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Thread: To all beginning learners: Cases

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    To all beginning learners: Cases

    It seems to me that a lot of beginning learners have trouble understanding when to use the cases, regardless of the book they are using. They often mention that the book does not give "the rules" or does not explain it well enough. If anyone would take the time to do so, could you tell me what exactly it is about cases that is hard to learn - but not only that, why is it that your text does not explain it adequately? It would be interesting to see how your text goes about doing it. If you were presented with a series of examples where it was used, would that be enough for you, or would you still prefer a hard and fast rule?

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    I think the problem is that english speakers are not used to conjugate verbs, adjectives and nouns.
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    True. My question is not so much why it is difficult; rather, why many people find that their textbooks are lacking on this subject.

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    Text books don't generally explain why a particular case is used, thay just tell you what endings they take. This is why people have felt the need to write books like "English Grammar for Students of Russian" and even that is hard to fathom.
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    Hrmmm. All the textbooks I have used(and this includes "Learn Russian the Fast and Fun Way"), however bad, made some small effort to explain which cases should be used where. I haven't ever encountered a textbook like the following:

    This is the instrumental case. It is the same for masculine and neuter.

    (endings)

    This is the prepositional case.
    ...

  6. #6
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    Ummm, being a born Russian I feel a bit confusing about the whole challenge I mean I understand the basic cause this appears to be difficult: the case usage is based on the identifying questions and while they are different in Russian they are all the same in English: What? By what?/ Whom? (To)whom? I just can't understand HOW the foreign mind thinks when it has difficulties. Well can anyone make things clear?

    When I was a child and learned cases at school (2nd grade or so) the teacher gave us some "promt words" helping to figure out the case. Here they are (hope you are able to understand some grammar things in Russian):
    Именительный –- есть -– кто? что?
    Родительный –- нет –- кого? чего?
    Дательный –- дать –- кому? чему?
    Винительный –- винить -– кого? что?
    Творительный –- творить -– кем? чем?
    Предложный –- думать –- о ком? о чём?

    Maybe these would be somehow helpful...
    I guess getting along with cases is so much alike as the usage of the articles for a Russian learner of English: both might sound quite simple to a native but are extremely difficult to learn for a foreigner.

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    My idea is that it is not extremely difficult provided you go about it the right way. A lot of the people I have seen complaining about their textbooks do fairly well with the cases if presented simply, with some kind of explanation or rule. What I don't understand is what is wrong with the textbook explanation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by katerinka
    When I was a child and learned cases at school (2nd grade or so) the teacher gave us some "promt words" helping to figure out the case. Here they are (hope you are able to understand some grammar things in Russian):
    Именительный –- есть -– кто? что?
    Родительный –- нет –- кого? чего?
    Дательный –- дать –- кому? чему?
    Винительный –- винить -– кого? что?
    Творительный –- творить -– кем? чем?
    Предложный –- думать –- о ком? о чём?
    This method can be helpful only for native speakers. These кого, кому etc. are themselves cases of кто. When we, natives, shoose a "promt word" we unconsciously put кто or что in the right case. Learners have to know how cases work before they shoose the right word.

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    I'm not sure what this thread is even getting at. I've been learning Russian for less than a month and I have no trouble understand when you would use cases. In the case that someone is unsure, I think what might be helpful is just a list of the cases and when you'd use each of them. If someone feels up to it, they can list the endings for nouns, adjectives, pronouns(not endings, but same thing) etc.

    I can't see what else you could do to make it clear.
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    Last edited by Darobat on Mon Mar 5, 1759 1:19 am; edited 243 times in total

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    It is good that you understand them well, but there are many people who do not. I am trying to figure out why they don't understand and how their textbooks do not help.

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    Well I guess I'm not much of a help here.
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    Last edited by Darobat on Mon Mar 5, 1759 1:19 am; edited 243 times in total

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    Well, I'm a beginner - we have barely started to touch on the case but I've been reviewing "English Grammar for Students of Russian". I think, for the English speaker, it's simply hard to understand the role that case plays in Russian.

