I can't seem to figure out the difference between одену and надену.

Both are future tense verbs of "to put on" or "wear". Are they both just synonyms? I fee like there is a subtle difference

  • Maybe надену is more formal?
    – rsavchenko
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 22:52
  • Она оделась в костюм (она одела дочь в костюм). Не встречается ошибка: "наделась в костюм (надела в костюм)." Разница — огромна. Еще: Она накрасила глаза. Надела на палец кольцо, нацепила бусы. Осмотрела и оценила себя в зеркале. И осушила залпом фужер. И здесь не говорят: окрасила глаза, одела на палец, оцепила бусы, насмотрела и наценила в зеркале, насушила фужер. Если посмотреть на все эти формы в конструкции о-/на-+основа_глагола, то легко увидеть систему. Если разница столь большая и очевидная, то и синонимии нет. Не от временной же формы зависит смысл?
    – Avtokod
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 0:10

4 Answers 4


Надевать / надеть что-то (на кого-то) means "to put something on (someone)".

Одевать / одеть кого-то (во что-то) means "to dress someone (in something)".

The direct object (one without a preposition) of надевать is the article of clothing (inanimate), the direct object to одевать is the one wearing it (animate): надень свитер (на Оксану) / одень Оксану (в свитер).

Oдевать has a reflexive counterpart одеваться ("to dress up"), but надевать doesn't have one. You can construct it, but it would sound peculiar at best (надеваться would mean something like "put oneself on something").

There's another pair, обувать / набувать, used for footwear, however the latter is archaic and not used anymore. Надевать is used instead nowadays, in reference to footwear, instead of archaic набувать. Обувать and обуваться are used as counterparts of одевать and одеваться.

In vernacular speech, people tend to use одевать and обувать with inanimate objects (*одень свитер, *обуй ботинки) because the meaning is obvious from the context, and the case forms happen to be the same, only the prepositions are different.

Prescriptive grammars, however, consider this usage incorrect — just the same as using "to learn someone" instead of "to teach someone" in English.

Rosenthal, Говорите и пишите правильно:

Дело в том, что глаголы одеть — одевать обозначают действие, обращенное на другой предмет (в грамматическом значении этого слова, т. е. может быть и человек, и животное, и неодушевлённый предмет): одевать ребёнка, одевать коня попоной, одевать куклу. Если же действие обращено на его производителя, то употребляются глаголы надеть — надевать: надеть пальто, надеть шляпу, надевать туфли, надеть очки, надевать коньки.

  • 2
    одень на себя свитер is totally correct
    – Anixx
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 13:42
  • 7
    @Anixx: as a language speaker, you are free to speak any way you want, and, as long as other people understand you and are OK with it, your speech is "correct". However, things like prescriptive grammars do exist for Russian, and most of them consider одевать на себя incorrect. I specifically avoided using any kinds of assessments of "correctness" in my answer, just mentioned that there are grammars and grammarians that think otherwise.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 14:18
  • 2
    Well actually my perception is that надевать is putting something on some protrusion such as hook or limb or head while одевать is thoroughly cover with something. So надеть на голову шляпу, надеть ботинок, надеть перчатки. Но одеть свитер, одеть пальто.
    – Anixx
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 16:52
  • 3
    @Anixx "Одежду надевают, Надежду одевают." So simple. People use many incorrect word forms, such as ложить and покласть, but they still incorrect, though understandable.
    – Roman
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 7:52
  • 1
    @Anixx Your question has no correspondence whatsoever to the discussed theme. For "одеть" such usage is INCORRECT. Period.
    – Viridianus
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 23:56

Oh, this is a classic question, and actually one with which even native speakers happen to have trouble. Actually, these verbs aren't interchangeable.

"Надеть" is used for putting clothes (or something else like headphones, for instance) on a person themself. Something inanimate. So, for instance:

  • я надену шапку [на себя]
  • она надела чулки [на себя]
  • Надень [ты] шапку, холодно.

"Одеть" is for putting clothes on somebody else, like:

  • В детстве я одевала кукол в красивые наряды.

There's a mnemonic joke: "Одевают Надежду, надевают одежду". "Одеть" answers the question "whom am I putting this on?". "Надеть" is pretty much about "what I'm putting on".

  • 4
    It's something like: надеть— "To put X on Y" and одеть— is more like "To clothe x in Y" Thus we have the word одежда —clothing wardrobe. на means "up onto", whereas о means "around, all over".
    – VCH250
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 1:42
  • 1
    @VCH250 good point! I suggest you to put some effort and turn this into an answer actually, I believe it is valuable.
    – shabunc
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 2:12

Speaking of how native speakers mix these two words, I would add that надеть is always used with clothing. However одеть may be used for both putting clothes on another person, or putting an article of clothing on oneself.

You can say "одеть одежду, одеть Надежду" and most people (except for purists) won't see any problem, however you can only say "надеть одежду" and never "надеть Надежду".

  • 2
    never "надеть Надежду" well, some impurists certainly may say like this ;-)
    – Matt
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 8:47
  • @Matt, I suspect your comment is irony, but seriously надеть Надежду is used by less than 0.001 percent of people, except if it is a pun, and одеть одежду is pretty common. For instance, I've been saying it this way my whole life.
    – d.k
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 10:36
  • 1
    "надеть Надежду" may be used as a lewd remark.
    – jfs
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 15:11

The difference is the same in following verbs as they formed by the same principles that control the mean switching on the stem by adding either о- or на-

    окрасить    накрасить
    оценить     наценить
    осыпать     насыпать
    опускать    напускать
    означать    назначать
    осушить     насушить
    ограждать   награждать
    оставлять   наставлять
    опали       напали
    очистить    начистить
    огибать     нагибать
    оказывать   наказывать
    осмотреть   насмотреть

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