Gender of Russian Nouns

Posted on May 24th, 2010

In Russian, as in some other languages – French, German, for example, each noun is assigned a gender. Believe me, I know, how tough it can be to learn a foreign language … but learning Russian can be mind blowing.. How do you find out which nouns are masculine,  which ones are feminine and which ones are neutral in Russian?

Please, don’t panic, I am here to help you! Luckily, most of the time you can find out the gender of a Russian noun simply by looking at a word’s last letter. Russian language has three genders: masculine, feminine and neutral. Now, let’s talk about each one of them.

Learn more about the genders of Russian nouns in this video lesson – Gender of Russian Nouns: Exceptions from the Rules.

Masculine Gender
:

1) If the last letter of the word is a consonant
Examples:
Брат [BRAT]- brother
Компьютер [kamp-YOO-ter] – computer
Стол [STOL] – table

2) If the last letter of the word is a hushing consonant
Examples:
Врач [VRACH] – doctor
Ключ [KLYOOCH] – key
Борщ [BORSHCH] – borsch (Ukrainian/ Russian beetroot soup)

3) Some of the animate nouns that end with “а”, “я” (exceptions to the rules)
Examples:
Папа [PA-pa] – dad
Дядя [DYA-dya] – uncle
Слуга [sloo-GA] – servant

Feminine Gender:

1) Inanimate and animate nouns that end with “а”, “я”
Examples:
Почта [PO-chta] – post/mail office
Кошка [KOsh-ka] – female cat
Змея [zmee-YA] – snake

2) Hushing consonant + “ь” (soft sign)
Examples:
Мышь [MISH] – mouse
ночь (NOCH) – night
молодёжь [ma-la-DYOZH] -youth

Neutral Gender:

If it ends with “o”, “e”:
Облако [a-bla-KA] – cloud
Небо [NYE-ba] – sky
Кофе [KO-fye] – coffee

Note, some of the nouns could be both genders:
For example, if the word ends with “ь” (мягкий знак), the gender maybe either masculine or feminine:
For example:

Masculine:
Январь [yan-VAR’] – January
Князь [KNYAZ’] – duke
Зверь [ZVYER’] – wild animal

Feminine:
Грязь [GRYAZ’] – dirt
Капель [ka-PEL’] – thaw
Дань [DAN’] – tribute
This is why it is important to make sure that you look at the word before you try to identify its gender.
For example:
Неприятная грязь [ne-pri-YAT-na-ya GRYAZ’] – unpleasant dirt
Adjective “неприятная” ends with “ая” which means that it is feminine and, therefore, the noun that follows will also be feminine, or in this case “грязь” is feminine.
Another example:
Мой зверь [MOY ZVYER’] – my beast
As we can see pronoun “мой” ends with “й” which means that it is masculine and, therefore, the noun that follows it also is masculine, which proves that “зверь” is masculine.

I hope now you feel better about the gender of Russian nouns. You will need to memorize the main rules and practice for a little while until you feel comfortable with the genders of the nouns. And, of course, if you have a chance, always make sure that you read the context before trying to identify the gender of the noun.

Good luck in learning Russian!

Viktoria.

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The courses of Russian as a foreign language with FunRussian take place online via Skype. The teacher works with adults individually since he is convinced that each person must receive maximum time for practice and professional attention while learning a foreign language.