny’lwfnm
low (non-compound) decade ld’lwfnm ˜twenty™, nh«lwfnm ˜thirty™
high (compound) decade gznmltcz ˜¬fty™, itcnmltcz ˜sixty™, c†vmltczn ˜seventy™,
´n ´n
´ctvmltczn ˜eighty™
round ´hjr ˜forty™, cnj ˜hundred™, ltdzyj
´cnj ˜ninety™
cj ´
compound low hundred ld†cnb ˜two hundred™, nh«cnf ˜three hundred™, xtnshtcnf ˜four

compound high hundred gznmcj ˜¬ve hundred™, ltdznmcj ˜nine hundred™
´n ´n
mille numeral nsczxf ˜thousand™, vbkkbj ˜million™, vbkkb’hl ˜billion™,
´ ´y
nhbkkbj ˜trillion™
lexical fractions gjkjd«yf ˜half™, x†ndthnm ˜quarter™
approximate ´kmrj ˜so many™, vyj ˜many™, ytvyj ˜some™, v’kj ˜few™
cnj ´uj ´uj
collective ldj ˜twosome™, gz ´nthj ˜¬vesome™

[62] Эnbv xtnshtv<dat> ,erdfv<dat> ghblfyj uke,jxfqitt cbvdjkbxtcrjt pyfxtybt.
To these four letters is attached the greatest symbolic meaning.
[63] Yf эnb[ itcnb<loc> cnfyrf[<loc> hf,jnfkj dctuj itcnthj.
On these six machines used to work only six people.
[64] Jyf ibkf tve cgtwbfkmysq gjzc, ibhjrbq, c djctvm/<ins> rfhvfyfvb<ins> .
She sewed him a special, wide belt with eight pockets.

When the quanti¬er argument is nominative or accusative, numerals appear
in the nominative or accusative. The quanti¬ed noun and any modi¬ers are
genitive plural:

[65] pl> .
Nfr djn, tcnm ghjcm,f dsltkbnm ldflwfnm<nom=acc> [jhjib[<gen pl> ht,zn<gen
So, there is a request to select twenty good fellows.
[66] Pltcm yf gjvjom abyfkbcnrfv ghbikb ltcznm<nom=acc> ufkfynys[<gen pl>
rfdfkthjd<gen pl> .
Here there came to the rescue of the ¬nalists ten gallant cavaliers.

Some modi¬ers occur before the quanti¬er and modify the whole quanti¬er
phrase. One type of such p h r a s a l modi¬ers appear in the direct (nom=acc)
case. Such are: demonstratives (эnb gznm he,ktq ˜these ¬ve rubles™), possessive
pronouns (vjb gznm he,ktq ˜my ¬ve rubles™), quantifying adjectives ({dct ∼
gjcktlybt} gznm he,ktq ˜{all ∼ the last} ¬ve rubles™). Certain modi¬ers eval-
uate the quantity, and these appear before the noun usually in the genitive
Arguments 187

plural: {lj,hs[ ∼ wtks[ ∼ ;fkrb[ ∼ rfrb[-yb,elm} gznyflwfnm ktn ˜{a goodly ∼
a whole ∼ measly ∼ some or another} ¬fteen years™, only rarely in the nom=acc
form: wtkst gznm ktn (on the web, only 177 xx wtkst gznm vs. 11,600 xx wtks[
gznm <15.IX.02>).
General numerals are insensitive to animacy. When the noun is animate and
the phrase is accusative, a general numeral is expressed in the nom=acc form,
not the genitive ([67--68]). An external modi¬er does express animacy (but ¦nb
now occurs in the informal register):
Pfk Ljvf rbyj dcnhtxfk эnb[<acc=gen> ldflwfnm<nom=acc> (— ldflwfnb<acc=gen> )
ht,zn fgkjlbcvtynfvb.
The House of Film greeted those twenty lads with applause.
Dkflbvbh jrhtcnbk dct[<acc=gen> ldtyflwfnm<nom=acc> (— ldtyflwfnb<acc=gen> )
csyjdtq cdjb[.
Vladimir baptized all twelve of his sons.

4.3.3 Paucal numerals
The pau c a l numerals -- msc=nt ld’ ∼ fem ld† ˜two™ (with an unusual distinc-
tion of gender), nh« ˜three™, xtnßht ˜four™, and msc=nt j ∼ fem j ˜both™ --
´,f ´,t
behave like general numerals in oblique cases: the noun, modi¬ers, and the nu-
meral are in the oblique case (instrumental in [69], dative in [70]); the quanti¬ed
noun and any modi¬ers are plural.
[69] Fylhtq gjpyfrjvbk vtyz c ntvb<ins pl> ldevz<ins> vjkjlsvb<ins pl>
k/lmvb<ins pl> , c rjnjhsvb cbltk yf jlyjq crfvmt.
Andrei introduced me to those two young people with whom he shared a bench.
[70] Ecgtiyjt hfpdbnbt ht,tyrf gj эnbv<dat pl> nhtv<dat> utythfkmysv<dat pl>
kbybzv<dat pl> j,tcgtxbdftn cgjcj,yjcnm kbxyjcnb r hfpysv dblfv
Successful development of the child along these three general lines ensures the
ability of an individual to engage in various forms of activity.

In direct cases, the quanti¬ed noun is genitive singular, not plural. Internal
adjectives modifying the noun are plural, but the case depends on the gender
of the noun. With masculine and neuter nouns, an adjective is always in the
[71] Pf,hfkb ldf lheub[<gen pl> j[jnybxmb[<gen pl> he;mz<\nt gen sg> .
They con¬scated two other hunting ri¬‚es.
[72] Kbim gjkegecne/n nhb<nom=acc> gthds[<gen pl> hzlf<\msc gen sg> ,
jnujhj;tyys[<gen pl> lkz gjxtnys[ ujcntq.
Half-empty are only the ¬rst three rows, roped off for important guests.

With feminine nouns, nom=acc case rather than genitive is usual:
188 A Reference Grammar of Russian

<f,eirf yfhbcjdfkf ldt {jlbyfrjdst<nom=acc pl> ∼ ?jlbyfrjds[<gen pl> }
fabib<\fem gen sg> .
Grandmother drew two identical posters.
Gjl jlyjq flvbybcnhfwbtq ,skb j,(tlbytys ldt {vjcrjdcrbt<nom=acc pl>
j,edyst<nom=acc pl> ∼ ?vjcrjdcrb[<gen pl> j,edys[<gen pl> } af,hbrb<\fem gen sg> .
Under one administration were united two Moscow shoe factories.
[75] D ,jkmybwt hf,jnfkb ldt cfybnfhrb<\fem gen sg> , ghbckfyyst<nom pl> bp ujhjlf.
In the hospital there were working two [female] orderlies, sent from the city.

