Instrumental Case

Table Of Contents

When To Use Instrumental?

Substantives in instrumental form answer two questions:

In addition, there are specific grammatical constructs (prepositions, passive voice) which use instrumental case.

Я
пришли́
здесь
пешко́м.

I arrived here by foot.

Отгороженные
рабо́чие
места́
огражденные
невысо́кими
фанерованными
стенами.

The cubicles were walled off by low chipboard walls.

Он
рабо́тал
мусорщиком
до
те́х
пор,
пока́
они́
выбрали
его́
чле́ном
парла́мента.

He worked as a garbage collector, until he was elected as a memeber of parliament.

Substantives In instrumental

Instrumentals end is -ом / -ем for masculines and neuters and -ой/-ей for feminines. The IPA sound [ʲ] is present in instrumental -ем/-ей endings, and we use these "yeah-endings" when this sound is already present in the base form - that is, when the nominative ends in -й, -я or -е.

Last letterSingular Instrumental EndingExampleIn English
consonant except й(masc.)-ом
Они́
избрали
её
президе́нтом.
They elected her president. (tatoeba.org)
-й (m.)-ем
Ви́ски
хорошо́
сочета́ется
с
ча́ем.
Whisky goes very well with tea. (tatoeba.org)
(masc.)
like путь
-ем
Ты
всегда́
будешь
жела́нным
го́стем.
You will always be welcome. (tatoeba.org)

(masc. or fem.)
like способность
-ью
То́м
и
Мэри
стоя́ли
за
дверью
и
шепта́лись.
Tom and Mary were standing just outside the door, whispering to each other. (tatoeba.org)
-a (feminine)
-ой
Я
отрица́тельно
покача́л
голово́й.
I shook my head no. (tatoeba.org)
-я (feminine) -ей
То́м
рабо́тает
над
но́вой
пе́сней.
Tom is working on a new song. (tatoeba.org)
-o (neuter)-ом
Мне
всегда́
хоте́лось
занима́ться
се́льским
хозя́йством.
I have always been interested in working in agriculture. (tatoeba.org)
-е (neuter)-ем
Он
горди́тся
свои́м
зна́нием
поли́тики.
He prides himself on his knowledge of politics. (tatoeba.org)

Plural instrumental ending is either -ами or -ями. The Instrumental ending is -ям if the nominative ends я, е, й or ь, just like in dative. The only difference between plural instrumental and dative is the final -и.

Last letterPlural InstrumentalExampleIn English
consonant except й (masc.)-ами { "Том пробежал глазами список." | annotate }} Tom skimmed through the list. (tatoeba.org)
-a (feminine)
У
них
хоро́шие
отноше́ния
с
сосе́дними
странами.
They have good relations with neighbouring countries. (tatoeba.org)
-o (neuter)
Не́
игра́й
с
его́
чу́вствами!
Don't play with his feelings! (tatoeba.org)
-й (masc.)-ями
Они́
бы́ли
геро́ями.
They were heroes. (tatoeba.org)
-ь (masc. or fem.)
Ра́ди
него́
мы
рискова́ли
жи́знями.
We risked our lives for it. (tatoeba.org)
-я (feminine)
Он
развлека́ет
нас
свои́ми
смешны́ми
исто́риями.
He amuses us with his funny stories. (tatoeba.org)
-е (neuter)
До́м
бы́л
окружен
поля́ми.
The house was surrounded by fields. (tatoeba.org)

Adjectives In Instrumental

For adjectives in genitive, the masculine and neuter endings are -ого or -его. In this special case г is pronounced like в, for example кра́сного is pronounced [краaсново]. The feminine ending is -ой or -ей and the plural ending is -ых or -их.
CommonExceptions
Regular Adjectives Stem ends in
г, к, х
Stem ends in
ж, ч, ш, щ
Soft stem adjectives Ending in -ой
Singular Masculine & Neuter перед красным стулом
in front of red chair
с глубоким объяснением
with a deep explanation
хорошим кородом
as a good king
перед синим стулом
in front of blue chair
делиться большим кусоком мяса
to share a big steak
Singular Feminine над красной кроватью
above red bed
с глубокой анестезией
with a deep anestesia
хорошей пианисткой
as a good pianist
над синей кроватью
above blue bed
делиться большой пиццой
to share a big pizza
Plural
(any and all genders)
за красными диванами
behind red sofas
с глубокими канавами
with deep ditches
хорошими людьми
as good people
за синими машинами
behind blue cars
делиться большими идеями
to share big ideas

