You count your blessings.
You don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
You make sure everyone in your life knows they can count on you.
But can you… count?
Hey, it’s totally understandable if you can’t count in Russian yet.
Let’s be honest about this once and for all: Learning to count is probably the most boring part of learning a language.
But let’s also not forget that there’s a certain satisfaction in actually being able to count, to do simple math and to read numbers in a language you couldn’t previously do any of that in.
In this post, we’ll go through all the basics of counting and using numbers to specify quantities of things.
You may already know that the Russian language can get messy pretty fast, even when it comes to simple things like numbers and colors and so on.
But for right now, we’ll keep things simple.
You can count on it.
A Guide to Russian Numbers You Can Count On
Let’s start off by simply learning the Russian numerals. After you take in the numbers below, you can practice and test out your skills with this song that covers all the numbers from one to one hundred.
This video is also available on FluentU with a vocab list that you can use to learn numbers and check them off once you know them. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language lessons.
You’ll have access to countless Russian videos and interactive subtitles so you can learn more about any word you hear and even see it used in additional videos.
Plus, you can keep practicing Russian numbers and other vocabulary using customized vocabulary lists, dynamic flashcards and fun quizzes!
Numbers Count! The Russian Numerals
Russian numbers 1 to 10
Russian numbers 11 to 20
Russian numbers up to 100
Note that the five numbers below are made up of numbers from the list above, as you’d probably expect.
двадцать один (21)
двадцать два (22)
двадцать три (23)
двадцать четыре (24)
двадцать пять (25)
Okay, I think you have the hang of where this is going. Let’s jump ahead.
Russian numbers up to 1,000
Russian numbers over 1,000
There are a ton more videos on YouTube you can use to practice your Russian numbers until they’re perfect. This one helps you practice with really simple math problems and visuals:
(This video is also available on FluentU with interactive captions in English and Russian.)
Getting Specific: Genders and Plurals with Russian Numerals
Serves one to two: inflecting for gender
You may already know that nouns in Russian generally inflect for gender, number and case.
That’s sure a lot, but luckily, gender is easy with numerals. You only have to worry about it at all for two numbers: one and two.
The number one takes three different forms for gender.
The number two only takes two different forms.
Okay, but what does all of this actually mean? Well, consider the following:
Один рубль — one ruble
Два рубля — two rubles
Рубль is a masculine noun. As you can see with the examples above, the numbers in front of “ruble” and “rubles” are written out in their masculine form to match.
But, look at what happens here:
Одна копейка — one kopeck
Две копейки — two kopecks
Копейка, on the other hand, is a feminine noun. So, instead of using the masculine forms of the numbers “one” and “two” in front of it, we use their feminine forms.
One more experiment:
Одно число — one number
Два числа — two numbers
Число is a neuter noun. So, we use the neuter form of “one” and “two.”
In all instances outside of the possibilities displayed above, numbers don’t change for gender at all. They only exist in one form. So, that’s all there is to that!
Table for four but no more: the genitive singular
In Russian, when you’re specifically talking about numbered quantities of something, there are two different types of plurals. The first kind of plural is only used with numbers two through four, and the other one is used for everything after that.
The first type of plural corresponds with the genitive case in the singular.
If you go back to the examples in the last section, all of the second examples are written in this first type of plural: рубля, копейки and числа.
Here are some more examples:
Три доллара (three dollars)
Два года (two years)
The two nouns above are masculine, and their default masculine singular forms end in consonants.
If a masculine noun ends in a consonant in the singular, all you have to do to put it in the genitive singular is to add -а.
Simple enough, right? That’s no harder than adding “s” to plurals in English.
It does get a little more complicated, though. Of course, it does.
If a neuter noun ends in о, take away the о and add -а.
Одно слово (one word)
Два слова (two words)
If a masculine noun ends in й or ь, or a neuter noun ends in е, then you take away the й, ь or е and add -я.
Один чай (one tea)
Два чая (two teas)
For feminine nouns ending in ь, you remove ь and add -и.
Одна вещь (one thing)
Две вещи (two things)
For feminine nouns ending in а, remove the а and tack on -ы. Unless there’s a guttural like к, г, х or a sibilant like ж or ш at the end, in which case you just add -и again.
Одна вода (one water)
Две воды (two waters)
That doesn’t cover absolutely everything and there are exceptions, but that’s the gist of it!
Five, six, pick up sticks (and keep going): the genitive plural
The plural for nouns of which you’re specifying five or more is formed using the genitive plural. Here are some of the basic rules of formation.
Many masculine nouns ending in a consonant take -ов in the genitive plural:
Пять долларов (five dollars)
Шесть подарков (six gifts)
If they end in й, they take -ев or -ёв, and the й needs to be removed first:
Один чай (one tea)
Десять чаёв (ten teas)
Masculine nouns ending in ж, ч, ш, щ take -ей. So do feminine or masculine nouns ending in ь. You just have to remove the ь first if it’s there:
Один рубль (one ruble)
Семь рублей (seven rubles)
For feminine nouns ending in а or neuter nouns ending in о, that final vowel just gets dropped in the genitive plural:
Одна вода (one water)
Восемь вод (eight waters)
Overall, not too traumatic, right? You don’t have to remember all of this right away, but having a general idea of it will help you to recognize plurals. And, if you want to cheat, you can always look up the genitive declensions for a noun using Cooljugator.
You can look at RT’s grammar tables for more information about the genitive plural.
Now, another thing to know is that some nouns use completely different words for the genitive plural in some contexts.
One concerns the word for “years.”
Один год (one year)
Два года (two years)
Десять лет (ten years)
You also use лет when talking about age:
Мне двадцать лет. (I am twenty years old.)
Sure, learning Russian might make you feel like you’re a thousand years old sometimes, but the nice thing about it is that you can often apply your knowledge from one area to another.
For example, if you learn the genitive in order to use plurals with numbers, you can then use it for a lot of other things, too.
In other words, it all adds up and everything counts!
Elisabeth Cook is a freelance writer who lives with two cats, one person and too many books to count. You can follow her on Twitter (@CooksChicken).
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