The genitive, used rarely, focuses on the fact of existence or the quantity ([76--

[76] Gjlyzkcz cnjk, djls, hfplfkcz uke[jq dphsd. Vs ,hjcbkbcm d djle. B
gjqvfkb . . . dctuj nhb {?jukeityyst<nom=acc pl> ∼ jukeityys[<gen pl> }
enrb<\fem gen sg> .
A column of water rose up, a thud resounded. We threw ourselves into the water.
We had caught . . . all of three deafened ducks.
D ,jkmybwt dctuj ldt cfybnfhrb<\fem gen sg> , ghbckfyys[<gen pl> bp ujhjlf.23
In the hospital there were altogether only two [female] orderlies, sent from the

Paucal numerals, unlike general numerals, usually express animacy.24 When
the quanti¬er argument is accusative and the quanti¬ed noun is animate, the
paucal numeral is in the genitive; the quanti¬ed noun is then genitive plural,
not singular ([78] exty«w): Modi¬ers, including modi¬ers of feminine nouns, are
genitive plural ([78] vjkjlß[).

[78] Jy gjckfk pf ct,z эnb[<acc=gen pl> xtnsht[<acc=gen> vjkjls[<acc=gen pl>
extybw<acc=gen pl> .
In his place he sent those four young [female] students.

The special paucal quanti¬er j ´,t, like ld’/ld†, distinguishes gender, even
in oblique cases: c j,tbvb<fem> ,enskrfvb. Unlike ld’/ld†, j ´,t presupposes
that the two referents are individuated and known, a fact that leads to cer-
tain differences. O,f/j generally elicits plural agreement ({ghbikb/— ghbikj}
´ ´,t
j,t ltdeirb ˜there arrived both girls™). O,f/j can be used as an anaphor (j,f
ghbikb ˜both arrived™) or as a modi¬er of the anaphoric pronoun (j,f jyb ghbikb
˜they both arrived™).
Constructions with numerals can be stated as a hierarchized list of branching
decisions ([79], which does not treat external modi¬ers or complex numerals):

22 Observation due to Worth 1959:123--24.
23 [75], [77] from Mel chuk 1985[a]:448-49, here with a different interpretation.
24 The thoroughly un-individuated [76] does not.
Arguments 189

[79] Algorithms for numeral constructions
if the quanti¬er phrase is in an oblique case:
quanti¬er, modi¬ers, and noun are in the oblique case; modi¬ers and
noun are plural;
if the quanti¬er phrase is nominative or accusative:
if the quanti¬er is paucal,
if the quanti¬er phrase is accusative, if the quanti¬ed noun is
animate, then the quanti¬er is genitive, modi¬ers and the
noun are genitive plural;
otherwise, the quanti¬er is nominative=accusative, the
quanti¬ed noun genitive singular, internal modi¬ers plural,
nominative=accusative if the noun is feminine and the
context non-existential,
otherwise genitive;
if the quanti¬er is a general (not a paucal) numeral,
the quanti¬er is nominative=accusative (regardless of animacy),
modi¬ers and noun are genitive plural.

4.3.4 Mille numerals vbkkbjy, vbkkbfhl, nhbkkbjy, and nsczxf
Vbkkbj ˜million™, vbkkb’hl ˜billion™, and nhbkkbj ˜trillion™ -- quanti¬ers ex-
´y ´y
pressing large quantities, which can for short be termed mille numerals -- behave
more like nouns than quanti¬ers, though they quantify things and combine
with ordinary numerals. They themselves can be quanti¬ed by other numerals
or approximate quanti¬ers. With numerals that take the plural, they themselves
form a plural ({itcnm ∼ ytcrjkmrj} vbkkbjyjd ˜{six ∼ several} million™); gen-
eral numerals do not form plurals. Combined with a paucal numeral, a mille
numeral goes into the genitive singular; the noun is genitive plural:

[80] pl> .
Yf ljhjuf[ t;tujlyj ub,ytn ldf vbkkbjyf<gen vfiby<gen
On the roads two million cars perish every year.

When a mille quanti¬er occurs in an oblique case, the quanti¬ed noun still
appears in the genitive, not the oblique case (dative in [81], instrumental in

[81] Z cgecnbkcz, lfd nt,t here, gj rhfqytq vtht gj vbkkbjye<dat sg>
ktcnybw<gen pl> .
I have descended, with you on my arm, at least a million stairs.
[82] IBM ghjtrnbhetn rjvgm/nth c vbkkbjyjv<ins sg> ghjwtccjhjd<gen pl> .
IBM envisions a computer with a million processors.

In these respects, mille numerals are more similar to nouns than to general
190 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Nßczxf acts sometimes like a general numeral, sometimes like other mille
numerals. When singular nßczxf is used in an oblique case, there are said to
be two patterns. In one, the quanti¬ed noun is genitive plural: r nsczxt<dat>
he,ktq<gen> ˜to a thousand rubles™, c nsczxtq<ins> he,ktq<gen> ˜with a thousand
rubles™. With this syntax, which is similar to that of the mille numerals, the
instrumental form is said to be nßczxtq: c nsczxtq<ins> extybrjd<gen> ˜with a
thousand pupils™. Alternatively, nßczxf and the quanti¬ed noun can both appear
in the oblique case: r nsczxt<dat> he,kzv<dat> . This is the syntax of general
numerals. With this syntax, the instrumental is said to be nßczxm/ (or nßczxtq
as a secondary option): c nsczxm/<ins> (nsczxtq<ins> ) he,kzvb<ins> .25
These two possibilities for nßczxf are presented in grammars as equal op-
tions. In fact, in recent Russian, the former pattern is rather more frequent. In
a sample of the ¬rst 100 tokens that appeared in a search on the whole web
for the form nsczxt (a third dative, two-thirds locative), almost all -- 97 -- were
used with the genitive plural of the quanti¬ed noun.26 The behavior of the two
instrumental forms is complex. Both seem current in contemporary Russian;
nsczxm/ appeared in 67 percent of tokens on www.lib.ru (<20.XII.02>). Inter-
estingly, nßczxm/ -- supposedly the numeral form, which should combine only
with an instrumental -- occurs frequently with the genitive of the quanti¬ed
noun. In the ¬rst 100 distinct tokens of nsczxm/,27 only 15 were followed by the
instrumental, including:

[83] Sound Forge 5.0 --- эnj ghjatccbjyfkmyfz ghjuhfvvf lkz htlfrnbhjdfybz pderf!
Tcnm djpvj;yjcnm gjkmpjdfnmcz ,jktt xtv nsczxm/ эaatrnfvb<ins> !
Sound Forge 5.0 is a professional program for sound editing! There is the
possibility of using more than a thousand effects!

