Russian II Tutorial
written by Stephen VanZuylen
20. Russian Verbs - Introduction & Aspect
Russian Verbs have a reputation of being difficult to learn, and this is true, but only because the concepts governing them are very different from the norms of Germanic or Romance languages. Fortunately, there is a logic to the verb system, and highly irregular verbs are rare.
The main feature that distinguishes Russian verbs from English is the notion of Aspect. Russian has two aspects: the imperfective, or несовершенный вид, which indicates an action which is either a) in progress, b) not yet finished c) done repeatedly d) may or may not be completed in the near future or e) may or may not be repeated in the future; and the perfective, or "совершенный вид," which indicates actions that are a) completed once, and successfully or b) an action that will be completed once in the near future.
For instance, I'll use the example of my first year Russian professor:
-Imperfective: "Кто ел мой сыр?!" -- Roughly "who's been eating my cheese?" -- The implication is that said person has taken cheese more than once over a period of time.
-Perfective: ""Кто съел мой сыр?!"" -- Roughly "who ate my cheese?" -- The idea here, by contrast, is that the cheese, (all of it,) was eaten all at once, and thus the action is perfective.
Russian verbs thus form perfective and inperfective pairs, which have to be memorized. There is sometimes no logic in the verb pairs, as Russian used to have more than just two aspects, but there are patterns that emerge. There are about five ways to distinguish between the two:
1-Use of a prefix -- For instance, the imperfective of "to read" is читать, but the perfective is прочитать (this is the most common form)
2-Change in the stem/suffix -- The imperfective of "to understand" is понимать, and the perfective is понять (common, but less so than 1 and 3)
3-Change in the finial vowel -- The imperfective of "to enroll/join" is поступать, and the perfective is поступить (these are fairly common)
4-Use of -ыв- or -ив- -- The imperfective of "to order" is заказывать, perfective, заказать (used mostly on prefixed verbs and are easy to spot after some practice)
5-Completely different verb -- The imperfective of "to say/speak" is говорить, the perfective сказать (fortunately, these are not very common)
(If the idea of aspect is still puzzling, an excellent explanation can be found here.)
21. Russian Verbs - Present Tense
This refers to actions which are going on, obviously, in the present. Since the action is ongoing, only imperfective verbs are used in the present tense. These correspond to all English present tenses; for instance "I see" and "I am seeing" as well as "I do see" have only one corresponding form in Russian, я вижу.
Russian verbs are generally broken down into two or three groups or "conjugations" generally the first and second; for the sake of clarity, I will use a slight variant: 1a (e-verbs) 1b (ё-verbs) and 2 (и-verbs) These three are very similar in appearance and the form for each subject is distinctive; because there little room for confusion, pronouns are rarely repeated more than once in a sentence.
The only difference here is the vowel preceding the ending, and deciding which one is the real trick to all of this; in many cases, it's fairly obvious: verbs ending in -ать are usually 1st Conjugation, and verbs ending in -ить are usually 2nd Conjugation. Verbs ending in -еть can be either, and verbs ending in -сти are almost always 1b, though their stems tend to be irregular. The easiest way to find out for sure is when you look up a verb in your dictionary, look at the ты or он form, and look to see which vowel is used; the same series of endings are always used otherwise, the rest is easy. Be sure to remember the spelling rules!
22. Russian Verbs - Past Tenses
Refers to an action in the past which was repeated, left unfinished, or both
Refers to an action, successfully completed once, and now done with.
Both of these tenses are formed in the same way, and the aspect of the verb does the rest; simply remove the -ть and add -л plus the appropriate vowel reflecting the biological gender (sex) of the subject if it is human, or the gender of the noun itself otherwise.
The table below explains this; I'll use говорить (imperfective) -- сказать (perfective) as examples.
About 90% of Russian Verbs form their past tense this way, and for those that don't, usually only the stem changes. However, be careful in choosing which aspect to use, as there are a number of nuances to the meaning of each.
23. Russian Verbs - Future Tenses
The Future-Imperfective: refers to an action which will, in the future of course, be repeating, or that may or may not be completed. This is formed using the appropriate conjugation of the verb быть plus the infinitive of an imperfective verb.
Conjugation of "Быть"
For example, if I want to say that tomorrow, I will be reading a book, but don't think I'll finish it, or don't plan on doing so, I would say:
Завтра я буду читать книгу.
Refers to an action that will be completed once in the near future
This tense is formed by conjugating a perfective verb in the same fashion as an imperfective verb in the present tense; for this reason, you'll sometimes see them referred to as "Future-Present" endings.
