Depending on the classification chosen, there are either three or five genders in Polish:

  • masculine (męski):
    • masculine personal (męski osobowy)
    • masculine animate (męski nieosobowy żywotny)
    • masculine inanimate (męski nieosobowy nieżywotny)
  • feminine (żeński)
  • neuter (nijaki)

Like in Spanish or Italian, it is usually possible to find out gender by looking at the noun ending and the meaning of the noun (in their nominative form).

We can go by exclusion, as follows.

Feminine

Nouns that end in -a are usually feminine.

This is the most important rule.

Some exceptions are:

  • words that end in -ista, which mean followers of some ideology (like komunista, communist) and are person-masculine
  • words that end in -awca/-owca, which describe professions (like sprzedawca, salesman; kierowca, driver). These are also person-masculine.
  • the word is mężczyzna, which means adult male and is person-masculine.
  • some other masculine words, like “tata” (dad), “poeta” (poet), “sędzia” (judge).

Some words that end in a consonant are feminine

Some words that end in a consonant are feminine, and their declension is quite similar to declension of feminine nouns that end in “-a”, e.g.:

  • gałąź (branch)
  • jesień (autumn)
  • łódź (boat or a Polish city)
  • myśl (thought)
  • noc (night)
  • podróż (journey),
  • pomoc (help),
  • postać (figure),
  • północ (north and midnight),
  • rzecz (thing),
  • sól (salt),
  • twarz (face)
  • wieś (countryside)

Nouns that end in -ść are usually feminine.

They are often abstract nouns, like miłość (love, from adjective miły, nice, old Polish “loved”) and wysokość (height, from adjective wysoki, high)

Neuter

Nouns that end in -o, -e, or -um are usually neuter.

Examples:

  • dziecko (child)
  • zawiniątko (package)
  • jedzenie (food)
  • wyjście (departure, exit, solution)
  • zwierzę (animal)
  • muzeum (museum)

NOTE: Some nouns that end in -e are plural and require plural verbs, eg. grabie (rake), Katowice, nożyce (scissors), skrzypce (violin), spodnie (pants), and szczypce (pliers).

Masculine

Most other nouns that end in a consonant are masculine, and their exact gender depends on their meaning. The most usual exceptions are nouns that are animate-masculine which aren’t really animate, especially in the spoken language.

Nouns that end in -i or -u in nominative singular are rare and are mostly of foreign origin. Native Polish words ending in -i are feminine, like gospodyni (hostess or farmer’s wife) or pani (lady). NOTE: some nouns that end in -i are plural and require plural verbs, eg. drzwi (door), Helsinki, nożyczki (scissors), and obcęgi (tongs).


Text: CC https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Polish/More_on_nouns_-_genders (heavily modified)