Everything you need to know about conjugating Russian verbs in the present tense as a beginner

Everything you need to know about conjugating Russian verbs in the present tense as a beginner

In Russian the endings of verbs change for each grammatical person in a process known as conjugation (спряжение). The grammatical persons referred to, are: I, you, (singular and informal), he, she, we, you (plural and formal singular) and they

The renown Russian linguist Zaliznyak distinguishes a whopping 16 main verb classes in Russian. Yes, that’s right. There are precisely sixteen key variations to the conjugation system, which tends to scare off beginners. Therefore, a simplified version is typically taught, introducing learners to the two main conjugation endings. However, knowledge of the 16-class system is required for greater accuracy in speaking Russian, as the stems of Russian verbs may undergo many spelling changes, or differ in the present and past tenses.

All verbs possess one of two infinitive endings, which are removed before the verb is conjugated: -ть, or more rarely, -ти (although -ся/сь/ся- may be added after for reflexive verbs)

Conjugation describes the way in which the form of a verb changes in order to reflect the grammaticalgender,number, tense, or verbal aspect of the subject(s) of a sentence. In Russian, there are two types of conjugation patterns which verbs follow, depending on the ending of the verb in the infinitive form. The first set of these verbs are called verbs of the first conjugation and the second set of these verbs are called verbs of the second conjugation

First conjugation verbs are typically those which possess any endingbut -ить. Such verbs are conjugated by removing -ть and replacing it with the appropriate endings for the grammatical person as follows:

Russian pronoun

English pronoun

Ending

Russian present tense example

English present tense example

Russian present tense example

English present tense example

я

I

ю or у

чита́ю

read

живу́

live

ты

you (informal)

ешь or ёшь

чита́ешь

read

живёшь

live

он/она /оно

he/she/it

ет or ёт

чита́ет

reads

живёт

lives

мы

we

ем or ём

чита́ем

read

живём

live

вы

you (plural, formal)

ете or ёте

чита́ете

read (plural, formal)

живёте

live (plural, formal)

они

they

ют or ут

чита́ют

read

живу́т

live

Note that the second person singular ending –ешь-, the third person singular ending –ет, the first person plural endingм and the second person plural ending –ете, are unstressed. However, in the variant with the letter ё, this letter isalways stressed (that is, it is always indicative of the stressed syllable).

Second conjugation verbs typically end in -ить. These verbs are conjugated by removing -ть and replacing it with the appropriate endings for the grammatical person as follows:


Russian pronoun

English pronoun

Ending

Russian present tense example

English present tense example

Russian present tense example

English present tense example

я

I

ю or у

смотрю́

watch

ворошу́

stir

ты

you (informal)

ишь

смо́тришь

watch

вороши́шь

stir

он/она /оно

he/she/it

ит

смо́трит

watches

вороши́т

stirs

мы

we

им

смо́трим

watch

вороши́м

stir

вы

you (plural, formal)

ите

смотри́те

watch

вороши́те

stir

они

they

ят or ат

смо́трят

watch

вороша́т

stir

The standard first person singular and third person plural endings and -ят respectively, change to and -ат if the preceding letter happens to consist of one of the following: -ш/щ/ж/ч/ц-.

Class 1 Russian verbs

Class 1 infinitive verbs end in -ать, -ять, and more rarely, -еть. The vast majority of Russian verbs fall into this category. Simply remove the ending -ть and add the suffix required for the present tense conjugations of first conjugation verbs

For example:

English verb

Russian infinitive verb

Example of a conjugated Russian verb

to do / make

де́лать

де́лаю

to read

чита́ть

чита́ю

to influence, affect

влиять

влия́ю

to own, possess, wield

владеть

владе́ю

Further examples of this class of verbs may be found on Wikipedia here

Class 2 Russian verbs

Class 2 infinitive verbs end in -овать and -евать . For verbs ending in -овать, remove the ending and add -у-. For verbs ending in -евать, remove the ending and add -у- only when the ending is preceded by the following palatal consonants (к, г, х),sibilants (ш, ж, щ, ч), or theaffricateц. In all other instances, replace the ending with -ю-. Finally, add the suffix required for the present tense conjugations of first conjugation verbs.

