Conquer Russian Present Tense: A Step-by-Step Verb Mastery

The present tense in Russian is the easiest tense. Yes, you have to remember the conjugation forms, but the usage is very basic. No perfective forms are used.

Unlike English, Russian does not have a direct equivalent of continuous forms using verb forms like “-ing.” Instead, it relies on context and specific time adverbs to convey ongoing actions.

The present tense in Russian refers to actions or states that are happening in the present moment. It is used to talk about routines, habits, general truths, and actions happening at the present time. To form the present tense, we typically use verb conjugation, which means that the verb changes its ending depending on the subject of the sentence.

For example:

Он сейчас спит. – He is sleeping now.

Я все ещё готовлю обед. – I am still cooking lunch.

To give you a better understanding, let’s take a look at how the present tense is formed and used in Russian.

Present Tense in Russian

Formation of the Present Tense

When we talk about the present tense, we change (conjugate) the verb. Therefore, each verb in the present tense has six forms. Fortunately, there are patterns for each group of verbs, and there are only two groups.

To detemine what group a verb belongs to, we look at the infinitive form.

The easy part: the present tense verb form used with the pronoun я (I) has the same ending for two groups:

-у/-ю

Examples:

  • я смотрю – I look/watch (I’m looking/watching)
  • я верю – I believe
  • я помню – I remember
  • я знаю – I know
  • я играю – I play (I’m playing)
  • я вижу – I see
  • я сижу – I’m seating
  • я бегу – I’m running

After vowels we always use “ю”: знаю, играю, успеваю etc.

But, as you can see, “ю” and “у” are also used after consontants. Which ending do we choose in each case? It’s complicated again. We need to determine which group the verb belongs to.

So, what are the groups, after all? Here they are.

Verb conjugation pattens in present tense

1st Conjugation Type

Most Russian verbs belong to this group, which includes all verbs except those that end in -ить (there are exceptions, though).

For this type of verbs we have the following endings in the present tense:

читать (to read)

я читаю – I read

ты читаешь – you read

он/она/оно читают – he/she/it reads

мы читаем – we read

вы читаете – you (plural) read

они читают – they read

Another example:

прятать (to hide)

я прячу – I hide

ты прячешь – you hide

он/она/оно прячет -he/she/it hides

мы прячем – we hide

вы прячете – you (plural) hide

они прячут – they hide

As you can see, the endings “-ешь”, “-ет”, “-ем”, “-ете” are very typical. Both examples have similar forms. But we can also notice that the first and the last forms may have either “-у(т)” or “-ю(т)” endings.

If it’s the 1st conjugation, we always use “ю(т)” after vowels and “у(т)” after consonants.

This group also includes four -ить verbs: брить (to shave), стелить (to lay [a carpet, a tablecloth]), зиждиться (to be based, to be grounded), зыбиться (sway [old, not used anymore]).

There are also some exceptions ending in -ать and -еть that belong to the second group:

  1. слышать (to hear), дышать (to breathe), держать (to hold), гнать (to persecute)
  2. видеть (to see), ненавидеть (to hate), смотреть (to look/watch), сидеть (to sit), обидеть (to offend), вертеть (to spin), терпеть (to tolerate), зависеть (to depend)

See Also: Future Tense in Russian

2nd Conjugation Type (Verbs ending in -ить)

Verbs in the 2nd conjugation group end in -ить. In the present tense, these verbs typically replace the -ить ending with the following:

говорить (to speak)

я говорю – I speak

ты говоришь – you speak

он/она/оно говорит – he/she/it speaks

мы говорим – we speak

вы говорите – you (plural) speak

они говорят – they speak

Another example:

хвалить (praise)

я хвалю – I praise

ты хвалишь – you praise

он хвалит – he praises

мы хвалим – we praise

вы хвалите – you (plural) praise

они хвалят -they praise

If it’s the 2nd conjugation, we always use -у/-ат after г, к, ж, ч, ш and щ for я/они form:

учить (to teach, to learn)

я учу – I teach/learn

они учат – they teach/learn

Don’t forget that the verbs брить, стелить, зиждиться, зыбиться are not included in this group. Fortunately, they are quite rare verbs.

 

брить (to shave) стелить (to lay)
я бре́ю мы бре́ем я стелю́ мы сте́лем
ты бре́ешь вы бре́ете ты сте́лешь вы сте́лете
он бре́ет они бре́ют он сте́лет они сте́лют

 

And remember the verbs like слышать or терпеть that I listed before. They belong to this type as well.

Let’s compare the two conjugation patterns:

Verb conjugation in Russian

Verbs formed with prefixes and the postfix -сь/-ся (reflexive verbs) are of the same conjugation group and have the same endings as their corresponding verbs without prefixes and postfixes.

Irregular Verbs

There are irregular verbs in Russian that have their own unique conjugation patterns in the present tense.

For example:

есть (to eat)

я ем – I eat / I’m eating

ты ешь – you eat / you’re eating

он (она, оно) ест – he (she, it) eats / he (she, it) is eating

мы едим – we eat / we’re eating

вы едите – you eat / you’re eating

они едят – they eat / they’re eating

The verb быть (to be) has only one form in the present tense – есть.

