The Gender of Nouns

A: Russian nouns in the singular form

There are three genders for Russian nouns: masculine, feminine or neuter. The gender of Russian nouns is clearly expressed only in the singular form and is usually shown by its ending.

Masculine nouns are nouns ending in a consonant:

студент (a student boy)

стол (a table)

трамвай (a tramway) The letter й is a semi consonnant.

Feminine nouns are nouns ending in the vowel – а or – я:

книга (a book)

песня (a song)

лекция (a lesson)

Neuter nouns are nouns ending in the vowel – о or – е:

письмо (a letter)

платье (a dress)

здание (a building)

Nouns which end in – ь (the soft sign) may be either masculine or feminine. Their gender must be memorized.

When the gender of nouns is denoting persons or animals it is generally determined by their sex. However, most nouns denoting members of a profession or trade are words of the common gender and apply to persons of either sex.

Он студент. Она студентка (he is a student boy. She is a student girl)

but: Он врач. Она врач. (He is a doctor. She is a doctor)

B: Personal pronouns

Personal pronouns have also three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter. They are determine by the nouns they replace. Note that он and она can replace animate or inanimate nouns:

Masculine nouns: Он

Это Олег, он студент. (This is Oleg, he is a student)

Это ресторан, он там. (It’s a restaurant, it’s there)

Feminine nouns: Она

Это преподавательница, она там. (This is the teacher, she is there)

Это машина, она слева. (This is the car, it’s on the left)

Neuter nouns: Оно

Это письмо, оно здесь. (This is the letter, it’s here)