For example:

English verb

Russian infinitive verb

Example of a conjugated Russian verb

to base, ground (on, upon)

бази́ровать

бази́рую

to draw

рисова́ть

рису́ю

to chew

жева́ть

жую́

to fight, be at war

воева́ть

вою́ю

Further examples of this class of verbs may be found on Wikipedia here .

Class 3 Russian verbs

Class 3 infinitive verbs end in -нуть. Remove -уть before adding the suffixes required for the present tense conjugations of first conjugation verbs.

English verb

Russian infinitive verb

Example of a conjugated Russian verb

to pull

тяну́ть

тяну́

to sink

тону́ть

тону́

Further examples of this class of verbs may be found on Wikipedia here .

Class 4 Russian verbs

Class 4 verbs largely end in -ить. Remove -ить and alter the preceding consonant(s) for the first person singular only , in accordance with the Table illustrating class 4, 5 and 6 infinitive verb consonant changes below. Then add the suffixes required for the present tense conjugations of second conjugation verbs. Bear in mind that the standard first person singular and third person plural endings and -ят respectively, change to and -ат if the preceding letter happens to consist of one of the following: -ш/щ/ж/ч/ц-.

English verb

Russian infinitive verb

Example of a conjugated Russian verb

to thank

благодари́ть

благодарю́

to believe

ве́рить

ве́рю

to stir

вороши́ть

ворошу́

Further examples of this class of verbs may be found on Wikipedia here .

Class 5 Russian verbs

Class 5 verbs consist of some verbs (not all!) ending in -ать, -ять and -еть. Remove the ending and for the first person singular only , alter the consonant(s) preceding the ending as necessary, in accordance with the Table illustrating class 4, 5 and 6 infinitive verb consonant changes below. Then add the suffixes required for the present tense conjugation of second conjugation verbs. The standard first person singular and third person plural endings and -ят respectively, change to and -ат if the preceding letter happens to consist of one of the following: -ш/щ/ж/ч/ц-.

For example:

English verb

Russian infinitive verb

Example of a conjugated Russian verb

to drive out, to oust

выгоня́ть

выгоня́ю

to be, stand, get on

обстоя́ть

обстою́

to burn

горе́ть

горю́

To look (at something)

смотре́ть

смотрю́

To grumble

ворча́ть

ворчу́

To hold

держа́ть

держу́

Further examples of this class of verbs may be found on Wikipedia here .

Class 6 Russian verbs

Class 6 infinitive verbs consist of some verbs ending in -ать and -ять. Remove the ending and for the first person singular only , alter the consonant(s) preceding the ending as necessary, in accordance with the Table illustrating class 4, 5 and 6 infinitive verb consonant changes below. Finally, add the suffixes required for the present tense conjugations of first conjugation verbs. The standard first person singular , third person singular and third person plural endings , -ет/-ёт and -ют respectively, change to -у, -ет/-ёт and -ут if the preceding letter happens to consist of one of the following: -ш/щ/ж/ч/ц-.

For example:

English verb

Russian infinitive verb

Example of a conjugated Russian verb

to wait

жда́ть

жду́

to sow

се́ять

се́ю

to call (somebody)

зва́ть

зову́

to knit, tie, bind

вяза́ть

вяжу́

Further examples of this class of verbs may be found on Wikipedia here .

Class 7 Russian verbs

Class 7 infinitive verbs consist of some verbs ending in -зти/-зть and -сти/-сть. Remove only the ending –ти or -ть and add the suffixes required for the present tense conjugation of first conjugation verbs. However, note that the standard first person singular and third person plural endings are –у andт respectively.

For example:

English verb

Russian infinitive verb

Example of a conjugated Russian verb

to carry (by vehicle), deliver, transport

везти́

везу́

to climb (up, onto), put inside

ле́зть

ле́зу

to lead, preside over, chair

вести́

веду́

to steal

кра́сть

краду́

Class 8 Russian verbs

Class 8 infinitive verbs consist of verbs ending in -чь. Remove the ending and replace ч with г or к for the first person singular and third person plural endings, before adding the suffixes required for the present tense conjugations of first conjugation verbs. However, note that the standard first person singular and third person plural endings are –у and -ут respectively.

For example:

English verb

Russian infinitive verb

Example of a conjugated Russian verb

to guard, take care of, keep safe

беречь

берегу́

to attract, entail

влечь

влеку́

to bake

печь

пеку́

can, be able to

мо́чь

могу́

Further examples of this class of verbs may be found on Wikipedia here .

