Collective numbers

Собира́тельные числи́тельные

Collective numbers are used to present groups of people, animals, or things as a single unit. The collective numbers include о́ба/о́бе and the numbers listed below. Only numbers from дво́е (2) to се́меро (7) are actively used in modern speech.

о́ба/о́бе  both ше́стеро  six
дво́е  two се́меро  seven
тро́е  three во́сьмеро  eight
че́тверо  four де́вятеро  nine
пя́теро  five де́сятеро  ten

оба/обе

The collective number о́ба has two gender forms: о́ба for masculine and neuter nouns and о́бе for feminine nouns. Unlike the number two (два/две) which distinguishes gender only in the nominative and accusative cases, оба/обе distinguish between gender in ALL cases.

Masculine Neuter Feminine
Nominative о́ба о́бе
Accusative
Genitive обо́их обе́их
Dative обо́им обе́им
Instrumental обо́ими обе́ими
Prepositional обо́их обе́их

The case of nouns and adjectives after о́ба/о́бе is the same after два/две. If the number itself is in the nominative or accusative cases, the following noun is in the genitive singular case. The adjective is in the genitive plural case for masculine and neuter nouns or the nominative plural case for feminine nouns.

о́ба больши́х окна́ — both big windows
о́ба но́вых стола́ — both new tables
о́бе ста́рые кни́ги — both old books

In an oblique case, о́ба/о́бе takes the same case as the following plural noun and adjective.

На́ши друзья́ останови́лись в обе́их гости́ницах. — Our friends stayed in both hotels.
Держи́сь за руль обе́ими рука́ми. — Hold on to the steering wheel with both hands

Declension of Collective Numerals

The declension of the collective numbers дво́е and че́тверо are listed below. The number тро́е follows the same declension as дво́е. The numbers пя́теро, ше́стеро, and се́меро follow the same declension as че́тверо.

two four
Nominative дво́е че́тверо
Accusative
Genitive двои́х четверы́х
Dative двои́м четверы́м
Instrumental двои́ми четверы́ми
Prepositional двои́х четверы́х

When collective numbers are in the nominative or accusative cases, they require the nouns and adjectives that follow them to be in the genitive plural case. Collective numbers are rarely seen in oblique cases, but if they do occur. They are followed by the same case of the noun in the plural.

Она́ мать двои́х краси́вых дете́й. — She is the mother of two beautiful children.
Он оказа́лся в окруже́нии четверы́х во́инов. — He was surrounded by four warriors.

The oblique forms of cardinal numbers are preferred over oblique forms of collective numbers.

стена́ с двумя́ воро́тами — a wall with four gates
о́коло трёх су́ток — about three days and nights
Она́ пришла́ с четырьмя́ детьми́. — She came with four children.

Use of Collective Numerals

  • Collective numbers may be used with nouns that only have a plural form.
    дво́е но́вых джи́нсов — two new pairs of jeans
    тро́е часо́в — three watches
    че́тверо су́ток — four days and nights
     
  • Collective numbers may also be used with nouns that come in pairs (e.g. socks, gloves, etc.). However, the cardinal number and па́ра (pair) are preferred.
    дво́е носко́в / две па́ры носко́в — two pairs of socks
    тро́е но́жниц / три па́ры но́жниц — three pairs of scissors
     
  • Collective numbers may be used with nouns denoting male people. In these cases, it emphasizes the unity and cohesion of the group. Note that cardinal numbers are also possible with nouns denoting males, however they represent the group as individuals whereas the collective represents the group as a whole. Remember that this only applies to masculine nouns, NOT feminine nouns!
    дво́е ма́льчиков — two boys
    тро́е мужчи́н — three men
    че́тверо ю́ношей — four young men
    Дво́е бра́тьев живу́т в одно́м до́ме. — Two brothers live in the same house.
     
  • Collective numbers may be used with pronouns that denote a group of males or females.
    То́лько мы дво́е бы́ли там. — Only the two of us were there.
    Нас тро́е. — There are three of us.
    Нам трои́м нужны́ биле́ты. — Three of us need tickets.
     
  • Collective numbers may be used by themselves, without an accompanying noun or pronoun.
    Че́тверо их бы́ло. Дво́е спе́реди и дво́е сза́ди. — There were four of them. Two in the front and two in the back.
    Пришло́ дво́е. — Two people came.
    ко́мната на двои́х — a room for two
     
  • Collective numbers are used with the plural nouns лю́ди (people), ли́ца (individuals), де́ти (children), близнецы́ (twins), ребя́та (kids, lads) and вну́ки (grandchildren).
    У меня́ дво́е дете́й. — I have two children.
    За столо́м сиде́ло тро́е люде́й. — Three people sat at the table.
    У неё родило́сь че́тверо близнецо́в. — She gave birth to quadruplets.
     
  • Collective numbers are used with nouns denoting young animals.
    У неё дво́е котя́т. — She has two kittens.
    Она́ принесла́ трои́х щеня́т. — She brought three puppies.