Instrumental case

Привет друзья!

This is the last case that we are learning!! It’s the 6th case of the Russian language…. THE INSTRUMENTAL CASE.

This case answers the questions “with what?/who?” (Чем? Кем?) You would use this case when you want to say “I’m with my friend" or "I draw with a pencil”. It’s also used when you want to say where you work or who you want to be.

Here are the changes of the nouns in the instrumental case:


And some nouns in their instrumental case:

Example 1

каранда́ш (pencil; masc.) → карандашо́м (with a pencil)

са́хар (sugar; masc.) → са́харом (with sugar)

молоко́ (milk; neut.) → молоко́м (with milk)

ло́жка (spoon; fem.)  ло́жкой (with a spoon)

ви́лка (fork; fem.)  ви́лкой (with a fork)

Let’s see the instrumental case when it’s in the sense of “verb + with something”. This is used when you are trying to express that you’re doing an action with the help of a utensil.

Go through these verbs, first:


Example 2

- Чем ты рису́ешь? (What are you drawing with?)

- Карандашо́м ма́мы. (With mom’s pencil.)

- Чем она́ ест? (What is she eating with?)

- Она́ ест ло́жкой. (She’s eating with a spoon.)

With the sentence “карандашо́м ма́мы”, notice that the мамы is the genitive form of ма́ма (mom). It becomes ма́мы because it’s the mom’s pencil. The person is drawing with a pencil (карандашо́м) that belongs to the mom (ма́мы). The person isn’t drawing with “карандашо́м ма́мой” (with the pencil with the mom). That would create a whole different context.

Now we’ll move on to the “Кем?” part. Here’s a random question for you: Where do you work now? Who do you want to be when you grow up? Or, who did you want to be when you were young?

The instrumental case is also used for when you want to tell your occupation. You can always use “кто он?” (who is he?) for when you’re asking who a person is, but it’s a vague question (the other person can answer ‘he’s my friend’ instead of the person’s occupation).

When asking a person’s occupation, the sentence structure looks like this:
Кем + nominative pronoun + работать?


Example 3

- Кем вы работаете? (What’s your occupation? lit. With who are you working with?)

- Я рабо́таю вра́чом. (I’m a doctor. lit. I work with a doctor)

- А кем Ни́на рабо́тает? (And what’s Nina’s occupation? lit. And with who does Nina work with?)

- Медсестро́й. (A nurse. lit. With the nurse)

Vocab: вра́чом ← врач (doctor; masc.), медсестро́й ← медсестра́ (nurse; fem.)

When you’re talking about the past, like “I wanted to be a pilot”, we would use the verb быть which means “to be”. Let’s learn the verb “to want”, too!


Example 4

Я хочу́ быть космнона́втом. (I want to be a cosmonaut)

Он хоте́л быть вра́чом. (He wanted to be a doctor)

Моя́ сестра́ хоте́ла быть учи́тельницей (She wanted to be a teacher)

Vocab: космона́втом ← космона́вт (cosmonaut; masc.), учи́тельницей ← учи́тельница (female teacher; fem.)

"Хоте́л" is the past tense masculine form of the verb "хоте́ть". "Хоте́ла"is feminine.

This is the last part of this lesson. When you want to say that you are with someone or want an object with something (not using a utensil like above), you’ll have to use the preposition “с”. This preposition usually comes before nouns and pronouns in their instrumental forms.

Here are the personal pronouns in their instrumental forms:


When you’re pronouncing words with the preposition “с”, make sure that you connect “с” with the word that comes after it.

Example 5

Хочу́ ко́фе с са́харом. (I want coffee with sugar)

Тебе́ нра́вится чай с молоко́м? (Do you like milk tea?)

Она́ со мной. (She is with me)

Я с Иго́рем. (I’m with Igor. Иго́рем → Игорь)

You would also use “с” when you’re saying phrases like “my friends and I”. However, it’s a little different from English.

The pattern goes as: Мы + с + instrumental noun

It literally means “We with something”, but it means “Something and I”.

Example 6

Мы с дру́зьями (My friends and I)

Мы с па́пой (Dad and I)

Мы с Андре́ем (Andrey and I. Андре́ем ← Андре́й)

Vocab: дру́зьями ← дру́зья (friends; pl of друг, friend; masc.)

There’s a song by one of my favorite Russian bands called Nautilus Pompilius (Наутилус Помпилиус), and they have a song called “Я Хочу Быть С Тобой”. It’s quite straight forward, I think you can guess what it means ;)

Congratulations! You’re now all done with the 6 cases! However, these are just the basics. I’ll be posting more about different declensions in plural nouns, adjectives, and more.

Make sure to ask questions when you’re stuck!

До свидания!