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Specific constructions

Clausal structures

In Russian, the standard case pattern of a predicate-argument construction is as follows:

However, there is a number of constructions which have non canonical case patterns.

Dative subject

The constructions are instantiated by an infinitive verb (usually under negation) or a predicative, the first argument of which is in the Dative case and not in the canonical Nominative case. The Dative argument is labeled ru-dep/iobj.

Роботу не угнаться за собакой . \n Robot.Dat cannot-keep-pace.Inf with dog .
iobj(угнаться, Роботу)
iobj(cannot-keep-pace.Inf, Robot.Dat)
Мне стыдно за вас . \n I.Dat am-ashamed.PRAEDIC for you .
iobj(стыдно, Мне)
iobj(am-ashamed.PRAEDIC, I.Dat)

Cf. “дат-субъект” in SynTagRus.

Genitive of negation

This construction involves alternation of NP’s case between Genitive and Nominative (or Accusative) when the NP is within the scope of sentential negation [Partee & Borschev 2004]. If the subject is under negation (“the Genitive of subject”) and takes Genitive, then the verb becomes impersonal (i.e. takes the 3rd person singular in present tense and neuter singular in past tense), e. g. Pisem.Gen ne.NEG prishlo.VERB.Neut.Sg. “No letters.Gen came”. If the direct object is under negation (“the Genitive of object”), only the case of the direct object NP may change, e. g. Ja ne chital ikh.Gen pisem.Gen. “I did not read their letters.Gen”. The alternation is sometimes optional and may be affected by certain difference in syntactic structure and/or in semantics or pragmatics. The choice between Genitive and Nominative (Accusative) is powered by many factors which involve the degree of referentiality/individuation, existentional/declarative reading, decreased transitivity of the verb, etc.

Adjectival and adverbial constructions

Comparative constructions

Most Russian qualitative adjectives and adverbs have both morphological and analytic comparative and superlative forms, e. g. умный “smart”, умнее (умней) “smarter”, более умный “smarter”, (наи)умнейший “smartest”, наиболее умный, самый умный “smartest”. The synthetic comparative forms are assigned the Cmp ru-feat/Degree feature while the synthetic superlative forms are treated as separate lemmata. The most frequently used comparative constructions are the following:

The “lesser degree” comparison (expressed periphrastically) is marked the same way:

Миша умнее брата . \n Misha is-smarter than-his-brother .
nmod(умнее, брата)
nmod(is-smarter, than-his-brother)
Миша умнее , чем брат . \n Misha is-smarter , than his-brother .
amod(умнее, брат)
amod(is-smarter, his-brother)
case(брат, чем)
case(his-brother, than)
Миша самый умный из всех . \n Misha is-the-most smart of them-all .
nmod(умный, всех)
nmod(smart, them-all)
case(всех, из)
case(them-all, of)
amod(умный, самый)
amod(smart, is-the-most)
Миша так же умен , как и его брат . \n Misha as then smart , as his brother .
amod(умен, брат)
amod(smart, brother)
case(брат, как)
case(brother, as-17)
advmod(умен, так)
advmod(smart, as-13)
discourse(так, же)
discourse(as-13, then)

Noun phrases with quantifiers

Constructions with cardinal numerals

See ru-dep/nummod:gov on numerals governing the case of the noun: две.Nom жены.Gen, пять.Nom жен.Gen, including phrases with paucal numerals.

See ru-dep/nummod on numerals not governing the case of the noun: с двумя.Ins женами.Ins.

See ru-dep/det:numgov on the pronominal quantifiers governing the case of the noun: сколько.Nom жен.Gen.

See ru-dep/det:nummod on the pronominal quantifiers agreeing in case with the noun: со сколькими.Ins женами.Ins.

See ru-dep/compound on the compound numerals: двадцать два.

Other types of QP:

Двадцать две целых четыре десятых миллиона рублей . \n Twenty two whole-parts four tenth million rubles .
compound(Двадцать, две)
compound(Twenty, two)
nummod:gov(рублей, миллиона)
nummod:gov(rubles, million)
nummod:gov(миллиона, целых)
nummod:gov(million, whole-parts)
nummod:gov(десятых, четыре)
nummod:gov(tenth, four)
nummod:gov(целых, две)
nummod:gov(whole-parts, two)
conj(целых, десятых)
conj(whole-parts, tenth)

The finite predicate takes either singular (3rd person in present tense, neutral in past tense) or plural with the subject QP (e.g. На столе стоит две чашки “lit. On the table there-stands.Sg two.Nom cups.Nom”, На столе стоят две чашки “lit. On the table there-stand.Pl two.Nom cups.Nom”).

