Russian nouns

Gender and number of Russian nouns

Gender

The Russian language has three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter.

You can typically tell the gender of a Russian noun based on its ending / last letter of the word:

  • Masculine: a consonant or “й”
    • год = year
    • чай = tea
  • Feminine: “а,” “я,” or “ия”
    • книга = book
    • семья = family
    • история = story
    • ночь = night
  • Neuter: “о,” “е,” “ие,” or “мя”
    • письмo = letter
    • солнце = sun
    • внимание = attention
    • время = time
    • in general, words with neuter endings all tend to be inanimate things
  • Masculine or feminine: “ь”
    • день = day (masc.)
    • жизнь = life (fem.)
  • And, of course, there are some exceptions:
    • папа = daddy (masc.)
    • дядя = uncle (masc.)
    • дедушка = grandfather (masc.)
    • мужчина = man (masc.)
    • кофе = coffee (masc.)
    • professions and occupations, whose gender depends on the gender of the person involved

Number

The plural form – or number – of Russian nouns follow these rules:

  • Nouns ending in most consonants and the letter “а” have the plural ending, “ы.”
    • банан → бананы
    • улица → улицы
  • Nouns ending in “ь,” “й,” or “я” have the plural ending, “и.”
    • двeрь → двери
    • музей → музеи
    • станция → станции
  • Masculine and feminine nouns ending in “к,” “г,” “x,” “ч,” “щ,” “ж,” or “ш” have the plural ending, “и.”
    • книга → книги
    • нож → ножи
    • парк → парки
  • Neuter nouns ending in “o” have the plural ending, “а.”
    • окно → окнa
  • Neuter nouns ending in “е” have the plural ending, “я.”
    • здание → здания

Irregular nouns and exceptions

Indeclinable nouns

Certain nouns in Russian do not decline – the word remains the same for different cases and number. They include:

  • Abbreviations: СССР, США, ВИЧ
  • Some foreign words: меню, кафе, мадам, мисс, маэстро
  • Surnames ending in “аго,” “ово,” “их,” “ых”
  • Female surnames that end in a consonant: Мельник, Шмидт
  • Ukrainian surnames ending in “ко,” like Петренко, and Georgian surnames ending in “ия,” like Данелия

Irregular plural forms of nouns

NounPlural formEnglish
ребёнок (m)детиchild
человек (m)людиman, human
ребёнок (m)ребятаchild
телёнок (m)телятаcalf
волчонок (m)волчатаwolf cub
чудо (n)чудесаmiracle
небо (n)небесаsky
мать (f)материmother
дочь (f)дочериdaughter
сын (m)сыновьяson
кум (m)кумовьяgodfather
колено (n)колениknee
плечо (n)плечиshoulder
ухо (n)ушиear
веко (n)векиeyelid
яблоко (n)яблокиapple
брат (m)братьяbrother
брус (m)брусьяbaulk, timber
граф (m)графы/графьяcount
гроздь (f)гроздьяbunch
деверь (m)деверьяbrother-in-law
дерево (n)деревьяtree
дно (n)доньяbottom
друг (m)друзьяfriend
звено (n)звеньяlink
зять (m)зятьяson-in-law
клин (m)клиньяwedge
клок (m)клочьяshred, scrap
князь (m)князьяprince
кол (m)кольяstake
колос (m)колосьяear of a plant
крыло (n)крыльяwing
лист (m)листьяleaf
муж (m)мужьяhusband
перо (n)перьяfeather
полено (n)поленьяlog
полоз (m)полозья/полозыrunner, coluber
помело (n)помельяbroom
прут (m)прутьяtwig
собрат (m)собратьяconfrere, fellow
струп (m)струпьяscab
стул (m)стульяchair
сук (m)сучьяbranches, as a collective noun
сук (m)сукиseveral individual branches
шурин (m)шурья/шуриныbrother-in-law
судно (n)судаship
цветок (m)цветыflowers, as a collective noun
цветок (m)цветкиseveral individual flowers
хозяин (m)хозяеваowner, host
сосед (m)соседиneighbor

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