Russian Verb Conjugation: A Beginner’s Guide (2022)

By Ari Helderman
May 3, 2022

If you’re learning Russian, it’s a good thing to know a thing or 2 about the Russian verb conjugations. You don’t need to know the verb conjugation system perfectly as a foreigner to get your point across. But it helps to make your speech more clear and eloquent.

Russian verb conjugation rules

Most Russian verbs fall into 2 categories:

  • First conjugation verbs: these end in at ать or ять
  • Second conjugation verbs: these end in ить or еть
Watch this video where I tell you in Russian (with English subtitles) 9 reasons why Russian is actually easy to learn.

Russian conjugation chart for the present tense

Each Russian verb has 6 tenses. One for each pronoun.

Here are the verb conjugations for the ать and ять verbs (first conjugation verbs). They depend on the person and the number of people doing the verb. Here is how you conjugate Russian verbs.

To read – читать RussianEnglish
Infinitive formчитатьto read
First person singularя читаюI read
Second person singularты читаешьYou read
Third person singularон / она / оно читаетhe / she / it reads
First person pluralмы читаемwe read
Second person pluralвы читаетеyou read
Third person pluralони читаютthey read

Here are the verb conjugation rules for a ить verb (second conjugation verbs):

спешитьto hurry
я спешуI hurry
ты спешишьyou hurry
он / она / оно спешитhe / she / it hurries
мы спешимwe hurry
вы спешитеyou hurry
они спешатthey hurry

Russian conjugation chart for future tense

In Russian, there are 2 different future tenses

  1. a form of быть + infinitive form of an imperfective verb
  2. conjugated perfective verb

Here are examples of how you conjugate verbs in the future with быть:

  • я буду читать эту книгу – I will be reading this book
  • я прочитаю эту книгу – I will finish reading this book

The first is an imperfective verb. And the second is a perfective verb.

The great thing about the perfective verbs, is that they conjugate in exactly the same ways as the imperfective verbs. You can just remove the ending ть and then add the correct conjugation.

It’s important to know that the perfective words cannot be used in the Russian present tense.

Here are the forms of быть

бытьto be
я будуI will
ты будешьyou will
он / она / оно будетhe / she / it will
мы будемwe will
вы будетеyou will
они будутthey will

Here are some common examples of perfective and imperfective pairs:

  • to look: смотреть – посмотреть
  • to see: видеть – увидеть
  • to talk: говорить – поговорить
  • to do: делать – сделать

Russian conjugation chart for past tense

The Russian past tense is one of the reasons why Russian grammar is not as hard as it looks like. All you need to do is remove the ending ть and replace it with an л + о/а/и.

This works the same for perfective and perfective verbs.

Here is an example of this for several different Russian verb conjugation endings for the past tense in the Russian language:

читатьto read
он читалhe read
она читалаshe read
оно читалоit read
они читалиthey read
бытьto be
он былhe was
она былаshe was
оно былоit was
они былиthey were
спешитьto hurry
он спешилhe hurried
она спешилаshe hurried
оно спешилоit hurried
они спешилиthey hurried

How to form the Russian imperative

You use the imperative form if you want to give commands. This can be used both for the perfective and impeorfective verbs.

In order to turn a verb into an imperative verb, you take the Russian present tense stem, and add й/йте, и/ите or -ь/-ьте.

If the stem ends in a vowel, add й/йте.

If the stem ends in a consonant, and the first person singular verb is stressed, you add и/ите.

If the stem ends in a consonant, but the first person singular ending is not stressed, you add-ь/-ьте.

Here you can see some examples:

Russian commandEnglish command
читайread (singular)
читайтеread (plural)
будьbe (singular)
будьтеbe (plural)
спешиhurry (singular)
спешитеhurry (plural)

How to form the Russian conditional

Even though the Russian conditional’s use can be difficult, it’s easy to form it.

All you do is add the conditional signal word бы to the past tense:

спешитьto hurry
он спешил бы he would hurry
она спешила быshe would hurry
оно спешило бы it would hurry
они спешили бы they would hurry

Best resources to learn Russian grammar

It’s one thing to see all these Russian verb conjugation tables. But learning them is a completely different thing.

Just looking at them over and over again will help you understand some of it. But you need a different approach if you want to say the Russian verb conjugation consistently correct while speaking.

One of the best ways to learn Russian grammar is to follow a course. Here are my recomendations:

Best course for basic Russian verb conjugation: Michel Thomas

Michel Thomas is an audio course that focuses on complete beginners. In total it consists of 3 levels of around 20 hours in total.

The great thing is that every lesson build on the next lesson. In each lesson, there is a teacher and 2 other students. You’re supposed to be the third student and join the lesson. This is great, as the other students make many common mistakes, that the teacher then corrects. You learn from this.

It’s originally a CD based course, so it’s abit different to find this. I recommend you google around to get the best price.

Best course for advanced Russian verb conjugation: Russianpod101

Russianpod101 is the best course for general verb conjugation in Russian. It also covers complete beginner, but Michel Thomas is just more smooth for the beginner lessons.

