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Explanation for endings for 'третий'

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I understand that the endings for  the word третий (третья, третье, третьи) must be memorized and that it is a soft stem adjective. 

But can anyone offer any explanation for why the endings are -ья, -ье, -ьи instead of -яя, -ее, -ие? 





asked Oct 23, 2013 by passionforrussian (170 points)

1 Answer

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Best answer
Dear PassionForRussian,

Soft-stem adjectives end in -ЯЯ, -EE, -ИЕ if there is an Н before the ending:



Infact, the majority of the soft-stem adjectives have an Н before the ending.

But if we have other consonants rather than Н coming before the ending we use ЬЕ, ЬЯ, ЬИ, usually in possessive adjectives:


волЧий-волЧья-волЧье-волЧьи, etc.

Третий is also the case, althought it is an ordinal number.



Yulia Amlinskaya,
Russian language teacher.
answered Oct 24, 2013 by RussianTeacher (19,690 points)
selected Oct 24, 2013 by it-ogo