I am new to Russian language and I have consulted several sources about this but can not get a clear picture about this. I am looking for a method on how to solve these type of questions (not that you solve this for me). Explain how to solve these type of questions. How do you go about when you identify what it is, what is the characteristic part? I listed the various cases I ran into. There might be some others I did not get exposed to.






2 Answers 2


By their case endings, and, sometimes, by a word stress, that is:

  1. words ending by -ий; -ый or -ой could be either participles or adjectives.

An implication of a transitive action required for the word to be a participle is usually expressed by a communicative ellipsis (so-called 'zero communication').

1.1. When preceding by -н(н)- - that is, in words like --нный (сделанный, отвеченный, приобретённый, купленный) they are, at 94% probability Past Tense Participles (Massculine Grammatical Gender). The exeptions are words like стеклянный, оловянный, деревянный, сонный, сезонный, странный.

1.2. A word ending in -ный is most likely to be an Adjective (жареный, мраморный, раненый, купленый).

1.3. A word ending in -н(н)ий could be a Masculin Adjective and nothing else: синий, ранний, зимний.

1.4. As for form -н(н)ой, there is a 93% probability that this is either Genitive or Instrumental Case of the same participle/adjective type as above in 1.1.-1.2 (save 1.3): стеклянной, оловянной, деревянной, сонной, сезонной, странной, жареной, мраморной, раненой.

Judging by the fact that persons speaking Russian as their first native language are more prone to use Genitive whenever it's possible (and sometime even when it's impossible) when they learn a language with a Genitive-like case within its case system, such a form is more likely to be a Feminine Genitive.

2. The Russian passive participles do differ by their grammatical genders, whilest the active participles (I suppose this is what you call 'Gerund') don't.

2.1. A word ending by -яя is 93% likely to be a 'Gerund' from a -ять-/ -ить- ending verbs ( меняя, цепляя, примеряя, примиряя, извиняя, обвиняя ), but there is also a possibility that it could be a Feminine Adjective of the abovementioned 1.3 type: синяя, ранняя, зимняя.

2.1. A word ending by -ая could be either a 'Gerund' form of a -ать- ending verb ( думая, зная, отвечая ) or a Feminine Nominative Adjective / Participle: adjectives крупная, купленая, жареная, мраморная, раненая VS participles сделанный, отвеченный, приобретённый, купленный.

2.1.1. When preceded by -нн-, it's usually a participle: сделанная, отвеченная, приобретённая, купленная.

2.1.2. When preceded by -н-, it's usually an adjective: жареная, раненая, мраморная, купленая.

2.1.3. The difference between a 'Gerund' and a 'Feminine Participle' is most frequently stated by presence / absence of -н(н)-. Thus, words like продуманная, признанная, отвеченная, купленная, приобретённая, сделанная are 'Participles' while words like думая, зная, отвечая, покупая, приобретая, делая are not.

2.2. Very seldom it could be a feminine loanword from Sanskrit (e. g.самАя - not to be confused with a feminine form сАмая of superlative adjective самый, sometimes also spelled самайя).

2.3. A word ending by -ея is either a 'Gerund' from a -еть- ending word (смея, белея, зверея) or a feminine noun/adjective (змеЯ, ворожея, камея) , or an Accusative form of a Single Masculine Animate Noun (змЕя, чародея, злодея). In the latter case, it is normally preceded by a transitive verb (or by an ellyptic context within a zero-communication structure).

2.4. A word ending in -ив is most likely to be an Active Participle of a Past Tense from an *-ить-***ending verb: ***ответив, уложив.*

2.5. A word ending by -ев could be, in order of probability, either an Active Participle of the same type (посмев, забелев, озверев) or a Masculine Noun (лев, зев), or a short form of a masculine adjective (левый; in this case it is usually not followed by a noun).

2.6. Last, but not least, an -ав - ending word is either a masculine nominative for a noun from a semi-archaic stock ending in -глав (Триглав, псоглав, златоглав, etc. or an adverb стремглав) or, again and most likely, a Past Tense PArticiple from an -ать-ending verb: подумав, признав, сделав, сказав.

NB: the letter Ё ё is rarely used in modern Russian writing, so the words приобретённый, приобретённая could be spelled as приобретенный, приобретенная.

  • Many thanks for the elaboration. The books and sources I have are not able to even describe one of these things in a simple way. Their presentations are so messed up that one think how did they get their PhD or job at all. The books is of so low quality that it is scary.
    – Lena
    Mar 21, 2017 at 13:52
  • Their authors are not to blame; I think Russian seems to be the shadiest language after Chinese. My sketch doesn't cover cases like difference between "состав" ( = 'railroad train' / 'Ingredients', depending on a context and always a Single Masculine Noun, Inanimate), "устав" (= 'having been tired', a Past Participle, Active) and "подстав" (= 'of intrigues / shenanigans', Plural Feminine Genitive, Inanimate).
    – Manjusri
    Mar 21, 2017 at 13:59
  • If you hold a PhD, have a job and lecture on Russian language you should know how to explain some of the things you expect the students to know. You should also be able to provide material if you do not have pedagogic talents. that is what I think. I highly appreciate that you helped me with this. Something I have been looking for, for a long time.
    – Lena
    Mar 21, 2017 at 14:03
  • A code switch is also important. E.g. I used to give a language lesson to a friend of mine. We both speak a Language1 and Language2 at equal ease (the subject was a Language 3). The class was in Language1; then suddenly she swiitched to the Language2 (which I master as well as Russian) and first I didn't understand a word of what she said.
    – Manjusri
    Mar 21, 2017 at 14:08
  • 1
    "The exeptions are words like стеклянный, оловянный, деревянный, сонный, сезонный, странный." - where you got this list? There is a lot of such words, they are common: конный, транспортный, машинный, вечный, точный, приятный, окаянный, особенный, прочный, разный, смачный etc.
    – Anixx
    Mar 21, 2017 at 14:56

работающий – работа/ть

сделанный – сдела/ть

гуляя – гуля/ть

спросив – спроси/ть

The first point to distinguish between причастиями and деепричастиями and other parts of speech, such as nouns and adjectives is to find the verb from which they were formed (using a dictionary). Because in some cases it's impossible "оловянный","чародея","камея","мраморная","трехглав", you don't need further research. Then look at the suffix, which follows the stem, they are usually listed in textbooks.

У действительных причастий, находящихся в настоящем времени, суффиксы такие: ущ/ющ (танцующий, поющий), ащ/ящ (кричащий, летящий). У страдательных - ем- (колеблемый), -ом- (влекомый), им(зависимый).

Когда причастия стоят в прошедшем времени, отличать их будем также по залогу. Действ.прич. : -вш- (купивший),ш (выросший). Страд.**прич. : **т- (расколотый), -енн- (прокрученный), -нн- (вымерянный).

Деепричастия don't have voice,they have tense.

Наст.вр.: (не спеша), (угадывая), -учи (будучи), -ючи (припеваючи). Прошедшее время: (сделав), -вши( не знавши).

These are the main rules.

  • You can't render a concept of 'деепричастие' into an intelligible English without a voice aspect.
    – Manjusri
    Mar 21, 2017 at 22:26
  • Деепричастие isn't a gerund and a participle. You shouldn't mix the languages.
    – V.V.
    Mar 22, 2017 at 4:25
  • Sorry, I don't understand your English.
    – Manjusri
    Mar 22, 2017 at 11:17

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