Just like the earth revolves around the sun, everything in the Russian language revolves around the notion of gender. So, let’s start our journey to the world of Russian gender in nouns.


In the Russian language there are three “genders”: masculine (мужской род), feminine (женский род), and neutral (средний род). If you asked the question: “Is there any logic in dividing our nouns into genders according to the way they look, feel, smell or act?” I would say no. For example, in Russian there are two words with the same meaning, denoting “a road vehicle with an engine and four wheels that can carry a small number of passengers.” The first one is car (машина), a feminine noun, and the second one is automobile (автомобиль), a masculine noun. That may seem like a stretch, but don’t despair! There is still some logic from a grammatical point of view.


Here is a quick tip in order to denote the gender of Russian nouns: You should always look at the last letter of the word!


  • If the word ends in a consonant, its gender is masculine (сын, кот).
  • If the word ends in a\я, its gender is feminine (семья, рука, страна, Россия).
  • If the word ends in o\e, its gender is neutral (окно, вино, письмо).
  • If the word ends in ь, its gender can be feminine (мышь, ложь) or it can be masculine (июль, секретарь).
  • Of course, there are some exceptions.


Now, let’s discuss every gender in detail.


Masculine Nouns


Masculine nouns end in consonants. The pronoun for masculine nouns is he (Он). Here are some examples:


  • (Он) робот: a robot
  • (Он) гамбургер: a hamburger
  • (Он) Макдональдс: McDonald’s
  • (Он) Май: May


Of course, there are exceptions. There are some nouns that end in ь that are masculine:


  • (Он) Парень: a guy
  • (Он) Конь: a horse
  • (Он) Апрель: April


Additionally, all nouns denoting male are masculine, even if they end in a vowel (а\я, о, е, и). For example:


  • (Oн) Дядя: an uncle
  • (Он) Папа: a father
  • (Он) Вова: Vova, a male Russian name
  • (Он) Миша: Misha, a male Russian name


Feminine Nouns


Most feminine nouns end in a\я. The pronoun for feminine nouns is she (Она). Here are some examples:


  • (Она) Семь: a family
  • (Она) Мама: a mother
  • (Она) Сестра: a sister


A lot of nouns ending in ь are feminine:


  • (Она) Ночь: a night
  • (Она) Дочь: a daughter
  • (Она) Мышь: a mouse


If ь comes after ж, ш, or ч, the gender is feminine.


Additionally, all nouns denoting female are feminine, even if they end in a consonant. For example:


  • (Она) Мисс: miss
  • (Она) Мадам: madam


Neutral Nouns


Neutral nouns end in o\e. The pronoun for neutral nouns is it (Оно). Here are some examples:


  • (Оно) Море: sea
  • (Оно) Небо: sky


There are some exceptions.


Nouns that end with мя are neutral:


  • (Оно) Имя: name
  • (Оно) Время: time


(Он) Кофе (coffee) is masculine.



Activity: Gender


Now try an activity and post your results in the discussion, and I will revert to you. See if you can identify the gender (masculine, feminine, or neutral) for each of the following:


  1. мама
  2. дедушка
  3. море
  4. александр
  5. солнце
  6. река
  7. время
  8. бизнесмен
  9. спортсменка
  10. спортсмен
  11. англия
  12. россия
  13. окно
  14. стол
  15. чизбургер


Animate and Inanimate Nouns


In the Russian language, there is also a division between animate (одушевлённые) and inanimate (неодушевлённые) nouns.


Animate nouns refer to living creatures. Here are some examples:


  • (она ) мама: mother
  • (она) кошка: cat 
  • (она) девочка: girl
  • (она) подруга: friend
  • (она) собака: dog
  • (он) Владимир Путин
  • (он) директор: director


Inanimate nouns relate to abstract things and objects that are not alive. Here are some examples:


  • (он) стол: table
  • (она) сумка: bag
  • (оно) время: time
  • (он) телефон: telephone
  • (она) любовь: love
  • (она) вечеринка: party
  • (он) страх: ear
  • (она) зима: winter
  • (она) Россия: Russia
  • (оно) дерево: tree


The question for animate objects in Russian is: Кто это? (Who is it?)


Кто это?

Это лебедь.


Кто это?

Это мужчина.


The question for inanimate objects in Russian is: Что это? (What is it?)


Что это?

Это компьютер.


Что это?

Это машина.


Activity: Animate and Inanimate Objects


Now try an activity and post your results in the discussion, and I will revert to you. See if you can identify which of the following are animate objects and which are inanimate objects:


  1. музыкант
  2. спортсмен
  3. друг
  4. барак
  5. обама
  6. женщина
  7. парк
  8. ручка
  9. таксист
  10. кофе
  11. небо
  12. стул
  13. кровать
  14. сон
  15. злость


Hero Image by Author