Linguistic encyclopedia

Nouns and Gender

GENDER

There are three genders in Russian: masculine, feminine and neuter. You can tell them apart by their ending.

masculine: masculine nouns end in a consonant, or in , or : го́род (a town), друг (a friend),  музе́й (a museum), учи́тель (a teacher) etc.

feminine: feminine nouns end in -a or in or : ла́мпа (a lamp), подру́га (a girl friend), семья́ (a family),  дверь (a door) etc.

neuter: neuter nouns end in -o or in -e or in -мя: окно́ (a window), со́лнце (the sun), вре́мя (time) etc.

  • Some masculine nouns that refer to people end in -a or -я. They decline like feminine nouns, but words that refer to them (adjectives for example) are masculine. This applies equally to masculine diminutive name forms that end in -a :

Example:
мужчи́на (a man), де́душка (grandfather), дя́дя (uncle), ю́ноша (young man), Серёжа (Серге́й), Пе́тя (Пётр), Са́ша (Алекса́ндр), Ми́ша (Михаи́л)

  • Nouns that end in can be either feminine or masculine.

[col type=”half”]

masculine
день (the day)
Кремль (the Kremlin)
гость (the guest)
слова́рь (the dictionary)
дождь (the rain)
жи́тель (the inhabitant)

[/col]

[col type=”half last”]

feminine
мать, дочь (mother, daughter)
но́вость (a piece of news)
тетра́дь (the exercise book)
соль (salt)
о́сень (autumn)
ночь (the night)

[/col]

  • Certain nouns that denote a profession have no feminine form: адвока́т (a lawyer), врач (a doctor), исто́рик (a historian), инжене́р (an engineer) etc.

Example:
Он инжене́р. He is an engineer.  Она инжене́р. She is an engineer.

When such nouns are used with the name of a person and a verb in the past tense, the verb agrees with the name of the person:

Example:
Инжене́р Петро́ва пришла́. Engineer Petrova has arrived.

  • The word колле́га can be masculine or feminine:

Example:
Это мой коллега Виктор. This is my colleague Victor.
Это моя коллега Ольга. This is my colleague Olga.

  • There are invariable nouns, usually nouns of foreign origin. Most of these nouns are neuter: пальто́ (a coat), кино́ (the cinema), метро́ (the metro), but ко́фе (coffee) is masculine.
  • The gender of invariable proper nouns (geographical names, newspaper titles, etc.) corresponds to the gender of the noun denoting the category to which they belong:

Example:
Далёкий Ка́при (о́стров: island) (far away Capri)
Но́вый “Пари́ Матч” (журнал: magazine) (the new Paris Match)



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