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Prepositions of Direction in Russian Posted by on Jan 16, 2020 in grammar

This post will talk about Russian prepositions that are used for talking about motion in Russian. Let’s look at some common cases.

train

Photo by Ankush Minda on Unsplash

От

От means “from” but this translation alone may not be helpful because из can mean “from,” too. От is used in the following cases:

  • sender or source of information
    • Мы узна́ли о ко́нкурсе от учи́теля (We learned about the contest from our teacher).
    • Э́то письмо́ от дру́га (This is a letter from a friend).
  • protection or remedy
    • табле́тки от ка́шля (anti-cough pills)
    • защи́та от ржа́вчины (rust protection)
  • starting point of a journey or distance, paired up with до
    • По́езд доезжа́ет от Москвы́ до Санкт-Петербу́рга за 4 часа́ (The train covers the distance from Moscow to St. Petersburg in 4 hours).

До

До means “up to” in space or time.

  • quitting time or a final point in time
    • Магази́н рабо́тает до 20 часо́в (The shop is open until 8 pm).
    • До обе́да оста́лось 2 часа́ (There are 2 hours left until lunchtime).
  • final point of a journey, may be paired with от
    • Мы немно́го не дое́хали до мо́ря (We didn’t quite make it to the sea).
clock

Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

К

К is similar to до in that it means “up to,” but it has less of a “final destination” feel and more of a general direction feel. К is fairly common.

  • person or office we are visiting
    • Я иду́ в го́сти к тёте (I’m going to visit my aunt; до тёти would be odd in this case).
    • Запиши́сь на приём к врачу́ (Make an appointment to see a doctor).
  • coming up to something (but not entering)
    • Мы подошли́ к па́рку (We got to [the entrance to] the park).

На

Literally, “on top of,” but it can correspond to “in,” “on,” “at,” etc. in English. Its use is often dictated by the noun that follows.

  • destination, with nouns that require it
    • Я иду́ на рабо́ту (I’m going to work).
    • Самолёт лети́т на Ку́бу (The plane is flying to Cuba).

С

The “from” counterpart of на.

  • origin, with nouns that require it
    • Я возвраща́юсь с рабо́ты (I’m returning from work).
    • Самолёт лети́т с Ку́бы (The plane is flying from Cuba).
plane

Photo by Marcus Zymmer on Unsplash

В

Literally, “inside.” May correspond to “in” or “on.” Its use depends on the noun that follows.

  • most cities and countries as a destination
    • Мы е́дем в Ло́ндон (We’re going to London).
  • destination, with certain nouns
    • Пойдём в кино́? (Should we go to the cinema?)

Из

The “origin” counterpart of в.

  • most cities and countries as an origin
    • Мы прие́хали из Ло́ндона (We came from London).
  • origin, with certain nouns
    • Мы верну́лись из кино́ (We came back from the cinema).

Note that the question “Where are you from?” uses от: Отку́да ты/вы? but the answer will often use из: Я из Аргенти́ны (I’m from Argentina).

I hope this was useful. What did I miss? What other prepositions would you like to learn about?

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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available on her translation site and on Twitter at @intorussian.


Comments:

  1. Martin Barlow:

    Extremely useful. Thanks!

  2. Óscar Guzmán:

    Absolutely I’ve enjoyed reading this post Maria. I’m from Mexico and I usually read your posts. I’ve read Russian for almost five years and when I read something about Russian lenguaje I just migh remember my Russian classes with Laura Gasparyan (she was my teacher)
    Thanks for this.
    Regards from Mexico.

    • Maria:

      @Óscar Guzmán Thank you! It’s great you’re working on keeping up your Russian. I hope to see you again on this blog.

  3. Carlos R. Barron:

    Rusian is a hard language,it will help if yo include and approximate sound (to English) .like the work rabota for work.
    My native language is Spanish but I live in the USA,
    cyrilic alphabet is not latin this is hard for us but anyway thanks forwhat you send,I lived for a month with a Russian from ULan Ude for amonth I helped him in America he thought me this: ya druck Sergeya ( I am friend of Sergey)spaciba


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