Bulgarian nouns

Bulgarian nouns

Bulgarian nouns have the categories grammatical gender, number, case (only vocative) and definiteness. A noun has one of three specific grammatical genders (masculine, feminine, neuter) and two numbers (singular and plural), With cardinal numbers and some adverbs, masculine nouns use a separate count form. Definiteness is expressed by a definite article which is postfixed to the noun.

=Noun formation=
Nouns can be formed from other words by means of suffixes. Some important suffixes that are used to form nouns are:
*-ар for male people (рибар, книжар - bookseller, бръснар - barber);
*-ач for male people (носач - carrier, купувач - buyer, продавач - seller);
*-тел for male people (учител - teacher, родител - parent, строител - builder);
*-ин for male people (българин - a Bulgarian, гражданин - citizen, селянин - villager);
*-ик for male people (виновник - culprit, изменик - betrayer, довереник - agent);
*-ец for male people (летец - flier, хубавец - handsome man, планинец - mountaineer);
*-ица for female people (царица - queen, певица - singer, хубавица - belle);
** for female animals (лъвица - lioness, слоница - female elephant, магарица - jennet);
** for feminine diminutives (водица - water, главица - head, сестрица - sister);
** for feminine objects (ножица - scissors, вилица - fork, солница - saltern);
** for products for eating and drinking (лютеница - pepper puree, наденица - sausage, сливовица - plum-brandy);
*-ка for female people (учителка - female teacher, лекарка - female doctor, студентка - female university student);
** for feminine diminutives (градинка - garden, картинка - picture, калинка - ladybird);
*-ник for objects (хладилник - refrigerator, чайник - teapot, калник - mud-guard);
** for places with certain purpose (рибарник - breeding-pond, рудник - colliery);
*-иня for female people (богиня - goddess, боркиня - woman fighter, немкиня - a German woman/girl);
*-алня for places with certain purpose (читалня - reading-room, съблекалня - changing-room);
*-ище for places where something is done (училище - school, читалище - library club, игрище - playground);
** for augmentatives (мъжище, женище, детище);
*-ница for places where something is done (бръснарница - barber's, млекарница - milk shop);
*-ство for places where a department is located (издателство - publishing house, посолство - embassy);
** for the names of certain activities (тъкачество - weaving, шивачество - needlecraft);
** for the names of certain qualities (удобство - convenience, нехайство - carelessness);
** for collective nouns (войнство - army, студентство - students);
*-а for the names of some actions (просвета - education, проява - act/deed);
*-ба for the names of some actions (борба - fight, молба - request);
*-ние for the names of some action (учение - teaching, писание - writing);
*-ина for the names of abstract qualities (топлина - warmth, бързина - quickness);
*-еж for the names of some actions (строеж - building, стремеж - striving);
*-итба for the names of some actions (сеитба - sowing, коситба - mowing);
*-не for the names of some actions (четене - reading, писане - writing);
*-ост for the names of abstract qualities (младост, твърдост - hardness);
*-ие for abstract nouns (съгласие - agreement, усилие - effort);
*-е for masculine diminutives (столе, пръсте - small finger);
*-ота for the names of abstract qualities (топлота - warmth, красота - beauty);
*-ле for masculine diminutives (носле - nose, вратле - neck);
*-че for masculine diminutives (братче - brother, столче - small chair);
*-ичка for feminine diminutives (водичка - water, главичка - small head);
*-це for neuter diminutives (крилце - small wing, селце - small village);=Gender=In Bulgarian nouns have three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. The gender is an inherent characteristic of every noun. This means that each noun is masculine, feminine or neuter. Only nouns referring to people or animals can change their gender. In most cases the gender of the noun can be determined according to its ending, but there aren't any strict rules. Masculines are all the nouns which refer to male people or animals, and many more.

* Some nouns have different count forms according to their meaning. When "литър" (litre) and "метър" (metre) mean measures of volume and length, their count form is "литра" and "метра" respectively. But when "метър" means "meter" (a device that measures and records the amount of electricity, gas, water, etc.) its count form is "метъра". The case is the same with "път": път ("road") - пътя and път ("time", "occasion", "instance") - пъти. The nouns "литър" and "метър" are the only ones that lose the "ъ" in their count forms.

