Noun suffixes -ёнок and -онок

Who is котёнок /kitten/? It is a little кот /cat/, baby cat. If you compare the words "кот" /cat/ and "котёнок" /kitten/, you will see, that there is the suffix -ёнок in the second word. The words naming young animals in Russian are formed with the help of this suffix and its variant -онок.

Let's take a look.

Лиса - лисёнок /Fox - fox cub/. Слон - слонёнок /Elephant - baby elephant/. Утка - утёнок /Duck - duckling/. Коза - козлёнок /Goat - kid/.

After letters ч, ж, ш we write -онок, though pronounce -ёнок. 

Белка - бельчонок. /Squirrel - bun/. Ёж - ежонок /Hedgehog - hedgehoglet/. Мышь - мышонок /Mouse - mouseling/.

However, there are some exceptions to the rule.

1. Some words denoting babies are formed with the help of the suffix -ёнок/-онок from other roots. For example, человек - ребёнок /a person - a child/. Лошадь - жеребёнок /Horse - foal/. Свинья - поросёнок /Pig - piglet/.

2.  Some words denoting babies are formed with the help of the other suffixes. For example, собака - щенок /dog - puppy/.

3. Name of the babies cannot be derived from certain words. In this case, we say: жираф - детёныш жирафа /Giraffe - baby giraffe/.


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