Russian Cases: «Винительный падеж» [Accusative] (part I) Posted by josefina on Jul 13, 2009 in language
Today’s case – «винительный падеж» [accusative] – is used in the sentence above «Добро пожаловать в музей!» [‘Welcome to the museum!’] as an answer to the question: «куда?» [where?].
Today’s post will be an easy, breezy post – and thus a perfect post to read on lazy summer days like these in the middle of July. If you haven’t touched your «грамматика русского языка» [Grammar of Russian Language] since «день России» on the 12th of July – of which the ever increasing layer of dust upon it speaks clearly – «не переживай!» [don’t worry!] You are not alone, to use the famous words of the late great King of Pop, «Майкл Джексон» as the Russians call him. Summer is a time of the year when even the firmest of Russophiles is allowed to have other things on their mind than focusing endlessly on pronouncing unstressed «о» as «а» thus making words like «хорошо» [good], «облако» [cloud] and «небо» [sky] sound like «харашо» [good], «облака» [cloud] and «неба» [sky]. During the summer it’s okay just relax and spend some time with the easiest of Russian language’s six cases – «винительный падеж» [accusative]. This case is used after verbs to express the DIRECT OBJECT of the sentence – something that most other languages also have. Most sentences have a subject and a verb. The direct object is usually what follows that verb. That’s why this case should be a piece of cake for everyone, or, literally: «кусок пирога» – as this popular English idiom could have been directly translated into Russian but in general it isn’t because it is not an idiom in Russian. Anyway, let’s take a look at a couple of sentences where accusative expresses the direct object after verbs:
«Я вижу карту Республики Татарстан» – [I see a map of the Republic of Tatarstan].
«Каждый вечер мы смотрим телевизор» – [Every evening we watch TV].
Accusative only gets tricky – and then only a bit tricky, not very very tricky, but a teeny tiny bit tricky – when it comes to the difference it makes between female and male nouns. Yes, you heard me: there’s a distinct difference between female and male nouns in accusative. The rule is as follows – in accusative the form for male nouns that are «ОДУШЕВЛЁННЫЕ» [ANIMATE; in other words: ‘living people’] is the same as in GENITIVE. Male animate nouns do not have a special accusative form. There’s no such difference between «одушевлённые» [animate] and «неодушевлённые» [inanimate] in accusative case for female nouns. They have their own special form in accusative – usually their «а»-ending is changed into an «у», the same thing happens to «я» which turns into a «ю». Here are some examples to illustrate this rule:
«Я знаю Ивана» – [I know Ivan].
«Ты помнишь Лизу?» – [Do you remember Liza?]
«Мы любим отца» – [We love (our) father].
«Они попросили Аню спеть» – [They asked Anya to sing].
Here’s an example of how female nouns ending with the vowel «я» receives the ending «ю» in accusative: «Берегите Россию!» [Protect Russia!]. The form «берегите» is plural imperative of the imperfect verb «беречь» [to save, keep; to save, conserve; to take care of; guard; protect]. In first person singular in present tense the form used is «берегу» as in «я всегда берегу природу» [I always protect nature], for example. After this verb the case used is always accusative.
It would be very easy to explain this case saying that the «винительный» [accusative] in this case comes from the verb «винить» [impfv. to blame]. But «Фасмер» and his «Этимологический словарь русского языка» [Etymologic Dictionary of Russian Language] teaches us that this is a folly and a mistake made long before us by people who – most likely – knew this language a whole lot better:
«Винительный падеж – калька с латинского слова casus accusativus, первноначально от греческого слова, что обозначало «падеж, обозначающий результат действия». В русском языке отражён неверный перевод с латинского: «винительный, то есть падеж обвинения».
[Accusative case – a loan translation from the Latin word casus accusatives, originally from the Greek word that meant “a case, meaning the result of an action”. In Russian is reflected the incorrect translation from Latin: “accusative, that is the case of accusation”.]
Next time we’ll take a closer look at the prepositions that demand to be followed by accusative case. And in the mean time – I wish everyone «счастливого лета» [a happy summer] and «хорошей погоды» [good weather] and, of course, «полезного отдыха» [healthy rest]! Anyone traveling to Russia this summer? Where to? I would love to find out!
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