** The usual plural form of the noun "ден" (day) is "дни" and its count form is "дена". "Дни" can be used instead of "дена", but not vice versa. The combinations of words "два дни" and "два дена" are both correct, but the sentence "Зимните дена са студени" (Winter days are cold) is incorrect. The usual form must be used, not the count one - "Зимните дни са студени."

The count form is avoided with nouns denoting persons and in such cases the usual plural form is much more preferred ("колко ученици" - how many students, "осем ученици - eight students).

The usual form is also used after masculine numbers (in Bulgarian some cardinal numbers have gender), ending in -ма (these forms of the numbers are used only with male persons, not with other masculine nouns denoting inanimate objects) - "двама ученици" (two students), "петима ученици" (five students).

An exception to the rule occurs in "exclamations" following "kolko" (how many), when the inferred meaning is "what a large amount of...!": "kolko kone! (ordinary plural, lit. "how many horses!")", meaning "look at all those horses!".


Some nouns have irregular plural forms:
* човек/chovek (person) — хора/hora (people) — души/doushi (people - numerical form) [Differentiate between "dùshi" - people, and "dushí" - souls (from "doushá") ]
* дете/dete (child) — деца/detza (children)

Some neuter nouns have two or more plural forms (most of them with no difference in meaning). For example: "кълбо - кълба and кълбета, крило - крила and криле, рамо - рамена and рамене, коляно - колена and колене, море - морета and моря, дърво - дървета, дърва and дървеса, четене - четения and четенета". Some plural forms refer to different meanings: "дърва" - fuel wood, "дървета" - trees, some are used in specific contexts: the variants "моря" (from "море"), "поля" (from "поле") are found only in the poetry.

In Bulgarian there are some nouns that are only in the singular, they are uncountable. Such nouns are some abstract words ("материализъм" - materialism, "сигурност" - security, любов - love), some collective words ("студентство" - students), chemical elements and some other substances ("водород" - hydrogen, "въглерод" - carbon, "грис" - semolina, "ориз" - rice, etc.). There are also words which have only plural forms. These are nouns referring to objects, composed of two identical parts ("очила" - glasses, "ножици" - scissors), and some concepts and objects, consisting of many elements ("въглища" - coal, "финанси" - finances, "пари" - money).

=Definiteness=In Bulgarian nouns have the grammatical category definiteness (определеност). The morphological indicator of definiteness is the presence of a special morpheme, called definite article (определителен член). The definite article is placed after the noun and is written together with it. The using of the definite article in Bulgarian is called членуване.

*Most common nouns ending in -ка can be found both with the ending о and е (другарко/другарке, тъпачко/тъпачке). One of the forms is considered colloquial, but there aren't any strict rules which one. For example: the form другарко is found more often than другарке, but директорко (instead of директорке) sounds very odd. Generally, the form with о is ruder.

Feminine nouns which end in a consonant do not have vocative forms.


There is a difference in usage between vocative forms of common nouns and proper nouns. The former are used always, when addressing someone, and the use of nominative forms instead is immediately perceived as a gross error:

The latter, however, are considered informal, and are used less frequently, especially thevocative forms of female personal names ending in -о, which are even considered by some to be rude or rustic (Елено, Богдано). Nevertheless, nominative forms (especially the male ones) sound too formal, even snobbish, and are used rarely by native speakers. Instead, diminutives (Еленче, Богданче) or short forms (Ели, Боби) are preferred. Diminutives are used usually by elder people, when addressing younger ones.

Male vocative forms and female ones ending in е are used regularly and their substitution with nominative forms is also considered a gross error (or the speaker may sound too snobbish).

It should be noted that there is difference between the vocative form of both male and female short name forms and their other, non-vocative form (the form that is used in all other cases). The latter takes the definite article -та or -то, depending on the ending:

= Notes =

=See also=Useful grammatical information can be found in . Nouns are given with all their forms: singular, plural, definite form, vocative form etc.

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