Otherwise, the genitive was used, in idiomatic expressions (c nsczxm/ jrjy<gen>
˜with a thousand windows™, c nsczxm/ her<gen> b ukfp<gen> ˜with a thousand
arms and eyes™, ;bnm nsczxm/ ;bpytq<gen> ˜to live a thousand lives™) and in new
combinations ([84]):
[84] Ctqxfc e uheggs jnrhsns jabcs d 22 cnhfyf[ gj dctve vbhe, c ,jktt xtv
nsczxm/ cjnhelybrjd<gen> .
At this time the group has of¬ces in twenty-two countries throughout the world,
with more than a thousand co-workers.

Translations of Hamlet™s “<. . .> we end / The heartache and the thousand natu-
ral shocks” use the genitive, for example: <. . .> gjrjyxbim / C cthltxyjq verj/

25 Zalizniak 1977[a]:68 gives only nßczxm/, SRIa 2.123 gives nßczxtq.
26 The ¬rst 100 examples produced by searching with Google (<03.XII.01>) for nsczxt, excluding:
forms (fyrtns), poetry, songs, religious texts, distributive constructions, conjoined numerals,
more than one hit from a single site. Many of these 100 tokens were clich©s measuring distance.
Whole web <20.XII.02>.
Arguments 191

b c nsczxm/ nthpfybq. It is not clear whether there is a systematic semantic or
stylistic difference. Compare cdzpfys nsczxm/ ybntq<gen> ˜bound by a thousand
ties™, but cdzpfys nsczxm/ dblbvsvb b ytdblbvsvb ybnzvb<ins> ˜bound by a
thousand visible and invisible ties™, or Xtkjdtr c nsczxm/ kbw<gen> -- the name
for the movie starring Lon Cheney and the novel by Alfred van Vogt -- but Joseph
Campbell™s book Uthjq c nsczxm/ kbwfvb<ins> .
The oblique plural forms of nßczxf in earlier Russian combined with oblique
nouns, as in Derzhavin™s Xnj,s nsczxfv ltdjxrfv / Yf vjb[ cbltnm dtndz[
˜In order that thousands of girls / On my branches might rest™, but now the
genitive plural is used: yf gznyflwfnb nsczxf[<loc> rdflhfnys[ rbkjvtnhjd<gen>
˜on ¬fteen thousand square kilometers™. Overall, nßczxf is coming to behave
more like mille numerals than general numerals.
Mille numerals do not express animacy themselves or in demonstratives ([85]):

[85] Cgtwbfkmyjt pfctlfybt Gjkbn,/hj WR htibkj эne ghj,ktve byfxt: gecnbnm
rjhf,km c ptrfvb yf lyj. Yt jngecrfnm эnb<nom=acc> ldt<nom=acc> nsczxb<nom=acc>
rfnjh;fy d Cjtlbytyyst Infns!
In a special meeting, the Politburo resolved the problem in another way: to sink
the ship to the bottom with the prisoners. Never to allow these two thousand
prisoners into the USA!

4.3.5 Preposed quantified noun
While quanti¬ers ordinarily precede the nouns that are quanti¬ed, there is an
alternative construction in which the noun comes before the numeral and, if
there is one, a preposition; the construction indicates that the quantity is not

[86] Xfc’ xthtp nhb-xtnsht vs edblfkb ujhjl.
After three to four hours or so, we saw the city.
[87] Ghbt[fkb ytltkm yf itcnm.
They™ve come for six weeks or so.

The noun retains the same morphological properties it would have in the po-
sition after the quanti¬er -- for example, the genitive singular with a paucal in
[86] (and numerative stress xfc’). The numeral and the preposed noun take the
case governed by the preposition: dthcnf[<loc> d lde[<loc> jn ctkf ˜at a place
two versts or so from the village™, xfcjd<gen> lj xtnsht[<loc> ˜up until about

4.3.6 Complex numerals
In c o m p l e x numerals -- combinations of numerals -- there is a signi¬cant dif-
ference between the most careful written register and less formal registers.
192 A Reference Grammar of Russian

In the formal register, if the quanti¬er phrase is oblique, all components of
the complex numeral are in the oblique case, and the noun and modi¬ers are

[88] Xbckj ;thnd d ltcznb<loc> nhb,eyfkf[<loc> hfdyztncz d эnjv ujle nsczxt<dat>
xtnshtvcnfv<dat> ldflwfnb<dat> (xtnshtv<dat> ) xtkjdtrfv<dat> cj;;tyysv
The number of victims in ten tribunals in that year amounts to one thousand
four hundred twenty (-four) people burned alive.

In a direct case, all components of the complex numeral are in the direct case.
The last component determines the case and number of nouns and modi¬ers.
They are genitive plural when the last component is not a paucal ([89]):

[89] ghjbpjikj d эnjv ujle.
Xtnshtcnf<nom=acc> ltcznm<nom=acc> nhb,eyfkjd<gen pl>
Four hundred ten tribunals took place in this year.

If the last component is a paucal, the noun is genitive singular, as is usual with a
paucal numeral; adjectives are plural, genitive with masculine or neuter nouns
([90]), nominative or accusative with feminine nouns ([91]).

[90] Z yfcxbnfk ldflwfnm<nom=acc> ldf<nom=acc> vjkjls[<acc=gen pl> yfwbcnf<gen sg> .
I counted twenty-two young Nazis.
[91] Rjvbntn yfyzk nsczxe<acc> ldtcnb<nom=acc> gznmltczn<nom=acc> nhb<nom=acc>
jgsnyst<nom=acc pl> exbntkmybws<gen sg> .
The commission hired one thousand two hundred ¬fty-three experienced teachers.

