Russian Indeclinable Nouns
Indeclinable nouns are nouns that don't display grammatical relations with other words in a sentence by means of declension. The paradigms of the indeclinable nouns contain a set of identical word forms, i.e. they do not inflect or change their forms for number and cases. However, indeclinable nouns have a lot of common points with declinable nouns: their grammatical categories, such as gender, number, animacy/inanimacy, and cases, should also be expressed in a sentence, not by means of endings, but syntactically, by forms of their modifiers.
The plural number of the noun канапе is expressed by the ending of the adjective вкусные.
Indeclinable nouns are relatively recent in the Russian language: they appeared in the 19th century. They were mainly words borrowed from other languages. Nowadays, there are both loanwords and originally Russian indeclinable nouns, many of which appeared after 1917.
Originally Russian indeclinable nouns include:
different types of abbreviations:
- initialisms (where a letter group is pronounced as letters, not as a word): СССР [es-es-es-er] USSR;
- a large number of acronyms in which a letter group is pronounced as a word: ВИЧ [vich] HIV;
- some clippings (putting together syllabic elements from other words ), like КамАЗ, комроты etc.;
surnames ending in -аго, -ово, -их, -ых: Белых ;
female surnames ending in a consonant, like Бегун, Мельник, Соловей.
Indeclinable nouns borrowed from other languages include:
proper and common nouns ending in -э/-е, -о, -и, -у/-ю, and stressed -а/-я (foreign names and surnames ending in -a decline): меню menu, кафе cafe, па pas, step ;
Ukrainian surnames (relatively recent loanwords) ending in -ко: Петренко ;
female names and surnames ending in a consonant: Шмидт;
words мадам, мисс, миссис.