Short-form Adjectives

Learn about Short-form adjectives in Russian

Short-form adjectives are a unique lexical group that exists in the Russian language.

How do we form it?

A short-form adjective can only be used as a predicate and is formed by dropping an ending from a long-form adjective. It only has masculine, feminine, neuter, and plural nominative forms. It agrees in gender and number of the subject of the sentence and does not decline.

  • Красивый - он красив, она красива, оно красиво, они красивы.
  • Спокойный - он спокоен *, она спокойна, оно спокойно, они спокойны.
  • Свободный - он свободен, она свободна, оно свободно, они свободны.
  • Низкий - он низок, она низка, оно низко, они низки.

*Masculine short adjectives ending in a cluster of consonants insert a vowel -e, or -o. Add a letter O before the last K, and the letter E before the last H.

Only qualitative adjectives and hard stem adjectives have a short-form. Qualitative Adjectives are those that can have a degree of quality. For example, красивый - beautiful, хороший - good. Reletative and Possessive Adjectives, and also soft stem adjectives do not have short-forms. There is only one soft stem adjective that can be short. Cиний - синь / синя / сине / сини.

When do we use it?

Short-form adjectives are not used very often in spoken Russian, but there a quite a few occassions. When the use of the short adjectives is obligatory, and failure to use it can change the meaning of the word completely.

When short-form adjectives can be used optionally

  • When we use it more formally or in a literary speech:

    Осенью деревья очень красивы - In fall, the trees are beautiful.

    (This sounds more beautiful than Осенью деревья очень красивые. The difference is only in style.)

  • When a relative quality is expressed for a given situation:

    Эти цветы будут красивы в этой вазе! - These flowers will be beautiful in this vase!

    (The short adjective is used because it’s not an absolute true that the flowers are beautiful, but they will look good in this exact vase.)

  • When the situation is temporary:

    Мы были так молоды, когда поженились! - We were so young when we got married!

    (At that time, when we got married we were young.)

    Он не очень занятой человек, почему он говорит, что всегда занят? - He is not a busy person, why is he saying, he is always busy?

  • When the point of view of the speaker is expressed concerning an exact situation. This function becomes relevant when talking about size:

    длинный - длинен, длинна, длинно, длинны / широкий - широк, широка, широко, широки.

    Эти брюки тебе длинны - These trousers are too long for you.

    Я слишком молода для этой работы - I am too young for this job. Perhaps I am not at all young, but I think I am too young.

  • Notice, that большой and маленький do not have a short-form, but instead short-forms of малый and великий will be used in the context of too small or too big for a paticular situation:

    Этот дом не маленький, но для нас он мал, потому что у нас большая семья. - This house is not small, but for us it’s too small, as we have a big family.

    Дочка так быстро растёт. Уже вся одежда мала. - My daugher is growing so fast! Her clothes is already too small.

    Этот костюм тебе велик. - This suit is too big for you.

  • Short-form Adjectives must be used obligatory :

    When the subject is ЭТО, ВСЁ, ЧТО

    Всё, что она делает, хорошо - Everything she does, is good.

    Это отлично! --- That’s great!

    Что для тебя легко? - What is easy for you?

    When they govern other words :

    Я не способна к этому - I am not capable of that.

    Ты можешь быть спокоен за меня! - You can be at ease about me!

    When there is a distinct shade of meaning, that can only be expressed with the help of the short-form. The long-form has a different meaning. Compare:

    Мы никогда не покупаем готовую еду. - We never buy pre-cooked food.


    Я всегда готов помочь тебе. - I am always ready to help you.

    Я люблю свободную одежду. - I like loose clothes.

    Сюда свободный вход. - It’s free(free -of- charge) entry here.


    Я свободен до вечера. - I am free till evening.

    Это место свободно? - Is this seat/ place free / available?

    У меня болит правый бок - I have pain in my right side.


    Ты абсолютно прав. - You are absolutely right.

  • The following adjectives are normally used in a predicate position and should be memorized:

    уверен sure
    доволен content
    рад glad
    удивлён surprised
    согласен agree
    похож alike
    занят busy
    готов ready
    счастлив happy
    голоден hungry
    добр kind
    знаком acquainted