Noun Gender and Number

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There are three genders in Russian: masculine, feminine and neuter. You can usually determine the gender of a noun by its ending. Here are some basic rules, although exceptions exist:

Masculine gender:

Word Ending
дом in a consonant
чай in

Feminine gender:

Word Ending
картина in -a
семья     in     
история in -ия

Neuter gender:

Word Ending
письмo     in -o    
платьe     in -e    
внимание     in -ие    
время     in -мя    

Nouns ending in the soft sign can be either masculine or feminine: день (day - masculine), жизнь (life - feminine). The best way to tell the gender of such nouns is to memorize it as you progress with your Russian language study.

Remember that there are no definite or indefinite articles in Russian. The meaning of English articles "a", "an" and "the" is determined from the context and some other means, including word order, the use of plurals, demonstrative pronouns and cases.

The number of nouns

English plurals often end in -s. In Russian, there are more endings to make plurals. They are all summed up in the table:

Noun type Ending for plural      Example    
masculine ending in a hard consonant;
feminine ending in -a

-ы, -и
стол - столы
улица - улицы
чашка - чашки
any nouns ending in , , двeрь - двери
земля - земли
masculine and feminine with the stem ending in , , -x, , , , , ноЖ - ножи
ноГа - ноги
neuter ending in -o -a окно - окнa
neuter ending in -e мoре - моря

Some nouns are always singular. These are nouns that designate substances кислород, медь (oxygen, copper), food products сахар, мука (sugar, flour), a block of objects мебель (furniture), some actions охота (hunting), feelings любовь, здоровье (love, health), sorts of fabric бархат (velvet), medicine аспирин (aspirin), some vegetables and berries картофель, морковь (potato, carrots).

Agreement with nouns

You will have to know the genders and plural forms of nouns because they influence the use of adjectives and pronouns. The basic rule is that Russian adjectives agree with the nouns they describe in gender, number and cases. Take a look at how the adjective красивый (beautiful) changes depending on the gender and number of the noun which it describes (in the Nominative case):


Gender/number of noun Change in adjective
masculine singular: красивый мяч
feminine singular: красивая девушка
neuter singular: красивое море
(all genders)
красивые мячи
красивые девушки
    красивые моря    

In Spanish: Sustantivo de género y número del idioma ruso

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