Class 9 Russian verbs

Class 9 infinitive verbs consist of verbs ending in -ереть. Remove the ending and add -р- before adding the suffixes required for the present tense conjugation of first conjugation verbs. However, note that the standard first person singular and third person plural endings are –у andт respectively.

For example:

English verb

Russian infinitive verb

Example of a conjugated Russian verb

(colloquial) to carry (a burden)

пере́ть

пру́

to die, to perish (in large numbers)

мере́ть

мру́

to rub, irritate (by an abrasive action)

тере́ть

тру́

Further examples of this class of verbs may be found on Wikipedia here .


Class 10 Russian verbs

Class 10 infinitive verbs consist of verbs ending in -олоть and -ороть. Remove only a portion of the ending, – оть and add the suffixes required for the present tense conjugations of first conjugation verbs. Note that the alternative first person singular and third person plural endings in first conjugation verbs,у andт, are not used.

For example:

English verb

Russian infinitive verb

Example of a conjugated Russian verb

to kill by stabbing, slaughter (an animal)

заколо́ть

заколю́

to pull out (weeds), weed out

поло́ть

полю́

to rip (a garment), tear (at the seams), unstitch

поро́ть

порю́

to crack (nuts), chop (firewood), prick, sting

коло́ть

колю́

to grind (into smaller pieces or a powder), talk nonsense, bang on about (something)

моло́ть*


мелю́

*The verb моло́ть is an exception which requires the replacement of with.

Further examples of this class of verbs may be found on Wikipedia here .

Class 11 Russian verbs

Class 11 infinitive verbs consist of verbs ending in -ить. Simply add ь to the standard present tense conjugations of first conjugation verbs. Note that the alternative first person singular and third person plural endings in first conjugation verbs,у andт, are not used.

For example:

English verb

Russian infinitive verb

Example of a conjugated Russian verb

to beat

би́ть

бью́

to wind, twist, weave

ви́ть

вью́

to pour

ли́ть

лью́

to sew

ши́ть

шью́

to drink

пи́ть

пью́

Further examples of this class of verbs may be found on Wikipedia here .

Class 12 Russian verbs

Class 12 infinitive verbs consist of verbs ending in -ыть, -уть, -ить and some ending in -еть. Remove the ending completely for verbs ending in -ыть, replacing it withо. Removeonly ть for the endings -уть, -ить and еть. After removing -ить from verbs with a root ending in, add е. Finally, add the suffixes required for the present tense conjugations of first conjugation verbs, for all of the endings above. The alternative first person singular and third person plural endings in first conjugation verbs, –у andт, are not used.

For example:

English verb

Russian infinitive verb

Example of a conjugated Russian verb

to howl, wail

вы́ть

во́ю

to dig, burrow

ры́ть

ро́ю

to finish digging

доры́ть

доро́ю

to wash

мы́ть

мо́ю

to roof, paint

кры́ть

кро́ю

to whimper, to whine

ны́ть

но́ю

to blow (the impact of wind), be drafty

ду́ть

ду́ю

to shave

бри́ть

бре́ю

to rot, go bad, decompose, decay

гни́ть

гнию́

to drink

пи́ть*

пью́

to ripen

спе́ть

спе́ю

to sing

пе́ть

пою́

to heat

гре́ть

гре́ю

*The verb пи́ть requires the addition of the soft sign ь after the ending -ить is removed. In addition, the combination ofо andе is replaced with, before the present tense conjugations of first conjugation verbs are added.

Further examples of this class of verbs may be found on Wikipedia here .

Class 13 Russian verbs

Class 13 infinitive verbs consist of verbs ending in -авать. Remove the ending and add before adding the suffixes required for the present tense conjugations of first conjugation verbs. However, note that the standard first person singular and third person plural endings are у and т respectively.

For example:

English verb

Russian infinitive verb

Example of a conjugated Russian verb

to give

дава́ть

даю́

to stand up, get up, rise, arise (question), come up (question)

встава́ть

встаю́

to get tired

устава́ть

устаю́

Further examples of this class of verbs may be found on Wikipedia here .