So if I was sure I'd finish reading the book tomorrow, or very determined to do so, I'd say:
Завтра я прочитаю книгу.
24. Verb Irregularities
Unfortunately, Russian verbs have a few irregularities to cover, such as added or changed letters that appear during conjugation. However, the good news is that while you may not always be able to predict WHEN such changes occur, 9 times out of 10, you can predict HOW they occur.
For the first item, let's try a few verbs: любить ("to love"-impf,) -- (я) люблю, ("I love,") остановить ("to stop"-pf) -- (я) остановлю, ("I will stop [something],") and, as we've already seen, готовить ("to prepare"-impf,) я готовлю, ("I prepare/am preparing.") The sounds of в and б, along with п and м, are what linguists call labials -words made using your lips, and in Russian, an л is inserted after these consonants in the 1st person singular (я,) but only here!
Next, are a number of verbs, usually of foreign origin, though there are a number of native Slavic ones, which end in -овать. At first glance, the conjugation seems obvious; ремонтировать (to repair) should, in theory become я ремонтироваю. However correct way would be я ремонтирую, ты ремонтируешь and so forth. This is one little quirk for verbs with the -овать ending, but is wholly predictable: all verbs with this ending take the letter у plus the standard 1a ending when conjugated. Similarly, there are a number of verbs ending in -авать that lose the -ва- in conjugation and take the 1b endings. Thus давать becomes даю, даёшь, etc.
Finally, you may notice an odd change in some verbs that seem fairly arbitrary insertions of hushes (ш щ ж ч) in many verb conjugations. For instance простить (to forgive) becomes (я) прощу but also has (он) простит, and рассказать (to tell-pf) becomes (я) расскажу and (ты) расскажешь. This process is called palatalization, and occurs when the syllable stress shifts onto or off of the stem during conjugation. Unfortunately, this means that you cannot always predict wth certainty when palatalization occurs, when it does happen, it's always following a set pattern, outlined in the table below:
Тhese don't always apply to each form of the conjugated verb but these instances are also highly regularized.
In the 1st Conjugation, when the ending is -ать, all forms of the verb, я to они, change according to the above rules (1). But when the verb stem ends in к, х, or г, only the я and они forms remain unchanged. (2) In the 2nd conjugation, however, only я changes (3).
25. Some Common Verbs
To Switch on
To Rise, Get up
To Meet (with)
To Select, Choose
To Switch off
To Say, Speak
To Eat Breakfast
To Stare at
To Wait for
To Search for
To Eat Lunch
То Present, Represent
To Try, Taste
To Ask, Make a request
To Listen to
To Try, Endeavor
To Build, Create
To Estmate, Guess
To Eat Dinner
say something like, "Мне понравился этот фильм" ("I liked that movie") or "Им понравилась постановка ("they enjoyed the performance.")
A number of these verbs have some irregularities in conjugation, usually stem changes:
26. Interrogative Pronouns
The two main Russian interrogatives are Кто (who) Что (what) like nouns, these decline by case, but only in one gender and only on the singular.
The declined forms are most often used with prepositions to specify the question, such as с кем (with whom?) от чего (from what?) or согласно кому (according to whom?)
Где -- Where?
Куда? -- To Where?
Откуда? -- From Where?
Сколько? -- How many/much?
Чей? -- Whose? (declines like an adjective. Can also function as a relative-conjunction.)
Какой -- Which? (declines like an adjective)
Почему -- Why/What for? (Refers to past actions)
Зачем -- To What End? (Refers to a future or continuing action)
Как? -- How (This can also be a cunjunction meaning "as" or "like")
Что такое? -- What? (Used in this case, the person asking wishes to know facts, details, or a definition.)
Кто такой? -- Who? (Like что такое, this is used when you want a description of or information about someone.)
Что это за... ? -- What kind of? (За is followed by a nominitive noun. )
Что он/она/они за...? -- What kind of? (Refers to person. Он/она/они can be replaced by a name as well.)
27. Cardinal Numbers and Their Declensions
|восемь||eight||двадцать один||twenty-one||шестьсот||six hundred|
While the numbers themselves are fairly straightforward, using them properly in Russian is much more complex, for two reasons:
|тридцать два рубля
||тридцать две книги
Thus when using numbers with prepositions, the number declines according to the case of the preposition, while the noun described by the number takes the case dictated by the number. For instance, "The Three Musketeers" in Russian is "Три Мушкетёра," whereas "about the Three Musketeers" is "о трёх мушкетёрах."
There are a number of conjunctions in Russian, and while they do tend to make sense, they also tend to re-use particles seen elsewhere, so you should pay attention in at least recognizing their forms so you don't mistranslate. They are listed in no particular order.
