Imagine an instance where you have at least three people - for example, a teacher, and two students who share the same first name. The teacher wishes to speak to one student and calls them by the short form of their name. However, since both students respond to this name, is it acceptable for the teacher to use the student's short name + patronymic to identify them?

I'm writing a novel set in Russia and would like to get the name use correct. However, there are just too many Sashas. Being able to use Sasha Ivanovich and Sasha Fedorovich would be very useful.

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    @c.p. it's shortened Алексаша which is a diminutive of Александр.
    – Quassnoi
    Jul 1, 2015 at 19:22
  • Ok, @Quassnoi I didn't know that (obviously) :)
    – c.p.
    Jul 2, 2015 at 5:16
  • set by increasing formality degree saniok(between kids) < sasha (friends) < aleksandr (colleague) < aleksandr fedorovich (boss or older colleague) of course it is not 100% strict and depends on personal preference of people. Jul 2, 2015 at 16:19

7 Answers 7


Generally, no. It sounds weird to use Russian diminutive names with the patronymic. However, they can be used just well with last names. And in my experience, this is what teachers usually do when there're namesakes in the classroom. For example, Саша Иванов и Саша Сидоров.

  • I'd also say that sometimes different short versions of name are used for different persons if they have same name (and one of them may be called by full version of name). e.g. Alex, Sasha, Sanya, Aleksasha (pretty rare nowadays) – all are short names for Aleksandr. And one might also shorten Aleksandr as Sandr, or Ksandr.
    – Alissa
    Jan 14, 2016 at 12:21

Name + Patronymic = polite form (not suitable for children anyway). Diminutive name cannot be used with a (partially) polite form except as a (stupid) joke.

Diminutive name + last name is OK.

P.S. If you feel you have too many "Sashas" you could choose some other Russian name for your story.

P.P.S. I remember a real life story told by a well-known Russian actor Alexander Pankratov-Cherniy. He was studying acting course together with his full namesake another Sasha Pankratov. So their profs used to call them "Sasha Cherniy" (Sasha Black) and "Sasha Beliy" (Sasha White) because one was brunette while the other was blond. So later he even changed his last name from "Pankratov" to "Pankratov-Cherniy".


No, this would be really uncommon. In your scenario a teacher will generally use a pupil's last name - Sasha Petrov, Sasha Ivanov. Patronyms are very rare at schools and uncommon in higher education institutions when someone refers to students.


I want to add that teachers will very rarely use patronymics to address students. They will address a student as Sasha, or Alexander, or Ivanov. But very rarely (maybe as a joke or a very formal cold way) Alexander Ivanovich. And NEVER Sasha Ivanovich cause it's just incorrect usage. If there are several Sashas, a teacher will use a last name to tell one from another, not a patronymic. So use a last name.


During a decade and a half of my regular education the usual way to call students was by their last names. First names can be used in 'chamber' classes: trainings, courses, in-corporative education… When there are 'too many Sashas' several ways exist to resolve the collision: using last names, (full) first names with either patronymics or last names, different forms of the same (first) name — diminutives (which can be many) and a full form. In such cases it’s a matter of a mutual agreement (an explicit one, as a rule) — which form is applied to which person. E. g. a young person can be called Саша, an older one — Александр or Александр Иванович.
BTW using diminutives requires special conditions. Unlike for English Mike, calling a person Миша instead of full Михаил or Михаил Иванович should be sanctioned either by common social practices/conventions or by that Михаил; in the last case one should be 'granted' to use Миша for Михаил [Иванович] explicitly, no matter the rest of the world uses but Миша for him. (Perhaps, in this para, I idealized the real world a little to make explanations short.)

Sasha can be used in school but in higher education it would be a special case for me.
NB. I was a student in the previous century. Modern practices can differ, i. e. I admit that now there can exist institutes/universities where Sasha is pretty OK in general but not that old practices disappear.

As for your question proper, diminutive+patronymic can be used — exceptionally, like exotica, probably with a tint of humour, for such combinations can sound like a joke in Russian. [upd] Also it can be used in a pleading manner to seek someone’s assistance, rarely as well.

  • Short names are pretty common in universities nowadays, even more common than their full variants. Саша, Дима, Оля и т.д. are more often used than Александр, Дмитрий, Ольга (especially not in "more official" settings like exams, and when a professor is familiar with the student).
    – Vilmar
    Jul 1, 2015 at 13:32
  • @Vilmar A tiny opinion poll revealed that university practices to call students vary and include first name + patronymic variant (the bigest surprise for me). Also I suspect using first names is more usual in the humanities classes/education.
    – delete
    Jul 1, 2015 at 15:07
  • Of course, that depends mostly on the professor. I encountered those using name + patronym as well, though they still tended to use a non-short first name more often.
    – Vilmar
    Jul 1, 2015 at 15:43

В России короткие имена в сочетании с отчеством ни в школе, ни в высших учебных заведениях, ни на работе не используются. Называть персонажей романа Саша Иванович или Саша Федорович было бы не реалистично и смешно.

Edit: translation

In Russia, short names are not used in conjunction with patronymics, neither in school, nor in the more advanced educational institutions, nor at work. Calling the characters in the novel Sasha Ivanovich or Sasha Fedorowich would be unrealistic and funny.

  • Кстати, Иванович может быть сербской/хорватской/черногорской фамилией, тогда вполне можно услышать сочетание Миша Иванович (вот реально существовавший Михайло Иванович).
    – Artemix
    Jul 1, 2015 at 15:27
  • В Сербии, Хорватии и Черногории это сочетание можно услышать. Но ведь не в России. Jul 1, 2015 at 16:06
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    Translating above comments: «By the way, Ivanovich could be a serbian/croatian/montenegrin surname, then it is quite possible to hear the combination Misha Ivanovich (which would really be Michajlo Ivanović).» «In Serbia, Croatian and Montenegro this combination can be heard. But indeed not in Russia.».
    – MickG
    Jul 1, 2015 at 17:17

Using patronymic name on students isn't all that uncommon. In some short first names it would work too.


If you're writing a novel, you need to be sensitive to the connotation that comes with such use of names. For example it might be appropriate for a high end school. Or a gymnasium of tzar russia. Or at a high end military academy. Probably not in a today middle school :)

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