Russian Language Blog

Using the Instrumental Case, Part 1 Posted by on Mar 21, 2011 in language


«Дорогие друзья» [Dear friends], I have a special relationship (for some reason, my phrasing there is reminding me of the “special relationship” between the United States and Great Britain) with «творительный падеж» [the instrumental case]. You see, back in the good old days when I was first starting to learn Russian, «учебник» [the textbook] simply stopped with learning «падежи» [cases] after the other five cases were learned. Of course, I was very curious about the instrumental case, so I did what any sensible, Russian-obsessed girl would do: I looked ahead in the textbook and taught myself. And now I am teaching you about the instrumental case. First we’ll go over endings, and then usage. 

«Окончания» [Endings]

For nouns, the endings are as follows: «мужской и средний род» [masculine and neuter] take «-ом» and «женский род» [feminine] takes «-ой». «Множественное число» [Plural] takes «-ами». A few examples:

  • «нож — ножом — ножами» [knife]
  • «книга — книгой — книгами» [book]
  • «здание — зданием — зданиями» [building]
  • «отец — отцом — отцами» [father]
  • «тетрадь — тетрадью — тетрадями» [notebook]
  • «каша — кашей — кашами» [porridge]

Notice how if the noun is soft, the ending also must be soft, like with the word «здание». Also, the spelling rules must be observed: «каша» becomes «кашей» because the vowel after «ш» is unstressed. And finally, feminine nouns ending in «-ь» [the soft sign] have the ending «-ью».

Now for adjectives: «мужской и средний род» [masculine and neuter] take «-ым» and «женский род» [feminine] takes «-ой». «Множественное число» [Plural] takes «-ыми». Here are some examples:

  • «новым — новой — новыми» [new]
  • «синим — синей — синими» [dark blue]
  • «плохим — плохой — плохими» [bad]
  • «хорошим — хорошей — хорошими» [good]

So, we now know how to form the instrumental case. Now the question is: «Как употребляется?» [How is it used?]

  • As an instrument to do something, such as: «Я пишу карандашом.» [I am writing with a pencil.]
  • With the past, future, and infinitive of «быть» [to be]:
    1. «Я хочу быть президентом.» [I want to be president.]
    2. «Он был солдатом.» [He was a soldier.]
    3. «Она будет архитектором.» [She will be an architect.]
  • But remember: nationalities are always in the nominative case: «Она была русская.» [She was Russian.]

Certain verbs take the instrumental case, as do certain prepositions, but we will talk about that on Wednesday.

To be continued… Not to keep all of you in suspense, but I don’t want to overwhelm anyone. I decided to stop here, for now, because I started to overwhelm myself a bit! Check back on Wednesday for a post on further usage of the instrumental case. And, as always, if you have a question, don’t hesitate to ask!

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About the Author: Natalie

I'm Natalie and I love the Russian language and sharing my knowledge with others. I graduated from university with a dual degree in Russian language & literature and history.


  1. Maria:

    Слово “окончания” пишется через “о”. Исправьте, пожалуйста.

    Говорят “Она была украинкой”.
    Украинская была песня, например.