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I've read that all month names are masculine, regardless of their ending. Is "полгода" masculine simply because it sort of has to do with months, i.e. 6 months? Or is there another rule that makes "полгода" masculine, like durations of time being masculine? Or is there no explanation for "полгода" being masculine?

My reference "полгода" being masculine was the OpenRussian database, but it could be that this is incorrect. Wiktionary suggests that the word is neuter, but this also makes little sense to me.

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Полгода is a plurale tantum: it doesn't decline, but governs the plural number in dependent words:

  • За следующие полгода в Петрограде расстреляли целых 512 человек. [И. Ю. Стогов. Буги-вуги-Book. Авторский путеводитель по Петербургу, которого больше нет (2012)]

  • — Я, знаешь ли, за последние полгода почти с кровати не вставал. [М. К. Кантор. В ту сторону (2009)]

In modern Russian, it doesn't really make a lot of sense to put a gender on a plurale tantum, less so an undeclinable one, because it wouldn't manifest itself grammatically. The only way to figure out the gender of words like сени, сани, ножницы etc. is knowing their etymology.

In the pre-reform Russian orthography, you would need to know the gender of pluralia tantum to use the correct form of their dependent adjectives in writing. Unfortunately, authors used both первыя полгода and первые полгода about equally frequently, so this is no indication either.

There exist related words *полугод (it's defective and only used in the genitive: в течение полугода and similar) and полугодие "semester; a period from January to June or from July to December". The former is masculine, the latter is neuter.

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По́лго́да, по́лчаса́, по́лкиломе́тра, etc. agree with plural adjectives:

  • пе́рвые по́лча­са́;
  • э́ти по́лго́да;
  • ка́ждые по́лки­ло­ме́тра;
  • Э́ти по́лме́тра — ли́шние.

Predicates can be either plural:

  • пе́рвые по́лча­са́ про­ш­ли́ не­за­ме́тно;
  • э́ти по́лго́да бы́ли про́жи­ты спо­ко́йно;
  • по́лве­д­ра́ во­ды́, ко­то́рые я при­нёс, ос­та́лись не­т­ро́ну­ты­ми;
  • про́йде­ны по­с­ле́дние по́лки­ло­ме́тра;
  • по́лта­б­ле́тки ас­пи­ри́на ока­за́ли своё де́йствие

or neuter:

  • про­ш­ло́ по­л­ча­са́;
  • для э́то­го по­т­ре́бу­е­т­ся по́лго́да;
  • ос­та́лось по́лве­д­ра́ во­ды́;
  • по́лде́ла сде́ла­но;
  • по́лжи́зни про́жи­то;
  • про́йде­но по́лки­ло­ме́тра

See the Grammatical Dictionary of Russian for when to use which:

https://gramdict.ru/declension/paragraphs#para1

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