Russian Names: First Names, Patronymics, and Last Names

Posted on June 5th, 2011

First Name

Russian names and patronymicsThe first name (имя) is a given name at birth. Usually, all of the Russian first names have nicknames. Below are a few examples of Russian boys’ names and nicknames:

First name: Алексей
Diminutives: Алёша, Алёшенька

First name: Александр
Diminutives: Саша, Сашенька, Сашуля, Сашуня, Сашунечка, Сашулечка

Examples of Russian girls’ names and nicknames:

First name: Ольга
Diminutives: Оля, Оленька, Олечка

First name: Наталия
Diminutives: Наташа, Ната, Натуля, Наташенька, Наташечка, Натуся, Натуська, Натусенька

Here is my name – Виктория, and my nicknames are –  Вика, Викуся, Викуська, Викуля (My Mum’s favourite :-)) ), Викулюшка, Викулечка, Викуленька….

Patronymic

The patronymic (отчество) in Russian is derived from father’s first name.

According to different sources, the first mentions of Russian patronymics date back to 945. However, they sounded differently back then, indicating that the person was actually a son of his/her father. Here is an example: Владимир, сын Петра (Vladimir, Peter’s son).

Modern Russian patronymic is based on the father’s first name plus an appropriate suffix. Suffixes –евич, or –ович form male patronymics and suffixes -евна, or –овна form female patronymics. So, for example, you have a Russian female friend, and her name is Юлия, and her father’s first name is Николай, then your friend’s name with patronymic will be Юлия Николаевна. If you have a Russian male friend whose name is Сергей, and his father’s name is Николай, then your friend’s name with a patronymic will be Сергей Николаевич.

Here is how Russian patronymics are formed:

1. Male patronymics are formed by adding suffixes – ович, or - евич (Meaning “son of”)
The ending – oвич follows a hard consonant, for example:
Пётр – Петрович
Олег – Олегович
Александр – Александрович

Ending - евич follows ь or й, replacing them, for example:
Игорь – Игоревич
Николай – Николаевич
Андрей – Андреевич

If the name ends with -ий, for example: Василий then -ий becomes -ьевич, for example:
Василий – Васильевич

2. Female patronymics end with – овна, - евна (Meaning “daughter of”)
Ending - oвна follows a hard consonant, for example:
Пётр – Петровна
Олег – Олеговна
Александр – Александровна

Ending - евна follows ь or й, replacing them, for example:
Евгений – Евгениевна
Николай – Николаевна
Андрей – Андреевна

If the father’s name ends with -ий, for example: Василий then -ий becomes -ьевна, for example:
Василий – Васильевна

Now you can practice forming patronymics by doing the exercise below.

Exercise. Form patronymics, if a person’s father’s name is:
Владимир
Сергей
Фёдор
Виталий
Максим
Дмитрий
Михаил
Артём
Юрий
Борис

Last Name

The Russian last name (фамилия) is a family name. Interestingly, female last names end with –а, and male last names end with a consonant. And of course, as usual, there are exceptions to every rule, but, please, don’t worry about them for now.

Here are a few examples of the Russian last names: Богатырёв – Богатырёва, Петров – Петрова, Новиков – Новикова.

Russian Names in Formal and Informal Situations

In formal situations, you would address a Russian person by his or her first name and patronymic. For example, in a formal conversation you would say:
- Здравствуйте, Владимир Николаевич!
or:
- Здравствуйте, Ольга Ивановна!

In an informal speech, however, you can address a Russian person by his or her first name or nickname. For example, when speaking with your friend you would say:
- Привет, Миша!
or:
- Привет, Машуня!

Interesting Fact:

When filling out a Russian document you will notice that, unlike in English, the last name needs to be indicated first, followed by the first name and the patronymic.

I hope you had fun learning about Russian names!

See you soon! :-D

Viktoria.

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