Present tense

Good news – the Russian present tense is simpler than the present tense in English! The Russian present tense just has one form. This means that saying я работаю can take the multiple meanings, “I work,” “I do work,” “I am working,” and “I have been working.” The main thing to learn with the present tense is the two main conjugation groups.

When to use the present tense

The Russian present tense is used to express:

Actions which are happening at the time of speaking

  • Она едет на работу. = She is driving to work.

Actions which occur regularly

  • Земля вращается вокруг солнца. = The earth revolves around the sun.

Habitual actions

  • Каждое утро я встаю в 8 часов. = I get up at 8 o’clock every morning.

Actions which began in the past and are still happening or just stopped

  • Я живу в Москве уже целый год. = I have been living in Moscow for a whole year

1st conjugation verbs in the present tense

1st conjugation verbs have the following suffixes before the infinitive ending, -ть:

  • а (читать)
  • я (гулять)
  • e (болеть)
  • ова (торговать)
  • ну (махнуть)

To form the present tense, drop the infinative ending, -ть, and add the appropriate endings: “ю”, “ешь”, “ет”, “ем”, “ете” or “ют.” For example:

читатьto read
я читаюI read
ты читаешьyou read
он читаетhe reads
мы читаемwe read
вы читаетеyou read
они читаютthey read
гулятьto walk
я гуляюI work
ты гуляешьyou work
он гуляетhe works
мы гуляемwe work
вы гуляетеyou work
они гуляютthey work
растиto grow
я растуI grow
ты растёшьyou grow
он растётhe grows
мы растёмwe grow
вы растётеyou grow
они растутthey grow
путешествоватьto travel
я путешествуюI travel
ты путешествуешьyou travel
он путешествуетhe travels
мы путешествуемwe travel
вы путешествуетеyou travel
они путешествуютthey travel

    2nd conjugation verbs in the present tense

    2nd conjugation verbs have the suffixes, “и” and “е,” before the infinitive ending -ть:

    • и (говорить, смотреть)

    To form the present tense, drop the infinitive ending, -ить or -еть, and add the appropriate endings: “ю” (or “у”) “ишь” “ит” “им” “ите” “ят” (or “ат”). For example:

    говоритьto speak
    я говорюI speak
    ты говоришьyou speak
    он говоритhe speaks
    мы говоримwe speak
    вы говоритеyou speak
    они говорятthey speak
    смотретьto watch
    я смотрюI watch
    ты смотришьyou watch
    он смотритhe watches
    мы смотримwe watch
    вы смотритеyou watch
    они смотрятthey watch

    Please note, after the letters г, к, ж, х, ч, ш, щ:

    • ы → и
    • ю → у
    • я → а

    Also, sometimes the last letter of the stem of 2nd conjugation verbs changes for the 1st person singular “я” form:

    • г, д, з → ж (резать → режу)
    • c, х → ш (писать → пишу)
    • т, ст, ск → щ (чистить → чищу)
    • к, т → ч (плакать → плачу)
    • б, в, м, п, ф → add the letter л (любить → люблю)

      Irregular verbs

      While there are naturally some irregular verbs in Russian that don’t fall neatly into the 1st or 2nd conjugation, you’ll often be able to predict their present tense endings. For example:

      ехатьto go
      я едуI go
      ты едешьyou go
      он едетhe goes
      мы едемwe go
      вы едетеyou go
      они едутthey go
      житьto live
      я живуI live
      ты живёшьyou live
      он живётhe lives
      мы живёмwe live
      вы живётеyou live
      они живутthey live


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