See for example the following sentence:

В Париж с Константином Коровиным

Why the -ом on the first name and -ым on the last name? Are there any other words besides "with" that would see this pattern?


Why the -ом on the first name and -ым on the last name?

The last names with this paradigm (ending in -ов, -ев, -ёв, -ин, -ын and their female counterparts) developed from posessive adjectives and decline like those, though keeping the old short form paradigm: Коровина, Коровину rather than **Коровиного, **Коровиному.

Actually, Коровин is a contraction of Коровин сын: a son of a person named, dubbed, nicknamed, or otherwise yclept корова (cow).

Until quite recently, it was the way to write the patronymics (Иван Петров сын Сидоров), and it's still used in Bulgarian.

Note that this paradigm is only valid for last names of this origin.

Names originated from other languages (Асприн, Толкин etc.) are declined as nouns (Асприном, Толкином).

Russian names which have not originated from posessive adjectives (Литвин, Мордвин) also decline as nouns (Литвином, Мордвином). However, the names' origins in this case are not obvious from sg. nom., so these last names can decline as posessive adjectives as well, and only the name bearer may know the right form.

The name of Ivan Ivanovich Sakharine, the antagonist in "Tintin's adventures", is declined Сахариным, not Сахарином in Russian translation (though both versions are grammatically possible). It's believed it should be an old aristocratic family name originated from the word сахар (sugar), not quite a recent nick originated from сахарин (saccharin).

  • Nowadays it seems to be the paradigm of short forms of qualitative adjectives like "красен-красна-красно". – Olga Aug 6 '12 at 20:00
  • I've just realized that I cannot come up with any short adjective in non-nominative case. It must really be the old form, but now it is only present in all forms in surnames (who would actually say о мамине супе?) – Olga Aug 7 '12 at 8:58
  • @Olga: for the posessive adjectives, the modern language uses short form for sg. nom. and full form for oblique cases. The proper full form for sg. nom. would be **маминый. This is also the case for third-person pronouns which use the remote form (он, она, они) in nom. and proximal form (его, её, их) for oblique cases. The proximal third-person pronouns is what the full adjective form developed from. – Quassnoi Aug 10 '12 at 14:41

Nice question! The difference is that Константин is a first name, while Коровин is a surname. According to the rules, surnames ending with the suffixes -ин / -ын get the ending -ым in the instrumental case. Константин, on the contrary, has the usual ablative index -ом.

Interestingly, if a surname becomes a city name, the above rule is not applicable any more: Голицын — За Голицином.

  • The city name is Голицынo, not Голицын. The gender is not the same, hence the different form. – A-K Aug 6 '12 at 17:21
  • 2
    @A-K: ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/… . – texnic Aug 7 '12 at 6:04

The short answer is that -ин surnames have the same declension as adjectives. That's why it is "Сталиным", "Путиным" rather than "Сталином", "Путином".

  • Not exactly the same, or at least not the same as "normal" adjectives like "красный". – Olga Aug 6 '12 at 16:06

Technically, the first name here is of noun-type, that conjugate as noun, and surname is possessive adjective (roughly translated like cow's), that became surname, and conjugates as possesive adjective. So, they have different conjugated forms. Moreover, this surname conjugates with male and female first names differently.

Not, however, a special case of adjectives, ended with "-ин", that have two variants of conjugation in some cases, ending with "-а" or "-ого", that may be confusing. The first variant is standard for surnames, but the second is dominating in other cases.

  • Sorry, but surnames are not declined as possessive adjectives. "Нет маминого супа", but "нет Коровина". – Olga Aug 6 '12 at 19:31
  • @Olga: evartist.narod.ru/text1/58.htm: возможны варианты окончаний в родительном и дательном падежах мужского и среднего рода прилагательных на -ин; ср.: возле дедушкина дома – возле дедушкиного дома;. – Quassnoi Aug 6 '12 at 19:59
  • Then maybe the answer should say so =) – Olga Aug 6 '12 at 20:01
  • @Olga yes, they are. However, you correctly noted the special case. – permeakra Aug 7 '12 at 4:45
  • @permeakra Can you please decline Коровин and мамин суп to see for yourself that the forms coincide only in Nominative and Instrumental case and not in other cases? In Genitive, Dative and Prepositional cases the forms are different: говорили о мамином супе - о Коровине. – Olga Aug 7 '12 at 8:54

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