Russian Language Grammar

    Nouns and Adjectives Derived from Participles

A few nouns and many adjectives were formerly participles. They may function as both. In some instances there is a difference in spelling.


The words – заведующий; управляющий; раненный – and some others may be used as participles:

человек, заведующий библиотекой

the man in charge of the library

женщина, управляющая машиной

the woman who is driving the car

бойцы, раненные во вчерашнем бою

the soldiers wounded in the yesterday's battle

The same words may be used as nouns (substantivized participles):


the manager




the wounded (man)


Adjectives derived from participles constitute a larger class.

   (a)   The distinction between adjectives and participles centers around the following points:

An adjective has a less "active" character than a participle. The notion of time is not clearly present in an adjective.


Знающий человек.

An educated man, a man having knowledge.


Человек, знающий дорогу.

The man who knows the way.

Adjectives originating from passive participles make no reference to the agent performing the action:


Dear... (lit. "Respected")

разрушенный дом

a destroyed house

раненые бойцы

wounded soldiers

Passive participles indicate the agent (in the instrumental case) or have qualifying words:

человек, уважаемый всеми

a man respected by everybody

дом, разрушенный неприятелем

a house destroyed by the enemy

бойцы, раненные при отступлении

soldiers wounded during the retreat

Frequently, an adjective derived from a participle has a figurative meaning:

блестящие результаты

brilliant (outstanding) results

цветущее предприятие

a flourishing enterprise

потерянное время

lost (wasted) time

Note:   Adjectives and participles may occasionally have different endings (and different meanings):

висящий на стене hanging on the wall (participle)
висячий мост suspension bridge (adjective)
плачущая девочка a crying girl  (participle)
плакучая ива a weeping willow (adjective)

(The ending -щий is Church Slavonic; -чий is Russian.)

   (b)   Reflexive participles may also become adjectives:

небьющаяся посуда

unbreakable dishes

вращающийся вал

a rotating shaft

   (c)   Many adjectives with the suffix historically belong to past active participles:


grown up


last former



   (d)   A large number of negated adjectives have the suffix of present passive participles -мый. These adjectives are formed from imperfective or perfective verbs, transitive or intransitive.

незабываемое впечатление

unforgettable impression

несгораемый шкаф

safe (lit.: non-combustible closet)

непромокаемое пальто

waterproof coat

необходимые меры

necessary (unavoidable) measures

непроходимые дороги

impassable roads

невозмутимое спокойствие

imperturbable calmness (placidity)

невыполнимый план

impracticable plan

Непобедимая армада

invincible Armada

неуловимый звук

elusive (barely perceptible) sound

неутомимый работник

indefatigable worker

The Spelling of Past Passive Participles and Related Adjectives

1.   Participles are spelled with two н's:

письмо, полученное вчера

the letter which was received yesterday

деньги, посланные по почте

the money sent by mail

2.   Adjectives are spelled with two н's when they have a prefix, or when they have one of the suffixes -ирова or -ова:

запутанное дело

a confused (entangled) business

аннексированная территория

annexed territory

маринованная рыба

marinated fish

Otherwise, adjectives formed from participles are spelled with one н:

путаный ответ

a confused answer

раненый офицер

a wounded officer

копчёная ветчина

smoked ham

Exceptions:   The non-prefixed adjectives данный and желанный are spelled with two н's:

в данный момент

at the present moment

желанный гость

a welcome guest

3.   The spelling rule regarding the short form of past passive participles and corresponding adjectives is different: In the feminine, neuter and plural, the participle takes one н, the adjective takes two н's:


Здесь образована комиссия.

A commission has been formed here.

Они были воспитаны тётей.

They were brought up by their aunt.


Она очень образованна.

She is very well educated.

Они хорошо воспитанны.

They are well brought up.