by Don  

The most common Russian word for six is шесть, which declines like this:


When шесть occurs in oblique cases (oblique means a case other than nominative or accusative), it works pretty well like we would expect from a theoretical point of view; that is, it declines as we would expect and the noun it quantifies shows up in the same case in the plural:

Gen Мы в центре гуляли около шести часов. We walked around downtown for about six hours.
Pre Мы поговорили о шести новых книгах. We talked about six new books.
Dat Я звонил шести новым студентам. I phoned six new students.
Ins Над шестью американскими беглецами кружился вертолёт. A helicopter circled over the six American fugitives.

Now here's the weird part... If шесть is part of a nominative case number phrase or an accusative case number phrase, then the noun it quantifies shows up in the genitive plural:

На сцене пели шесть красивых украинок. Six beautiful Ukrainian women were singing on the stage.
Я купил шесть немецких машин. I bought six German cars.

That may seem quite complex. Just be glad your not studying Polish: its number system is even more freakish... and fascinating.


Comment from: Dan [Visitor]

There are 3 different ending depending on last digit of number. That’s drive software developers and translators really crazy.
Rule is pretty simple, look at last digit (10..19 are exceptions). There are tree groups:
0,5,6,7,8,9 (and 10 to 19)

1 машина
2, 3, 4 машины
0, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 машин
11 машин
15 машин
21 машина
23 машины
25 машин
30 машин
31 машина


10/03/11 @ 11:17
Comment from: Shady_arc [Visitor]

This system has its reasons in the history of the language. The words for numbers like 5,6.10,11..20,30 behave as feminine nouns (you may even compare their declension pattern to the one of “дверь” or “кровать"), and in fact were such in the past.

In nominative or accusative phrases the word for the number takes command. The word for the object being counted becomes its subordinate, similar to how it happens in “a lot of cars", “an owner of cars". Thus the genitive case.

09/27/11 @ 14:34

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