Alex
Lesson 62 - Verbs. Present Tense.

Uses of the Present Tense

You will be pleased to know that Russian has only one present tense. Russian verbs change their endings depending on the subject. This takes place a little in English, but not as much. (Example: I work, he works). It happens according to two different patterns known as the first conjugation, and the second conjugation. (There are also some irregular verbs).

Both these patterns are quite similar, and once you get a hold of it, it is not going to look too complex.

 

The present tense forms of verbs in Russian may describe:

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Events happening now:

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She is sleeping (now).

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Habitual actions:

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I read (every day).

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General facts of the truth:

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Russia shares borders with Norway and Finland.

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Actions that have begun in the past and continue through the present:

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I have been reading (for two hours).

</td> </tr> </tbody> </table>

 

Verb Endings in the Present Tense

Russian present tense verbs agree with their subjects in person and number. Russian verbs have two conjugation patterns for the present tense that are called first conjugation and second conjugation. These conjugation patterns differ by vowel used in the endings. The table below represents regular endings of Russian vebs in the present tense:

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Person

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Subject

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1st Conjugation

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2nd Conjugation

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Singular

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1st Person

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Я

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-ю (-у)

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-ю (-у)

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2nd Person

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Ты

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-ешь/-ёшь

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-ишь

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3d Person

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Он, она, оно

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-ет/-ёт

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-ит

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Plural

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1st Person

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Мы

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-ем/-ём

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-им

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2nd Person

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Вы

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-ете/-ёте

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-ите

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3d Person

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Они

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-ют (-ут)

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-ят (-ат)

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In the first singular form and the third plural form, the endings -у, -ут, -aт are used if one of the following is true:

1.    Present Tense stem ends in a hard consonant.

2.    Аfter consonants ж, ч, ш, щ.

The first conjugation verbs use endings with the letter ё (-ёшь, -ёт, -ём, ‑ёте) if the stress falls on the ending.

Verb Forms in the Present Tense

Usually, the conjugation type of verbs can be defined by its infinitive. Infinitives of most first conjugation verbs have the ending -ать/-ять, and infinitives of second conjugation verbs often end with -ить.

However, this is not true for all Russian verbs: some Russian verbs of the first conjugation end with -ить, like the verb жить “to live”, and some verbs of the second conjugation end in -ать, like слышать “to hear”. That is why a consultation with dictionary may be required to ascertain the conjugation type of a Russian verb.

The above-mentioned endings should be added to the present tense stem of the verb. In fact, the determination of the present tense stem is the most important and difficult moment in conjugation of Russian verbs.

The formation of the present tense stem of Russian verbs will be discussed in greater detail later. Below, I will provide just general guidelines.

The present tense stem is, of course, related to the infinitive of the verb. For example, there are many Russian verbs of the first conjugation type whose present tense stem can be defined by dropping the ending -ть from their infinitive, and many verbs of the second conjugation type have the present tense stem which is formed by dropping -ить from the infinitive.

Thus, the present tense stem of the first conjugation verb работать is работа-, and the stem of the second conjugation verb говорить is говор-.

Below, you can see the present tense forms of these verbs:

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Работать (to work)

(1st conjugtion)

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Говорить (to talk)

(2nd сonjugation)

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Stem

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работа-

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говор-

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Я

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работаю

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говорю

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Ты

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работаешь

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говоришь

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Он, она, оно

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работает

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говорит

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Мы

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работаем

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говорим

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Вы

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работаете

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говорите

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Они

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работают

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говорят

</td> </tr> </tbody> </table>

 

At the same time, there are also many Russian verbs that do not match this model, and it is not easy to define their present tense stem from their infinitive. Plus, a lot of verbs incur alternations of the final stem consonant, especially verbs of the second conjugation in the first singular person.

Moreover, certain verbs have a shifting stress, for example, in some present forms the stress falls on their endings while in other forms the the stress falls on the stem of the verb.

Let”s take a look of such "particular" verbs:

The 1st conjugation verb жить “to live” (it is the 1st conjugation type in spite of the fact that it ends with -ить) and the 2nd conjugation verb любить “to love”.

The verb жить has the present tense stem жив- in all persons and takes streessed endings. The feature of the verb любить is that its stem has an additional letter - in the first singular person, and the stress falls either on the ending (in the 1st singular) or on the stem (in all other forms):

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жить

(1st conjuagtion)

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любить

(2nd сonjugation)

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Stem

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жив-

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люб(л)-

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Я

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живу

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люблю

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Ты

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живёшь

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любишь

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Он, она, оно

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живёт

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любит

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Мы

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живём

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любим

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Вы

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живёте

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любите

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Они

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живут

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любят

</td> </tr> </tbody> </table>

 

As you can see, the following facts are important to form the present tense of Russian verbs:

     You should know the conjugation type of the verb in order to use appopriate endings.

    It is necessary to define the present tense stem of the verb.

You need to know whether the verb has a fixed or shifting stress.

Jun 28, 2012 3:25 AM
Alex
Language Skills
English, Russian, Ukrainian
Learning Language