Gender in Russian
Russian Grammar

Gender of Russian nouns.

In Russian, as with many other languages, each noun is assigned a gender. Russian has three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter (neutral). In the cases of words like “father” these relate to physical gender. In the case of other objects like “pen”, “cup”, “house”, there is no physical meaning attached to the gender. However you will still need to know the gender because it affects how words are formed. Luckily, unlike many languages, in Russian it is almost always possible to tell what the gender of a noun by it’s spelling. This is not true in some other languages where you just have to memorise them.

When you use a noun as the subject of a sentence, it will be in it’s dictionary form (nominative case). In this form you can easily work out it’s gender. If the noun is in another part of the sentence the ending is changed to suit the case. From the dictionary form of a noun, here is how you can tell what the gender is:

1. Look at the last letter of the word:
2. If it is a consonant, or “й”, the word is masculine.
3. If it is “а” or “я” it is feminine.
4. If it is “о” or “е” it is neuter.
5. If it is a soft sign “ь” then it could be either masculine or feminine.

There are very few exceptions to these rules. But there are five notable exceptions, this occurs mainly because of physical gender.
Папа - (Daddy, Papa) - Is Masculine
Дядя - (Uncle) - Is Masculine
Дедушка - (Grandfather) - Is Masculine
Мужчина - (Man) - Is Masculine
Кофе - (Coffee) - Is Masculine

Some examples:

Masculine : паспорт (passport), документ (document), брат (brother), Хлеб (bread).
Feminine : газета (newspaper), Россия (Russia), Дочь (daughter)
Neuter : здание (building), радио (radio), письмо (letter)

Recommended Books For Learning Russian

A Comprehensive Russian Grammar - A great reference on Russian grammar.

The New Penguin Russian Course: A Complete Course for Beginners - Probably the best course in a book.

The Big Silver Book of Russian Verbs - A great reference book of conjugated Russian verbs.

Russian Learners' Dictionary: 10,000 Russian Words in Frequency Order - A simple but powerful concept. Expand your vocabulary by learning the most used words first.