The verb давать (to give) loses its “ва” part:

я даю – I give

ты даёшь – you give

он даёт – he gives

мы даём – we give

вы даёте – you (plural) give

они дают – they give

The most difficult part is that some verbs change their stem, partly or completely.

писать – пишу, пишем

брать – беру, берём

жить – живу, живём

плакать – плачу, плачем

спать – сплю, спим

шить – шью, шьём

Remember these verb forms in order to avoid making mistakes when conjugating them. When you have doubts, you can always rely on online conjugators to assist you.

Usage of the Present Tense

The present tense in the Russian language serves as a versatile tool to express actions, habits, and general truths in the present moment.

Я учусь в университете. – I study at the university.

Они играют в футбол на стадионе. – They play/they are playing football at the stadium.

Ты пишешь стихи? – Do you write poems?

Я читаю интересную книгу. – I am reading an interesting book.

Она говорит по-английски очень хорошо. – She speaks English very well.

Он мечтает о большом успехе. – He dreams of great success.

Expressing Present Actions and States

The primary purpose of the present tense is to describe ongoing actions, activities, or states in the present moment. Whether it’s talking about what you’re currently doing, describing actions of others, or conveying present conditions, the present tense in Russian is your go-to resource.

Examples:

Она играет на пианино. – She is playing the piano.

Он слушает музыку. – He is listening to music.

На улице идёт дождь. – It’s raining outside.

Я говорю по телефону сейчас. – I’m on the phone right now.

Describing Habits and Routines

The present tense is employed to discuss habits, repeated actions, or routines. By using the present tense, you can express activities that occur regularly, helping others understand your daily or weekly activities.

Examples:

Он ходит в спортзал каждую субботу. – He goes to the gym every Saturday.

Я просыпаюсь в 7 утра. – I wake up at 7 in the morning.

Он выпивает чашку кофе перед работой. – He drinks a cup of coffee before work.

Мы обычно завтракаем вместе. – We usually have breakfast together.

Ты часто ходишь в кино? – Do you often go to the movies?

Вечером я смотрю фильмы или сериалы. – In the evening, I watch movies or TV series.

Он всегда улыбается, когда видит своих друзей. – He always he sees his friends.

Я читаю перед сном. – I read before going to sleep.

Conveying General Truths and Permanent Situations

The present tense allows you to express general truths, facts, and permanent situations that hold true beyond the immediate instance. It is used to state facts about the world, characteristic qualities, or unchanging circumstances.

Examples:

Вода кипит при 100 градусах Цельсия. – Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius.

Солнце восходит на востоке и заходит на западе. – The sun rises in the east and sets in.

Воздух содержит кислород, необходимый для дыхания. – The air contains oxygen necessary for breathing.

Растения нуждаются в свете для фотосинтеза. – Plants require light for photosynthesis.

Человек дышит воздухом для поддержания жизни. – A person breathes air to sustain life.

Indicating Future Actions

While the present tense primarily represents present actions, it can also convey future actions in Russian when combined with adverbs or time indicators. This usage suggests scheduled events or actions that are planned to occur in the near future.

Example:

Завтра я ухожу в отпуск. – Tomorrow I am leaving for vacation.

На следуюших выходных я еду в Лондон. – I’m going to London next weekend.

The present tense in the Russian language serves as a versatile tool for expressing present actions, habits, general truths, and future events. By mastering its usage, learners can convey their thoughts, describe routines, and communicate effectively in various contexts. Remember to pay attention to adverbs, time indicators, and additional contextual cues to provide additional clarity when using the present tense.

As you continue on your language journey, practice using the present tense through conversations, reading materials, and writing exercises. Embrace the flexibility of the present tense, and with time and dedication, you’ll confidently navigate its usage to express yourself expressively and accurately in Russian.

Remember, verb conjugation is an essential aspect of forming the present tense in Russian. Learning and practicing verb forms will help you express yourself accurately and clearly.

It’s important to note that Russian and English express ideas differently, so direct one-to-one equivalences may not always exist between the two languages.

Exercises

Ready to practice your skills? These exercises are designed solid understanding and usage of the present Russian. The exercises range from simple fill-in-the-blank sentences to creating your own given prompts.

1. Complete the following sentences by conjugating the verbs in the present tense:

  • Я (говорить) по-русски.
  • Ты (писать) письмо.
  • Он (работать) в офисе.
  • Мы (учиться) в универе.
  • Вы (готовить) обед.
  • Они (петь) песню.

2. Select the correct verb form in the present tense:

  • Ты (ходешь/ходишь) в школу каждый день?
  • Он (любим/любит/любет) читать книги.
  • Она (пишит/пишет) письмо другу.

3. Create sentences using the present tense:

  • Я / читать / книга.
  • Мы / учить / русский язык.
  • Он / играть / в футбол.
  • Вы / жить / в Москве.
  • Она / плавать / в бассейне.
Answers:

  1. говорю, пишешь, работает, учимся, готовите, поют
  2. ходишь, любит, пишет
  3. “Я читаю книгу”, “Мы учим русский язык”, “Он играет в футбол”, “Вы живёте в Москве”, “Она плавает в бассейне”

I hope this lesson will be helpful for you! If you have any more questions or need further assistance, feel free to ask.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

11 + = 17