Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Lesson 23 - Nouns and Gender

Today we'll talk about nouns and genders. Keep in mind that we are going to look only at singular nouns in nominative case (more on the 6 noun cases later).

As you know, a noun is a word that names a person, place, thing, event or idea. All Russian nouns are divided into 3 genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. It's important to know the gender of a noun, since it needs to agree with other parts of speech. Let me give you an example: красивая девушка (a pretty girl) is correct, while красивый девушка is not. Ending -ый of the adjective красивый denotes masculine gender.

Learning gender rules is not an easy process. Many times you will be able to determine the gender of a noun simply by using your biology knowledge. Ex.: мальчик (masculine), девочка (feminine), etc. But most of the time noun gender is random and unchangeable. Gender rules MUST be memorized. However, the secret is simple: the ending of a noun determines its gender. After learning a few rules you'll be able to instantly recognize whether nouns are masculine, feminine or neuter.

Here's a Russian Noun Genders table for your convenience.(Click the table for an enlarged view)


*Every Russian noun has a gender (masculine, feminine or neuter)
*Every adjective or verb must agree with the gender of a Russian noun (and pronoun)
*Most masculine nouns end in a consonant, as well as -ь or -й
*Feminine nouns usually end in -а, as well as -я, -ия, and -ь
*Most neuter nouns end in -о or -е, but can also take endings like -ие, and -[м]я
*A handful of Russian nouns appear to be feminine by their endings, are in fact masculine. Commit them to memory!


It's been a while since I added a Russian song to my podcast. So many of you requested this feature back! I promise to add one when I get a chance to obtain license-free Russian music. May 9th is the Victory Day in Russia. (День Победы). To mark this day I am including a well-known song from the Soviet era called «В землянке» - "In the Dugout" performed by Михаил Гулько.

Here are the lyrics of the song and its translation.

В землянке
Музыка: К.Листов Слова: А.Сурков

Бьется в тесной печурке огонь,
На поленьях смола, как слеза.
И поет мне в землянке гармонь
Про улыбку твою и глаза.

Про тебя мне шептали кусты
В белоснежных полях под Москвой.
Я хочу, чтобы слышала ты,
Как тоскует мой голос живой.

Ты сейчас далеко, далеко,
Между нами снега и снега.
До тебя мне дойти не легко,
А до смерти - четыре шага.

Пой, гармоника, вьюге назло,
Заплутавшее счастье зови.
Мне в холодной землянке тепло
От моей негасимой любви.

В землянке
in English:

The fire beats in the tiny hearth,
Resin shines on the wood like a tear,
An accordion sings about love,
And your eyes and your smile reappear.

The trees have whispered of you to me,
In the snow-white plains of Moscow,
Oh, my love, if it only could be,
If you heard me here singing alone.

You are far, far away at this hour.
Snows between us and winter's hard breath.
To rejoin you is not in my power,
Though just four steps divide me from death.

Sing, accordion, mocking the storm,
Call back joy, drive off sorrow and doubt.
In the cold of the dogout I 'm warm
For the fire of our love won't go out.


In closing, I'd like to thank Bethany for her lovely greeting that I started today's lesson with. To the rest of my listeners: you are welcome to send in your greetings in Russian. Don't forget to visit speakrussian.blogspot.com for some lagniappe* (11 years in New Orleans have taken their toll:) . Send all your questions and comments to spoonfulofrussian@gmail.com

До свидания и всего хорошего, друзья!

* (Lagniappe derives from New World Spanish la ñapa, “the gift,” and ultimately from Quechua yapay, “to give more.” The word came into the rich Creole dialect mixture of New Orleans and there acquired a French spelling. It is still used in the Gulf states, especially southern Louisiana, to denote a little bonus that a friendly shopkeeper might add to a purchase. By extension, it may mean “an extra or unexpected gift or benefit.”)


daniel said...

I'm always impressed with the quality of this podcast. You're doing a great job.

If I ever get back to the Russian speaking world, I'll be signing up for your online private lessons!

Natalia said...


thank you for the kind words! Большое спасибо! I am very happy about how well the online classes work out. I'll make sure I'll save a slot for ya:)

Anonymous said...

Can you tell me more about your online classes?



Natalia said...

Vance, e-mail me at: speakrussian@mac.com

Sage said...

I just found your site and am looking forward to checking it out as often as possible. I am struggling with the Cyrillac (sp) alphabet but I am sure with time I might grasp it or die gasping lol.

putu said...

There are more and more Russian people coming to our island for vacation, even now public places like airport began to have russian letter besides English and Japanese, and sometimes I had a chance to talk Russian tourist and practice my Russian which I learn from you, Natalia. And I will surprise them by singing Katushya. Thanks Natalia.

Anonymous said...

I only just caught onto this, but it's exactly what I was looking for!

Is there a way to get a more comprehensive index of posts somewhere? (Just because it's difficult as I try to jump between pages and play catch-up).


Kristy said...

Спасибо большое, Наталя!

Как поживаете?

Haven't catch up for a while. I hope вы и ваша семья – хорошо.

Keep the podcast coming.

Anonymous said...

Hi Natalia!
I am Joanna and I live in Poland. I love your Podcast. I hope one day I write the same in Russian:)
Take care!

Anonymous said...

Наталья привет!
У меня обратная ситуация, я учу английский. Решил посмотреть, а как же учат иностранцев русскому. Мне понравилось, хотя скажу честно, поначалу это звучит очень забавно.
Всем удачи, пока!


Ignacio Manzano said...


I´m from Argentina and I'm trying to learn russian by myself.

I found you blog and I think it´s amazing!!

I can't found lesson before 9 ...where these lesson are ? i want to start from the beginning.

Best Regards,

Natalia said...

Ignacio, hey. Here....start with Lesson#1 :


Ignacio Manzano said...

Hi Natalia!,
Thank you very much !!


Anonymous said...

Amazing :)


yoxx said...

You're doing a great job!!!

Ora_Adzlin said...

nice one! im searching this kind of blog a long time !