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Verbs (Overview & Aspects)

Russian verbs come in two aspects: (imperfective & perfective); three tenses: (present, past & future); two conjugations in the present tense; two voices: (active & passive); three moods: (indicative, imperative & conditional); four participle forms: {present (active, passive), past (active, passive)}; two forms of gerund: (present, past).

Russian Aspects

What does an aspect mean?

An aspect is the imperfective or perfective form in the Russian verbs:

Imperfective is an incomplete, ongoing, or repeated action.
Perfective is a successfully completed action.

Usually the Russian perfective and imperfective are used in the past and future, for the present tense, you don’t have to worry about which to use, just use the imperfective, because actions are still in progress therefore not complete so there is no need to use the perfective.

For the Russian past tense, if the action is completed successfully or was not or will not be repeated then use the perfective aspect.
if otherwise then use the imperfective (even when you’re not sure, you can still use the imperfective)

For the Russian future tense, if the action will be completed successfully, and will not be repeated then use the perfective aspect.
if otherwise then use the imperfective (even when you’re not sure, you can still use the imperfective)

How to tell if a verb is imperfective or perfective?

 

These are some clues that give us a hint if the verb is imperfective or perfective:

Russian Imperfective & Perfective

Whether a prefix is used such as “про” before a verb or not, having a prefix would mean that the verb is perfective.

Whether there is a change in the stem/suffix or not.

Whether there is a change in the vowel before last or not.

Whether a “ыв” is placed inside a verb or not. If it is inside a verb that would mean that the verb is imperfective.

 

 

Russian Present Tense

 

As mentioned earlier, if the present tense is used then it means that it’s all about imperfective verbs.
Russian verbs are generally broken down into two groups the first and second, if you wonder how you would know which conjugation group a verb belongs to, just follow these steps: verbs ending in -ать or -сти belong to the 1st group, verbs ending in -ить belong to 2nd group, verbs ending in -еть can belong to either 1st or 2nd group.

In Russian like in many other languages, verbs in the present tense are conjugated by dropping the last two letters of the infinitive, usually "ть", and adding the appropriate ending ("ю", "ешь", "ет", "ем", "ете" or "ют"). The table below shows verbs of the first group:

 

First Group Conjugation, Russian Present Tense

работать :  To work
Я работ
аю :  I work
Ты работ
аешь: You work
Он/ Она/ Оно работа
ет: He/ She/ It works.
Мы работа
ем: We work
Вы работа
ете: You work.
Они работа
ют: They work.

 

понимать: To understand
Я понимаю: I understand.
Ты понимаешь: You understand.
Он/ Она/ Оно понимает:
He/ She/ It understands
Мы понимаем:
We understand.
Вы
понимаете: You understand.
Они понимают: They understand.

Знать: To know
Я знаю: I know.
Ты знаешь: You know.
Он/ Она/ Оно зна
ет: He/ She/ It knows.
Мы зна
ем: We know.
Вы зна
ете: You know.
Они зна
ют: They know.

 

 

 

The second group uses the endings ("ю" (or "у") "ишь" "ит" "им" "ите" "ят" (or "ат"), which replace "ить". As you may have noticed it’s almost like the way the first group is conjugated with a slight difference, like switching the е to и and so on.

Second Group Conjugation, Russian Present Tense

говорить: To speak.
Я говор
ю: I speak.
Ты говор
ишь: You speak.
Он/ Она/ Оно говор
ит: He/ She/ It Speaks.
Мы говор
им: We speak.
Вы говор
ите: You speak.
Они говор
ят: They speak.

Жить: To live.
Я жи
ву: I live.
Ты жи
вёшь: You live.
Он/ Она/ Оно жи
вёт: He/ She/ It lives.
Мы жи
вём: We live.
Вы жи
вёте: You live.
Они жи
вут: They live.

Ехать: To go (by vehicle).
Я е
ду: I go
Ты е
дешь: You go
Он/ Она/ Оно е
дет: He/ She/ It goes
Мы е
дем: We go
Вы е
дете: You go
Они е
дут: They go


Note:

Don’t place Ы, Я, or Ю after the letters (Г, К, Ж, Х, Ч, Ш, Щ), you should use (И, У, А) instead.

First person singular, change the last consonant this way:

д becomes ж
з becomes ж
c becomes ш
ct becomes щ
т becomes ч
б, в, м, п, ф add the letter л

 

These are some example of the Russian present tense:

 

Russian Present Tense

-We're reading a nice Russian book

- Мы читаем интересную русскую книгу.

-I love you so much

- Я тебя очень люблю.

-Russian is difficult for me.

- Русский язык - трудный для меня.

-He has many Russian friends.

- У него много русских друзей.

 

Russian Past Tense

In Russian to use the past tense you simply need to remove the final -ть of a verb, and add -л plus the appropriate final letter reflecting the gender of the subject (masculine, feminine, neutral or plural).
The Russian past tense involves the use of the imperfective and perfective aspects.

The imperfective in the past tense refers to an action in the past which was repeated, left unfinished, or both
The perfective in the past tense refers to an action, successfully completed once, and now is over.