Pronouns In Instrumental

PronounInstrumentalExampleIn Russian
I, ямной
Почему́
он
не́
заговори́л
со
мной?
Why isn't he talking with me?
you (singular), тытобой
Ту́т
прихо́дится
с
тобо́й
согласи́ться.
I have to agree with you on this. (tatoeba.org)
he (masc.), оним
То́м
вы́сунул
язык,
пытаясь
пойма́ть
им
снежи́нки.
Tom stuck out his tongue to try to catch snowflakes with it. (tatoeba.org)
she (fem.), онаей/ею
Аня
шагну́ла
вперед,
му́л
шёл
за
ней.
Anja walked in the front, the mule followed her.
it (neut.), ониим
Моё
де́рево
вы́глядит
больны́м.
Интере́сно,
что́
с
ним
не́
та́к.
My tree looks sick. I wonder what's wrong with it.
we, мынами
Ме́жду
на́ми
всё
кончено.
It's all over between us. (tatoeba.org)
you (plural), вывами
На́до
бы́ло
мне
оста́ться
с
ва́ми.
I should have stayed with you. (tatoeba.org)
they, ониими яблоны
бы́ли
посажены
и́ми
на́
прода́жу
я́блок.
The trees were planted by them to sell apples.
oneselfсобой
Огро́мный
те́нт
можно
бы́ло
спусти́ть,
чтобы
откры́ть
над
собо́й
беспреде́льное
небо.
The huge tent could be folded to open the sight of unbonded sky above oneself.

Instrumental Prepositions

PrepositionMeaningExampleIn English
за + instrumentalbehind, before
Нас
на́до
заходи́ть
в
го́род
за
горо́й.
We must reach the city behind the mountains.
между + instrumentalbetween, among Котёнок находится между щенками. The kitten is between the puppies. (tatoeba.org)
над + instrumentalon, on top of, above
Он
склони́лся
над
са́мой
большо́й
кни́гой
из
все́х.
He was bent over the biggest of all books.
перед + instrumental before
Она́
прогуля́лась
пе́ред
за́втраком.
She took a walk before breakfast. (tatoeba.org))
in front of
Встре́тимся
пе́ред
теа́тром.
Let us meet in front of the theatre. (tatoeba.org)
под + instrumentalunder
Он
усну́л
по́д
де́ревом.
He fell asleep under the tree.
с + instrumentalby, with
А
что́
он
сде́лает
с
э́той
ко́шкой?
And what will he do with this cat?

Passive Voice With Instrumental And -ься

English sentences can use either active voice or passive voice. The active voice ("Sorry, I made a mistake.") emphasizes conscious intention to take action, while the passive voice indicates that the agent is not known or events were unintentional or unavoidable ("Mistakes were made.") Paradoxically, there is also a passive voice construction, which emphasizes the agent: "Mistakes were made by me and others." Russian uses instrumental case to denote the by-agent.

Voice Example Role of "I" Role of "mistake" Connotation
Active voice I made a mistake. "I" is the subject "mistake" is the object I am in charge and take full
responsibility of my actions.
Passive voice Mistakes were made. "I" is omitted "mistake" is the subject Errare humanum est. Let's focus on avoiding
these in the future instead of blaming.
Passive + by Mistakes were made by me. "me" is the by-agent "mistake" is the subject I admit that I was wrong but
it was the best I could do.

Similar Russian construction, -ься-passive, puts the by-agent to instrumental form.

Вы́ставка
откро́ется
худо́жником.
The gallery was opened by the artist.

Пирами́ды
построились
дре́вними
цивилиза́циями.
The pyramids were built by ancient civilizations.

Instrumental Verbs

Some verbs put the (semantic) object to instrumental case.

Она́
лю́бит
занима́ться
спо́ртом.

She loves to do sports.

В
ретроспективном совещение
участники
де́лятся
мы́слями
о
спри́нте

In retrospective meeting the participants share their thoughts about the sprint.

Во
вре́мя
кри́зиса
они́
забыва́ли
про
вражду́
и
дели́лись
мя́сом
и
медом.

In times of crisis they forgot their enmities and shared meat and honey.

Copyright (C) Simo Härkönen 2017. All rights reserved. Example sentences from tatoeba.org are copyrighted by their respective owners.