Что у них есть?

English Translation

What do they have?

Isn’t the pronoun given in the prepositional case, not genetive?

There are two pronouns, что and них, but I assume you’re talking about the latter. The form of the genitive and prepositional for the third person is the same in the plural.

Thanks. Somehow my dictionary lists the genetive form without the “H”.

The letter н is added to the beginning of a pronoun when the following three conditions are met:

(1) it’s preceded by a preposition
(2) it’s a personal pronoun (not a possessive pronoun)
(3) it starts with a vowel

The personal pronouns that start with vowels are the forms of он, она, они in their declined (that is, non-nominative) forms. Here are the forms with н:

  • него, неё, них (genitive, accusative);
  • нему, ней, ним (dative);
  • ним, ней, ними (instrumental)
  • нём, ней, них (prepositional)

You can also see them on the Wiktionary page for он in the “Declension” section, which also gives some interesting information about their origin under “Pronoun”/“Usage notes”.

This page talks about the subject and gives some practice exercises, though for some reason it fails to mention the prepositional forms нём, ней, них.

I guess your dictionary didn’t get into these nuances. Which one is it?

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Alan, thank you for such an extensive reply. The dictionary is Langenscheitdt’s, but the fault is mine. After reading your reply I went back and found : “Note: After prepositions the oblique forms receive an H-prethesis”. Several examples follow, but I am not yet familiar with my Russian keyboard and therefore am unable to list them.
Thanks again.

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