How to Differentiate Masculine, Feminine, and Neuter Genders in Russian

Explanation of noun genders in Russian

One of the first things you want to do when learning Russian is to learn to differentiate noun genders. The concept of noun genders is not difficult to understand if your native language has them. But many languages, such as Austronesian, Turkic, and Uralic language families lack this noun genders in their languages.

English lacks noun genders, but differentiates genders of human individuals and animals with he, she, or it. However, English lacks gender pronouns for inanimate objects, like a chair. Russian on the other hand, has a gender for every noun. So if you think that table is genderless, you're wrong. Chair is a masculine noun in Russian, and you refer to it as “him”.

This guide will go through the rules to help you figure out the genders of nouns in the Russian language. There are three genders in Russian: Feminine, Masculine, and Neuter.


Female gender nouns end with а, я and ия (we will also discuss the exceptions, such as letter ь - the soft letter).

Word (Russian) Word (English) Ending Pronoun
Одежда Clothing а она/she
неде́ля Week я она/she
Химия Chemistry ия она/she

Note: We already mentioned that the Russian has a few exceptions. Some of the words ending on а and я are not feminine, and it's easy to explain why.

For example: папа/dad, дядя/uncle, дедушка/grandfather. They all end with a standard feminine ending, they are male genders in their nature.


Masculine words ends with a й or a consonant (we will also discuss the exceptions of the letter ь - the soft letter).

Word (Russian) Word (English) Ending Pronoun
Урожай The harvest й он/he
Стол Table consonant он/he

Note: Some of the words ending on е and о (typical Neuter gender ending) belong to Masculine gender.

For example: кофе(coffee), манго(Mango), торнадо(Tornado), бренди (Brandy), Names of languages.


Neuter gender nouns have о or е ending (also ие and мя).

Word (Russian) Word (English) Ending Pronoun
Кольцо Ring о оно/it
Имя Name мя оно/it
Знание Knowledge ие оно/it

Words ending on the soft letter - ь

Sometimes you will come across words that end on the soft letter, and you won't know be able to tell the gender of the noun. Nouns ending on ь can be either Feminine or Masculine. It can also be both genders at the same time. Unfortunately, there are no rules to determine the gender in these cases, so you'll have to learn them by heart.

To get started, take a look at these rules that we have prepared for you:

Masculine nouns ending on ь
Rule Example Ending
Names of the months Апрель (April) ль
Nouns ending on арь Словарь (Dictionary) арь
Nouns ending on тель Учитель (Teacher) тель
Feminine nouns ending on ь
Rule Example Ending
N. ending on чь, шь, щь Ночь(night) мышь(mouse) вещь(thing) чь, шь, щь
N. ending on ость Милость (cuteness) ость
N. ending on бь, вь, дь, зь, сь, ть Любовь(love) тетрадь(notebook) кровь(blood) грязь(dirt) весь(whole/entire) жуть(horror) бь, вь, дь, зь, сь, ть
Nouns ending on ь that can belong to Feminine and Masculine
Nouns ending on ль нь рь
Masculine Feminine
Ending on ль Стиль (style) Ending on ль Боль (pain, ache)
Ending on нь Олень (deer) Ending on нь Вонь (stench)
Ending on рь Пузырь (bubble) Ending on рь Дверь (door)

Masculine nouns that end on -а or -я

There are exceptions where masculine nouns can end with -а or -я, just like feminine nouns. Masculine words ending on -а or -я follow the same declension patterns as the feminine nouns do.

Masculine nouns ending on -а or -я
мужчина (Father)
дедушка (Father)
дядя (Father)
Masculine nouns ending on -а or -я
Feminine Masculine ending on -а or -я
Nominative Страна (country) Папа (Father)
Accusative Страны (country) Папы (Father)
Genitive Стране (country) Папе (Father)
Dative Страну (country) Папу (Father)
Instrumental Страной (ою) (country) Папой (Father)
Prepositional стране (country) папе (Father)

Final Tip

One easy thing you can do to determine the noun genders is to listen to the adjectives that modify the nouns in a sentence. If the adjective is masculine, then the noun will be masculine as well.