Russian Morphology

Most Russian words (except the very small ones consisting of the root only) can be broken down into smaller parts: MORPHEMES.
  • Root denotes the basic meaning or function of the word.
  • All morphemes within the word (except the ending) are referred to as the stem: PREFIX + ROOT + SUFFIX=STEAM.

Russian morphemes are classed according to the order they appear in a word: PREFIX > ROOT > SUFFIX > ENDING.

Each morpheme has one or a few predictable meanings, which add:

  • a new meaning to the root of the word and
  • can change the function of the word
Endings of Russian Feminine Nouns Окончания русских существительных женского рода
Endings of Russian Masculine Nouns Окончания русских существительных мужского рода
Russian grammar - Neuter gender Окончания русских существительных среднего рода
Exercises with fingers Упражнения с пальцами
... further results

уч/и/тель/ниц/а - уч/еник

  • -уч- is the root which denotes the basic meaning of these two words
  • -и- is a suffix which is added after the consonant ч
  • -тель is a suffix which indicates that the noun has been made up from a verb (in our case уч/и/ть/ся) and it refers currently to a profession/occupation of a male
  • -ниц- is a suffix which indicates that the noun has been made up from a related noun, which refers to a male (in our case уч/и/тель) and now it refers to a female
  • is a nominative case feminine ending of a noun
  • -еник is a suffix which indicates that the noun has been made up from a verb (in our case уч/и/ть/ся) and it refers at the present to a male

How can you learn to make new Russian words

Учительница: Let’s speak about morphology, the morphological structure of Russian words. Since you probably don't want to be a linguist, I can share with you some of the knowledge that I have gathered from Russian teachers, from my students, Russian language books and from my experience of being Russian.

Ученик: What are these morphemes? And how do you know what is the prefix, the root, the suffix and the ending of a word?

Учительница: Sometimes you would not know exactly which morphemes make up the word but you can always try guessing.

Ученик: It is too much.

Учительница: There are only a limited number of prefixes and suffixes in Russian, you will learn them all with time. You will be able to make up your own Russian words soon, just like Russian children do and Russians will love you for it. The Russian language is very beautiful and logical. Soon you will learn the logic and you will love it.
Книга З.А. Потихи.jpg

When I was a child I lived in a house next to the house a Russian linguist and Professor Zinovii Aronovich Potiha (Зиновий Аронович Потиха). When his wife found out that I had started to teach Russian in London and I am using the book "Строение русского слова", she presented me with a copy of the book with her signature and inscription.

Some Russian words with the root -уч-

to teach, to learn
to learn, to study
teacher (male)
teacher (female)
teachers or teaching, duties of a teacher
to be a teacher
studies, learning, doctrine, teachings
student (male)
student (female)
educational, training, academic
tutorial, textbook, study book
student, pupil
school, college, academy
вы/уч/и/ть - вы/уч/и/ть(ся)
to learn well, to teach thoroughly
вы/уч/ива/ть - вы/уч/ива/ть(ся)
to finish one's education
за/уч/и/ть - за/уч/ива/ть
to learn well (by heart)
из/уч/и/ть - из/уч/a/ть
to learn, to study in detail
на/уч/и/ть - на/уч/и/ть(ся)
to teach, to learn a skill, a proffesion
об/уч/и/ть(ся) - об/уч/a/ть(ся)
to learn something
об/уч/и/ть - об/уч/a/ть
to teach something
пере/уч/и/ть - пере/уч/ива/ть
to learn or to teach a new skill
по/уч/и/ть - по/уч/a/ть
to learn or to teach for some time or to teach from time to time
про/уч/и/ть - про/уч/а/ть
"to teach someone a lesson"
уч/и/ть(ся) - по/уч/и/ть(ся)
to learn - to learn for some time
раз/уч/и/ть(ся) - раз/уч/ивa/ть(ся)
to forget how to do something, to lose a skill
Formation of Russian aspectual pairs