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How to Define a Gender of Nouns, Ending in -ь

You already know very well that nouns in Russian can be of мужского (он) /masculine (he)/, женского (она)  /feminine (she)/ or среднего (оно) /neuter (it)/ gender.

 I'll remind you a rule:

he she it
- (end in consonant)
брат /brother/
шкаф /wardrobe/

папа /dad/
дедушка /grandfather/


мама /mom/
полка /shelf/ 


- о
окно /window/ 
дядя /uncle/

 These words always denote 
 a person (they are animate nouns)!   


семья /family/
тётя /aunt/


море /sea/
- ь
стиль /style/
- ь
кровать /bed/
дочь /daughter/ 

Gender of nouns ending in -ь needs to be memorized!

It is difficult to determine the gender of nouns ending in -ь. Such words should be memorized. However, there are some secrets I want to entrust you with.

1. If a word you met ends in -ь in the text, pay attention to adjacent words, especially adjectives and verbs in the past tense. For example, you read: "Спортсмен получил золотую медаль" /Sportsmen got a gold medal/. The word "медаль" /medal/ is used in accusative case, and adjective "золотую" /gold/ in accusative case and femenine gender. This means that the word "медаль" is a word of feminine gender.

2. Remember! Aways are reffered to masculine gender:

  • names of months (октябрь /October/, июнь /June/);
  • words ending in -арь (словарь /dictionary/, календарь /calendar/);       
  • words ending in -тель (учитель /teacher/, выключатель /switch/).

3.  Remember! Aways are reffered to feminine gender : 

  • words ending in -чь, -шь, -щь (ночь /night/, мышь /mouse/, вещь /thing/ etc);  
  • words ending in -ость (they are derived from adjectives; сухой - сухость /dry - dryness/, мягкий - мягкость /soft - softness/);
  • words ending in -бь, -вь, -дь, -зь, -сь, -ть (любовь /love/, тетрадь /notebook/ etc).

Exceptions: голубь /dove/, лебедь /swan/, дождь /rain/, гвоздь /nail/ are the words of masculine gender!  

4. Words ending in -ль, -нь, -рь can be both of masculine and feminine gender.

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