Slovenian: gender rules

meems

New Member
English
When referring to inert objects, what is the rule for it being masculine, feminine or neuter?

moj čaj (m)
moja kava (f)
moj kruh (m)

How am I supposed to know before I know?
 
  • meems

    New Member
    English
    This may be a stupid question... but using the wrong grammatical gender, just how "wrong" is it?
    I mean, it will still be totally understood, albeit technically wrong, or not?

    Is it comparable to people misusing there/their/they're in English, or any other kind of English version of such a mistake?
    (when I read a native misuse there/their, I know without hesitation what they meant, I just think they're a bit stupid!)
     

    iezik

    Senior Member
    Slovenian
    The question appears to ask for the heuristic rules of Slovenian language about the gender of physical objects. It depends on the ending of the words. The nominative case in singular is usually used for such rules.

    The mapping is as follows: -a, -ev, -ost: feminine: kava, voda, marmelada, salama, breskev, hruška, hiša, cesta, luna, zemlja, miza, hiša, ladja, žlica, televizija, majica, nogavica
    -o, -e: neuter: mleko, vino, pivo, jabolko, morje, nebo, sonce, letalo, okno, sadje, meso, grozdje
    -consonant: masculine: čaj, kruh, sir, med, vlak, kozarec, nož, krožnik, računalnik, dež, veter, sneg, radiator, ključ, kabel, zaslon, čevelj

    There are few words usually or always used in plural.
    -a: neuter: očala, vrata, usta, jetra
    -e: feminine: hlače, škarje, vilice
    -i: feminine or masculine: smuči (f), možgani (m), starši (m)

    avto (m) probably received its gender from avtomobil (m).
    Luč (f), noč (f), miš (f) belong to somewhat rarer 2nd feminine declination. Learn the adjective endings and in most cases you will notice this class by adjective.

    For persons, rules are a bit different.
     
    Last edited:

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    First of all, in Slavic languages the gender in nouns can often be deduced from the endings: this doesn't explain why a certain inanimate noun belongs to either gender, but simplifies identification once the noun is learnt. Say, most nouns on -a in the Nominative Singular are feminine, most nouns on -o and -e are neuter.

    Second, the gender is used for the grammatical agreement, i. e. adjectives, numerals, pronouns and some verbal forms dependent from the noun have to be used in the same gender. This means that when somebody uses the wrong gender, this affects not only the use of he/she/it, but chains of dependent words, e. g. in Russian Accusative Singular tvoyú nóvuyu mámu "your new mum" but tvoyegó nóvogo pápu "your new dad".

    Third, good news: an English speaker will have incomparably more problems with Slavic grammatical cases and verbal aspects, and in languages like Slovenian, Serbo-Croatian and Russian also with the stress, so, yes, misuse of genders will be a minor problem comparing with the others.
     

    iezik

    Senior Member
    Slovenian
    using the wrong grammatical gender, just how "wrong" is it?
    I mean, it will still be totally understood, albeit technically wrong, or not?

    Is it comparable to people misusing there/their/they're in English, or any other kind of English version of such a mistake?
    (when I read a native misuse there/their, I know without hesitation what they meant, I just think they're a bit stupid!)

    The error usually doesn't prevent understanding. However, I would compare it to

    - forgetting -s in 3rd person singular: *He play football.
    - changing sounds: speak->ispeak (Spaniards), hungry->ungry (Italians, French), think->tink (most), sing->sink (Slovenians)
    - forgetting articles: *I saw cat.
    - wrong word order: *On a sunny day saw John a cat. *She saw a car fast.
    - double negative: *He didn't do nothing wrong.
     

    Mishe

    Senior Member
    Slovenian
    The question appears to ask for the heuristic rules of Slovenian language about the gender of physical objects. It depends on the ending of the words. The nominative case in singular is usually used for such rules.

    The mapping is as follows: -a, -ev, -ost: feminine: kava, voda, marmelada, salama, breskev, hruška, hiša, cesta, luna, zemlja, miza, hiša, ladja, žlica, televizija, majica, nogavica
    -o, -e: neuter: mleko, vino, pivo, jabolko, morje, nebo, sonce, letalo, okno, sadje, meso, grozdje
    -consonant: masculine: čaj, kruh, sir, med, vlak, kozarec, nož, krožnik, računalnik, dež, veter, sneg, radiator, ključ, kabel, zaslon, čevelj

    There are few words usually or always used in plural.
    -a: neuter: očala, vrata, usta, jetra
    -e: feminine: hlače, škarje, vilice
    -i: feminine or masculine: smuči (f), možgani (m), starši (m)

    avto (m) probably received its gender from avtomobil (m).
    Luč (f), noč (f), miš (f) belong to somewhat rarer 2nd feminine declination. Learn the adjective endings and in most cases you will notice this class by adjective.

    For persons, rules are a bit different.

    Your example of of feminine gender words ending in -ost is also part of the 2nd feminine declination (all feminine nouns that end in -i in the genitive case) and it's actually not that rare at all.
     

    Mishe

    Senior Member
    Slovenian
    For example nouns such as "misel" (thought) and "posel" (business) are feminine and masculine respectively, but both have the same endings. Also nouns such as "vojvoda"(duke) end in -a, but are actually part of the 2nd masculine declination, containing nouns that end with -a (just like nouns from the first feminine declination). So it's actually rather complicated. You better learn the gender for each noun separately by heart. Sorry. :/
     
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