Russian Film: “Край” – The Edge
23.07.2018
Rostov-On-Don, the Gates to the Caucasus
25.07.2018
Show all

Prepositions “в” and “на” with the Prepositional Case

Today I would like to bring your attention on two Russian prepositions that can be confusing for foreigners, the prepositions “на” and “в”. Both can be translated in English as “on”, “in” or “at”. And as it often happens, there are few rules and a good deal of learning by heart to remember when to use one or the other.

These two prepositions can be used both в предложном падеже (in prepositional case) and в винительном падеже (in accusative case).

The prepositional case is used when talking about the location (we sometimes also refer to this case as locative) and answers to the question “где?” (where?), while the accusative case is used when there is a motion and answers to the question “куда?” (where to?).

But let's talk about the prepositions “на” and “в” with the prepositional case.

In general the preposition “в” is used to design the position of a person or a thing inside something and can be translated in English by “in” or “at”:

  • В комнате нет телевизора. (There is no TV in the room.)
  • Я живу в Лондоне. (I live in London.)
  • Он работает в посольстве. (He works at the embassy.)
  • Мой друг учится в университете. (My friend studies at university.)

And the preposition “на” is used to design the position of a person or a thing which is on something. It is usually translated in English by “on”:

  • Книга лежит на столе. (The book lay on the table.)
  • Мы живём на втором этаже. (We live on the first floor.) Remember that in Russia the ground floor is considered as the first floor.
  • Здание стоит на берегу реки. (The building stands on the bank of the river.)
Let's see some specific rules when one or the other preposition is used:

All four cardinal directions in Russian use the preposition “на”:

На севере (in the north):
  • Мало людей живут на севере России. (Few people are living in the north of Russia.)
На юге (in the south)
  • Наша школа находится на юге Москвы. (Our school is located in the south of Moscow.)
На западе (in the west)
  • Москва находится на западе страны. (Moscow is situated in the west of the country.)
На востоке (in the east)
  • Я никогда не был на востоке России. (I've never been in the east of Russia.)

The names of countries are preceded by the preposition “в”:

В России (in Russia
  • У нас в России нефть и газ. (In Russia we have petroleum and gas.)
Во Франции (in France)
  • Вы уже были во Франции? (Have you ever been to France?)

The names of mountains and islands need the preposition “на”:

На Урале (in the Ural)
  • Озёр на Урале много. (There are many lakes in the Ural.)
На острове (on the island)
  • Никто не живёт на острове. (No one lives on the island.)
На Кипре (in Cyprus)
  • Автодороги на Кипре являются одними из лучших в Евросоюзе. (Roads in Cyprus are among the best in the European Union.)
As we said before, in general the preposition “в” is used to indicate a person or a thing in a close space (included institutions, cities or countries) while the preposition “на” is used to indicate a person or a thing in an open space (street, square, etc), in relation with work (working or studying place, etc), or for an event (concert, theatre play, etc).
В cтране (country) На родине (motherland) море (sea) пляже (beach) курорте (health resort) озере (lake)
В городе (city) деревне (village, countryside) На улице (street) площади (square) ферме (farm) даче (dacha)
В университете (university) институте (institut) школе (school) На факультете (faculty) курсе (course) лекции (lecture) занятии (course) уроке (lesson) практике (training) семинаре (seminar) конференции (conference) экзамене (exam) стадионе (stadium)
В банке (bank) библиотеке (library) посольстве (embassy) министерстве (ministry) На работе (working place) Заводе (factory) фабрике (factory, mill) почте (post office) рынке (market) ярмарке (fair)
В театре (theatre) На спектакле (performance) балете (ballet) опере (opera) пьесе (theatre play)
В кино (cinema) На фильме (movie)
В музее (museum) На выставке (exhibition) экскурсии (excursion)
В зале (hall) На концерте (concert) собрании (assembly, meeting) митинге (political meeting, rally)
В клубе (club) На дискотеке (nightclub) вечере (party)

Today I would like to bring your attention on two Russian prepositions that can be confusing for foreigners, the prepositions на and в

Enroll!