Lesson 7: Present Tense

Today we will speak about tenses in the Russian language. More specifically about Present Tense. Before that I would like to introduce in short the entire Russian tenses system to you.

Unlike the tenses system in English the Russian one is less complex. There are only five tenses in the Russian language grammar system: one present, two past, and two future. The rules for formation of the tenses are pretty simple and sometimes even similar to formation of tenses in English (i.e. future tense).

Today we will speak about formation and use of present tense in the Russian language.

First of all, I would like to know that Russian verbs are conjugated (or change their form) based on the person it refers to. Here I would like you to remember our previous lesson and the personal pronouns we learned because they can come handy right now.

я – I

ты – you

он – he

она – she

оно –  it

мы – we

вы – you

Вы – you

они – they


Now when we refreshed our memory we can go further. First of all, we will focus on the meaning that Russian Present Tense has.

The present tense in the Russian language corresponds to the present simple tense and  to the present continuous tens in English. What we mean here is that the Russian present tense can express bot the general action and the action that takes place at a certain moment (in the present).


I work at home. Я работаю дома. 

Я работаю сейчас.

I am working now.


Now, it is time to learn how we actually can form present tense in Russian.

As we have already discussed Russian verbs change for person and number. For each person there is its own personal ending.

Based on the endings we can distinguish two conjugation patterns. They are called the  First Conjugation Pattern and the Second Conjugation Pattern. The difference you will be able to see from the table below.

The Present Tense
First Conjugation Pattern Second Conjugation Pattern
Infinitive: читать Infinitive: говорить
я читаю я говорю
ты читаешь ты говоришь
он читает он говорит
она читает она говорит
мы читаем мы говорим
вы читаете вы говорите
они читают они говорят

As you can see the main difference is that in the personal endings of the first pattern there is a letter е while in the personal endings of the second pattern there is a letter и. Besides when we refer to ‘they’ (они) there is the ending –ют for the first pattern and the ending ят for the second pattern.

Now our only concern is to get to know what verbs belong to the first pattern of conjugation and which ones belong to the second.

First Conjugation Pattern Verbs

  • Most of verbs that end with –еть and –ать (-ять).
  • All verbs that end with –овать.
  • Two verbs that end with -ить: брить (shave) and стелить (lay as in lay a carpet, or make the bed).

Second Conjugation Pattern Verbs

  • All verbs that end with –ить other than брить and стелить.
  • Seven verbs that end with –еть and four verbs that end with –ать (see below).
  • Some verbs that end with –ать (-ять), when the ending is stressed (i.e. лежать (lie as in lie in bed), стоять (stand)).

Now, there is a simple poem that helps you to learn all the exception words, such as already known брить and стелить and yet unknown seven verbs that end with –еть and four verbs that end with –ать.

Гнать, держать, смотреть и видеть,

Дышать, слышать, ненавидеть,

И зависеть, и вертеть,

И обидеть, и терпеть

Вы запомните, друзья,

Их на «Е» спрягать нельзя.


Ко второму же спряженью

Отнесем мы без сомненья

Все глаголы, что на «-ить»,

Исключая: брить, стелить.

А еще: смотреть, обидеть,

слышать, видеть, ненавидеть,

гнать, дышать, держать,

И зависеть, и вертеть.

In the poem in green there are exceptions that belong to the first conjugation pattern and in blue – the exceptions that belong to the second conjugation pattern. Please note that the verbs in the beginning and in the end of the poem are the same.


Below you will find a list of verbs you can use in your daily life.

бриться to shave
вставать to get up
гладить to iron
готовить to cook, to prepare
завтракать to eat breakfast
заниматься (уроками) to study
мыть посуду to wash the dishes
одеваться to get dressed
принимать душ to take a shower
работать to work
чистить зубы to brush your teeth
бегать to run
гулять to walk



1. Using the vocabulary and the rules from the lesson translate the following sentences into Russian

He is shaving.

My mom is cooking breakfast.

Ann is brushing her teeth.

They work in school.

Pete is washing the dishes.

You will find the correct answers in our next lesson.

2. Tell about your day.

Hints: When do you get up? What do you eat for breakfast? Do you go to school or to the office?

3. Conjugate in present tense the following verbs. Build sentences with those verbs in all persons

Работать, держать, стелить, учить.

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