Correct naming formats

So at the current time I am in the process of writing two characters for my book, both being Russian. I haven’t looked this up a little bit on the Internet, but I figured that it would be better to post about this on a forum where other people who might actually know what they’re talking about would be, especially since the Internet is the Internet.

Anyway, I would like to know if there are any special rules, such as prefixes or what not, as I have heard both sides of that,
Say I wanted to name someone, say Natalia Kaminsky for example. Would just, Natalia Kaminsky work? Or are there other things I would need to add, and if so, what would those be?

Well, if she’s actually Russian and not like, Russian-American or something, her surname would be Kaminskaya, which is the feminine form of Kaminsky.

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Almost every Russian has a three-part name: a given name, a patronymic, and a surname. The patronymic is based on the person’s father’s given name, and it comes in masculine and feminine forms (so Ivan’s son would have “Ivanovich” as his patronymic, while Ivan’s daughter would have “Ivanovna”). Also, most Russian surnames have masculine and feminine forms.

So a daughter born in Russia to the Kaminsky family and named Natalia would actually be called something like Natalia Alexandrovna Kaminskaya. As a child she would surely be known as Natasha, but as she grew older she would often be addressed by given name and patronymic in formal situations. If she became a teacher, her students would address her, not as “Ms. Kaminskaya,” but as “Natalia Alexandrovna.”

Of course, if Natalia were born to an immigrant family in a country with different naming customs, it is possible that she would be named Natalia Kaminsky. Or if she were born in Russia but chose to emigrate later in life, it’s possible she would adapt to the naming customs of her adopted country.


This page clears up the subject of Russian surnames and patronymics’ structure pretty well, IMO


That page does a good job explaining the structure of Russian surnames and patronymics, but please note that it doesn’t get into usage at all. In particular, that part about patronymics being used as middle names is misleading. Technically yes, the patronymic does appear between the first and last names, but unlike middle names in the English-speaking world, a patronymic isn’t optional or assigned. You probably don’t know the middle names of most of your American or British acquaintances, or even if they have one, but in Russian it may not be possible to address someone properly without knowing their patronymic.

Initials also work differently in Russian. You can correctly refer to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin as V.I. Lenin, but “Vladimir I. Lenin” is incorrect.