Немно́го о языке́ 3.7 Где они́ живу́т?

Где? Telling Where People and Things are Located

So far you have learned that the subject of a sentence is expressed using the nominative case, the singular of which is the dictionary form of the noun. We have also learned that the direct object, the recipient of the verb’s action, is expressed using the accusative case.

In this section we will learn how to express the location of a person or thing: in other words, how to answer the question Где?.  We will work with two prepositions (в and на) which will be followed by a noun in the prepositional case. Both can express a range of meanings, but are generally the equivalents of the English prepositions "in, "at" and/or "on".  Once you have had a chance to work on these locational constructions and the new prepositional endings, we will return to a discussion of when to use each preposition.

Prepositional Case Endings

As you saw in opening of this section’s story, the general ending for masculine, feminine and neuter nouns in the prepositional case is -е.  In masculine nouns, the –e is added to the stem. In feminine nouns, the -е ending replaces the -а or -я on the dictionary form. In neuter nouns, the -е ending replaces the -о or -е of the dictionary form.

Nominative case
что? (what?)
Prepositional case
где? (where?)
Masculine ø   ь                 →





в Петербу́рге

в музе́е

в словаре́

в Яросла́вле

Feminine а   я                 →



в Москве́

в пе́сне
Neuter о   е                 →



в зе́ркале

в мо́ре

Masculine nouns that end in -ий, feminine nouns in -ия and -ь, and neuter nouns ending in -ие will all replace their last letter with -и.

Nominative case
что? (what?)
Prepositional case
где? (where?)
Masculine -ий  →


в кафете́рии
Feminine -ия →


-ь →



в Росси́и

в Каза́ни

в тетра́ди
Neuter -ие                 →


в общежи́тии

A final note:  While the prepositional case is always used with a preposition, not all prepositions in Russian will take the prepositional case.  When sorting out which case to use, it may help you more to think about the function(s) that a case performs. So you will want to remember that the prepositional case with в and на expresses location, and allows one to indicate where people or things are. In other words, prepositional can answer the question: "Где?"

Phonetics: Assimilation of Prepositions and Nouns

Although Russians write a space between a preposition and the word that follows it, you will notice that when they pronounce the two words there is no break between them; the preposition runs directly into the following word and the two are pronounced as if they were one word. This is especially important for understanding and pronouncing the preposition в.

Упражне́ние 1

Listen to how в combines with words that begin with a vowel.  Repeat the phrases after the speaker.

Аме́рика в Аме́рике
Орего́н в Орего́не
университе́т в университе́те
Евро́па в Евро́пе
Ита́лия в Ита́лии
Ирку́тск в Ирку́тске
исто́рия в исто́рии
Яросла́вль в Яросла́вле

Упражне́ние 2

Listen to how the preposition в creates a slightly longer [в] sound when used before words beginning with the letter в. Repeat the phrases after the speaker.

Во́лга в Во́лге
во́дка в во́дке
Вашингто́н в Вашингто́не

Упражне́ние 3

Pronouncing the preposition в together with words that begin with a consonant can sometimes be challenging.  Learning to make a slightly longer [в] sound to lead into the next word (without inserting a vowel sound) will immediately improve your accent in Russian. 

до́м в до́ме
лифт в лифте
Москва́ в Москве́
музе́й в музе́е
Ли́пецк в Ли́пецке
Росси́я в Росси́и
Ряза́нь в Ряза́ни
го́род в го́роде
гара́ж в гараже́
Но́вгород в Но́вгороде
библиоте́ка в библиоте́ке

Voiced and Voiceless Consonants

Russian consonants can be divided into two groups based on whether they are voiced (pronounced with vibration of the vocal cords) or voiceless (pronounced without this vibration).

Listen to the initial consonants in the table below as they are read aloud in the syllables.  As you hear them, repeat them while keeping your thumb and index fingers on your throat.  When you move from the voiced consonants to the voiceless ones, you should feel your vocal cords stop vibrating.

Voiced Voiceless
б п
в ф
г к
д т
ж ш
з с

As you see, twelve consonants occur in six voiced-voiceless pairs. Several more (х, ц, ч and щ) in Russian are always voiceless. Others (л, м, н and р) have a lot of voice and are called sonorants.

When в appears before words starting with the voiceless consonants (к, п, с, т, ш, ф, ч, ц and щ), their voiceless quality will transfer backwards, and the voiced в will be pronounced as its voiceless counterpart [ф].

We see/write We hear / pronounce Why?

в кинотеа́тре

Voiceless [к] turns в to voiceless [ф]

в тетра́ди

Voiceless [т] turns в to voiceless [ф]

Assimilating the pronunciation of в to [ф] will help you avoid inserting a vowel sound between the preposition and the following word. Listen carefully to the following examples.

па́рк в па́рке
кино́ в кино́
стол в столе́
шко́ла в шко́ле
Канза́с в Канза́се
ко́мната в ко́мнате
тетра́дь в тетра́ди
слова́рь в словаре́
Петербу́рг в Петербу́рге
Калифо́рния в Калифо́рнии

Упражне́ние 4

Look at the phrases on the left and compare their spelling to their pronunciation. In which ones does assimilation cause the preposition в to be pronounced like [ф]?