Using flash cards for grammar detals and other small groups of items we need to learn

I have struggled with my Russian cases. No matter how many times I look at the tables, I cannot seem to remember the endings. It seems that the “e” and “u” and “em” just appear all over the place, sometimes in one case and gender, and sometimes in another slot. So far, reviewing the tables has been futile. I have only really remembered the forms that are in phrases that I hear often.

I tried something different today and it really worked. I created a content item which consisted of groups of individual nouns and adjectives with all of their six declensions, separated by periods. I imported this as content. Then I went through the saved most of the words, putting in as Hint, the gender, case and number. This created about 150 flash cards. I scrambled them so that they were not in order.

Each flash card showed one form of the noun or adjective. I had to remember what case it was. When I looked at the Hint I always saw the 6 cases that had been saved as a phrase. After doing this two or three times, I had a better sense of the cases than I have ever had. I notice them much better now when I listen and read. For me, a breakthrough.

I believe that anything we need to learn that comes in short lists like this can be learned in this way. This could be verb endings, for example. Very often it is not the explanations but just trying to remember the endings that causes the problems. Seeing these endings in the form of tables often appears to be helpful, but in my experience, little sticks in my brain.

Using flash cards in this new way seems to make things stick in my mind better.

I think this could also be used for other groups of things, colours, parts of the body, verbs of motion etc. Often seeing these as a group can actually impede learning. We need to pull out the individual items, yet have access to a group view, from time to time.

I would appreciate any feedback.

details ughhhh

I should add that I have to go back to this content item, from time to time, to refresh. But for the first time I feel that I am getting a handle on cases, noticing them when I read and listen. I can now Tag some words and phrases with more confidence, without having to look up a table each time.

BTW, here is the content item. Note that in typing in the words I made a few typos and left a few out. This does not really affect things, I notice these mistakes when I review the flash cards.
стол стол стола столы столом столе. столы столы столов столам столах. трамваий трамваий трамвая трамваию трамваем трамвае. трамваи трамваи трамваев трамваям трамваями трамваях. рояль рояль рояля роялю роялем рояале. рояали рояли роялей роялям рояалями роялах. рыба рыбу рыбы рыбе рыбой рыбе. рыбы рыбы рыб рыбам рыбами рыбах. воля волю воль воле волей воле. воли воли воль волям воляами воляах. партия партию партии партии партией партии. партии партии партий партиями партиях. роль роль роли роли ролю роли. роли роли ролей ролям ролями ролях. вино вино вина вину вином вине. вина вина вин винам винами винах. море море моря морю морем море. моря моря морей морям морями морях. здание здание здания зданию зданием здании. здания здания зданий зданиам зданиями зданиах. имя имя имени иемни именем имени. имена имена имен именам именами именах.

новый новый нового новому новым новом. новое новое нового новому новым новом. нмовая новую новой новой новой новой. новые новые новых новым новыми новых

Personally I find it difficult to remember lists. If I have to remember a list of colours, I’d prefer to learn them separately over a period of time in the form of sentences. For example:

Monday: John has a red sports car.
Wednesday: Mary’s violet shoes are absolutely gorgeous!
Saturday: Are you sure you want to buy these orange shirts?

If one sentence is not enough, maybe add a couple more examples.

Incidentally, for declensions, cases, etc., I think that probably the most effective way for learning them would be to do FSI drills (provided that FSI does offer courses in your target language). These drills are incredibly thorough and effective. However, they can also be very repetitive and boring. So perhaps you just do the drills you need rather than all of them.

Steve, there is one error with “трамваий”. singular for “a tram” is “трамвай”.
И.п: трамвай
Р.п.: трамвая
Д.п: трамваю
В.п.: трамвай
Т.п.: трамваем

Thanks. It does not really matter if there are mistakes. This drill just helps me get the patterns. I will still be relying on meeting these forms over and over in context.

But thanks for taking the trouble. You are a very conscientious tutor, and that is inspiring and motivating for the learner, at least this one.


I have tried the FSI drills and found them boring. They cover so little in any one drill. i dislike drills. However this little exercise, a few flash card reviews over a couple of weeks is quite painless and seems to have given me a jump on my cases.

I agree about lists. That is why this approach seems to work, you take the individual forms out of their lists, by looking at them in scrambled flash cards, yet you quickly review the list each time. Give it at try.

Sorry, if my note is not in this subject.
I think, this link will help to understand cases in Russian nouns: Cases of Russian Nouns - Russian Language
I agree with Cantotango, that it is very difficult to remember lists. Perhaps, it will be best to use different way for learning the Russian cases

Svetlana, Steve here discuss mostly the forming of cases, not they meaning/functions. He, as a lot of other learners of Russian, understands Russian cases quite well. The problem is to add the right ending, when you try to say something.

I’ve created new collection “Склонение существительных, прилагательных и местоимений” – Склонение существительных, прилагательных и местоимений - LingQ Language Library ,-- perhaps, somebody will find it useful.


I like this content. I will be listening many times. Thank you.

I always wonder why all those Slavic Languages (almost all of them) retained such a intricate noun case system, where most other languages that have had them in their past have lost them. It’s said that people who spoke Latin in the areas that are now Span and France were uneducated soldiers and subjects of the Romans, so that’s why the Latin case system for the most part disappeared, but all of those Slavic countries had their own share uneducated people yet the noun cases survived and survived in multiple very separate cultures…


What you can try is to learn a question that goes with a particular case, and use it when it doubt. Learning tables is way too much information to deal with and without any context it’s overwhelming and frustrating.

Here’s something easier to remember:

Nom. кто? что?
Gen. (нет) кого? чего?
Dat. (дать) кому? чему?
Acc. (вижу) кого? что?
Instr. кем? чем?
Prep. о ком? о чем?

This system is not foolproof, but it is somewhat intuitive. It also gives you more insight into the language itself. You are likely to develop a “feel” for it much sooner than trying to learn and memorize the endings of every word in the language.

The “lead-in” words in parentheses give you a sense of context. For example:

“Я хочу поговорить с вами о /русский язык/”
Testing with “о ком? о чем?”
Поговорить о ком? Поговорить о чем? О русскОМ языкЕ.

Be sure to give it a try. I use it all the time with great success.


Learning the endings is not a matter of logic. I have tables with these prepositions etc. But this still does not create the necessary response in my brain.(Not to mention the many exceptions, the many prepositions with can go with two or more cases, and the many uses with no prepositions, or which depend on verbs and so forth).

I am experimenting with different ways of making my brain more attentive to these patterns. So far my attempt to import a list and then save individual items from it seems to have moved me forward, and I am noticing the cases better in different contexts. it will take a while yet. Rasana’s texts also help.

Thanks for the advice.