Lesson 146

Diminutive-hypocoristic suffixes in Russian

The audio for the lesson is available at the bottom of the screen under the blue button.

Russian language has a very developed system of suffixes that allow us to express the whole range of emotions, starting from caress and tenderness and finishing with hatred and scorn. In this lesson we’ll cover a part of them that’s called diminutive-hypocoristic suffixes (уменьши́тельно-ласка́тельные су́ффиксы).

The diminutive-hypocoristic suffixes are often used when talking to kids, close relatives, or beloved ones, and intend to add to the words a tint of loving and caring feeling. For example, instead of мама (mom) we say мамочка or мамуля, instead of сын (son) – сыночек or сынуля.

In other cases, these suffixes are intended to diminish the size or importance of something. For example: вопро́с (question) – вопро́сик (a small question).

Let’s look at some of the suffixes that Russians use for that:

Suffix -ЕК

кусо́к – кусо́чек * (piece)
челове́к – челове́чек * (man, person)
цвето́к – цвето́чек * (flower)

Suffix -ИК

стол – сто́лик (table)
дом – до́мик (house)

Suffix -К

нога́ – но́жка * (leg)

Suffixes -ЕЧК, -ЕНЬК

у́тро – у́тречко (morning)
ма́ло – мале́нько (little)

Suffixes -ОЧК, -ОНЬК

па́ра – па́рочка (pair, couple)
ти́хо – тихо́нько (quietly, easily, softly)

Suffix -УЛ

ма́ма – маму́ля (mom)
па́па – папу́ля (dad)
красота́ – красоту́ля (beauty)

This is not the complete list of all the diminutive-hypocoristic Russian suffixes. We’ll cover the rest of them, as many other suffixes, in the future lessons.


The suffixes -ЕЧК, -ЕНЬК, -ОЧК, -ОНЬК, -УЛ are often used to form a diminutive form of personal names:

Ма́ша – Ма́шенька – Машу́ля
Ко́стя – Ко́стенька
Ди́ма – Ди́мочка – Диму́ля
Мари́на – Мари́ночка
О́ля – О́лечка – О́ленька

Russian Pod 101

In some expressions only the diminutive form is used. For example:

зелёный горо́шекgreen peas
(not зелёный горо́х)

журна́льный сто́ликcoffee table
(not журна́льный стол)

но́жки стола́ – table legs
(not но́ги стола́)

Some Russian words slightly change their meaning when used in diminutive form:

хоро́ший (good) – хоро́шенький (nice, pretty)


Let’s look at some examples with the words we learned today:

Оста́вь мне кусо́чек то́рта, пожа́луйста!
Leave me a little piece of cake please!

Дорого́й ты мой челове́чек!
My darling human being!

Он тихо́нько кивну́л голово́й.
He slightly nodded.

Здесь мале́нько не удо́бно.
It’s not quite comfortable here.

Смотри́ кака́я хоро́шенькая!
Look what a pretty girl!

Мне на́до зако́нчить па́рочку дел и я свобо́ден.
I need to finish a (little) couple of things and I’m free.

Где бабу́ля?
Where is grandma?

Practice all today’s examples with the audio track.

* – stem changing words

2 comments on “146 – Diminutive-hypocoristic suffixes in Russian”

  1. Ali Maarouf says:

    If I have a question will answer me immediately ?

    1. Learn Russian Step by Step says:

      Hi Ali,

      We don’t have an opportunity to answer immediately, but you can still ask.

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