Lesson 3: The gender and number of Russian nouns
Welcome to the third lesson in our beginner’s course. By now, you should have memorized the Russian alphabet and learnt some key basic Russian phrases.
In this lesson, we’ll introduce you to some of the core Russian grammar concepts: gender and number of nouns.
Gender of Russian nouns
The Russian language has three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter.
The gender of nouns that denote people or animals are determined by their sex.
In Russian you can almost always determine the gender of a noun by the the final letter of the word. As such, Russian’s gender system is helpfully easier to manage than many other languages that operate under such a three gender grammar system.
It’s important to know the gender of Russian nouns so that you know how to decline them properly across the different cases and make them agree with their corresponding adjectives.
Here’s how you can recognize Russian nouns’ gender based on their endings.
Noun endings by gender
Masculine noun endings
Nouns end in a consonant or -й
- дом = house, home
- брат = brother
- чай = tea
Feminine noun endings
Nouns end in -a, -я, or -ия
- картина = picture
- семья = family
- Россия = Russia
- история = history
Neuter noun endings
Nouns end in -o, -e, -ие, -мя
- письмo = letter
- платьe = dress
- здание = building
- время = time
Nouns ending in -ь are either masculine or feminine
- день = day (masc.)
- дочь = daughter (fem.)
Amazingly there are only a handful of exceptions to the rules above, mostly based on theses particular nouns’ physical gender:
- папа = daddy (masc.)
- дядя = uncle (masc.)
- дедушка = grandfather (masc.)
- мужчина = man (masc.)
- кофе = coffee (masc. though neut. is also ok)
Number of Russian nouns
The number of Russian nouns refers to two forms: singular and plural. In English, we almost always just add an -s to an end of a noun’s ingular form to get its plural form. In Russian, plural endings are a little bit more complicated.
Choosing a Russian noun’s plural ending depends on that noun’s ending in its singular form.
Masculine nouns ending in hard (most) consonants and femine nouns ending with -а have the plural ending, -ы:
- банан → бананы
- стол → столы
- улица → улицы
Masculine and feminine nouns ending in -к, -г, -x, -ч, -щ, -ж, or -ш have the plural ending, -и:
- книга → книги
- нога → ноги
- нож → ножи
- парк → парки
Nouns ending in -ь, -й, or -я have the plural ending, -и:
- двeрь → двери
- музей → музеи
- земля → земли
- станция → станции
Neuter nouns ending in -o have the plural ending, а:
- окно → окнa
Neuter nouns ending in -е have the plural ending, -я:
- море → моря