A couple Fridays ago, while having a nice relaxing afternoon, I realized I hadn’t done much intensive study of Russian grammar recently. Now, I read in Russian every day and listen to podcasts regularly, but I hadn’t done any of the focused that I used to do. I immediately had to rectify the situation, so I looked up the declension of a noun that I was unsure of. (Longtime readers may recall this post in which I explain what exactly makes Russian nouns so… frightening to English speakers.) The noun in question is гнездо [gnezdo], which means nest in English. So let’s study some Russian together. First, here’s the declension. I always found declension tables useful while learning Russian, so I’ve put one together here. (As an aside, why are tables so difficult to make in HTML? To me, they’re just not intuitive. It’s like someone invented them in 1990 in a completely illogical fashion and the code hasn’t changed since then.)
|падеж [Case]||ед. ч. [Singular]||мн. ч. [Plural]|
|Им. [Nominative]||гнездо [gnezdó]||гнёзда [gnyozda]|
|Р. [Genitive]||гнезда [gnezdá]||гнёзд [gnyozd]|
|Д. [Dative]||гнезду [gnezdú]||гнёздам [gnyozdam]|
|В. [Accusative]||гнездо [gnezdó]||гнёзда [gnyozda]|
|Тв. [Instrumental]||гнездом [gnezdóm]||гнёздами [gnyozdami]|
|Пр. [Prepositional]||гнезде [gnezdé]||гнёздах [gnyozdakh]|
The stresses in Russian are marked with bold letters because I couldn’t figure out how to get those nice accents over the letters the way I did with the transliterations. I’ve put transliterations in Latin characters in case you can’t read Cyrillic. (Though if you can’t read Cyrillic, I definitely think you should learn!) Before doing this exercise, I also hadn’t realized that гнездо was irregular in the plural with that stress shift. As an avid bird lover, nests are a pretty important thing for me to talk about, so I’m glad I found that out.
Now, for the fun part: some related words.
There’s a verb form гнездиться [gnezditsa] that means to build a nest or to live in a nest. It conjugates as follows:
- Я гнежусь [Ya gnezhdus]
- Ты гнездишься [Ty gnezdishsa]
- Они гнездятся [Oni gnezdyatsa]
(I am too lazy to code another table with the full conjugation. Those three forms should be enough to show the verb’s conjugation. 🙂 )
Have you ever heard of the Swallow’s Nest castle in Crimea? Crimea was a favorite vacation spot of the Russian imperial family and other nobles and this crazy castle belonged to a Baltic German noble at one point. In Russian, it’s called Ласточкино гнездо [Lastochkino gnezdo]. Here’s a picture of it. It’s amazing and absurd-looking!
See how much you can learn when you dive into reading about just a single Russian word? I’ve barely even scratched the surface here. There’s a lot more to this word than I’ve talked about here. There are adjectival forms, different verb forms I don’t fully understand, and (probably) a lot more nuances to the word. Now you understand why I had to spend hours and hours studying Russian in college. Imagine going through this declension exercise on a whole group of nouns for homework.
If that didn’t scare you off… stick around for more Russian-related posts. And if you enjoyed that, consider studying Russian! The whole language is complicated like this! 😉