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Russian Diminutive Suffixes: What Do You Need to Know?

Russian features many suffixes that help people express their emotions. Diminutive suffixes, which are added to the stem of the noun, can be used to show love and care. In this post, we learn how to create diminutives and introduce a list of common suffixes. For a more comprehensive look at diminutives, learn how to express your emotions in Russian with a teacher.

Creating Diminutives

Let’s start with an example.

  • Катя – Катюша (Katya – Katuisha)

  • Kate – Katie

To create the diminutive form of the noun, you need to add the suffix -юш (-uish) to the stem of the noun. Diminutive suffixes are often used while talking to kids, relatives, friends, or loved ones. They can express both smallness and love.

  • нога – ножка (noga – nozhka)

  • foot

In this case the word “нога” (noga) is changed to “ножка” (nozhka) with the suffix -ка (-ka), which means the foot is smaller in size. This sort of thing can be heard when parents talk to their children.

  • папа – папуля (papa – papulya)

  • dad

This diminutive, which takes the suffix “-y” (-u), is used as a term of endearment for one’s father.

Diminutive Suffixes

What kinds of suffixes can be used to make a noun diminutive? In Russian, there are plenty of them, and the use of certain suffixes depends on the gender of the noun.

Masculine Nouns

For masculine nouns, you can use the following suffixes:

-ец (-ets)

  • брат – братец (brat – bratets)

  • brother

-чик (-chik)

  • стул – стульчик (stul – stul’chik)

  • chair

-ок, -ек, -ёк (-ok, -ek, -yok)

  • пирог – пирожок (pirog – pirozhok)

  • pie

  • кусок – кусочек (kusok – kusochek)

  • piece

  • чай – чаёк (chai – chayok)

  • tea

-ик (-ik)

  • ключ-ключик (kliuch – kliuchik)

  • key

-очек, -ечек, - ёчик (-ochek, -echek, -yochik)

  • друг – дружочек (drug – druzhochek)

  • friend

  • человек – человечек (chelovek – chelovechek)

  • person

  • пень – пенёчек (pen’ – penyochek)

  • stump

Feminine Nouns

Feminine nouns require use of the following suffixes:

-ица (-itsa)

  • вода – водица (voda – voditsa)

  • water

-ичка (-ichka)

  • вода – водичка (voda – vodichka)

  • water

-ка (-ka)

  • рука – ручка (ruka – ruchka)

  • hand

-очка, -ечка (-ochka, -echka)

  • секунда – секундочка (sekunda – sekundochka)

  • second

  • ложка – ложечка (lozhka – lozhechka)

  • spoon

Neuter Nouns

With neuter nouns, you can use the following suffixes:

-ико (-iko)

  • колесо – колёсико (koleso – kolyosiko)

  • wheel

-ко (-ko)

  • облако – облачко (oblako – oblachko)

  • cloud

–ышко (-yshko)

  • солнце – солнышко (solntse – solnyshko)

  • sun (neuter noun)

Sometimes it can be difficult to understand whether a diminutive noun expresses love or shows that something is small. In these cases, rely on the context to clarify meaning.

While it would be very difficult to remember this (incomplete) list of suffixes, you should be able to recognize diminutive words and to derive their meaning. And now you’ve learned that although Russian often sounds quite rude to foreigners, Russians actually do everything they can to make their language friendlier.

For more information about Russian and its friendly language conventions, take a lesson with a native speaker.

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