patronymic in Russian

What is a patronymic

The full Russian name consists of three main elements: name, patronymic and surname; for example, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov.
A patronymic is a characteristic of the Russian name system, but is also found among other Eastern Slavs, namely Belarusians and Ukrainians, as well as Bulgarians and Greeks. It is the part of the name that is assigned to the child according to the father’s name. It has a triple function: it complements the name, distinguishes its owner (in addition to the surname) from the namesake, and shows respect.

Origin of a patronymic

The form of masculine patronymic in modern Russian with the ending in -ovich, or -evich after the bases with a soft consonant, goes back to the patronymics of the ancient Russian princes and nobility of Moscow Russia; people from lower class had no right to use such patronymics. Most modern Russian surnames are actually of patronymic origin.

How is the patronymic formed?

Male form:

Father’s name ends with a consonant + ович for example Владимир + ович = Владимирович

Father’s name ends with ь, й + евич, for example Сергей + евич = Сергеевич

Father’s name ends with a vowel + ич, for example Никита + ич = Никитич


Female form:

Father’s name ends with a consonant + овна for example Владимир + овна = Владимировна

Father’s name ends with ь, й + евна, for example Сергей + евна = Сергеевна

Father’s name ends with a vowel + ич, for example Никита + ична = Никитична

When should you use the patronymic?

The patronymic is used in formal situations. You should use it when you address your teacher, your boss and people who are older than you.

Learn how to say you in Russian – ты or вы?

Learn more about interesting facts about Russia

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