The table below shows the changes occurring in both the imperfective and perfective.

Russian Past Tense, Perfective and Imperfective

Gender

Ending

Imperfective

(to go)

Perfective

(to say)

Masculine

он читал

он сказал

Feminine

-ла

она читала

она сказала

Neutral

-ло

оно читало

оно сказало

Plural

-ли

они читали

они сказали

 

The table below is to compare the same verb (to work) in Russian past tense (imperfective and perfective)

Russian Past Tense

 

Imperfective

Perfective

он

Работал 

Поработал 

она

Работала 

Поработала 

оно

Работало 

Поработало 

они

Работали 

Поработали 


As you may have noticed, Russian past tense has only 4 forms, masculine, feminine, neutral and plural, which is not bad compared to the six forms in the other tenses.

It’s quite easy to figure out which forum is used, the past tense verbs change by number (by adding и after the л we get the plural), and change by gender only in the singular form (by adding а after the л we get the feminine singular, by adding o after the л we get the neutral singular)

Masc.

Stem+л

Fem.

Stem+ла

Neut.

Stem+-ло

Plur.

Stem+-ли

 

here are some examples of Russian past tense in phrases:

 

Russian Past Tense

-I visited Russia last year.

- Я был в России в прошлом году.

-I bought a nice Russian book yesterday.

- Вчера я купил интересную русскую книгу.

-did you learn Russian by yourself?

- Ты сам выучил русский язык?

-Russian was difficult for me before.

- Раньше русский язык был трудным для меня.

 

Russian Future Tense

In the Russian future tense, if the action will be completed successfully, and will not be repeated then the perfective aspect should be used, actions that will be finished at a particular time in the future.
If otherwise (for example if the action will be repeated or will not be completed) then use the imperfective aspect (even when you’re not sure, you can still use the imperfective), to form the future in the imperfective aspect, just conjugate "Быть" + infinitive verb (example to read). Note that “Быть” is the verb “to be” in English.

 

Russian Future Tense (the imperfective)

Conjugation of "Быть" + infinitive

 

Я

буду

 

+ читать

 (Infinitive)

 

Ты

будешь

 

Он/Она/Оно

будет

 

Мы

будем

 

Вы

будете

 

Они

будут

 

The Russian future tense in the perfective is formed by adding the present tense endings to the stem. Russian perfective verbs don't have present tense meaning. Below is an example of a Russian verb in the future tense in the perfective and imperfective.

 

Russian Future Tense

(the imperfective/ perfective)

Verb “to give”

 

Imperfective

Perfective

Я

Буду Давать 

Дам 

Ты

Будешь Давать 

Дашь 

Он/Она/Оно

Будет Давать 

Даст 

Мы

Будем Давать 

Дадим 

Вы

Будете Давать 

Дадите 

Они

Будут Давать 

Дадут 

 

These are some examples of Russian future tense:

 

Russian Future Tense

-I will go to Russia next year.

- Я поеду в Россию в следующем году.

-She will learn Russian with me.

- Она будет изучать русский язык со мной.

-Will you come tomorrow?

- Ты прийдёшь (on foot) / приедешь (by vehicle) завтра?

-I will be able to speak Russian without problems.

- Я буду свободно говорить по-русски

 

 

 

Russian Verbs of Motion

 

 

Russian motion verbs convey more details than the English motion verbs, Russian verbs of motion tell you how the action was carried out (on foot or by vehicle), and also the direction (round-trip or one-way, one-time trip). Russian verbs of motion are broken down into three aspects: the progressive imperfective (only in the present tense), the interactive imperfective, and the perfective.

If you can't decide whether to refer to motion on foot or motion by vehicle, and there is no illogic in choosing one or the other, simply use motion on foot.

Imperfective verbs refer to motions which follow more than one direction (i.e. a round trip/there and back), or happens habitually or more than once other cases is if the motion has no real destination but the starting point.

Perfective verbs refer to a motion in the past that occurred once and in one direction, such as a direct flight, or such an action that will occur in the future.

And since we’re talking about the future now, we will focus on the perfective verbs in the future, if the action will be completed successfully, and will not be repeated then use the perfective aspect..

These are some tips on how to figure out what form a certain motion verb is using, for example the perfective is always formed by adding the prefix по- to the progressive form. The iterative imperfective usually ends on (и~ or ай~).

Russian Reflexive Verbs

Russian reflexive verbs are different than English reflexive verbs, because in English you can go without mentioning the direct object, for instance I shaved (you don’t need to say I shaved myself) but in Russian you can’t make that expression without inserting the “myself” the Russian way.

Russian uses a suffix (-ся) on the verb to indicate where a direct object is identical with the subject. So to express a reflexive form in Russian, a reflexive particle (-ся) is added after consonants and (-сь) after vowels to the verb.

 

Russian has a certain number of verbs that can be used as reflexive verbs or regular verbs; also, many times Russian uses reflexive verbs where English doesn’t.

 

 

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Russian Verbs, Aspects, Russian Imperfective, Perfective, Present Tense, Russian Past Tense, Future Tense, Motion Verbs, Russian Reflexive Verbs.

 

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