Postposition of cardinal numerals

The phrase with the postposition of cardinal numerals refers to approximate quantity (usually used with simplex numerals 2-10, 20, 30… etc.). The rules of agreement and case government in such QPs preserve.

Человека четыре . \n People about-four .
nummod:gov(Человека, четыре)
nummod:gov(People, about-four)

Constructions with paucal numerals and adjectives

If the phrase with a paucal numeral (два, три, четыре, оба, полтора “two, three, four, both, half, one and a half”) is in the Nominative or Accusative case, the adjective modifying the noun takes either Nominative (Accusative) plural or Genitive plural, cf.

Две белые лодки . \n Two white boats .
nummod:gov(лодки, Две)
nummod:gov(boats, Two)
amod(лодки, белые)
amod(boats, white)
Две белых лодки . \n Two white boats .
nummod:gov(лодки, Две)
nummod:gov(boats, Two)
amod(лодки, белых)
amod(boats, white)

With non-paucal numerals (which refer to five objects and more; also половина “a half”, четверть “a quarter” etc.), the adjective is always in the Genitive plural.

Пять белых лодок . \n Five white boats .
nummod:gov(лодок, Пять)
nummod:gov(boats, Five)
amod(лодок, белых)
amod(boats, white)

Constructions of more and less quantity

The comparative forms более, больше, менее, меньше “more than, less than” are used in constructions like более двухсот человек “more than 200 people”, (не) меньше пяти машин “(no) less than five cars”. Более / больше / менее / меньше governs the Genitive case of the cardinal numeral. If this QP is a subject, the finite predicate takes either singular (3rd person in present tense, neutral in past tense) or plural depending the information structure and some other factors (e.g. Пришло более двухсот человек “More than 200 people came.Neut.Sg”, Более двухсот человек пришли к памятнику “More than 200 people came.pl to the monument”). The distribution of singular and plural is similar but not the same as with cardinal numerals.

Пришло более двухсот человек . \n Came more-than 200 people .
nsubj(Пришло, человек)
nsubj(Came, people)
nummod(человек, двухсот)
nummod(people, 200)
advmod(двухсот, более)
advmod(200, more-than)

Constructions with collective numerals

The collective numerals like двое, трое, четверо “a group of two/three/four”, etc. govern the Genitive case of the noun in Nominative and Accusative (e.g. двое.NUM.Nom студентов.NOUN.Gen.Pl “two.Nom students.Nom”) and agree in case with the noun in all other grammatical cases (e.g. с двумя.NUM.Ins студентами.NOUN.Ins.Pl “with two.Ins students.Ins”). The noun is always in plural. If this QP is a subject, the finite predicate takes either singular (3rd person in present tense, neutral in past tense) or plural depending the information structure and some other factors (e.g. Пришло двое студентов, Пришли двое студентов “Two students came.Neut.Sg / came.pl”). The distribution of singular and plural is similar but not the same as with cardinal numerals and comparative forms.

Пришло двое студентов . \n Came group-of-two students .
nsubj(Пришло, студентов)
nsubj(Came, students)
nummod:gov(студентов, двое)
nummod:gov(students, group-of-two)

The choice between cardinal and collective numerals in such constructions depends on animacy, (semantic) gender, semantic class, declination type, and the case of QP [Мельчук 1985, Сичинава 2012], the collective numerals are usually used with animate masculine nouns or collective nouns (e.g. семеро друзей “a group of seven friends”, двое саней “two sledges”).


Шведова Н. Ю. (ред.). Русская грамматика. Т. 1-2. Москва: Наука, 1980

Partee, Barbara H., and Vladimir Borschev. The semantics of Russian Genitive of Negation: The nature and role of Perspectival Structure. Semantics and Linguistic Theory. Vol. 14. 2004.

Мельчук И. А. Поверхностный синтаксис русских числовых выражений. Вена, 1985

Сичинава Д. В. Числительное. Материалы для проекта корпусного описания русской грамматики rusgram.ru. На правах рукописи. Москва, 2012.