However, as in [90--91], paucals in complex numerals do not express animacy.
The acc=gen is said to be outmoded, but still occurs, even on recent websites.28
If the paucal does express animacy, the noun and any modi¬ers become genitive

[92] Kfuthm “Gfnhbjn” ghbyzk yf jnls[ (b djcgbnfybt) gznmltczn<nom=acc>
xtnsht[<acc=gen> nhelys[<acc=gen> gjlhjcnrjd<acc=gen> .
Camp Patriot has accepted for recreation (and training) ¬fty-four troubled

In a complex numeral that ends in jl«y ˜one™, the noun is singular, and jl«y
agrees with the noun.

28 The use of the acc=gen has attracted the attention of grammarians for popular au-
diences: D. È. Rozental (http://www.spelling.spb.ru/rosenthal/alpha/r151.htm), V. I. Novikova
(http://www.gramota.ru/monitor.html?mid=13). An example (because it is an internal quotation?),
in reference to the three loves of Maiakovsky: Z levf/, Vfzrjdcrbq k/,bk dct[ nht[ --- b
tot nhblwfnm nht[ d ghblfxe ˜I think Maiakovsky loved all three -- and another thirty-three to
Arguments 193

[93] Z exfcndjdfkf d ldflwfnb lde[ ,fktnf[ b ldflwfnb jlyjq<fem loc sg>
jgtht<\fem loc sg> .
I took part in twenty-two ballets and twenty-one operas.

If the numeral is subject, the predicate agrees with the singular number of jl«y

[94] Nhtvz djkjujlcrbvb ltgenfnfvb d ,/l;tn 2002 ujlf dytctyf<fem nom sg> cnj
gznmltczn jlyf<fem nom sg> gjghfdrf<\fem nom sg> .
By three delegates from Vologda were introduced into the 2002 budget one
hundred ¬fty-one changes.
[95] Gecrfq gkfnbn cnj nhblwfnm jlye<fem acc sg> pjkjne/ kbhe<\fem acc sg> .
Let her pay one hundred thirty-one golden liras.
[96] Ybrjkfq Gthdsq jnghfdbk d ccskre cnj ldflwfnm jlyjuj<msc acc=gen sg>
xtkjdtrf<\msc acc=gen sg> .
Nikolai I sent into exile one hundred twenty-one persons.
[97] Ctcnhs hjlbkb --- yb vyjuj yb vfkj --- ldflwfnm jlyjuj<msc acc=gen sg>
ht,tyrf<\msc acc=gen sg> .
The sisters gave birth to no more, no less than twenty-one babies.

Animacy is expressed by jl«y when the noun is masculine and animate ([96--97]).
In the informal register, when a complex numeral should be in an oblique case,
there is a tendency to avoid declining all components and to use the direct case
form of numerals instead. How far this breakdown in the expression of case has
progressed is dif¬cult to determine. Nevertheless some general principles can be
sketched. At the left margin, numerals of the mille group maintain declension
when other numerals in the phrase may not be declined.

[98] Ajyl jrfpfk rdfkbabwbhjdfyye/ /hblbxtcre/ gjvjom ,jktt xtv nhtv<dat>
nsczxfv<dat> ldtcnb<nom=acc> {ldflwfnb<gen> ∼ ?ldflwfnm<nom=acc> } ctvmzv
gjub,ib[ djtyyjcke;fob[.
The fund has rendered quali¬ed legal aid to more than three thousand two
hundred twenty families of deceased servicemen.

On the right margin of a complex numeral, the last numeral, especially if it is
a paucal, tends to decline, but the preceding decades and especially hundreds
often do not:

[99] Fktrcfylh Fkt[by vju lfdfnm ctfycs jlyjdhtvtyyjq buhs gj if[vfnfv
dcktge/ yf nhblwfnm<nom=acc> lde[<loc> ljcrf[<loc> jlyjdhtvtyyj.
Alexander Alekhin used to give demonstrations of simultaneous chess games
played blindfolded on thirty-two boards simultaneously.
194 A Reference Grammar of Russian

[100] Cnhtkrf rjkt,fkfcm vt;le cnj<nom=acc> gznm/<ins> b cnj<nom=acc> ltcznm/<ins>
rbkjvtnhfvb d xfc.
The speedometer hovered between one hundred ¬ve and one hundred ten
kilometers per hour.
[101] Jkz --- dscjrfz ltdeirf ldflwfnm<nom=acc> gznb<gen> ktn.
Olia is a tall girl of twenty-¬ve years.

Thus the informal register is developing a template, according to which numerals
on margins are likely to be declined and numerals internal to the phrase need
not be.

4.3.7 Fractions
Gjkjd«yf ˜half™, x†ndthnm ˜quarter™, nh†nm ˜third™ are lexical fractions which, like
paucal numerals, take the genitive singular of the noun: gjkjdbyf rjvyfns
˜a half of the room™, ldt nhtnb verb ˜two thirds of the ¬‚our™. Fractions now
condition feminine agreement: jcnfkfcm<fem sg> lj,hfz<fem sg> xtndthnm xfcf
lj jn[jlf gjtplf ˜there remained a good quarter of an hour until the train™s
Other fractions are formed using a nominalized ordinal for the denominator
and the (feminine) cardinal in the numerator. When the numerator is ˜one™,
the expression is feminine singular, in memory of the noun xfcnm ˜part™: jlyf
djcmvfz ˜1/8™. With other numerators, the denominator is plural and genitive in
direct cases in formal Russian. The noun remains in the genitive singular: ldt
ltczns[ ˜two-tenths™ (informally, ldt ltcznst or msc ldf ltcznst), (jcnfdfkjcm)
nhb djcmvs[ uhfvvf ˜(there remained) three-eighths of a gram™, nhb nhblwfnm
djcmvs[ ˜three thirty-eighths™, itcnm ldtcnb cjhjr ctlmvs[ rjvyfns ˜6/247™.
When the quanti¬er phrase is oblique, the oblique case is imposed on the cardi-
nal in the numerator and the ordinal of the denominator (on the last, adjectival
part); the noun is genitive singular: c nhtvz djcmvsvb vtnhf ˜with three-eighths
of a meter™, r itcnb ldtcnb cjhjr ctlmvsv rjvyfns ˜to six two hundred forty-
sevenths of the room™.
Mixed numbers are formed as follows. The integer, expressed by a cardinal nu-
meral and optionally the nominalized adjective wtkfz ˜a whole™, has the same
case as the fraction. The fractional portion is conjoined with the integer. (The
lexical fractions are combined through the comitative preposition c.) The noun
remains in the genitive singular, in honor of the most immediate constituent,
the fraction: (jcnfdfkjcm) itcnm (wtks[) b nhb djcmvs[ uhfvvf<gen sg> ˜(there
remained) six (wholes) and three-eighths grams™; c nhtvz (wtksvb) b nhtvz
djcmvsvb vtnhf<gen sg> ˜with three (wholes) and three-eighths meters™; r nhtv

