Noun declensions

The way noun endings change depends not only on their number and gender, but also on the declension (grammatical group) each noun belongs to. Each group represents a particular set of case endings for gender, number, and case.

In Ukrainian, there are 4 declension groups. The first and the second declension are divided into three subgroups: hard, soft and mixed.

  1. Most feminine nouns belong to the 1st declension (end in "-a/-я").
  2. Most masculine nouns belong to the 2nd declension.
  3. 3rd declension is for feminine nouns only (almost all of them end in "-ість").
  4. 4th declension is for neuter nouns only (mostly names of baby animals).
Ukrainian noun declensions

1. First declension group (Перша відміна)

Nouns of feminine, masculine and common gender that end in "а" or "я" (in nominative):
ді́вчина (f) - girl
земля́ (f) - land, ground, Earth, soil
те́сля (m) - carpenter
сирота́ (c*) - orphan
суддя́ (c*) - judge

*Common gender noun depends on the gender of a person it is referring to.

Depending on the ending these nouns are divided into three subgroups:

endingsconsonant before the ending
hardany consonant except the hushing consonants (ж, ч, ш, щ, дж)
softany letter
mixedж, ч, ш, щ, дж

ді́вчина (ends in "a", last consonant "н" → hard group)
ка́ша (ends in "a", last consonant "ш" → mixed group)
земля́ (ends in я → soft group)

Singular (First declension)

(NOT: ж, ч, ш, щ, дж)+(а)
(ж, ч, ш, щ, дж)+(а)
Nominativeкни́газемля́, надія каша
Genitive+ и / і (ї)кни́ги землі́, наді́ї** каші
Dative+ і (ї)кни́зі* землі́, наді́ї** каші
Accusative+ у (ю)кни́гу зе́млю, наді́ю кашу
Instrumental+ ою / ею (єю)кни́гою земле́ю, наді́єю** кашею
Locative+ і (ї)на кни́зі* на землі́, на наді́ї** на каші
Vocative+ о / е (є)кни́го зе́мле, наді́є** каше
* Alternation of consonants occurs before an "і" ending in Dative and Locative case (г/з, к/ц, х/с).
** "Я" has the sound of "йа". The ending becomes iotised when declensed (e.g. надії [надій + і]), it happens after a vowel or an apostrophe.

Sometimes soft nouns can have an ending "ю" in vocative case:

  • when used in diminutive form (e.g. мату́ся → матýсю, до́ня → до́ню, etc.);
  • with some personal names (e.g. Леся → Лесю, etc.).

Plural (First declension)

Nominativeкни́гиземлі, надії каші
Genitivenullкни́гземель**, наді́й*** каш
Dative+ ам (ям)кни́гамземлям, наді́ям кашам
Accusative*-кни́гиземлі, наді́ї каші
Instrumental+ ами (ями)кни́гамиземлями, наді́ями кашами
Locative+ ах (ях)на/у кни́гахна/у землях, на/у наді́ях на/у кашах
Vocative-same as nominative same as nominativesame as nominative
* Some exception can occur with plural endings in accusative case (e.g. -ей, -ів: сімей, суддів).
** "Л" in the world "землі" is soft. When "і" is removed you are left with "ль" to retain its softness. An alternation of letters can occur in the root of the word (e.g: земля → земель).
*** "Надії" has the sound of "надійі". When you remove the sound "і", you are left with "наді́й".

Mixed group uses some endings from the hard and some from the soft group.

2. Second declension group (Друга відміна)

Nouns of masculine gender that end in "о" or a consonant (in nominative):
студе́нт [m] - student
ліс [m] - forest
дуб [m] - oak
пень [m] - stump
ба́тько [m] - father

Nouns of neuter gender that end in "-о", "-е", "-я" in nominative (except those with "-ат-, -ят-, -ен-" suffixes after declension (e.g. кошеня́ → кошеня́ти ("kitten" in genitive case)):
мі́сто [n] - town, city
вікно́ [n] - window
со́нце [n] - sun
життя́ [n] - life

Depending on the ending these nouns are divided into three subgroups:

hard- hard consonant
- о
soft- ь
- е, -я
со́нце, життя́
mixed- (ж, ч, ш, щ, дж)
- (ж, ч, ш, щ, дж) + е
прі́звище, плече́

Words with "р" ending have their own rules.

