Case-related consonant alternation in nouns

1. Change of consonant before singular noun case endings in «і»

The consonants «к», «х» and «г/ґ», when they occur at the end of noun stems, are subject to alternation before case endings in «і» (dative and locative singular for feminine nouns, locative singular for masculine and neuter nouns).

1.1 Alternation of к ➝ ц

Masculine (in locative singular)

This applies to a small number of important nouns (but not to nouns ending in «-ак» «-арк» «-анк» «-ик» «-ок» «-як»), including:

бік – (на) боці
вік – (у) віці (віку)
звук – (у) звуці (звуку)
and ...
фейсбук – (на) фейсбуці (фейсбуку).

Feminine (in dative and locative singular)

This applies to over 6,000 nouns ending in «-ка» (so this particular alternation is worth remembering!). Given below are just a few examples:

Америка – Америці
ріка – ріці
студентка – студентці

This also applies to grammatically feminine nouns which refer to a masculine being, e.g. собака – собаці.

Neuter (in locative singular)

There is only one frequently-used word like this:

око – (в) оці.

1.2 Alternation of х ➝ с

Masculine (in locative singular)

Common nouns with this alternation include:

поверх – (на) поверсі
кожух – (в) кожусі
дух – (в) дусі (духові)
рух – (в) русі
горох – (в) горосі.

Feminine (in dative and locative singular)

Common nouns with this alternation include:

муха – мусі
епоха – епосі
мачуха – мачусі.

This alternation also applies to grammatically feminine nouns which refer to a masculine being, e.g. бідолаха – бідоласі.

Neuter (in locative singular)

There is only one frequently-used word like this:

вухо – (у) вусі (вуху).

1.3 Alternation of г/ґ ➝ з

Masculine (in locative singular)

Not all masculine nouns ending in «г» are subject to this alternation. Common ones include:

ріг – (на) розі
берег – (на) березі
поріг – (на) порозі
Бог/бог – (у) Бозі (Богові, Богу)
одяг – (на) одязі
універмаг – (в) універмазі
епілог – (в) епілозі
пролог – (у) пролозі
округ – (в) окрузі

N.B. друг is the only noun to have retained the «г ➝ з» alternation in all cases in the plural only (e.g. locative singular – на другові/другу, all plurals – друзі, друзів etc.).

Feminine (in dative and locative singular)

Common nouns with this alternation include:

подруга – подрузі
книга – книзі
нога – нозі
дорога – дорозі
допомога – допомозі
послуга – послузі
ліга – лізі
дзиґа – дзизі
мамалиґа – мамализі

This alternation also applies to grammatically feminine nouns which refer to a masculine being, e.g. папуга – папузі.

Neuter (in locative singular)

The only indigenous neuter noun ending in «-го» – благо – does not undergo alternation. All other nouns with this ending e.g. манго, фламінго, are foreign loans and are, therefore, indeclinable.

2. Change of consonant in vocative singular of masculine nouns

These alternations apply only to the vocative singular of masculine nouns, those ending in: «к», «ць», «х» and «г» (which then take the vocative in «е»).

2.1 Alternation of к ➝ ч

Most nouns ending in «-к» do not undergo alternation (with vocative in -ку). However, a significant number of important nouns (denoting animate beings), are subject to alternation, including:

чоловік – чоловіче
внук (онук) – внуче
одинак – одиначе
юнак – юначе
земляк – земляче
дурак – дураче
парубок – парубче
пророк – пророче
пияк – пияче
моряк – моряче
вояк – вояче.

2.2 Alternation of ць ➝ ч

Nouns in «-ець» traditionally changed the consonant in the vocative to «-че». In the current orthographic norms most nouns like this take the vocative in «-цю», although the «ч» alternation is retained in some nouns, including:

хлопець – хлопче
отець – отче
жнець – женче
кравець – кравче.

In everyday language, though, the «-че» ending is still quite widely used for other nouns, for example, українець - українче (українцю according to current norms).

2.3 Alternation of х ➝ ш

Most nouns in «-х» now have the vocative singular in «-у», with no consonant change. However, a few (mainly denoting people) still retain this alternation, for example:

чех – чеше (чеху)
патріарх – патріарше
пастух – пастуше
лях – ляше
верх – верше.

This rule is presented differently in various dictionaries and orthographic norms, with the forms being used in parallel in current language.

2.4 Alternation of г ➝ ж

Most nouns in «-г» now have the vocative singular in «-гу», with no consonant change. However, a few nouns (mainly denoting people) still retain the alternation, including:

Бог – Боже
друг – друже
ворог – вороже
варяг – варяже
ватаг – ватаже.

N.B. The same alternations can be seen in adjectives derived from nouns e.g. ворог – ворожий, чоловік – чоловічий, diminutives, чоловік – чоловічок, хлопець – хлопчик etc.

3. Consonant changes in individual nouns

A small number of nouns undergo consonant alternations (usually in just one case) which are remnants of their old forms, including:

дошка («ш» in nominative singular and all other cases) – дощок («щ» in genitive plural only)
горщок (nominative singular only) – горшка (genitive singular and all other cases)
серце (absence of «д» in nominative singular and all other cases) – сердець («д» in genitive plural only, alternative form – серць)
тиждень («д» in nominative singular only) – тижня (genitive singular and all other cases)
четвер (absence of «г» in nominative singular only); «г» present in all other cases – четверга etc.
другг» in all singular cases) – друзі («з» in all plural cases)
око («к» in all singular cases) – очі («ч» in all plural cases)

Most nouns ending in «-ість» denote an abstract quality and, therefore, occur in the singular only. However, a number have related plural forms ending in «-ощі», including:

радість (joy) – радощі (joy; delights, pleasures)
веселість (cheerfulness, gaiety, mirth) – веселощі (merriment; rejoicing)
гордість (pride) – гордощі (pride; excessive pride; arrogance)
тонкість (thinness; fineness) – тонкощі (finer points; details)
трудність (difficulty) – труднощі (difficulties; hardships; obstacles).

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