Person and Number of the Verb

All forms of the Russian verb, except the infinitive, change in number. There are singular and plural verb forms. To illustrate this, let's look at past, present and future tense forms of the indicative verb "ходить" (to go).

Change of the verb in person
and number
 

  Singular Plural
Past tense ходил ходили
Present tense хожу ходим
Future simple tense пройду пройдём
Future compound tense буду ходить будем ходить

The concept of the indicative mood was mentioned above. The indicative mood (изъявительное наклонение) is used to talk about actions which occured in past, occur presently, and will occur in future. For example,

Школьник учит уроки.
The schoolboy is learning his lessons.

Школьник учил уроки.
The schoolboy was learning his lessons.

Школьник будет учить уроки.
The schoolboy will be learning his lessons.

Russian verbs also change in person. The grammatical term "person" refers to those who take part in speech either directly or indirectly.

The first person verbs designate that the action is being performed by a speaker, as in:

В свободное время я читаю книги, общаюсь с друзьями, слушаю музыку, или просто лежу на диване.

Here the verbs читаю ([I] read), общаюсь ([I] converse), слушаю ([I] listen), and лежу ([I] lie) mean that the person who is speaking performs the actions.

The second person verbs designate that the action is being performed by a collocutor. 

Ты, волна моя, волна!
Ты пуглива и вольна;
Плещешь ты, куда захочешь,
Ты морские камни точишь,
Топишь берег ты земли,
Подымаешь корабли --
Не губи ты нашу душу:
Выплесни ты нас на сушу!

In this excerpt from a poem by Pushkin, the verbs плещешь ([you] slpash), точишь, топишь (sink), подымаешь (raise), губи (ruin), and выплесни (splash out) are used to show that the actions are performed by the wave.

The third person designates that the action is being performed by someone or something that is being talked about, i.e. by an indirect participant of speech. For example, 

Черёмуха душистая, развесившись, стоит,
А зелень золотистая на солнышке
горит.

Here стоит ([it] stands) and горит (burn) refer to the object which is spoken about, namely черёмуха (the cherry).

In Russian, verb endings indicate person and number of the verb.

 

Remember:

Second person singular verbs are to be written with ь, for example: читаешь ([you] read), гордишься ([you] are proud), целишься ([you] aim).

Test yourself:

a. Define the person of the verbs in the following sentences?

1. О, вы не знаете украинской ночи!
2. Дерево растёт в лесу.
3. Одну молитву чудную твержу я наизусть.

А. First person
B. Second person
C. Third person


b. Define if the following verbs are to be written the "ь" letter or without?

1. Молчиш...
2. Заиграеш...
3. Скроеш...ся
4. Проговориш...ся

А. with "ь"
B. without "ь"

Check answers:

a.1-B 2-C 3-A; b. 1,2,3,4-A (молчишь, заиграешь, скроешься, проговоришься)

 







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