Russianpod101 works with audio podcasts. Each lesson is around 15 minutes:

  • A short dialogue in the Russian language
  • Slow repetition of the dialogue
  • Translation of each phrase
  • New vocabulary
  • Explanation of grammar
  • Cultural remarks
  • Repetition of dialogue

Especially the explanation of the Russian grammar is something that they do well. And since at the end of each lesson the dialogue is repeated, you can see if you now understand how it works.

It’s a paid course, but you can try a free 7-day trial with just your email address.

More conjugation for Russian verbs

If you want more examples of Russian verb conjugation, you can check below. On these pages, you can also find the perfective/imperfective verb pairs.

  1. To cook/prepare: готовить – приготовить
  2. To speak: говорить / сказать
  3. To rest: отдыхать / отдохнуть
  4. To help: помогать / помочь
  5. To take: брать/взять
  6. To arrive: приезжать / приехать
  7. To get up: вставать / встать
  8. To wait: ждать / подождать
  9. To live: жить / пожить
  10. To wash: Мыть / помыть
  11. To give: давать / дать
  12. To start: начинать /начать
  13. To worry: Волноваться / взволноваться
  14. To study: учить / выучить
  15. To stand: стоять / постоять
  16. To carry: носить / понести
  17. To become: становиться / стать
  18. To search: искать / поискать
  19. To be late: опаздывать / опоздать
  20. To be: быть / побыть
  21. To write: писать/написать
  22. To ask: спрашивать / спросить
  23. To sing: петь / спеть
  24. To cry: Плакать / поплакать
  25. To buy: покупать / купить
  26. To understand: понимать / понять
  27. To see: видеть / увидеть
  28. To be afraid: бояться / побояться
  29. To walk: идти – пойти
  30. To dance: танцевать / потанцевать
  31. To order: заказывать / заказать
  32. To lie: лежать / полежать
  33. To request: просить / попросить
  34. To laugh: смеяться / засмеяться
  35. To open: открывать / открыть
  36. To drink: пить / выпить
  37. To walk: ходить – походить
  38. To advise: советовать / посоветовать
  39. To answer: отвечать / ответить
  40. To receive: получать / получить
  41. To want: хотеть / захотеть
  42. To tell: рассказывать/ рассказать
  43. To meet: встречать / встретить
  44. To solve: решать / решить
  45. To come: приходить / прийти
  46. To go: ездить / поездить
  47. To look: смотреть / посмотреть
  48. To go: ехать / поехать
  49. To sit down: садиться / сесть
  50. To study: изучать / изучить
  51. To hear: слышать / услышать
  52. To play: играть / поиграть
  53. To leave: уходить / уйти
  54. To call: Звонить/позвонить
  55. To do: делать / сделать
  56. To take off: снимать / снять
  57. To sit: сидеть / посидеть
  58. To drive: водить / поводить
  59. To study: Учиться / научиться
  60. To spend time: проводить / провести
  61. To dress: одевать / одеть
  62. To work: работать / поработать
  63. To sleep: спать / поспать
  64. To be sick: болеть / заболеть
  65. To die: умирать / умереть
  66. To worry: беспокоиться / побеспокоиться
  67. To like: нравиться / понравиться
  68. To put: ставить/ поставить
  69. To know: знать / узнать
  70. To run: бегать / побегать
  71. To be able: мочь / смочь
  72. To forget: забывать / забывать
  73. To kiss: целовать / поцеловать
  74. To put: класть/ положить
  75. To engage: заниматься / заняться
  76. To go: идти / пойти
  77. To hurry: спешить / поспешить
  78. To become acquainted: знакомиться / познакомиться
  79. To listen: слушать / послушать
  80. To call: звать / позвать
  81. To go out: выходить / выйти
  82. To love: любить / полюбить
  83. To think: думать / подумать
  84. To eat: есть / съесть
  85. To mark/celebrate: отмечать / отметить
  86. To invite: приглашать / пригласить
  87. To feel: чувствовать / почувствовать
  88. To hold: держать / подержать
  89. To visit: бывать/побывать
  90. To fly: летать / полетать
  91. To have lunch: обедать – пообедать

What should you do next?

Learning Russian does NOT need to be difficult. All you need is a solid plan that helps you improve the following things daily:

  • vocabulary
  • grammar
  • listening skills
  • speaking skills

That's ALL you need. If you can do this for a couple of weeks, you’ll already be making great progress in your Russian skills.

And the best part? If you improve a little bit every day, soon these practices will become daily habits.

And then you will start making progress on autopilot.

This means that learning Russian is now a part of your daily routine. So you won’t even need discipline anymore to get yourself to practice.

If you like the idea of this, but don’t know where to start, go here for more information.

About the Author

My name is Ari Helderman and I help people learn Russian through videos and blog posts where I share my experience.   I have been learning Russian since 2016. I often get mistaken for a native speaker these days, so I've learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn't if you want to speak Russian well.

Ari Helderman