5.3 - Gender and number

As discussed on page 5.2, the main reason why the endings of nouns change is to indicate their function in the sentence. But the ending will also depend on a number of other factors. To give you a rough idea, the chart below gives examples of typical ways in which endings may change.

Marking gender

masculine
(used either for males of species, or things and abstract concepts which are grammatically "male")

typically a consonant ending e.g.: брат (brother), водій (driver), суд (court), вплив (influence), англієць (Englishman)
feminine
(used either for females of species, or things and abstract concepts which are grammatically "female")

typically -а or -я, e.g.: сестра (sister), нація (nation), лікарня (hospital)
neuter
(used mainly for inanimate objects and abstract concepts which are grammatically neither "male" nor "female")

typically -о, -е or a double consonant + я, e.g.: місто (town, city), поле (field), місце (place), століття (century)

Marking number

singular
(referring to one person, object or concept)
plural
(referring to more than one person, object or concept)
masculine and feminine nouns
брат
сестра
лікарня
водій
нація

брати – brothers
сестри – sisters
лікарні – hospitals
водії – drivers
нації – nations
neuter nouns
місто
поле

міста – towns
поля – fields
Note, however, that neuter nouns ending in a double consonant + я have the same ending in the nominative singular and plural, e.g. знання, весілля, століття.

Endings can also be influenced by:

  • whether the noun belongs to a hard, soft or mixed category
  • whether the noun is animate or inanimate
  • the historical development of the noun
  • which declension (group) it belongs to
  • several other factors.

Initially we won't focus on these but will concentrate on the basics, i.e. how to recognise the number and gender of most typical nouns. To practise doing this, try Exercise 5.3A.

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© 2007 Marta Jenkala