Class 14 Russian verbs

Class 14 infinitive verbs consist of verbs ending in -ать/-ять. Remove the ending and add either or to the root of the verb, depending on the verb in question, before adding the suffixes required for the present tense conjugations offirst conjugation verbs. Note that the alternative form is used in the conjugations for the second person singular , the third person singular , the first person plural and the second person plural . The standard first person singular and third person plural endings are –у andт respectively. There are just two main verbs to learn in the present simple for this class of Russian verbs.

For example:

English verb

Russian infinitive verb

Example of a conjugated Russian verb

to press, squeeze, lift (weights)

жа́ть*

жму́

to crumple, wrinkle (paper, fabric)

мя́ть

мну́

*For the verb жа́ть, add ъ to the end of the third person plural.

Further examples of this class of verbs may be found on Wikipedia here .

Class 15 Russian verbs

Class 15 infinitive verbs consist of some verbs ending in -ть. Remove the ending and add to the root of the verb, before adding the suffixes required for the present tense conjugations of first conjugation verbs. The standard first person singular and third person plural endings are –у andт respectively.

For example:

English verb

Russian infinitive verb

Example of a conjugated Russian verb

to be cooling down, getting cold, freeze

сты́ть

сты́ну

*For the verb жа́ть, add ъ to the end of the third person plural.

Further examples of this class of verbs may be found on Wikipedia here .

Class 16 Russian verbs

Class 16 infinitive verbs consist of some verbs ending in -ть. Remove the ending and add , before adding the suffixes required for the present tense conjugations of first conjugation verbs. Note that the standard first person singular and third person plural endings are –у and т respectively.

For example

English verb

Russian infinitive verb

Example of a conjugated Russian verb

to live

жи́ть

живу́

to swim, float

плы́ть

плыву́

Further examples of this class of verbs may be found on Wikipedia here .

Table illustrating class 4, 5 and 6 infinitive verb consonant changes:

Infinitive verb

Present tense consonant change

Class 4 verb

Class 5 verb

Class 6 verb

-б-

-бл-

любить → люблю

колебать → колеблю, колеблешь, etc.

-п-

-пл-

купить → куплю

спать → сплю

щипать → щиплю, щиплешь, etc.

-в-

-вл-

ловить → ловлю

-ф-

-фл-

графить → графлю

-м-

-мл-

кормить → кормлю

шуметь → шумлю

дремать → дремлю, дремлешь, etc.

-з-

-ж-

возить → вожу

сказать → скажу, скажешь, etc.

-с-

-ш-

просить → прошу

писать → пишу, пишешь, etc.

-д-

-ж-

судить → сужу

сидеть → сижу

глодать → гложу, гложешь, etc.

-т-

-ч-*

платить → плачу

лететь → лечу

шептать → шепчу, шепчешь, etc.

-ст-

-щ-

простить → прощу

хлестать → хлещу, хлещешь, etc.

-г-

-ж-

двигать → движу, движешь, etc.

-к-

-ч-

плакать → плачу, плачешь, etc.

-х-

-ш-

махать → машу, машешь, etc.

-ск-

-щ-

искать → ищу, ищешь, etc.

*Some of the verbs which undergoing a consonant change relating to the letter т are replaced with -щ-, not -ч-. For example: похи́тить → похи́щу, защити́ть → защищу́.

In a small number of cases, -т- in class 4 and class 6 verbs, should be replaced with -щ- rather than -ч-.

For example:

English verb

Russian verb

Construction

to slander, smear (e.g. a person’s name)

клеветать

клевещ + -у/-ешь/-ет/-ем/-ете/-ут

In a few other type 6 verbs, there is no consonant change.

For example:

English verb

Russian verb

Construction

to wait

ждать

жду (and not жжу)


Certain verbs contain a so-called ‘fleeting vowel’ (-о-, or -е-), which does not appear in the infinitive, but is found in present tense conjugations.

For example:

English verb

Russian verb

Construction

to drive, chase

гнать

Гон + -ю/-ишь/-ит/-им/-ите/-ят

to take

брать

бер + -у/-ёшь/-ёт/-ём/ёте/-ут

Where these verbs are prefixed with в-, вз-, над-, об-, от-, под-, с-, or раз-, the vowel is positioned between the prefix and the root of the verb.

For example:

English verb

Russian verb

Construction

to kick out

выгнать

выгон + ю/ишь/ит/им/ите /ят

You can practice conjugating verbs on Practice Russian . Be sure to deselect ‘Past tense form of the verb’ so that only present tense conjugations appear in the test.

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