Check your understanding of Russian words’ gender

Gender is important in the Russian language.

Nouns should agree in gender with adjectives, verbs, participles, pronouns. If they don’t agree your speech may sound a little funny.

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.

Russian nouns gender

Foreign students often feel differently about gender of words. How do you identify it? Check your feel for the Russian words in the quiz below. After you finish click the check mark in the lower right corner to find out the errors.

After you check yourself you may review gender grammar tips below the quiz and share your impressions or ask questions.

Fun Gender Quiz

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How was it? Did you expect it or there was something surprising?

Good news! 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.

Gender grammar tips

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)

Practice

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