The Present Tense in Russian

The Russian present tense form is very simple. When compared to English, the numerous variations like "I am working", "I do work" and "I have been working" do not exist in Russian. Instead, there is only one form similar to the English simple present tense (Subject + Main verb).

I work.
I do work.
I am working.
I have been working.
} Я работаю.

When to use present tense

The Russian present tense is used to express:

  1. Actions which are happening at the time of speaking
  2. Она едет на работу.
    (She is driving to work.)

  3. Actions which occur regularly
  4. Земля вращается вокруг солнца.
    (The earth revolves around the sun.)

  5. Habitual actions
  6. Каждое утро я встаю в 8 часов.
    (I get up at 8 o'clock every morning.)

  7. Actions which began in the past and are still happening or just stopped
  8. Я живу в Москве уже целый год.
    (I have been living in Moscow for a whole year.)

Present tense endings of Russian verbs

The endings of the present tense verbs (like "работаю" in the above example) change depending on person and number. In order to find the correct ending for a Russian verb you need to perform the following steps.

Step I: Conjugation

Determine the verb's conjugation class. There are two conjugations in Russian:

The First Conjugation includes verbs that have the following suffixes before the infinitive form ending in -ть:

  • а, я (читать, менять)
  • e (болеть)
  • ова (торговать)
  • ну (махнуть)

The Second Conjugation includes verbs that have the suffix и before the infinitive ending -ть:

  • и (ходить, говорить)

Step II: Stem

Determine the stem of the verb. First remove the last letter from the first-person singular (я) form of the verb, for example:

  • я работаю --> я работа

Second, remove the last three letters from the second-person singular (ты) form of the verb which is also known as the familiar you (thou), for example:

  • ты работаешь --> ты работа

Finally, compare both remainders. If they are the same, this is the stem you need. If they are different, use as the stem that remained from the familiar you form.

Note that you can look up the first-person and second-person forms of the Russian verbs in our verb conjugation dictionary.

Step III: Ending

Determine the ending to be added to the stem of the verb using this table.

  Person     First Conjugation   Second Conjugation 
  Я   -ю (-у) -ю (-у)
  Ты   -ешь -ишь
  Он / Она /Оно  -ет -ит
  Мы   -ем -им
  Вы   -ете -ите
  Они   -ют (-ут) -ят (-ат)

A few examples

Let's assume that your want to use the verbs "to work" and "to love" in the present tense when speaking Russian. The verb работать (to work) is the first conjugation verb, while the verb любить (to love) is the second conjugation verb. We already know that the stem of the verb работать is работа. The stem of the verb любить will be люб. Now you need to look in the table and add the proper ending to the stem of the verb. Depending on the grammatical person associated with the action (I, he, she, they, etc.) the resulting present tense forms will be:

  • Я работаю - I work.
  • Ты работаешь - You work.
  • Он работает - He works
  • Она работает - She works.
  • Мы работаем - We work.
  • Вы работаете - You work.
  • Они работают - They work.
        
  • Я люблю* - I love.
  • Ты любишь - You love.
  • Он любит - He loves.
  • Она любит - She loves.
  • Мы любим - We love.
  • Вы любите - You love.
  • Они любят - They love.

Stem consonant changes*

You might be wondering why the word люблю has the letter л in it when the stem was only люб. The answer is that sometimes the final consonant in the stem of the verb changes. There are certain rules which guide the alteration of the stem-final consonants. Let's take a look at them:

Stem-final consonant     Becomes     Example                        
г, д, зжреЗать - реЖу
т, ст, скщчиСТить - чиЩу
с, хшпиСать - пиШу
к, тчплаКать - плаЧу
ббллюБить - люБЛю
ввлготоВить - готоВЛю
ммлкорМить - корМЛю
пплтерПеть - терПЛю

Please, pay attention to the fact that these consonant change rules only apply to certain forms of the verbs. More specifically, the consonants undergo changes in the following verbs:

  • 1st person singular (я) verbs of the 2nd conjugation;
  • all persons of the 1st conjugation verbs ending in -ать;
  • four persons (ты/он/мы/вы) of the 1st conjugation verbs ending in -чь.

Related Lessons







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Word: лишь
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Pronunciation: [leesh]

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