All Czech nouns have a grammatical gender. There are three genders (masculine, feminine, neutral). Although there is no direct connection with the English, there are certain rules which help to memorise the gender.
It can be understood like this:
- Waiter is used for men
- Waitress is used for women
- Waiting staff is a neutral form
In Czech, it is crucial to know the gender of nouns as it may influence many other words in the sentence (adjectives, verbs, pronouns…).
It is logical when we describe people:
However, in the Czech language, even inanimate objects have grammatical genders. In English, words such as cup, book and bicycle are always neutral – it. In Czech, they can be he, she or it.
Unfortunately, there is not any logical explanation why words have certain gender. There are some basic rules based on which the gender can be recognised, however, there are many exceptions and the gender should be always learned together with the noun.
The word indicating masculine gender is ten. It can be translated as the in English.
The dog is big. = Ten pes je velký.
The vast majority of masculine words end in a consonant.
There are also some -a ending words which are masculine. However, this is not as widespread as the previous category. In rare cases, there can be even -e or -í endings.
The word indicating feminine gender is ta. It is again translated as the in English.
The cat is small.= Ta kočka je malá.
The most typical ending for feminine nouns is -a.
Words which end in -e and -ě are commonly feminine, too. Some feminine words can also end in a consonant, which means consonant-ending words are not exclusively masculine.
The word indicating neutral gender is to. It also means the in English.
The car is slow. = To auto je pomalé.
Most neutral nouns end in -o.
Another typical ending is -í. There are also words ending in -e and -ě, which means these are not solely feminine ending.
During your studies, you will encounter endings being linked with an unusual gender. These irregularities were caused by natural language development over hundreds of years and have to be memorised.
Do not forget to take a look at our flashcards. They enable you to generate random words for certain grammar points.