I'm learning Russian, and I see it mentioned in study material that Russian nouns have three declensions (склонения). In English-language learning material, the order of the declensions is like so:

  1. First declension: Most masculine and neuter nouns
  2. Second declension: Mostly feminine nouns ending in -а or -я
  3. Third declension: Mostly for feminine nouns ending in consonant + ь or ending in -мя

However, I've seen it mentioned a few times that the order of these declensions is different for Russian schools. Is there a standard order that native speakers are usually taught?

2 Answers 2


In Russian (and other postsoviet) schools the classification is given as follows:

  • I склонение (1st declension): masculine and feminine nouns ending in -а -я. This is what you refer to as Second Declension

  • II склонение (2nd declension): most masculine nouns not ending in -a and neuter nouns ending in -о and -е. Тhis is what you refer to as First Declension

  • III склонение (3rd declension): feminine nouns ending in ь (ь is always preceeded by a consonant)

  • Разносклоняемые существительные (11 or so irregular nouns ending in -мя and путь)

  • Несклоняемые существительные (undeclinable nouns): those that do not change, e.g. кенгуру.

This is by far not an ideal classification, but it's good enough and simple enough. An example of a more sophisticated classification is the classification by Zaliznyak, used in Russian Wictionary


Shvedova in Русская Грамматика calls the declension of стол the first declension, the declension of мама the second declension.

Zaliznyak in Русское именное словоизменение does the opposite.

Traditionally, the Russian declensions corresponded to Latin ones, so the traditional way (and I believe that's what is taught in schools) would correspond to Zaliznyak's opinion: declension I is for nouns ending in -a, , declension II is for masculine and neuter nouns.

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