Russian ‘н’ declension of имя, время, etc.

When you start learning Russian, you learn about the major gender endings. Most masculine nouns have zero (Ø) ending or . Most feminine nouns end in / or . Most neuter nouns end in // or -мя. These neuter nouns ending in -мя are special.

There are ten nouns that end in -мя and are ‘н declension’ nouns. These nouns are notable for the -ен- that comes before all their case endings.

But why does this happen? It’s quite simple. The word-final was the nasal vowel in Old Church Slavonic and Late Proto-Slavic, resulting in the -ен- before all the case endings.

Below are all ten ‘н declension nouns.’

бре́мя “load” пла́мя “flame”
вре́мя “time” пле́мя “tribe”
вы́мя “udder” се́мя “seed”
зна́мя “banner” стре́мя “stirrup”
и́мя “name” те́мя “crown of head”

Let’s take a look at the declensions for three of my most favorite ‘н declension’ nouns! 🙂


from Old Church Slavonic врѣмѧ

singular plural
Nominative вре́мя времена́
Accusative вре́мя времена́
Genitive вре́мени времён
Dative вре́мени времена́м
Instrumental вре́менем времена́ми
Prepositional вре́мени времена́х


from Proto-Slavic *jьmę, Proto-Indo-European *h₁nḗh₃mn̥

singular plural
Nominative и́мя имена́
Accusative и́мя имена́
Genitive и́мени имён
Dative и́мени имена́м
Instrumental и́менем имена́ми
Prepositional и́мени имена́х


from Proto-Slavic *sěmę, Proto-Indo-European *séh₁mn̥

singular plural
Nominative се́мя семена́
Accusative се́мя семена́
Genitive се́мени семя́н
Dative се́мени семена́м
Instrumental се́менем семена́ми
Prepositional се́мени семена́х

So there you go! Just a little bit of history :).

One thought on “Russian ‘н’ declension of имя, время, etc.

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