Vocabulary 13--Prepositions

When you are just starting to speak Russian you can memorize rules about which preposition to use when, but there is no substitute for a deep understanding of the core meaning of each preposition. Such a deep understanding will allow you to both make and to understand innovative uses of prepositional phrases.

In the chart below we explain what a preposition says about the relationship between its object (the word which comes after it) and the action which the verb represents. This is explained for literal objects. In the examples you will see abstract and figurative meanings derived from the literal meaning. In many cases the “action” is simply being. When we refer to things as “solid bodies” and “surfaces” we mean that that is how the narrator has chosen to view them. They may in fact have interior spaces which are irrelevant in the given context.

The most commonly used prepositions have been marked with an asterisk (*).

PrepositionCaseObject of Preposition Describes Examples
в/во*accus.enclosed space into which the action goes

войти в дом--to enter the house

упасть в воду--to fall into the water

попасть в беду--to get into peril or adversity

prep.enclosed space to which the action is confined

сидеть в доме--to be sitting in the house

быть в затруднении--to be in a difficult situation

nom. pl.a role which the subject of the sentence may play (rare usage)

идти в гости--to go as guest(s)

кандидат в президенты--candidate for president

из*gen.enclosed space which the action leaves

высыпать из банки--to pour out of a can

из внешнего мира--from the world outside

на*accus.surface onto which the action moves

поставить на стол--to put onto the table

выставить на продажу--to put up for sale

prep.surface to which the action is confined

работать на крыше--to work on the roof

на этой наделе--during this week

c/со*gen.surface which the action leaves

сойти с крыши--to come down from the roof

съехать с дороги--to exit the road

сойти с ума--to go crazy

inst.companion of one of the participants

Иди со мной.--Go with me.

пирог с мороженом--pie with ice cream

acc.object or unit of comparable size

величиной с дом--as large as a house

подождать минуту--to wait for a minute

к*dat.solid body toward which action moves

Я иду к врачу.--I am going to the doctor.

к моему удивлению--to my astonishment

от/ото* gen.solid body away from which action moves

Я пришёл от матери.--I have come from mother.

ручка от двери--handle from the door

письмо от Давида--a letter from David

у*gen.solid body next to which action takes place

У меня есть имя--I have a name.

Он у меня живёт.--He lives at my house.

до*gen.final point reached by the action

до начала--before the start

слух дошёл до меня--the rumor reached me

над/надоinst.surface or solid body over which the action takes place or movement to such a position

над головой--overhead

суд над Гиммлером--the trial of Himmler

под/подо*accus.surface or solid body under which the action goes

побежать под стол--to run under the table

под покров ночи--into the dark of night

inst.surface or solid body under which the action takes place

под крышей--under a roof

под угрозой--under threat

под законом Ньютона--by Newton's law

под шумом дождя--to the sound of rain

из-подgen.surface or solid body from under which the action comes

из-под стола--from under the table

отпустить из-под стражи--release from arrest

за*accus.solid body which the action moves behind

зайти за дом--to go behind the house

сесть за стол--to sit down at the table

inst.solid body behind which the action takes place

сидеть за столом--to be sitting at table

за дверью--behind the door

за скромной улыбкой--behind the modest smile

nom.category to which the subject of the sentence belongs

Кто он за отец?--What is he like as a father?

Что это за компьютер?--How is this computer?

из-заgen.solid body from behind which the action comes

из-за сарая--out from behind the shed

из-за помех--through the static

по*dat.surface or space along which the action takes place

по краю--along the edge

ходить по магазинам--to visit various stores

почему--why?

prep.a concluding event which proceeds the action

по истечении срока--at the conclusion of the period

по окончании работы--when work is over

acc.final limit of a space completely covered by the action

стоять по пояс в воде--to stand in water up to the waist

при*prep.solid body in the presence of which the action takes place

при одеяле подушка--the blanket includes a pillow

при Советской власти--under Soviet rule

черезacc.space through which the action moves without any important interaction with it

идти через дорогу--to cross the road

прыжок через акулу--jumping the shark

сквозьaccus.obstacle which the action pierces

пробурить сквозь доску--to bore through the board

перед/передоinst.solid body right in front of which the action takes place or movement to such a position

передо мной--before my face

перед ужином--a little before supper

средиgen.the things between which the action takes place

среди пальцев--between (or among) the fingers

среди бела дня--in broad daylight

междуinst. or rarely acc.the things among or between which the action takes place

между пальцами--between (or among) the fingers

между войнами--between the wars

внеgen.enclosed space outside of which the action takes place

вне всякого сомнения--beyond all doubt

внутриgen.enclosed space inside of which the action takes place

внутри страны--inside the country

внутри тела--inside the body

близgen.landmark not far from which the action takes place

близ Рима--not far from Rome

возлеgen.person or thing near which the action takes place

возле меня--next to me

подлеgen.person or thing very near which the action takes place

подле моего дома--right next to my house

околоgen.solid body in the general vicinity of which the action takes place

около шести--at about six o'clock

мимоgen.solid body which the action narrowly avoids striking

стерла пролетела мима--the arrow flew close by

мимо цели--missing the mark

вокругgen.solid body around which the action revolves

тропинка вокруг озера--the path around the lake

всё вокруг побелело--everything turned white

вдольgen.long body along which the action takes place

вдоль реки--alongside the river

вместоgen.person or thing for which a substitution is made

карандаш вместо ручки--a pencil instead of a pen

без/безо*gen.a thing which is missing

чай без молока--tea without milk

без суда и следствия--without trial or investigation

для* gen.person or thing to which an offering or contribution is brought

подарок для Вас--a gift for you

проacc.person or thing to which the action pertains

про него много слышать--to hear a lot about him

Это не про Вас.--This is not about you.

читать про себя--to read to oneself

о/об/обо*prep.the subject matter of a narrative

говорить о Библии--to talk about the Bible

acc.solid body up against the side of which the action takes place

упираться о стену--to lean against the wall

кромеgen.person, thing, or event which is an exception

кроме меня--except for me

сверхgen.that which is exceeded

сила сверх обычного--power beyond what is normal

после*gen.event after which action takes place

после войны--after the war

после меня--after my turn

вопрекиdat.a thing defied or ignored

вопреки моей воли--against my will

радиgen.person or thing for the sake of which the action was undertaken

ради Бога--for God's sake