Russian Vocabulary (and Wisdom)

How to say "to be" in Russian

This Russian word is one of the top 1000 words in Russian. The complete list of most common Russian words is available here.

быть

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Meaning: to be, exist

Pronunciation: [bit']

Part of speech: verb (imperfective aspect)

Rank: #9 (see frequency list)



To be free as a bird. Photo by skyseeker CC-SA2.0
 Example sentences:
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    Сего́дня я была́ на рабо́те.
  • I was at work today. (said by female)
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    Быть и́ли не быть -- вот в чём вопро́с.
  • To be, or not to be: that is the question. (Shakespeare)
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    Но́чью был си́льный ве́тер.
  • There was a strong wind at night.
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    Кто бу́дет ко́фе?
  • Who would like some coffee?
  •  literal  Who will [have] coffee
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    Я бу́ду до́ма ве́чером.
  • I'll be at home in the evening.
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    Вчера́ мы бы́ли в кино́.
  • We were watching movies yesterday.
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    Незнако́мец был в чёрном пальто́.
  • The stranger was wearing a black coat.
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    Бу́дьте добры́, переда́йте мне биле́т.
  • Please, pass the ticket to me.
  •  literal  Be so kind, pass the ticket to me.
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    Я бу́ду о́чень призна́телен, е́сли Вы мне помо́жете.
  • I will be very grateful if you help me. (polite or plural, said by male)
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    Он был не в состоя́нии пойти́ с на́ми.
  • He wasn't able to come with us.


 Idioms and set expressions:
  • Быть на коне. = To be in the saddle.
  • Быть на ножах с кем-либо. = To be at daggers drawn with somebody.
  • Быть под каблуком у жены. = To be tied to wife's apron-strings.
  • быть в состоянии = to be able
  • быть впору = to fit
  • быть начеку = to be on the alert
  • Как быть? = What shall we do?
  • так и быть = all right, very well; so be it
 Proverbs and sayings:
  • Будь что будет.
  • Be that as it may.
  • Будет и на нашей улице праздник.
  • There will be our turn to triumph.
  • Быть в доме хозяином.
  • To rule the roost.
 Verb conjugation:

Present Tense

I есть (omitted)
you (singular) есть (omitted)
he, she, it есть (omitted)
we есть (omitted)
you (plural) есть (omitted)
they есть (omitted)

Past Tense

I, you (singular), he был
she была́
it бы́ло
we, you (plural), they бы́ли

Future Simple Tense

The imperfective verb быть is not used in the Future Simple Tense. Use the perfective verb побыть instead.


Future Compound Tense

I буду  
you (singular) будешь  
he, she, it будет  
we будем  
you (plural) будете  
they будут  

Imperative Mood (Command Form)

you (singular) будь
you (plural) бу́дьте

View full conjugation table for the verb pair быть/побыть

Phrase recordings: Copyright(c) 2011 MasterRussian.com. All rights reserved.
Word recordings: Copyright(c) 2006 Streit Goulnara, Streit Eric, Vion Nicolas. Copyright(c) 2007 S. Sakhno, N. Vion. Distributed under CC-BY.



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