Understanding grammar will help you on your way to foreign language fluency. When learning the Russian language, it’s important to know that prepositions govern different cases, and some prepositions can take more than one case, depending on their meaning.
Remember this important grammatical concept: locations can involve movement (in answer to the question кудá, where to?, i.e. movement towards a place), or no movement (in answer to the question где, where?, i.e. in/at a stationary location).
Without movement:вand наtake the Prepositional when they indicate a stationary location – at, on or in a place: вМосквé – in Moscow; настолé – on the table.
Also note that вдоль, along, takes the genitive: Вдольстены́стоя́тпусты́ебуты́лки. – There are empty bottles sitting along the wall. Additionally, за, behind, takes the instrumental: Возьми́корзи́нудлямýсоразастолóм. – Take the wastepaper basket from behind the table. Finally, перед, behind, takes the instrumental: Переддéвочкамилежáломнóгокниг. – There were many books lying in front of the girls (“Before girls lay many books”).
Before the first-person singular personal pronoun, пéредbecomes передо. It is never stressed in a phrase: Выпередомнóй? – Are you ahead / in front of / before me? The preposition под, under, takes the instrumental: Очки́лежáтподстолóм, The glasses were lying under the table.
The preposition у, at someone’s place / with someone, takes the genitive: Ябылáуподрýги. – I was at a girlfriend’s place.
With movement: both вandна take the accusative when they indicate movement towards – to, onto or into a place: вМосквý – to Moscow; настол – on(to) the table (put something on the table); also note the following:
к, to someone / to someone’s place, takes the dative: Яидýкподрýге – I’m going to a girlfriend’s place.
вдоль, along, takesthegenitive: Поутрáмонбéгаетвдольреки́. – In the mornings, he runs along the river.
до, to / up to / as far as, takes the genitive: ЯéдунапóездедоМосквы́. – I am going by train as far as Moscow.
за, behind, takes the accusative: Они́ушли́задом. – They went out behind the house.
из, from, takes the genitive and is used with nouns that take вto mean to: ЯизМосквы́. – I’m from Moscow.
с, from, takes the genitive and is used with nouns that take наto mean to: спóчты – from the post office.
от, from, takes the genitive and is used with nouns that take кto mean to: отбрáта – from my brother, from my brother’s place; отменя́- from me, from my place.
ми́мо, past, takes the genitive: Онпрошёлми́моменя́идáженезамéтил. – He walked past me and he didn’t even notice.
до, until / through, takes the genitive: Ондалмнекни́гудопонедéльника. – He gave me the book until Monday.
за, in, takes the accusative to mean a period of time within which the action is accomplished:
Онавы́браланóвуюмаши́нузадвадня. – She chose a new car in two days.
к, by, takes the dative: Всёбýдетготóвоксредé. – Everything will be ready by Wednesday.
Онá сказáла, чтопридётнарабóтуктрём. – She said she would be at (“come-to”) work by three.
на, for, takes the accusative to indicate the length of time that will be spent in a place: Ондалмнекни́гунанедéлю. – He gave me the book for a week.
через, takes the accusative to mean a period of time after which an action will take place: черезчáс – in an hour, in an hour’s time.
для, for, takes the genitive to indicate the beneficiary or the purpose of the action: дляменя́ – for me, длявечери́нки, for the party.
за, for, takes the instrumental to mean to go and get something or someone: Тыещёздесь? Актопошёлщашампáнскимдлявечери́нки? – Areyoustillhere? Then who went to get champagne for the party?
из-за, because of, takes the genitive: Из-затебя́мыопоздáливтеáтр. – Because of you, we we
re late for the theater.
ради, for the sake of, takes the genitive:Еслитебéвсёравнó, сдéлайэ́торáдименя́. – If you don’t care, [then] do it for my sake.
без, without, takes the genitive: Янемогýсдéлатьэ́тобезвáшейпóмощи. – I won’t be able to do it without your help.
в, in, takes the Prepositional to express a person’s state: впáнике. – in a panic.
за, for, in someone’s place, takes the accusative: Сегóдняяплачýзатебя́. – таккаквчерáтызаплати́лзаменя́. – I’ll pay for you today, since you paid for me yesterday.
на, in, by, takes the Prepositional to describe the means of transport one is travelling by: намаши́не – in a car, by car; насамолёте – in/on a plane, by plane;натакси́ – in a taxi, by taxi.
о, about, takes the Prepositional: Онрассказáлнамвсёосвои́хдрузья́х. – Hetoldusabouthisfriends.Окомтыдýмаешь? – Отвоёмбрáте. –Who are you thinking about? – (About) your brother.Очёмвыговори́те? Янесовсéмпонимáю. – Whatareyoutalkingabout? I don’t quite understand. Note that оbecomes обbefore a noun that begins with a vowel and обоbefore the personal pronounя: яобомне, about me.