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So a while ago I was informed of the general rules for declensions. However, there is some overlap of these groups. For example, a word with no ending could be either 2nd or 3rd declension. Additionally, a word ending in Я could be either 1st or second declension. Is there any way to tell?

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Nouns with no ending:

  • masculine ⟶ 2nd declension;
  • feminine ⟶ 3nd declension.

Nouns ending with :

  • masculine and feminine ⟶ 1st declension;
  • neuter:
    ⟶ maybe 2nd declension,
    ⟶ maybe 4th declension.

    Unless they have some specific traits of 4th declension, I'd assume them to be of 2nd declension. Most of 4th declension nouns mean animal children (kitten, puppy, duckling) and/or have -ен- suffix (i.e. end with -еня: кошеня, цуценя, каченя). There are some 4th declension nouns that don't mean animal children and/or don't have -ен- suffix (e.g. ім'я «name», плем'я «tribe», теля «calf») — but their number is low and they can be remembered on per-word basis.

So:

  1. First declension — masculine and feminine ending with ().
  2. Second declension — masculine with none, and () endings; neuter with , () and endings (except those that follow forth declension).
  3. Third declension — feminine without ending.
  4. Fourth declension — neuter ending with () that:
    • are diminutives and:
      • mean animal children: with -ен- suffix (e.g. кошеня «kitten», цуценя «puppy», каченя «duckling»), without -ен- suffix (e.g. теля «calf», гуся «gosling», курча «chicken»);
      • don't mean animal children, but are formed in similar manner: humans (e.g. дитинча «childling», дівча «girlie (noun), girlo», маля «small child», небожа́ «diminutive for niece», немовля «nursling», янголя «diminutive for angel»), body parts (e.g. рученя «diminutive for hand», ноженя «diminutive for leg», бровеня «diminutive for eyebrow»), etc;
    • aren't diminutives: вим'я «udder», ім'я «name», плем'я «tribe», сі́м'я «seed», тім'я «crown of the head» — quite limited set of nouns that should be remembered on per-word basis.
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    Is there any way to tell whether a word with no ending is masculine or feminine? – FracturedRetina Jul 21 '17 at 12:02
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    @FracturedRetina, in general, no. However, if there is an adjective («синій», «синя», «синє»), an adjective-like pronoun («мій», «моя», «моє») or a verb-in-past («ходив», «ходила», «ходило») related to the noun in the sentence, then you can determine gender of the noun by the gender of adjective/pronoun/verb. This is not the case when the noun is given without context or when the context doesn't allow to determine gender. – Sasha Jul 21 '17 at 13:08

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