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It is my understanding that Russians have a first name, surname, and patronymic.

What is the order of a full name: "first name, surname, patronymic" or "first name, patronymic, surname"?

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Keep in mind that (in Russian, unlike English) it's generally obvious which part of a name you're looking at. For example, "Sergey" is clearly a given name, "Ivanov" is clearly a surname, and "Nikolayevich" is clearly a patronymic, no matter what order they're written in. – Joe Jan 14 at 0:23
up vote 15 down vote accepted

There are two options:

  1. first - patronymic - surname
  2. surname - first - patronymic


  1. Иван Иванович Иванов

  2. Иванов Иван Иванович

In other words patronymic is an "extension" for the first name and can only follow it.

Except a very informal form, when only the patronymic is used.
For example:

Эй, Петрович!

The full name is the most formal form, so it is typically used in official situations/documents only.
The only patronymic form is a very familiar form and used only between friends.

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So, when would the full name be used (if ever)? Is it common for friends to use the patronymic so informally or is that for "insulting" situations? – Christina Leuci Jan 13 at 22:00
@ChristinaLeuci The full name is very formal so it is typically used in official situations/documents only. – Dmitry Jan 13 at 22:09
@ChristinaLeuci: it is, but not all patronymics work that way. They should have a certain rhythm in them: not be too long and preferably have stress on the ultimate or penultimate syllable. If a guy's patronymic is Петрович, Кузьмич or Фомич, it's likely he would be called by it among friends; if it's, say, Евгеньевич or Владиславович, it's much less likely. – Quassnoi Jan 14 at 10:42
Using patronymic adds a flavor of respect. It's never insulting by itself, but can express an irony (see "Семён Семёныч" or even an extreme sarcasm, e.g. if you address a child via first and patronymic name to emphasize that he/she is a grown person and has to be responsible for the actions. However, when you use the last name, this makes it formal. Generally, you don't address anyone using the last name directly outside the context of some official business or even to demonstrate some disrespect. – DK. Jan 15 at 9:59

The first-patronymic-last is the most common form. The last-first-patronymic is something that is used some formal cases like official lists (for instance of awarded persons, or deceased in accident etc.), like:

К награждению представляются: Иванов Никита Петрович, Павлова Анна Александровна.

Also, last-first-patronymic in articles dedicated to the person, like in Пушкин, Александр Сергеевич

Also, this form, let's consider it being more formal one has as shortened form, when patronymic is ommited. Say in school one can hear something like:

Список учеников, у которых остались задолженности: Мандрыка Оксана, Ковалёв Никита.

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In short it is used when alphabetic ordering is needed. – Anixx Jan 14 at 0:28
@Anixx good point. Well, technically speaking nobody can stop one sorting by last name which is the third component, but good point though. – shabunc Jan 14 at 1:00
Преставиться = to die. Представиться = to introduce yourself, be awarded, etc – DK. Jan 31 at 10:32
thanks for comments, it obviously was a typo, fixed – shabunc Jan 31 at 10:33

first - patronymic - surname

is the default form and the most respectful one.

surname - first - patronymic

is used when alphabetic ordering is needed (in lists, encyclopedias, when calling a person from a group/class etc).

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Full name (last-first-patronymic) is also used in situations, where normally only last name (e. g. roll-call in the army) or first-last form (e. g. announcement of sport teams line-ups) are used to distinguish between two or more people, who share last or both last and first name:

Стартовый состав команды: в воротах Иван Петров, защитники — Николай Смирнов, Дмитрий Иванович Комаров, Дмитрий Сергеевич Комаров <..>

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Both forms 1. first - patronymic - surname 2. surname - first - patronymic are used in formal situations.

I think "Surname - First - Patronymic" is used more often since there is special abbreviation "ФИО" i.e. "SFP". E.g. you can often find this abbreviation in legal documents. While abbreviation "ИОФ" does not exist. first - patronymic - surname may be used in less formal texts e.g. , someone's biography, corporate lists, news etc.

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The full name is used in official situations and when introducing someone officially, or when referring to highly honourable people like presidents or great writers, and also in official documents and in textbooks (in these two last cases the first name and the patronymic can be abbreviated to a single letter each). You never use the 3-word name to address someone personally, but you can use it when you would like to know if the person in front of you is the one you are looking for, in this case you pronounce it with a question intonation, policemen usually do that.

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