    I know from looking at page 16, that the dative case is for indirect objects and objects of some (but not all??) prepositions. Why do I have to do it this way? When am I supposed to use this? How do I know that I'm referring to an indirect object and not a direct object? I guess these are some of the questions that beginners face up to.

    From looking over contemporary textbooks, especially those at the college level, it seems that they throw the cases at you right from the beginning.
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    Why do I have to do it this way?
    Back in the day, a couple of Russian guys got together over a beer and decided it should be that way.

    When am I supposed to use this?
    Hmmm. What about the "when" part is not clear? Does the book provide examples?

    How do I know that I'm referring to an indirect object and not a direct object?
    If this is an issue, you may want to look into "English Grammar for Learners of Russian." I've heard it's rather good.

    From looking over contemporary textbooks, especially those at the college level, it seems that they throw the cases at you right from the beginning.
    I have no idea why this is the case, but it seems to me that the textbooks now are written much worse than the textbooks written about 40-50 years ago. I have Russian textbooks from the 60s which explain things rather well(and I don't mean the ALP ones). But I've seen some of the new language textbooks and they seem to be absolute nonsense, cluttered up with photos and "tip boxes" and other miscellaneous whatnot. I think the main problem with modern textbooks is that they're cluttered up with too much extraneous information and are not written particularly well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pravit
    What I don't understand is what is wrong with the textbook explanation.
    I was wondering how it would be if the textbook included examples of sentences with the wrong case. In other words how not to do it. This may help people understand the differences and the reason why the cases even exist.
    Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think and act for myself. - Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

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    Maybe. I remember in school math class every time the teacher showed the wrong way to do it, they just ended up doing it that wrong way. Or it could be that they would have screwed up regardless and it just so happened that way.

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    I think the good thing that my book does when it comes to cases, is it has a a few paragraphs describing what the case is and when it's used. Then it shows the endings for nouns, followed by 10-15 examples of word's you know used in that case. Also, It doesn't introuduce them all at a time. So far I only know about Nominative, prepositional, and accustive, but I'm also only on the 6th lesson. In the first chapter, it doesn't even mention cases eventhough your using them.

    Ch 4 - An intro to cases. Touches on Nominative and Prepositional
    Ch 5 - Introduction to when the accustive case is used
    Ch 6 - An intro to adjectives and their cases in Nominative form
    Ch 7 - The rules for using the accustive case
    Ch 8 - The Genetive case

    And it goes on, but as you can see, you aren't given all the rules all at once, and your given plenty of time to let the idea's sink in before throwin a new case at you.
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    Last edited by Darobat on Mon Mar 5, 1759 1:19 am; edited 243 times in total

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    Darobat, what is the name of this book? I have a copy of "Schaumers Russian Grammar" I think that this gives better examples than "Golosa" although the Golosa web site is helpful with exercises and movies too.
    Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think and act for myself. - Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

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    Ultimate Russian - Beginner to Intermediate
    I personaly don't have the CD (Mine only came with the book), but I have other resources for audio.
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    Last edited by Darobat on Mon Mar 5, 1759 1:19 am; edited 243 times in total

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    I have seen the tapes in the book store or CDs rather. But I have never heard them but I would like to. I won't pay $50 flamin' bucks to find out though.
    I have not seen the book.
    Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to talk, think and act for myself. - Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

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    Quote Originally Posted by lolajl
    Well, I'm a beginner - we have barely started to touch on the case but I've been reviewing "English Grammar for Students of Russian". I think, for the English speaker, it's simply hard to understand the role that case plays in Russian.

    I know from looking at page 16, that the dative case is for indirect objects and objects of some (but not all??) prepositions. Why do I have to do it this way? When am I supposed to use this? How do I know that I'm referring to an indirect object and not a direct object? I guess these are some of the questions that beginners face up to.

    From looking over contemporary textbooks, especially those at the college level, it seems that they throw the cases at you right from the beginning.
    That's a problem I've noticed in first year language classes. Most Americans don't even understand the grammar and syntax of their own langauge and attempt to learn another. If you do not understand what an I.O., D.O, etc. Then you need to learn the rules of English grammar before you learn Russian.

    In reference to books not explaining them, get the New Penguin Russian Course. Nicholas Brown does an excelent job of explaning them (assuming you are aquainted with English grammar.)

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