29 Though Vinogradov 1947:294 had neuter singular.
Arguments 195

(wtksv) b itcnb ldtcnb cjhjr ctlmvsv rjvyfns<gen sg> ˜to three (wholes) and
six two hundred forty-sevenths of the room™; itcnm c gjkjdbyjq rjvyfns<gen sg>
˜six and a half rooms™; nhb c xtndthnm/ vtnhf<gen sg> ˜three and a quarter
A distinct style is used for reading decimals. The lowest exponent can be
explicitly read, for example, ˜3.18 grams™: (jcnfdfkjcm) nhb (wtks[) b djctvyflwfnm
cjns[ uhfvvf, but in scienti¬c style it would be more common to read the
numeral without ordinals, as (jcnfdfkjcm) nhb (wtks[) b djctvyflwfnm uhfvvf.
An initial zero before the decimal point is yekm, which declines; zeroes to the
right of the decimal point are read as invariant yjkm: jn yekz yjkm yjkm itcnb
uhfvvf ˜from 0.006 gram™; c nhtvz (wtksvb) b yjkm djctvm/ rbkjuhfvvf ˜with
3.08 kilograms™.
Some unusual numerals contain an etymological pre¬x gjk- ˜half™. ˜One and a
half™, etymologically ˜half of the second™, behaves like a paucal. The direct cases
distinguish gender and take the genitive singular of the noun: msc gjknjh’
cnjk’ ˜one and a half tables™, nt gjknjh’ jry’ ˜one and a half windows™, fem
gjknjhß cnjhjyß ˜one and a half sides™. Gj ´knjhf, with initial stress, is used with
´knjhf c©njr ˜a day and a half™.30 There is a single form for
pluralia tantum: gj
all oblique cases in all genders; nouns are genitive plural: bp gjk©njhf ,enßkjr
˜out of one and a half bottles™. ˜One hundred and a half™, etymologically ˜half
of the second hundred™, distinguishes two forms: direct (nom=acc) gjknjh’cnf,
implying genitive plural of the noun ([102]), and oblique gjk©njhfcnf, implying
oblique case by agreement ([103]):

[102] Vyt ldflwfnm gznm ktn: kbwj vjt b abuehe vyjubt [dfkzn. Ytlehyj tp;e
dth[jv b cnhtkz/, gjgfle c gjkenjhfcnf<gen> ifujd<gen> d cnfrfy bkb z,kjrj.
I™m twenty-¬ve: people admire my looks and my ¬gure. I™m not too shoddy at
riding and shooting: I can hit a glass or an apple from a hundred and ¬fty paces.
[103] Gjvjufnm yf re[yt --- эnj vsnm gjcele pf dctvb gjkenjhfcnf<ins>
gjcnjzkmwfvb<ins> .
Helping in the kitchen means washing dishes for all hundred and ¬fty lodgers.

4.3.8 Collectives
Russian has a distinct class of collective numerals, used for groups of individ-
uals: ldj ˜pair, twosome™, gz´nthj ˜quintet, ¬vesome™, extending up to ltcz
´t ´nthj
˜tensome™.31 They are more frequent for small than for large groups -- ldj is over
ten times more frequent than c†vthj ˜sevensome™, which in turn is ten times
more frequent than dj ´cmvthj. Whether collectives are used rather than ordinary
numerals depends primarily on the noun that is quanti¬ed and secondarily on

30 31
Zalizniak 1977[a]:66. Vinogradov 1947:308--11, Mel chuk 1985[a]:376.
196 A Reference Grammar of Russian

the context. Collectives are used regularly with: adjectival substantives (ldjt
xfcjds[ ˜two sentries™); masculine animate nouns belonging to Declension<II>
(ldjt ve;xby ˜two men™); nouns describing membership in groups de¬ned by
national identity or social role (nhjt ckjdfrjd ˜three Slovaks™, ldjt cneltynjd
˜two students™); children, when counted in relation to the parents (jy ;tyfn b
bvttn xtndths[ ytcjdthityyjktnyb[ ltntq ˜he is married with four minor chil-
dren™). Collectives are used with inanimate pluralia tantum, at least for low
numbers in the direct cases: only {ldjt ∼ xtndthj} cenjr ˜{two ∼ four} days™.
Higher than paucals, regular numbers are used: occasionally gznthj cenjr ˜¬ve
days™ but much more frequently, gznm cenjr (93% on the web <31.X.02>). Regular
numbers are used in oblique cases: ghb gjvjob lde[ (— ldjb[) obgwjd ˜using two
pairs of pliers™, c nhtvz yj;ybwfvb ˜with three pairs of scissors™. Paired items,
for some speakers, can be expressed by collectives, but others prefer to use gfhf:
ldjt cfgju ˜two pairs of boots™ or ldt gfhs {cfgju ∼ ,h/r ∼ gthxfnjr} ˜two pairs
of {boots ∼ trousers ∼ gloves}™.
Aside from the lexical groups just mentioned, collectives are generally used
only for groups including men. Collectives are avoided if the group is composed
exclusively of women: ldt ;tyobys ˜two women™, not — ldjt ;tyoby, except in
newer, colloquial language (jnyjcbntkmyj dct[ gznths[ ltdbw ˜with respect to the
whole ¬vesome of girls™). With nouns that can use either collectives or ordinary
numerals, the collective focuses on the fact that the group exists (a fact which,
in [104], explains how the uncle behaved):

[104] Ntgthm e ytuj ,skj gznthj ltntq, b эnf ljk;yjcnm tuj ybrfr yt ecnhfbdfkf.
By now he had ¬ve children, and so that occupation was no longer adequate.

The regular numeral suggests that the entities are individuals ([105]):

[105] Dslfkb gznm rfhnjxtr --- yf vjb[ vkflib[ ctcnth Vfie b Rfn/ b yf nht[
ltntq ,hfnf Dkflbvbhf.
Five cards were issued --- for my younger sisters Masha and Katia and for my
brother Vladimir™s three children.

In the accusative, collectives express animacy ([106]), and not only for small

[106] Jy hf,jnfk yt pf ldjb[, f pf ltcznths[.
He did the work not just of two, but of ten people.

