Hello! In this post I want to go over the noun genders in Russian and Polish. Now you may be wondering what exactly are noun genders? Well if you have studied a foreign language (or know it already) such as; French, Italian, Spanish, German, and various others; you know that these languages place a gender to a noun and is normally illustrated by a definite or indefinite article
m = masculine, f=feminine, plural = p,
Definite articles: the
French: le (m), la (f), les (p)
Spanish: el (m), la (f), los (p/m), las (p/f)
Indefinite articles: a, an
French: un (m), une (f), des (p)
Spanish: un (m), una (f), unos (p/m), unas (p/f)
and other languages like German have three genders; masculine, feminine, and neuter.
Definite articles: the
German: der (m), die (f), das (n), die (pl)
Indefinite articles: a, an
German: ein (m), eine (f), ein (n), no plural form
In languages like Spanish and Italian, the gender of nouns can are easier to define based on the endings they take. For example, in Spanish nouns that end in “-a” are mostly feminine, and those that end in “-o” are usually masculine. Now there are many exceptions and rules, but because this is not the focus of the topic, I won’t go in detail with this. I simply want to briefly touch on some examples.
Masculine: el gato (the cat), el libro (the book), el cuarto (the room)
Feminine: la cama (the bed), la lampara (the lamp), la tienda (the store)
Learning the genders in Spanish is much easier than trying to learn the genders in French or German, which do not particularly have main endings in which one can use to determine whether a noun is masculine, feminine, or neuter.
**(again, there are many tricks that make it easier to learn genders in German and French, but I won’t spend time, for it is not the topic of the post)**
Masculine: der Hund (the dog), der Regen (the rain), der Vogel (the bird)
Feminine: die Freundschaft (the friendship), die Garage, die Ehrung (the honor)
Neuter: das Auto (the car), das Fräulein (the young lady), das Klima (the climate)
**Note the different endings per gender**
The genders that are attributed to a noun do not necessarily mean that a particular noun is either featuring any masculine, feminine, or neuter characteristics. For example, the word for ‘the moon’ in Spanish is feminine “la luna” and because it is feminine, it doesn’t mean that there is something feminine about the moon that it should be considered a feminine noun. In fact, in German the word for ‘the moon’ is masculine ‘der Mond’. So that immediately should give you the belief that a noun’s gender does not have anything to do with gender in the animate sense.
I wanted to give a quick overview on articles and nouns by giving various examples in other languages. Now moving on to Polish and Russian, here is a shocker…they do not use definite or indefinite articles. Yup, if you want to say ‘the cat’ or ‘a cat’ in Polish, one simply says ‘kot’. It is understood by context whether a noun is being referred to in a definite or indefinite sense.
If Russian and Polish had articles, can you imagine just how many different ways there would be for the word ‘the’ and ‘a, an’ in those languages? Let me explain something real quick, it might not make sense if you never studied a language with cases, or in my example German, but Polish and Russian have 6-7 grammatical cases. In a brief explanation, nouns change endings based on how they function in a sentence. German is a language with cases, but it has only four cases (compared to 6-7 in Russian/Polish). Look at the following picture, these are the many ways to say ‘the’ and ‘a,an’ in German, based on each gender, plural, and what case their in
Looks crazy, but not as difficult to learn!
Now moving on from the articles in Polish and Russian (since they do not have any) to the genders. Polish and Russian, like German, have three genders; masculine, feminine, and neuter. However, like Spanish (unlike German) it is actually much easier to determine the gender of the noun based on their endings.
Because Polish and Russian essentially share similar endings for determining the genders, I will try to explain them simultaneously and categorized by gender.
For the most part, in Polish and Russian, nouns ending in a consonant will usually be masculine. Here are some examples;
-б, -в, -д, -з, -л, -м, -н, -п, and -й ( I provide the Russian constants since it uses a different alphabet, the Polish consonants are basically the same as in English)
Russian: отец (father), лист (leaf), карандаш (pencil)
Polish: ojciec (father), liść (leaf), ołówek (pencil)
In Polish, the endings of feminine nouns are usually -a, while in Russian they usually have these forms -а, -я, -ия
Russian: вода (water), семья (family), информация (information)
Polish: woda (water), rodzina (family), informacja (information)
In Polish, the endings for neuter nouns are usually -o, -e, -ę, and in Russian the endings are typically -о, -е, -ие
Russian: дерево (tree), море (sea), вино (wine)
Polish: drzewo (tree), morze (sea), wino (wine)
Now, because this is only an intro to the nouns in Russian and Polish, I only provided a simplified overview on how they can be determined. These are the usual ending (but not all) patterns that one can find. Like I mentioned, there are exceptions to the rules and I plan to go further in explaining some of these differences and going into detail about how certain categories will follow a certain gender (such as weather, days, months, etc).
The last thing I want to provide is a chart in both Russian and Polish that show the various endings a noun can take depending on what case it is being used in. I plan to go further into cases in future post, but I wanted to provide a preview on what is to come. They look frightening, but there are usually patterns they follow
Russian Noun Declension Table
Polish Noun Declension Table ( I used the Michel Thomas Polish Booklet as the reference)