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What gender is the word кофе?

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I was reading a few Russian blogs and came to wonder about the word "кофе". Some people say "горячий кофе" as if it's a masculine noun but others treat it as a neuter noun and say "горячее кофе". I think it looks like a neuter noun because it ends with -e like "морe" and "поле". So is the word "кофе" masculine or neuter?

And I guess there is one more question about declension of the word "кофе". It doesn't seem like it can be declined, is it? Could someone explain how to use it in different cases?

asked Jan 15, 2013 by Barbora (300 points)

4 Answers

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Best answer

It should be masculine but neuter gender has become acceptable lately. As of September 1, 2009 the Russian Ministry of Education approved the use of either masculine or neuter gender. If you want to please as many people as possible, then use masculine gender because the majority of Russian speakers have known the masculine form to be the correct one.

The word "кофе" doesn't decline (i.e. doesn't change by gender and number). However, some people like to use diminutive forms like "кофеёк" and "кофей" which can be declined. One might say very colloquially to a friend "Не хочешь ли кофейку?" (Would you like some coffee?)
If you try to decline the word "кофе" then it will sound funny and incorrect. But that's being done to achieve a humorous effect. For example, you can use the genitive case and say "нет кофя" (there is no coffee) to show irony or ignorance. Again, such usage is not standard.
answered Jan 15, 2013 by Alex (13,670 points)
selected Jan 15, 2013 by Barbora
0 votes

It's one of the imported words which cannot be declined, so it stays the same throughout all cases. The dictionary lists it as masculine, but I suppose people use it with neuter adjectives exactly because it ends in -e. I guess that's strictly speaking an error, though at the end of the day it's common usage which defines what's right, and not a dictionary.

answered Jan 15, 2013 by Bitpicker (1,130 points)
I think it'll be better to use right variant - masculine gender cause ppl make a lot of mistakes and we shouldn't copy them.
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According to the most contemporary vocabularies both ways of usage (as neuter and as masculine) are acceptable. Up to about 1950-s or 1960-s masculine was considered only correct way but people mostly used the neuter. Using masculine mostly has effect of grammatical snobbery. Some people even nowadays like to insist on the masculine variant as only correct, it is one of the points for the amateur grammatical "holy wars".
answered Jan 15, 2013 by it-ogo (18,220 points)
0 votes

Вообще (если это кому-нибудь конечно интересно) мужской род слова "кофе" объясняется ранее используемым словом "кофий". Сейчас слово "кофий" считается устаревшим и так почти никто не говорит. Хотя мне например куда больше нравится старый вариант :)

answered Jan 15, 2013 by Sascha_K (320 points)
Насколько мне известно, во французском языке, откуда это слово заимствовано в русский, оно мужского рода (café). Потому и.
Я всегда говорю "кофий" as a joke! Кофейку не хотите? :)
it-ogo, кофе и кафе это не совсем одно и тоже, не так ли? Первое - это заведение, второе - напиток. Alex, "кофейку" - это как раз таки производное от современного слова "кофе". Если иди от старого, то получим: "Кофия не хотите?" (или если тоже "уменьшительно"), то "Кофийка не хотите?" Помоему так.
Теперь буду говорить "Кофийка не хотите?" :)
Фасмер говорит, что заимствовано скорее всего из английского, где родов нет. Однако аргументацию аналогии с французским встречал и оно выглдит правдоподобным. Кофе, как предмет роскоши, изначально, видимо, чаще использовалось франкоговорящей русской аристократией, чем простонародьем.