4.3.9 Approximates
Quanti¬ers such as cnj ´kmrj ˜so much™, vyj ˜much™, ytvyj ˜a little™, v’kj
´uj ´uj
˜little™ assert the existence of some quantity that is evaluated against an implicit
standard: as greater (vyj or less (v’kj) or the same (cnj ´kmrj and crj´kmrj -- the
Arguments 197

question form that asks what the quantity is equal to). These quanti¬ers can also
function as adverbs, when they do not govern a noun and modify a verb: vyjuj
vjkbkfcm ˜she prayed a lot™.
In oblique cases, the quanti¬er and the noun and any modi¬ers go into
the oblique case. A count noun is plural: vyjubvb cbkfvb ˜with many forces™,
crjkmrbvb ltymufvb ˜with how much money™. If the noun is a mass noun, it is
singular and the quanti¬er has a singular declension: ,tp vyjujq cbks ˜without
much force™, crjkmrjq dfk/njq ˜with how much money™. V’kj ˜little™, ytv’kj
˜not a little™ and the comparatives v†ymit ˜less™, ,j ´kmit ˜more™ do not decline
and are not used where an oblique case would be called for, except in the idioms:
,tp vfkjuj ˜only a little less than™, (yfxbyfnmcz) c vfkjuj ˜(to begin) with a little™.
The adjective v’ksq ˜small, slight™ does occur in oblique cases: yt hj;lfkf b
vfkjuj pderf ˜[the machine] did not produce even the slightest sound™, c vfksv
cjlth;fybtv ehfyf ˜with trace amounts of uranium™.
Alongside of the pure quanti¬er vyj there is a parallel plural adjective
´ubt in the direct cases. Vyj points to the existence of a quantity of undif-
vyj ´uj
ferentiated entities, as opposed to the possibility that no entities were involved.
´ubt individuates, inviting a contrast among individuals -- many did, others
did not ([107]):

[107] D Vjcrde gjyft[fkj vyjuj rbnfqwtd. Chtlb yb[ ,skb {j Ib Vby, Xfy
Rfqib b vyjubt cjhfnybrb Vfj Lpэleyf.
Many Chinese arrived in Moscow. Among them were Ho Chi Minh, Chiang
Kai-shek, and many comrades of Mao Zedong.

Vyj expresses animacy obligatorily, y†crjkmrj ˜some™ does so three-quarters
of the time. The nom=acc y†crjkmrj establishes existence (in [108], there will
now be expertise); the acc=gen y†crjkmrb[ focuses on the effect on individuals,
such as the violence in [109]:

[108] Ghbdktrkb ytcrjkmrj<nom=acc> jgsnys[ cgtwbfkbcnjd.
[They] have brought in some experienced specialists.
[109] Rfpfrb e,bkb ytcrjkmrb[<acc=gen> ltvjycnhfynjd.
Cossacks killed some of the demonstrators.

4.3.10 Numerative (counting) forms of selected nouns
Some nouns have distinct, archaic, forms when they are used with quanti¬ers.32
Certain nouns belonging to Declension<Ia> use the null form of the genitive
plural in combination with quanti¬ers, but the explicit ending {-ov} for other
genitives: itcnyflwfnm rbkjuhfvv ˜sixteen kilograms™, lj lde[cjn rbkjuhfvv
˜up to two hundred kilograms™ but chtlb эnb[ rbkjuhfvvjd ˜among those

32 Worth 1959:fn. 9, Mel chuk 1985[a]:430--37.
198 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 4.7 Alternative plurals (selected numerals, genitive and dative cases)

percentage percentage
xtkjdtr k/ltq xtkjdtr xtkjdtrfv k/lzv xtkjdtrfv

xtnsht[ ∼ 18,800 476 98% 67 116 37%
14,100 143 99% 81 119 41%
9,380 389 96% 83 17 83%
4,140 75 98% 6 9 40%
12,400 160 99% 110 3 97%

kilograms™ (§3.6.4).33 The measures of modern science are similar: ufecc(jd)
˜gausses™, fyucnhtv(jd) ˜angstroms™, jv(jd) ˜ohms™, htynuty(jd) ˜roentgens™.
Two high-frequency nouns use two different stems in the plural.
While the general plural of xtkjd†r is k/ ´lb, plural forms of xtkjd†r are
used in quantifying contexts. As a genitive plural with the ending {-º},
xtkjd†r is used with true numerals: itcnmcjn ldflwfnm gznm xtkjdtr ,skb
gjldthuyenj tgbnbvmzv ˜six hundred twenty-¬ve people were subjected to per-
forming penances™. Both xtkjd†r and k/l†q are used with the approximate quan-
ti¬ers cnj ´kmrj. In ytcrjkmrj xtkjdtr gjnjyekj ˜some people
´kmrj, y†crjkmrj, cnj
drowned™, xtkjd†r establishes the existence of an event of drowning. K/l†q in-
dicates that the people are individuals, each with a separate history: crjkmrj
k/ltq jcnfkbcm ,s ;bds ˜how many people might have remained alive™. With
vyj ˜many™, v’kj ˜few™, ytv’kj ˜not a few™, k/l†q is used by a wide margin
(on the web, 97% k/ltq <31.X.02>), as in [110]:

[110] Yj tcnm ytvfkj k/ltq, rjnjhst cxbnf/n gj-lheujve.
But there are a fair number of people who think otherwise.

K/l†q tends to be used with mille quanti¬ers more than xtkjd†r. The
nominative-accusative vbkkbj ´ys overwhelmingly uses k/l†q (97% k/l†q on
the web <31.X.02>). The genitive vbkkbj ´yjd, however, prefers xtkjd†r (only
30% k/l†q on the web <31.X.02>). K/l†q is also used with groupings of peo-
ple, ltcznrb nfkfynkbds[ k/ltq ˜dozens of talented people™. Genitives that are
not quantifying have only k/l†q: ghj,ktvs ;bpyb k/ltq ˜problems of people™s
life™, njkgf k/ltq ˜crowd of people™.
With general numerals in oblique cases other than the genitive, either noun
can be used with numerals, to judge a search of dative forms reported in Table 4.7
(web, <31.X.02>). Table 4.7 reminds us that xtkjd†r is close to universal with

