Usage of Russian Verbs

As you may know already, there are three tenses (present, past, future) and two aspects (imperfective, perfective) in Russian. The following table demonstrates how Russian verbs are used depending on their tense and aspect.

TENSE AND ASPECT USAGE EXAMPLE SENTENCES
PAST TENSE, IMPERFECTIVE ASPECT Used to designate an action that began and ended at a particular time in the past; the result is not important for the speaker Вчера вечером он читал книгу.
  Used for an action that occurred over period of time but was completed in the past; the action, not duration, is emphasized Он плавал в бассейне весь день.
  Used for an activity that took place regularly in the past Во время каникул мы ходили в кино каждое утро.
  Used for actions occurred over period of time simultaneously but were completed in the past Когда я читал книгу, брат смотрел телевизор.
  Used when the result of an action is nullified, i.e. an opposite action occurred В комнате холодно, потому что я открывал окно. (i.e. открыл и закрыл)
  Used for an action that occurred over period of time but was completed in the past. The duration is emphasized Он строил дом целый месяц.
PAST TENSE, PERFECTIVE ASPECT Used to emphasize the result of an action that began and ended at a particular time in the past Вчера вечером я прочитал книгу от начала до конца.
  Used for a past action that had a result before another past action that also had a result Когда мы пришли в класс, учитель уже ушёл домой.

Мы успели сыграть партию в шахматы до того, как пришёл Андрей.

  Used when the result of an action remains Он надел новую рубашку. (i.e. он надел и сейчас она надета)
  Used to designate an action that began and ended at a particular time in the past; the time during which the result was achieved is emphasized Он построил дом за месяц.
PRESENT TENSE, IMPERFECTIVE ASPECT Used for a present state of affairs Андрей живёт в Москве.
  Used for a general fact Волга впадает в Каспийское море.

Солнце встаёт на востоке.

  Used for habitual actions Каждое утро он читает газеты.
  Used for future timetables and arrangements Поезд отходит в 12:00.

Решено. Мы идём в кино.

  Used for a specific action that is occurring На улице идёт сильный дождь.
  Used for an activity that takes place over period of time specified Они играют в теннис уже 2 часа.
FUTURE TENSE, IMPERFECTIVE ASPECT Used for an action that will be ongoing or repeated at a particular time in the future, but it is not known whether will be finished or not Завтра утром я буду играть в теннис.

Вечером она будет готовить ужин.

FUTURE TENSE, PERFECTIVE ASPECT Used for an action that will be finished at a particular time in the future Скоро он узнает хорошие новости.

Вечером она приготовит ужин.

Lessons on Russian Verbs

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