How to determine the gender of a noun in Russian

There are three genders of nouns in the Russian language - masculine (m.), feminine (f.) and neuter (n.). If you want to speak really good Russian, you have to know the gender of every noun. It's essential because all the nouns change their endings depending on the case they are in. It's really hard to remember. But there are certain rules for each group of nouns. So, learning the genders will help you put nouns in the cases correctly.

The good thing is that you don't have to memorize every word's gender, because you can simply identify it. Not all of them (there are always exeptions everywhere), but most words.

So, let's find out how to establish the nouns gender in the Russian language.

The masculine nouns

Let's look at some words:

он (he)
глаз (eye)
душ (shower)
зонт (umbrella)
спрей (spray)

What do these words have in common? They all end in a consonant sound. And all of them are masculine.

The feminine nouns

она (she)
звезда (star)
машина (car/machine)
вишня (cherry)
дорога (road)
песня (song)

Again, what do you see? All these words end in -a or . And they are feminine. But it's not so easy here. There are some exeptions.

Remember this small group:

папа - dad
дедушка - grandfather
дядя - uncle
мужчина - man
юноша - a young man (a boy)

All of these words denote males but they end in -a and , which is not typical. There are some other exeptions. For example, words that describe both males and females:

плакса - a person who cries a lot
скряга - a cheapskate
соня - a person who sleeps a lot

Also, there are some neuter words that ends in -мя:


The neuter nouns

Most of neuter nouns end in -е (ё) or :

облако (cloud)
яблоко (apple)
небо (sky)
ухо (ear)
копьё (spear)
кафе (cafe)

кофе is, however, a maculine noun. Though, many Russians still use it like a neuter one. 

And finally, there is a group of nouns which end in "ь" (soft sign). They can be both feminine and masculine. It's not easy to determine their gender. You should rember most of them.

соль (f.)
боль (f.)
нить (f.)
день (m.)
тюль (m.)
словарь (m.)

Some of such nouns follow definite rules.

All the nouns which describe females are feminine. Same with males. 

дочь (f.) - daughter

водитель (m.) - driver 
водитель (f.) - female driver

учитель (m.) - teacher
учительница (f.) - female teacher

The names of the months are all masculine.