33 Vorontsova 1976:136--37.
Arguments 199

Table 4.8 Numerative plurals: ktn, xtkjdtr

context ujls/ktnf k/lb/xtkjdtr

plural oblique, r ldflwfnb ujlfv; jnlfktyyst gjvj;tn lf;t ltcznb k/lzv
non-genitive [individuated] / gjyhfdbncz
ltcznm/ ujlfvb
gznb xtkjdtrfv [existential]
adnominal to lexical noun k/lb itcnbltczns[ ujljd ghj,ktvs ;bpyb k/ltq; njkgf
[individuated] / d ext,ybrf[ k/ltq
nt[ ktn; ghfrnbrf ghjiks[
ktn; rjkbxtcndj ktn
quanti¬ers vfkj, ytvfkj, vyjuj ktn vyjuj k/ltq, ytvfkj k/ltq
vyjuj, ytvyjuj
mille numerals vbkkbjy 320 vbkkbjyjd k/ltq
vbkkbjys ktn yfpfl
group quanti¬ers ltcznjr, cjnyb ktn ltcznrb nfkfynkbds[ k/ltq
approximate quanti¬ers cnjkmrj ktn ghjikj crjkmrj k/ltq jcnfkbcm ,s
;bds [individuated] /
cnjkmrj, ytcrjkmrj,
crjkmrj ytcrjkmrj xtkjdtr gjnjyekj
general numerals ldflwfnm ktn; ,jktt lde[ ktn ldflwfnm xtkjdtr

genitive forms of numerals. With oblique numerals, forms of k/ allow the
people to be viewed as separate individuals ([111]); forms of xtkjd†r focus on the
quantity as such ([112]):

[111] Tckb vjz rybuf gjvj;tn lf;t ltcznb k/lzv, z e;t ,ele cxfcnkbd.
If my book should help just ten people, I will be happy.
[112] Yfif vepsrf gjyhfdbncz gznb xtkjdtrfv bp cjnyb.
Our music will please ¬ve people out of a hundred.

Uj ˜years™ is used in many contexts, including in oblique cases with numer-
als, r ldflwfnb ujlfv ˜to twenty years™, jnlfktyyst ltcznm/ ujlfvb ˜distanced
by ten years™. K†n is used for almost any genitive plural: with quanti¬ers of all
kinds, vyjuj ktn ˜many years™, lj ldflwfnb ktn ˜up to twenty years™, vbkkbjys
ktn yfpfl ˜millions of years ago™, cnjkmrj ktn ghjikj ˜so many years have passed™;
with adnominal genitives that are not quantifying, d ext,ybrf[ nt[ ktn ˜in the
textbooks of those years™, ghfrnbrf ghjiks[ ktn ˜the practice of recent years™;
and in idioms with the preposition c de¬ning the start of an interval: c {ltncrb[
∼ /ys[ ∼ nt[} ktn ˜from {childhood ∼ young ∼ those} years™. K†n is used in
discussions of age, which is often measured with numbers: dsukzltkf cnfhit
cdjb[ ktn ˜she looked older than her years™, ks;ybrb chtlyb[ ktn ˜skiers of
200 A Reference Grammar of Russian

middle age™. The plural uj ´ls can have the sense of a series of years, such as a
decade: itcnbltcznst ujls ˜the sixties™, d gthdst ujls htdjk/wbb ˜in the ¬rst
years of the revolution™, and in this sense it can appear in the genitive: k/lb
itcnbltczns[ ujljd ˜people of the sixties™. The genitive ujlj is also used if years
are understood as individuated, nhfubxtcrbt cj,snbz 1937--1938 ujljd ˜the tragic
events of the years of 1937--1938™, or if the genitive is governed by a verb: yjdsq
ghjwtcc d kexitv ckexft gjnht,etn tot ujljd bcgsnfybq ˜the new process, even
at best, will require still more years of testing™.
Xtkjd†r and uj are used with numerals that call for the singular form:
ldflwfnm jlby xtkjdtr ˜twenty-one people™, c ldflwfnm/ jlybv xtkjdtrjv ˜with
twenty-one people™, nhb xtkjdtrf ˜three people™, xtnsht ujlf ˜four years™, lj
ldflwfnb jlyjuj ujlf ˜up to twenty-one years™, but lj djphfcnf xtnsht[ ktn ˜up
to the age of four years™.
The usage and examples discussed above are summarized in Table 4.8. K†n is
used broadly as a genitive plural, not only in quantifying contexts. Xtkjd†r is
used in quantifying contexts (though k/l†q is not excluded), and not only as a
A small number of nouns have two genitive singular forms that differ by
stress. The regular genitive is used in most contexts. The n u m e r a t i v e form
with unusual stress is an archaism used with paucal numerals or fractions:
{(ldflwfnm) ldf ∼ nhb ∼ xtnsht} {ifu’ ∼ xfc’ ∼ hzl’ (hz ´lf) ∼ ifh’ ∼ [archaic]
hfp’} ˜{(twenty) two ∼ three ∼ four} {steps ∼ hours ∼ rows ∼ balls ∼ times}™;
gjkjdbyf ifu’ ˜a half step™. The regular genitive singular is stressed on the
stem: jrjkj x’cf ˜around an hour™. Numerative stress yields to the regular stress
when the combination is not idiomatic: ldf gthds[ i’uf ˜two ¬rst steps™ ldf
,tcrjytxys[ x’cf ˜two endless hours™, ldf c gjkjdbyjq {xfc’ (∼ x’cf) ∼ i’uf}
˜two and a half {hours ∼ steps}™.34 Pf j,t o=rb ˜on both cheeks™ (otherwise,
gen sg otr«) and dct xtnsht cnj ´hjys (gen sg cnjhjyß) ˜all four sides™ are ¬xed

4.3.11 Quantifiers and gj
A construction beloved among grammarians is the use of quanti¬ers with the
preposition gj in its distributive sense: a certain quantity of things is assigned
to each member of some set.36

34 The pattern is a vestige of the stress in the dual of nouns with originally mobile accentuation.
In mobile nouns, the accent fell on the nom=acc dual ending of msc o-stem nouns, hence ifu’,
and on the initial syllable of fem a-stem nouns, cnjhjy˜ > cnjhjys (Stang 1957:76, 61).
´ ´
35 Vinogradov 1947:302--4.
36 Vinogradov 1947:297, Bogus awski and Karolak 1970:13--14, Mel chuk 1985[a]. The historical trajec-
tory is outlined in Bogus awski 1966:199--201, passim.
Arguments 201

Distributive phrases with gj ¬t in a wide range of argument positions: in
positions where one might expect an accusative object ([113]), an accusative ex-
pression of frequency ([114]), or the nominative subject of an intransitive verb
with existential force ([115]):

[113] Ltrfye rf;ljuj afrekmntnf hfphtibkb dpznm c cj,jq gj ldf<nom=acc> cneltynf.
The dean of every faculty was permitted to take two students each.
[114] Z yfyzkcz vsnm gjcele d htcnjhfyt, gj ldtyflwfnm<nom=acc> xfcjd d ltym b gj
itcnm<nom=acc> lytq d ytltk/.
I took a job washing dishes in a restaurant, twelve hours per day and six days per
[115] Yf rf;ljq crfvmt cbltkj gj nhb<nom=acc> cneltynf.
At each bench there sat three students.

