< Grammar 10—Adjectives

Grammar 10—Adjectives

An adjective is a word which modifies or describes a noun. It answers the question “what kind of”. Some examples of adjectives are:


Then last two letters of an adjective change as it is declined. It is declined to match the gender, number, and case of the noun to which it is attached. Some examples:

Молодо́й ма́льчик пел.The young boy sang.(masculine singular)
Молода́я де́вушка пе́ла.The young maiden sang.(feminine singular)
Молоды́е лю́ди пе́ли.The young people sang.(plural)

Я уви́дел молодо́го ма́льчика. I saw the young boy.(accusative)
Я помо́г молодо́му ма́льчику. I helped the young boy.(dative)
Я уви́дел молоду́ю де́вушку. I saw the the young maiden. (accusative)
Я помо́г молодо́й де́вушке. I helped the young maiden. (dative)
Я уви́дел молоды́х люде́й. I saw the young people.(accusative)
Я помо́г молоды́м лю́дям. I helped the young people. (dative)

Note carefully that the gender must follow the gender of the noun it modifies, not the sex of a person or animal to whom that noun may refer. For example:

Он больша́я соба́ка.He is a big dog.
Она́ хоро́ший челове́к.She is a good person.

In modern Russian the adjective comes immediately before the noun it modifies, just like in modern English. But in poetic, archaic, or certain formalized language it comes after. For example:

Он дошёл до реки́ широ́кой и глубо́кой. He came to the river wide and deep.

In additional to the forms shown above, some adjectives have short forms. They are to be used only as predicate adjectives in sentences with a linking verb. In the sentences below we use “нужен” which is the short form of “нужный”:

Он ну́жен.He is needed.
Оно нам ну́жно.To us it is needed.

In some cases though the short form has a different (but related) meaning. For example:

Она́ зла́я.She is wicked.
Она́ зла́.She is angry.