Russian Phrases For Dummies
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Using Russian for numbers and counting can be tricky if you need to work extensively with numbers, such as in mathematics and accounting. Each Russian number has six forms depending on how it's used! The good news is that most of the time, you'll only need to use the nominative case.

Cases are sets of endings that words take to indicate their function and relationship to other words in the sentence. Russian has 6 cases: nominative case (when it is the subject of the sentence); genitive case (when indicating possession); accusative case (when it is a direct object); dative case (when it is an indirect object); instrumental case (when it assists the carrying out of an action); and prepositional case (when used after some prepositions).

Since most people won't find themselves needing to know all the different forms, we'll focus on just the most commonly used form: the nominative case. You'll probably use the numbers between zero and 9 the most.

0 to 9
nol' nohl' 0
odin ah-DEEN 1
dva dvah 2
tri tree 3
chyetyrye chee-TIH-r'eh 4
pyat' p'aht' 5
shyest' shehst' 6
syem' s'ehm' 7
vosyem' VOH-s'ehm' 8
dyevyat' D'EH-v'uht' 9

But wait! In Russian, when you use numbers, you have to follow a few rules:

  • The number one followed by a noun: This number changes depending on the gender of the following noun: if masculine, say odin followed by the noun as in odin chyelovyek (ah-DEEN chee-lah-V'EHK) (one man); if feminine, say odna and if the noun is neuter, say odno.

  • The number two followed by a noun: Change noun to singular. For masculine or neuter nouns, say dva, for feminine nouns, say dvye, as in dva chyelovyeka (dvah chee-lah-V'EH-kuh) (two men) and dvye dyevushki (dv'eh D'EH-voosh-kee) (two girls).

  • The numbers three and four followed by a noun: Change the noun to singular; however, these numbers don't change according to gender.

  • The numbers five through nine followed by a noun: Change the noun to plural, but do not change the noun according to gender, as in the phrase pyat' dyevushyek (p'aht' D'EH-voo-shehk) (five girls).

Nouns following numerals 10 through 19 take the genitive plural:

10 to 19
dyesyat' D'EH-s'uht' 10
odinnadtsat' ah-DEE-nuht-tsuht' 11
dvyenadtsat' dvee-NAHT-tsuht' 12
trinadtsat' tree-NAHT-tsuht' 13
chyetyrnadtsat' chee-TIHR-nuht-tsuht' 14
pyatnadtsat' peet-NAHT-tsuht' 15
shyestnadtsat' shees-NAHT-tsuht' 16
syemnadtsat' seem-NAHT-tsuht' 17
vosyemnadtsyat' vuh-seem-NAHT-tsuht' 18
dyevyatnadtsat' dee-veet-NAHT-tsuht' 19

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Andrew Kaufman, PhD, is currently a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Virginia. He holds a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Stanford University, and he has recognized success as both a published scholar and an innovative, award-winning teacher of Russian language, literature, and culture at some of the country’s top universities. To learn more about Dr. Kaufman, please visit his website at

Serafima Gettys, PhD, earned her doctorate degree in Foreign Language Education from Gertzen State Pedagogical University, Leningrad, USSR. She is currently a Coordinator of the Foreign Language Program at Lewis University, where she also teaches Russian. Prior to coming to Lewis University, she taught Russian at Stanford University. Gettys is also a member of a number of professional language associations.

Nina Wieda is a doctoral student in Slavic Languages and Literatures at Northwestern University in Chicago. A trained linguist with an MA in Social Sciences, Nina also has a book of poetry published in Russian, and a number of scholarly articles on Chekhov and contemporary drama published in English.

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