I can't determine whether the adjective is hard or soft without seeing its ending. I need to be able to tell if the adjective is hard or soft without seeing its ending.

What I mean is, how can I tell if the adjective belongs to the first group (adjectives that end in “-ый” or “-ой”, or “-ий”), or to the second group (adjectives that end in "ний")? Both groups are in the nominative case. An example of a hard adjective: новый; An example of a soft adjective: синий. We can determine the group of the words in these examples just by looking at their endings. I want to be able to determine the declension without looking at the ending of the adjective.

Here is the link to the lesson I'm talking about.

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    Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Dec 18, 2021 at 11:11
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    what you mean by hard or soft adjective, can you provide two words as an example?
    – shabunc
    Commented Dec 18, 2021 at 11:12
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    @OMAR This should be an edit to the topic, not a comment.
    – Dmitry
    Commented Dec 18, 2021 at 11:38
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    You have an error in the wording of the question. The first group does not contain "-ий". The second group contains any "-ий", not just "-ний"///The first group: красНЫЙ, глуХОЙ, блаГОЙ, больШОЙ. The second group: сиНИЙ, длинноуХИЙ, долГИЙ, лучШИЙ.
    – Elena
    Commented Dec 18, 2021 at 13:36
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    I don't understand why you were given this task in the first place. I'm guessing it was to test your memory, not your grammar. Just memorize the adjective with the ending, then you'll know what the correct ending is. Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 17:31

3 Answers 3


The page you linked to isn't giving you the whole story. Even if we leave aside possessive adjectives (лисий, волчий, заячий), there are a lot more declension types besides just hard and soft. Each line below has a unique set of endings:

1. новый, новая, новом, новым - hard
2. синий, синяя, синем, синим - soft
3. рыжий, рыжая, рыжем, рыжим - mixed/sibilant
4. яркий, яркая, ярком, ярким - mixed/glottal
5. куцый, куцая, куцем, куцым - mixed/ц
6. живой, живая, живом, живым - stressed ending
7. нагой, нагая, нагом, нагим - stressed ending, glottal

One thing you can tell for sure just by looking at the stem is that if the last letter is ц, then it's declension type 5. But these adjectives aren't that common.

If the last letter of the stem is a sibilant (ж, ш, щ, ч), depending on the stress, it's going to be either type 3 (ры́жий, то́щий, хоро́ший, рабо́чий) or 6 (чужо́й, большо́й).

If the last letter is glottal (г, к, х), then, again depending on the stress, it could be either type 4 (я́ркий, стро́гий, ти́хий) or 7 (наго́й, морско́й, сухо́й).

If it's anything else, you're on your own (with your dictionary). Some suffixes such as -ический, -ующий, -астый, -ивый determine the declension type; others don't (ба́нковский** vs воровско́й). Some words can decline differently: запа́сный (1) – запасн́ой (6), никудышный (1) – никудышний (2) (thanks @il--ya).

So generally speaking, you can't reliably tell the declension type (or even just the nominative ending) from the stem.

  • No, we can, there is a way that you can tell if the adjective is hard or soft just by looking at his stem, it's like the other way around.
    – OMAR
    Commented Dec 18, 2021 at 15:04

If we're talking about masculine singular adjectives, they may:

  • end in -ый after б, в, д, з, л, м, п, р, с, т, ц when the ending isn't stressed: гру́бый, но́вый, го́рдый, безгла́зый, бе́лый, знако́мый, глу́пый, мо́крый, лы́сый, мя́тый, красноли́цый.

  • end in -ий after г, ж, к, х, ч, ш, щ when the ending isn't stressed: до́лгий, похо́жий, вели́кий, ти́хий, горя́чий, хоро́ший, о́бщий.

  • end in either -ий or -ый after н when the ending isn't stressed: ле́тний, гла́вный.

  • end in -ой when the ending is stressed: голубо́й, боево́й, дорого́й, молодо́й, чуж́ой, борзо́й, морско́й, гнило́й, немо́й, ночно́й, слепо́й, сыро́й, косо́й, просто́й, плохо́й, большо́й. Note that there are no adjectives ending in -фой, -цой, -чой, -щой.

There are no adjectives ending in -фий or -фый or -фой.

A few curious facts: The word борзой can be stressed in two different ways and changes its ending accordingly: бо́рзый, борзо́й. The word борзо́й is the only adjective ending in -зой. And the word сырой is the only adjective ending in -рой (well, also полусырой).

You may come across a few odd ones like козий акулий холопий турий лисий which do not follow the above rules. These are possessive adjectives. They have a completely different declension (for example fem. n. козья, акулья, холопья, лисья). They're not covered in your lesson.

I have found a few exceptions, though.

  • карий, which is an adjective, and it declines according to the "soft" rule in your link (fem. n. каряя etc).
  • various words ending with -шеий (голошеий, грязношеий, длинношеий, долгошеий, короткошеий, кривошеий, толстошеий, тонкошеий). They also follow the "soft"/"-ния" rule.
  • some really rare words like буий, велий, древлий, орлий, тугосисий which you probably don't need to worry about.

So generally speaking, if the last consonant of the word stem isn't н, you can apply the "hard" rule. If the last consonant is н and the ending is stressed – "hard" rule. But when the consonant is н and the ending is unstressed, you need to know whether н is "soft" or "hard" to decline it correctly: ле́тний - ле́тняя, гла́вный - гла́вная; ежегодная, but прошлогодняя; and sometimes even никудышний - никудышняя and никудышный - никудышная are both acceptable.

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    Counterexamples to your first point: тугосисий, орлий. Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 17:15
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    Козий акулий холопий турий лисий are possessive adjectives in the nominative case, but not “nouns in possessive case”. Russian has nothing like Suffixaufnahme (case stacking), in Russian if a noun is already in a case, it cannot be put into one more case. You can decline those adjectives, so you can't say they're in the “possessive case” which actually doesn't exist in Russian. These adjectives decline like the rest of possessive adjectives, that is like мамин, Сашин, отцов, etc. Please, correct that in your answer.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 11:49
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    Thanks @YellowSky, I've corrected my answer (and learned something new).
    – il--ya
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 19:20
  • @SergeySlepov I've tried to find as many exceptions as I could, so here is the list: буий, велий, древлий, карий and similar, орлий, тугосисий, голошеий and similar. I think mustaccio only needs to worry about карий and the likes of длинношеий. I will update my answer.
    – il--ya
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 22:26
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    Борзый-борзой is far from unique: родный-родной, запасный-запасной, ножовый-ножевой, etc. Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 9:47

1.If the stem ends with -в-, -ф-, -б-, -п-, -д-, -т-, -з-, -с-, -л-, -м- и -р-, it's of the hard type: новый, новая, новые.

  1. Stems ending in –ж-, -ш-, -щ- и –ч-, with the stress on the stem, are of the mixed type.

Хоро́ший, хоро́шая, хорошее, хоро́шие.

3 Stems ending in -к-, -г-, -х- (with the stress on the stem) are of the mixed type.

Русский, русская, русское, русские.

Adjectives with the stress on the ending are of the mixed type (with г,к,х,ш,щ, ж)

Дорого́й, дорога́я, дорогое, дороги́е

Everything else should just be memorized and can't be explained by any rule, especially about 30-50 adjectives of the синий type, with a soft stem, ending in н.

Синий, синяя, синее, синие. весенний, вечерний, давний, древний, зимний, летний, новогодний, осенний, etc.

If you can't memorize them, just look them up in the dictionary.

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