Gender in the Russian Language

Gender in the Russian Language

In this lesson, you will learn everything you need to know about Gender in the Russian language.

The lesson is divided into the following parts:

  1. What is gender in Russian;
  2. How to identify the gender of Russian nouns;
  3. Gender and adjectives;
  4. Gender and verbs in Russian.

The above titles have links. If there is any subject you would like to study first, you can click on it and go straight to that part of the lesson.

What is gender in Russian?

Many subjects in the Russian language are closely related to gender, such as cases, pronouns and adjectives. That's why gender is one of the first concepts every Russian learner should understand.

So, let's start by answering the question: what is gender?

In English, there are a few words that have gender. For example, we could say that the noun ‘actor’ is masculine and the noun ‘actress’ is feminine.

Now, in Russian, every single noun has gender. It can be masculine, feminine or neuter. For example, the noun стол (table) is masculine, машина (car) is feminine, and окно (window) is neuter.

If your native language doesn't have gender, this may be a bit confusing. However, there are some simple rules that can help you identify the gender of a Russian noun.

How to identify the gender of Russian nouns

So, how can we tell that the noun машина (car) is feminine and the noun стол (table) is masculine?

You can identify the gender of almost any noun by looking at its ending.

All you have to do is memorize a few patterns. Here are the most common of them:

1) Masculine nouns

Nouns that end in a consonant are masculine. For example:

2) Feminine nouns

Nouns that end in А and Я are usually feminine. For example:

3) Neuter nouns

Nouns that end in О, Е and МЯ are neuter. For example:

These are the three most common patterns and you should memorize them first.

Two other less common patterns are:

1) Nouns that end in ‘Ь’

Nouns that end in Ь can be masculine or feminine. For example:

To find out the gender of a specific noun that ends in Ь, you can look it up in our dictionary.

2) Masculine nouns that end in ‘А’ and ‘Я’

There are a few nouns ending in А and Я that are masculine. For example:

Here is a summary of all the endings in a table:

Russian nouns - gender

When in doubt about the gender of a specific noun, you can look it up in our dictionary.

Gender and adjectives in Russian

In Russian, adjectives change depending on the gender of the noun they describe.

Let’s take the adjective хороший (good) as an example:

Notice how the endings of the above adjectives change.

Keep in mind that the adjective itself doesn’t have gender. The adjective changes depending on the gender of the noun.

Let’s take a look at how adjectives change for each gender.

Adjectives and masculine nouns

When describing masculine nouns, most adjectives end in ЫЙ. For example:

Some adjectives end in ИЙ, especially when their last consonant is Г, К, Х, Ж, Ч, Ш or Щ. For example:

And a few adjectives end in ОЙ. For example:

Adjectives and feminine nouns

When describing feminine nouns, most adjectives end in АЯ. For example:

And some adjectives end in ЯЯ. For example:

Adjectives and neuter nouns

When describing neuter nouns, most adjectives end in ОЕ. For example:

And some adjectives end in ЕЕ. For example:

Here is a table of all the endings for adjectives:

Russian adjectives - gender

Adjectives and plural nouns

In the plural, adjectives always have the same ending, regardless of the gender of the noun.

When describing a plural noun, most adjectives end in ЫЕ. For example:

And some adjectives end in ИЕ. For example:

Gender and verbs in Russian

In Russian, gender doesn’t affect verbs in the present and future tenses. For example:

Note that the verbs будет and работает are the same, regardless of the gender of the noun.

In the past tense, however, verbs have four different forms depending on whether the subject is masculine, feminine, neuter or plural.

Past tense and masculine nouns

When the subject is masculine, the verb usually ends in Л or ЛСЯ. For example:

Past tense and feminine nouns

When the subject is feminine, the verb usually ends in ЛА or ЛАСЬ. For example:

Past tense and neuter nouns

When the subject is neuter, the verb usually ends in ЛО or ЛОСЬ. For example:

Past tense and plural nouns

And when the subject is plural, the verb usually ends in ЛИ or ЛИСЬ. For example:

And that’s it. Now you know what gender is and how it affects nouns, adjectives and verbs in Russian.