Posted on June 23rd, 2013
In Russian, in the present tense, verbs agree with the grammatical subject, and this is called verb conjugation.
There are two types of conjugations in Russian, and there are also are a few irregular verbs. Today we will only talk about the first conjugation verbs.
In order for you to tell how to conjugate a verb you will need to look at the ending of the infinitive form of the verb, for example:
Стирать (to wipe off, to do laundry)
Verb Стирать ends in -ать and belongs to the first conjugation.
Russian Verbs that Belong to the First Conjugation
Now, let’s take a closer look at the verbs that belong to the first conjugation in Russian. First conjugation verbs are the verbs that in their infinitive form end in:
• -ать (-ять), -еть, -oть, -уть, -ыть, and -ть
For example: стирать, гулять, краснеть – all of these verbs belong to first conjugation.
• There are also several verbs – exceptions that end in -ить. For example: брить, стелить, почить, зиждиться, бить, вить, лить, пить, шить, гнить, жить, зыбить, -шибить (ушибить, ошибиться)
Stems that End in Vowels vs. Stems that End in Consonants
The first conjugation verbs conjugate just like these three examples below. Before you take a look at the examples, you need to know that the first conjugation verbs in Russian can be divided into the verbs whose stems end in vowels and the verbs whose stems end in consonants.
The verbs whose stems end in vowels have endings -ю for the я form and -ют for the oни form, just like you can see in the example of the conjugated verb читать (to read) below:
The verbs whose stems end in consonants have endings -у for the я form and -ут for the oни form. I’ll use verb жить (to live) as an example:
Also notice that the ending of the verb жить is stressed when conjugated, this is why e becomes ё. Letter e will change to ё when the ending of the conjugated verb is stressed.
If you are new to the verb conjugation in Russian, please don’t worry you’ll get used to the way the verbs are conjugated. It is important to learn both the infinitive and the conjugation of each verb at this point. Sometimes the stem of the verb in the present tense will change and learning the conjugation of the verb will prevent making a mistake.
Here is an example: the stem of the infinitive form of verb писать (to write) is пис-, however, it changes when conjugated in the present tense:
Also, note that the stress falls on the stem of the verb and e stays as e in the ending.
I hope you are not too overwhelmed! Russian verb conjugations are not that easy to process at first, so just try to take one step at a time, and make sure to practice as much as possible. If you feel a little overwhelmed, watch this fun video – How to Not Give Up Learning Russian, I hope it will make you feel a little better!
Please don’t worry about memorizing all of the exceptions at this point. Just like I mentioned earlier if you only just started learning about Russian conjugations, then learn the conjugation of the verb at the same time you are learning the infinitive form of the same verb. And, of course, practice. Practice as much as you can. Make sentences with the verbs using each person. You can swap the pronouns with the Russian names, add nouns and adjectives to make sentences a little more exciting. Here are a few examples of the sentences you can make yourself with the conjugated verb читать:
Я читаю блог в интернете.
Вика читает интересную книгу.
Мои родители читают газету.
Here is a little exercise. Please conjugate the following verbs:
Знать (to know)
Шить (to sew)
Работать (to work)
Брить (to shave)
Давать (to give)
Гнить (to decay)
Врать (to lie)
Орать (to scream)
Бить (to beat)
Ждать (to wait)
Make sure to double check your answers as stems of some of these verbs will change when conjugated! Please feel free to post your answers below, I’d be happy to check them.
Happy Russian learning!
- Video: First Conjugation Verbs Завтракать, Обедать, Ужинать.
- Grammar Video: Preposition “Ha” in the Prepositional Case
- Video: How to Form Past Tense in Russian
- Russian Verb “Любить” (Love) and How to Say “I Love You” in Russian
- Video: Second Conjugation Verbs in Russian
Study with Maxim Achkasov
The courses of Russian as a foreign language with Russian4real take place online via Skype. The teacher works with adults individually since he is convinced that each person must receive maximum time for practice and professional attention while learning a foreign language.