These are the same argument positions that allow the genitive of negation,37
presumably because gj, like the genitive of negation, focuses on existence rather
than individuation. For the same reason, presumably, gj does not treat its ac-
cusative complement as animate with paucal numerals (gj ldf cneltynf in [113]).
But gj is not limited to contexts that allow the genitive of negation. Gj phrases
can be inserted in apposition to an argument including arguments of predicates
in which the genitive would be problematic ([116]) and, unusually, can even sub-
stitute for a transitive subject ([117--18]):

[116] :bden cneltyns yf gthdjv rehct gj ldflwfnm<nom=acc> xtkjdtr d rjvyfnt.
Students in the ¬rst year live twenty people to a room.
[117] Rf;ljuj vbybcnhf lth;fkb gjl here gj ldf<nom=acc> vfnhjcf.
Each minister was held by the arms by two sailors each.
[118] D 47 depf[ эne cnbgtylb/ gjkexbkb gj jlyjve<dat> cneltyne, d 16 depf[ -- gj
ldf<nom=acc> cneltynf.
In 47 schools, one student each received this scholarship, and in 16 schools --- two
students each.

The case of the numeral used with gj is a favorite puzzle of Russian grammar.38
In earlier times gj took the dative in this distributive construction, just as gj
takes the dative in other senses of distribution over a set of entities (,hjlbnm gj
ekbwfv ˜to wander along the streets™). In this construction, however, there is a
long-term shift away from the dative. The dative is still obligatory with single
units: adjectival jlby ([119]), mille numerals ([120]), even bare singular nouns
without a numeral ([121]):

37 38
Legendre and Akimova 1994. Comrie 1991, among other sources.
202 A Reference Grammar of Russian

[119] D Vjcrdt ctqxfc 9 nsczx DBX-byabwbhjdfyys[ -- d chtlytv gj jlyjve<dat>
xtkjdtre<dat> yf rf;le/ nsczxe yfctktybz.
In Moscow now there are nine thousand HIV-positive people -- on average, one
person per thousand of the population.
[120] Ghbvthyj gj vbkkbjye<dat> ljkkfhjd gjkexfn d ysytiytv ujle kfehtfns.
Nobel laureates will receive approximately one million dollars per person this
[121] E Rjcnb ,skj gj hjvfye<dat> d rf;ljv gjhne.
Kostia had a romance in every port.

Pluralia tantum use the dative: gj cenrfv ˜for a day at a time™, gj yj;ybwfv
˜a pair of scissors each™. The dative is still an option with y†crjkmrj: cbltkj gj
jlyjq, gj ldt, f nj b gj ytcrjkmre<dat> cnfhe[<gen> ˜there sat one, or two, or
several old women on each™.
Many numerals -- integers (gz ´nm), teens (nhby’lwfnm), and decades (ld’lwfnm,
´n, ´ctvmltczn) -- take either of two forms. The older form is an oblique
gznmltcz dj
case form -- ldflwfn« in [122]. This form, let us assume, is genitive, since the
quanti¬ed noun is genitive and some forms (gj gznbcj ˜¬ve hundred per™) look
like genitives.39

[122] Cjamz gjnht,jdfkf, xnj, cnhtkmws ghbckfkb gj ldflwfnb<gen> xtkjdtr kexitq
,hfnbb jn rf;ljuj gjkrf.
So¬a demanded that the streltsy should send twenty of their best people from
each regiment.

The other option is the direct (nom=acc) case form (gj ldflwfnm<nom=acc>
xtkjdtr, in [116]), now much more frequent. In a sampling of websites, the older
oblique form was used at most in a quarter of the tokens (with gz and l†cznm),
to as little as a tenth (ld’lwfnm).
Other numerals now use the direct case almost exclusively. Included here are
compound hundreds ([123]), round numerals (cnj ˜hundred™, cj ´hjr ˜forty™), and
paucals ([124]):

[123] Yjdbxjr ljk;ty ,sk ghbdtcnb d jhufybpfwb/ vbybvev nht[ xtkjdtr b,
cjjndtncndtyyj, gjkexbnm jn rf;ljuj bp yb[ gj nhbcnf<nom=acc> ljkkfhjd.
The initiate was supposed to bring into the organization at the minimum three
people, and accordingly, to receive from each three hundred dollars.
[124] Gjckt nht[ nsczx gjkextyys[ pdjyrjd abhvf ghbrhsdftn cfqn b gjzdkztncz d
lheujv vtcnt. Nhb nsczxb pdjyrjd gj nhb<nom=acc> vbyens, gj nhb<nom=acc>
ljkkfhf vbyenf.

39 Comrie 1986[a]. Alternatively, the form might be a dative, residually governing the genitive of the
quanti¬ed noun, parallel to gj ytcrjkmre<dat> cnfhe[<gen> ; gznbcjn would be an idiosyncratic,
archaic dative preserved in this construction.
Arguments 203

After three thousand hits the ¬rm closes the site and appears in another place.
Three thousand hits of three minutes each, three dollars per minute.

The old forms appear haphazardly: note gj cnf he,ktq c xtkjdtrf ˜a hundred
rubles per person™, from a novel of 1925, or the unusual gznbcj ([125]):

[125] D pfrk/xtybt ,skf gjrfpfyf ,bndf lde[ gjkrjd gj gznbcjn<gen> gt[jnbywtd,
ldflwfnm<nom=acc> ckjyjd b nhbcnf<nom=acc> dcflybrjd c rf;ljq cnjhjys.
In conclusion there was noted a battle of two regiments consisting of ¬ve hundred
foot soldiers, twenty elephants and three hundred cavalry from each side.

However one analyzes the oblique case used with gj, it is clearly residual. The
future for all numerals (except singleton units) is the direct (nom=acc) case


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