SpyLOG

Lesson Four: Gender of Nouns. Singular and Plural Nouns

To view this page and all other lessons properly, you must have Cyrillic fonts installed. If you do not see Cyrillic letters in the table below and need help, go to the Cyrillic Fonts menu item.

Ukrainian nouns are distinguished by gender: masculine, feminine, and neuter; therefore they can be replaced with pronouns he, she, or it, depending on their gender. Each noun is of a particular gender regardless of whether it's a living creature, a thing, or an abstract idea. Endings of nouns, which change as required by their positions in a sentence, can serve as an indicator of gender. However, generally endings are NOT entirely gender specific. When you learn nouns, you must memorize their gender as well. This will at first be tedious, but with time you will develop a feel for the language and will be able to guess the gender of unfamiliar nouns in many cases. However, whenever possible, you should check your guesses in the dictionary.

Endings of Ukrainian nouns can also indicate whether the noun is single or plural. This is similar to English, where letter "s" is added to most nouns to make them plural. And, just like in English, not all nouns can be plural. For instance, there are no "tendernesses" or "goodnesses." In grammar terms, nouns that can form a plural are called countable and those that can't are called uncountable. However, nouns that are countable in Ukrainian may not necessarily be such in English and vice versa. Also, there are some nouns that are always plural.

Please review nouns in the following table paying special attention to their endings (blue letters) or lack of such. Remember that a grammatical ending is the last letter or syllable that changes depending on its connection with other words in the sentence. Nouns in their basic form (you will learn other forms later) have only one-vowel endings (one last letter) or no changeable endings at all.

NOTE: As in the previous lesson, red letters show which syllable is stressed. Blue letters identify changeable noun endings. If there's no red in a word, it either has only one syllable or the stress falls on the ending marked in blue.
GenderSingular nounsTheir plural formsTranslation
Femininea [krayina]
[stolyts'a]
[nich]
(no changeable ending)
[krayiny]
i [stolytsi]
oi [nochi]
(some words also change stem vowels in the plural form)
country
capital city
night

Masculine [dolar]
(no changeable ending)
[dolary]

dollar

Neuter [more]

[vikno]

[oblych'a]

[mor'a]
(note the stress change)
a [vikna]
(note the stress change)
[oblych'a]
(no changes)
sea

window

face

Your rule of thumb can be that feminine nouns normally end in a/, masculines have bare consonants at the end (no changeable endings), and usual neuter endings are e/o. However, you've seen that feminine nouns can also end with a bare consonant and can be the ending of neuters. In fact, a/ can also be the endings of masculine nouns, in particular, names (e.g., a man's name o), but these nouns are not many. Again, for best results you should consult the dictionary and learn the gender of a noun when you learn the noun itself.

Exercise 1. Use our "rule of thumb" to identify the gender of the following nouns. Try reading them out loud without transcription. You should know some of the nouns from the previous lesson.

(35) (subway), (car), (girl, young woman), (the name of Ukrainian currency), (passport), (last name), (umbrella), (telephone), (bus), (street), (card), (stop), (sun), (means both "number" and "hotel room"), (hotel), (airport).

Key to the exercise

Exercise 2. Our rule of thumb won't work for the followng nouns since some of them fall out of the general pattern. Use a dictionary to translate and identify the gender of the following nouns. If you don't have a Ukrainian-English dictionary, use our Glossary.

' [im"ya], [bat'ko], [kvytok], ' [sim"ya], [volos's'a].

Key to the exercise

Exercise 3. Please review the table that explains gender endings again noting how singular endings are changed in the plural form. Now try forming the plural of the following nouns. We have chosen words that follow our rule of thumb, so you should be able to identify noun genders easily.

(36) (subway tocken), (office), ' (computer), (pen), (village), (room), (bed), (apple), (map), (field).

Key to the exercise