Indeclinable nouns

In Ukrainian there are a number of nouns which, at first glance, might appear to be neuter but do not decline, i.e their endings do not change according to case. These are always foreign loan words, and are usually easily identifiable to anyone with knowledge of European languages such as French, Italian, Spanish etc.

Indeclinable nouns with end stress

These are usually (but not exclusively) loans from French, for example кафе́, бюро́, філе́ etc., and, as such, the end stress which is typical in French has accompanied these words into the Ukrainian language.

A number of loan words e.g. шимпанзе́, карате́ etc., though not French originally, entered Ukrainian via French, bringing with them French endings and stress.

Some words e.g. кіно́, кіло́, авто́ are abbreviations and are indeclinable in their abbreviated forms, but decline according to the rules in their full forms (кінотеа́тр, кілогра́м, автомобі́ль).

Other words like this:

табло́, негліже́, експозе́, комюніке́, резюме́, желе́, есе́, купе́, кабаре́, тире́, пюре́, шосе́, аташе́, фойє́, ательє́, досьє́, арго́, ескімо́, авто́, лото́, метро́

An interesting exception is пальто́ (from the French paletot – overcoat), which is not a recent loan, and is declined like a neuter noun with end stress in singular and stem stress in plural: пальто́ (nom. sing), пальта́ (gen. sing.), па́льта (nom pl.). For the full declension of this type of noun see число́.

Indeclinable nouns with stem stress

These are all foreign loan words, mainly, but not exclusively, borrowed from Italian:

ало́е, кано́е, ра́діо, баро́ко, ве́то, фо́то, ге́тто

Exercise

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© 2012 Marta Jenkala