hardnouns with -ар, -ер, -єр, -ир, -ір, -їр, -ор, -ур, -юр, -яр suffixes;
the stress does not change after declension (ex: інжене́р → інжене́ра, папі́р → папе́ру)
softnouns with -ар, -ир suffixes;
the stress switches to the ending in plural form (ex: лі́кар → лікарі́в)
mixednames of people by their profession or activity with unstressed -яр suffix after declension (ex: каменя́р → каменяра́, пи́сар → пи́саря)

Singular (Second declension)

Nominativeстуде́нт, лісучитель, мореткач
Genitiveстудента, лі́су*учителя, мо́ряткача
Dativeстудентові (-у)** учителеві (-ю), мо́рюткачеві (-у)**
Accusativeстудентаучителя, мо́ре ткача
Instrumentalстудентомучителем, мо́ремткачем
Locative**на/у студентові (-у)** на/у учителеві (-ю), мо́рі (-ю) на/у ткачеві (-у)**
Vocativeстудентеучителю, мо́ре ткачу
* some exceptions occur in genitive case, instead of -а (-я) the word ends in -у (-ю);
** both endings can be used.

Some masculine singular nouns have an ending "-а (-я)" in genitive case (e.g. animate nouns, specific objects, animal names, tree names, city names, names of days of the week, etc.), while others nouns have "-у (-ю)" (e.g. names of abstract concepts, names of natural phenomena, names of materials and substances, etc.).
Genitive: студе́нта - student (an animate noun), ду́ба - oak (a tree), лі́су - forest (collective concept), ві́тру - wind, вогню́ - fire (natural phenomena).

Plural (Second declension)

Nominativeстудентиучителі, моряткачі
Genitiveстудентівучителів, мо́рівткачі́в
Dativeстудентам учителя́м, моря́мткачі́в
Accusativeстудентівучителі́в, моря́ ткачі́в
Instrumentalстудентамиучителя́ми, моря́миткача́ми
Locativeна/у студентахна/у учителя́х, на/у моря́хна/у ткача́х
Vocativesame as nominativesame as nominativesame as nominative

3. Third declension group (Третя відміна)

Nouns of feminine gender that end in a consonant (in nominative):
ра́дість (f) - happiness
любо́в (f) - love
по́дорож (f) - travel, trip
моде́ль (f) - model

One exception: мати (f) - mother

Singular (Third declension)

Caseendingexample 1example 2example 3
Accusative-ра́дістьмоде́ль любо́в
Locativeна/у ра́достіна/у моде́лі на/у любо́ві
Vocativeра́достемоде́ле любо́ве

Almost all of the words in this group have an abstract meaning and end in "-ість": му́дрість (wisdom), важли́вість (importance), жа́дність (greed), за́здрість (envy), etc.

Some exceptions can occur in instrumental case:

  1. doubling of consonants, if the last consonant is between two vowels (e.g. по́дорож → по́дорожжю, ніч → ні́ччю);
  2. appearance of an apostrophe after "б, п, в, м, ф, щ, р" (e.g. любо́в → любо́в'ю).

Plural (Third declension)

Caseendingexample 1example 2example 3
Accusative-по́дорожіно́чі моде́лі
Locative+ахна/у по́дорожахна/у ноча́хна/у моде́лях
Vocative-same as nominativesame as nominative same as nominative
*ending becomes iotised (й sound is added) because "модель" has soft ending in nominative singular (the initial form of the noun); "моде́льам" sounds the same as "моде́лям"

4. Fourth declension group (Четверта відміна)

Nouns of neuter gender that end in -а, -я (in nominative) and when declined, acquire suffix -ен-, -ат- or -ят-.

Мost of the nouns in this group represent baby animals:
цуценя́ (nominative) → цуценя́ти (genitive) - puppy
кошеня́ (nominative) → кошеня́ти (genitive) - kitten
ведмежа́ (nominative) → ведмежа́ти (genitive) - baby bear

Singular and plural (Forth declension)

Accusativeцуценя́цуценя́та, цуценя́т
Locativeна/у цуценя́тіна/у цуценя́тах
Vocativesame as nominativesame as nominative

Some nouns do not belong to any of the declensions. These include:

  • some nouns of foreign origin that never change their endings (e.g. таксі́ (taxi), кафе́, меню́, метро́, etc.);
  • nouns that have no singular form (e.g. окуля́ри (eyeglasses), две́рi, etc.);
  • nouns derived from adjectives (e.g. мину́ле (the past), знайо́мий, вартови́й, etc.);
  • feminine last names ending in "" or in a consonant (e.g. Ткаче́нко, Ме́льник, etc.).
We will learn more details about each grammatical case in the following lessons.
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