How to Use the Verb БЫТЬ in Present, Past and Future Tenses

The verb быть [byt’] in Russian has many forms. But we use it differently. I guess it’s much easier to deal with it in russian than in English. Let’s find out why.

Быть in Present

The verb to be has only one form in the present tense – есть [est’]. But it is almost not used.

We don’t say “I am a student” or “He is at work”. You have to say instead: “I student”, “He at work” and so on.

Я врач. – I’m a doctor.

Она ещё ребёнок. – She’s still a child.

Мы в городе. – We’re in the city.

Есть is used in “someone has” construction, by which you can indicate possession.

У меня есть машина. – I have a car.

У тебя есть работа. – You have a job.

У неё есть сестра. – She has a sister.

У них есть дом. – They have a house.

Past Tense

In the past tense the verb быть has four different forms. The selection of a form depends on the gender and number of the subject.

Masc. Fem. Neut.
я, ты, он был была было
вы, мы, они были


It’s quite easy. If you are a woman, say ‘я была‘, if you’re a man – ‘я был‘.

Verb to be in Russian past tense


Она была актрисой. – She was an actress.

Это было вчера. – It was yesterday.

Вы были там. – You were there.

Verb byt in Russian usage

Future Tense

Now it gets a little bit more difficult.

In the future tense, the verb doesn’t change its form according to gender. Nevertheless, it has six different forms.

я буду – I will (be)

ты будешь – you will (be)

он (она, оно) будет – he will (be)

мы будем – we will (be)

вы будете – you will (be)

они будут – they will (be)

Example Sentences:

Я буду делать уроки. – I’m going to do my homework.

Ты будешь смотреть этот сериал? – Will you watch this TV-show?

Мой брат завтра будет в Москве. – My brother will be in Moscow tomorrow.

Она не будет сегодня спать. – She won’t sleep tonight.

Когда вы переедете к нам, мы будем уже старыми. – When you move in with us, we’ll be already old.

Эти дома скоро будут снесены. – These houses will be demolished soon.

Watch the video version of this lesson to make sure you get it right.

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