"Yes, my dad is there."
Translation:Да, мой папа там.
Just the endings, for the most part. The basic scheme is:
- -а/-я — feminine. If it means a person who is male (dad, grandfather etc.), then masculine. E.g., ма́ма, Мари́я, А́нна, земля́, Антаркти́да, луна́
- consonant-ending — masculine. E.g., мальчик, брат, велосипе́д
- -о/-е — neuter. E.g., я́блоко, молоко́, по́ле, мо́ре
- ь-ending nouns might be feminine or masculine. Girls are twice as numerous as boys here:)
и/ы is reserved for plurals.
If you mean an indeclinable foreign noun that defies these patterns, better memorize the gender at first. Usually -о/-е is a "bad" pattern. If, on the other hand, a foreign noun is borrowed in a way that looks plausible as masculine noun or a feminine one — it behaves as usual:
- FEM: тра́сса, хи́мия, пане́ль, дре́ль, моде́ль
- MASC: компью́тер, прое́кт, контро́ль, мо́дуль
P.S. There are ten neuter nouns in Russian that end in -мя. A beginner should know имя (name) and время(time). As for пламя (flame), племя (tribe), знамя (banner), бремя (burden) and others — they can wait.
"There is virtually no difference"? LOL, as a Portuguese-speaker, I can't immagine myself writing poetry without gender concordance; it's just too valuable of a tool. Half of the boredom and inefficiency of English stems from its lack of proper declination.
The hoot is that мой is masculine, and моя is female. Is your father female? just in case he is, you can use моя to describe that impressive situation; otherwise, it's мой. Those are different concepts. Period.