Lesson 2. Noun Gender

Noun Gender. In Russian, nouns have three genders: masculine, feminine and neutral. It is easy to know the word’s gender in animated nouns like girl or brother. In other cases, in order to know the noun’s gender, you should look at its ending. In most cases:

  • nouns ending in a consonant or й are masculine: город (city), этаж (floor), чемодан (suitcase)

  • nouns ending in а or я are feminine: помада (lipstick), мама (mother), Россия (Russia)
  • nouns ending in о or е are neutral: полотенце (towel), солнце (sun), море (sea), окно (window)
  • nouns ending in ь (Soft Sign) may be feminine or masculine: мышь (mouse) is feminine; апрель (April) is masculine

Keep in mind: there are also nouns of general gender that can be both masculine and feminine. These are nouns like this: сирота (orphan), подлиза (handshaker), соня (sleepyhead), жадина (greedy person) etc. The gender of these nouns is defined by the context. We can say both он жадина (he is a greedy person) and она жадина (she is a greedy person).

Exceptions:

  • There are a few exceptions easy to remember: the words папа (father), мужчина (man), дядя (uncle), дедушка (grandfather) are masculine because of the physical gender of these nouns.
  • The word кофе (coffee) is masculine too because it came to Russian from French, and in French it is masculine.
  • The words время (time), семя (seed), пламя (flame) are neutral even though they end in я.

It is important to know the noun’s gender because it affects its form within a sentence or a word combination.

Here are some words ending in ь what are feminine: вещь (thing), вермишель (pasta), вуаль (veil), фасоль (bean), соль (salt), помощь (help)

Here are some words ending in ь what are masculine: путь (way), шампунь (shampoo), тюль (sheer curtain)

Here is a list of words. Your assignment is to define their gender:

Орех (nut), почта (post office), пальто (coat), носок (sock), стена (wall), синяк (bruise), место (place), кресло (armchair), среда (Wednesday), срок (term), сумка (bag), ботинок (shoe), фата (veil), вина (fault), стол (table), карта (map), телефон (phone), крем (cream), маяк (lighthouse), доктор (doctor), мел (chalk), лиса (fox), лицо (face), лес (forest), столб (pillar), пароход (steamboat), храм (temple), майка (T-shirt), стул (chair), стакан (cup), щека (cheek), слеза (tear), корм (feed), форма (form), бокс (boxing), сера (sulfur), вера (faith), мера (measure), перо (feather), облако (cloud).

Let’s practice!

When you learn new words, it is helpful when you can apply them directly to things around you.

For example, when you see a table, try to remember its translation into language you learn. By the way, table in Russian is стол.

Now we will name the things that we can see. Let’s start with the question What is this? – Что это?

Что – What

Кто – Who

Это — It, this

Comment:

As you could see, что is pronounced like што. It is Russian literary norm. There are some other derived words in which the чт combination is pronounced like шт, but I will not talk about all of them in this lesson – I will let you discover them progressively.

Now we will answer the question Что это? (What is this?)

  • Это стол. This is a table.

  • Это стул. – This is a chair.

  • Это компьютер. – This is a computer.

  • Это лампа. – This is a lamp.

  • Это телефон. – This is a phone.

  • Это диван. – This is a sofa.

  • Это кресло. – This is an armchair

  • Это окно. – This is a window.

  • Это дверь. – This is a door.

  • Это стена. – This is a wall.

  • Это телевизор. – This is a TV.

  • Это шкаф. – This is a cupboard.

  • Это картина. – This is a painting.

  • Это шторы. – These are curtains.

  • Это солнце. – This is the sun.

  • Это небо. – This is the sky.

Now let’s answer the question Кто это? (Who is this)

  • Это девушка. – This is a girl (young woman).

  • Это девочка. – This is a girl.

  • Это женщина. – This is a woman.

  • Это парень. – This is a young man.

  • Это мужчина. – This is a man.

  • Это мальчик. – This is a boy.

  • Это кот. – This is a cat (male).

  • Это кошка. – This is a cat (female).

  • Это пёс. – This is a dog (male).

  • Это собака. – This is a dog (female).

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