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Russian Patronymics

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The patronymic (otchestvo) part of a Russian person's name is derived from the father's first name and usually serves as a middle name for Russians. Patronymics are used in both formal and informal speech. Students always address their professors with the first name and patronymic; colleagues at an office do the same. Patronymics also appear on official documents, like passports, just like your middle name does.

The patronymic carries a different ending depending upon the gender of the person. Male patronymics usually end in ovich or evich. Female patronymics usually end in ovna or evna. Russian patronymics are formed by combining the father's first name with the appropriate suffix.

To use an example from Russian literature, in Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov's full name is Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov; Ramonovich (a combination of his father's name, Ramon, with the ending ovich) is his patronymic. His sister, Avdotya, uses the female version of the same patronymic because she and Rodion share the same father. Her full name is Avdotya Romanovna (Ramon + ovna) Raskolnikova.

However, Rodion and Avdotya's mother, Pulkheria Raskolnikova, uses the name of her father to form her patronymic, Alexandrovna (Alexander + ovna).

Below are some more examples of patronymics. The father's name is listed first, followed by the male and female versions of the patronymic:

  • Vladimir – Vladimirovich, Vladimirovna
  • Mikhail – Mikhailovich, Mikhailovna
  • Ivan – Ivanovich, Ivanovna

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