15.7 - Noun suffixes

If you are able to identify the various segments which make up a Ukrainian noun, you can usually work out what it means. For example, in the phrase потойбічний світ, if you know that бічний comes from бік (similarly to річнийрік) you can probably work out that the world being referred to, по-той-біч-ний, по тому боці, is "on the other side" or "not of this world".

The three elements which help us work out the meaning of a noun are its stem (бічбік), its prefix(es) по-той- and its ending -ний, which tells us the word is an adjective.

If you recognise the stem of a noun, and have an idea of what the various suffixes denote, you can generally work out the overall meaning, for example, the suffix -ник generally denotes a person or thing which carries out a function: година (hour, time) – годинник (watch, clock); робота (work) – робітник (workman).

Below are the more important noun (nominal) suffixes, with their most frequent meanings and examples. Please note that this list does not aim to be exhaustive.

predominant use examples
  belonging to a profession or ethnic or social group моряк (sailor, seaman), співак -ачка (singer), земляк -ячка (fellow countryman/woman)
  see page 15.6 киянин -янка (Kyivite), галичанин -анка (Galician, from Halychyna)
  person or object performing an activity or function санітар -арка (medical orderly), лікар -арка (doctor), косар (reaper), косарка (mowing machine)
-ач -ачка   person or object performing an activity or function викладач -ачка (lecturer), спостерігач (observer), вимикач (on-off switch)
-ець     origin, qualities or function of person or object промовець (speaker), мистецтвознавець (art historian), ссавець (mammal), видавець (publisher)
-ик -иця   person or object performing an activity or function; diminutive; endearment попередник, попередниця (predecessor), однокласник -иця (classmate), художник -иця (artist)
-исько   -ище object of large size; exaggeration; place or environment where an activity takes place чоботище (great big boot), водосховище (reservoir), середовище (environment), урвище (precipice), вовчисько (big nasty wolf)
  -ість   quality; abstract noun formed from adjective вічність (eternity), молодість (youth), радість (joy), якість (quality)
group of people of similar social or other status; quality or abstract concept; frequently equivalent to English '‑hood' or '‑ship' (e.g. childhood) козацтво (cossacks collectively), селянство (peasantry), керівництво (management), співробітництво (co-operation), слов'янофільство (slavophilia)

action or process; result of action or process занепокоєння (anxiety, turmoil), вирішення (resolution, e.g. of a problem), рішення (decision), зменшення (decrease), визволення (freeing, liberation), визволяння (process of liberating), рівняння (equating, equation), кохання (love, loving), виконання (performing, performance)

* also other nouns ending in a double consonant plus -я, e.g. зайняття, чуття.

Most of the suffixes used for diminutives (frequently doubling up as terms of endearment) have not been listed in the chart, but include -ик, -ичка, -инка, -ина, -иця, -ок, -очка etc.

Exercise 15.7A

Part of the collection of resources at UkrainianLanguage.org.uk
© 2007 Marta Jenkala