И -- And
-У меня в моей комнате есть телевизор и DVD-плеер -- In my room there is a television and a DVD player
А -- And/But
-Моя мать - секретарша, а отец - менеджер -- My mother is a secretary, but my father is a manager.
И..., и – Both x and y
-Да, я пригласил и Анну, и Лену! -- Yes, I invited both Anna and Lena!
Или -- Or
-Я купил бы красный или серый. -- I would buy the red one or the gray one.
Или..., или -- Either...or
-Я буду встречаться с ними или в Декабре, или в Январе -- I will be meeting with them either in December or in January.
Не...не...а – Nether x nor y, but z
-Моя машина не красная, не чёрная, а зелёная. -- My car is neither red nor black, but green.
Не...ни...ни – Neither...nor
-Я не хочу ни твоего присутствия, ни твоего совета -- I want neither your prescence nor your advice.
Чтобы- (in order) to, for...to, so that
-Надо работать, чтобы получать деньги... -- You have to work (in order) to get money... (Verb infinitive used)
-Мама хочет, чтобы ты убрала комнату -- Mom wants (for) you to clean your room. (Verb in past tense used)
-Мы тебе сказали, чтобы ты зналa правду. -- We told you so that you would know the truth. (Verb in past tense used)
-Он говорит о компьютерах, словно изобрёл их -- He talks about computers as though he invented them!
А то-or else
-Мы должны идти, а то опоздаем в театр. -- We have to go or else we will be late for the theatre.
-Если будет дождь, я останусь дома сегодня. -- If it's raining, I will stay inside today.
Ли-whether (or not)я
-Я не знаю, идёт ли дождь -- I don't know whether it's raining or not, or I don't know if it's raining.
(Despite the use of "if" in the latter translation, ли and если cannot be used interchangeably; if you can use "whether" in English, then you must use ли.)
Negation in Russian is very simple. There are a few words which indicate negation, but the two most common, and therefore most useful, are не and нет.
The word не means "not" or "am not," and can be used with or without verbs, as below:
Я не юрист -- I'm not a lawyer
Я вас не знаю -- I don't know you.
Although it is written as a separate word, не is pronounced as though it were a part of the following word, and thus assumes the pronunciation based of the stress patterns of the word it negates. In "proper" Russian, the direct object of the negated verb is supposed to be put into the genitive case regardless of gender. This doesn't always happen in speech, but it is nonetheless recommended, particularly in writing.
Нет on the other hand means "no" or "there is/are no" and is more complicated, since the word it negates takes the genitive case. In some cases, word order can be shifted somewhat, but it usually pays to be somewhat unambiguous.
Его здесь нет. -- He's not here.
На улице нет машин. -- There are no cars on the street.
B этой пицце нет сыра! -- There's no cheese on this pizza!
Also, you should note that in Russian, the use of double negatives, even large numbers of them, is not only allowed, but also necessary in circumstances involving negative pronouns, (никогда, никуда, and so on; see section 46 for a longer list.) Indeed, you are only limited by what it is you want to say:
Она никогда не даëт ничего никому -- "She never doesn't give nothing to nobody," or more accurately "She never gives anything to anybody."
31. Times and Dates
In my experience, learning how to tell the time and date is one of the harder aspects of learning any language, and Russian, sadly, is no exception, so it helps to try and learn fairly early on. I've tried to include plenty of examples to help. Let me begin by saying that while in my list of common phrases I said that "сколько времени?" is how one asks for the time, this is true mainly for street language; if you're looking to appear more "educated" or are in the presence of a person of authority, I would recommend saying "который час?" instead.
Secondly, when used in writing and/or print, the 24-hour clock (often called "military time" in North America ) is used, but not when spoken; it may read as 16:10, but you would say it as though it read 4:10. (This of course is barring military usage, where spoken use of the 24-hour system over the 12-hour is apparently universal.) And finally, time is often written with hours, minutes and seconds are separated by periods/full-stops instead of colons. I will use this format from now on.
Time can be told in one of two ways; the first is to simply say the numbers displayed, so 16.10 (that is, 4:10pm) would be четыре часа, десять. The second, while much more complicated to an English-speaker's eyes and ears, is much more common.
To give an on-the-dot o'clock time, you say the hour plus a declension of the word час, "hour." In telling time, on its own is 1 o'clock, but becomes часа after 2, 3, or 4, and часов after 5 and up. To say "at" such-and-such time, use the preposition в (accusative.)
-13.00 -- Час
-16.00 -- Четыре часа
-18.00 -- Шесть часов
For times in the top half of the hour (that is, .01 to .29) you would say however many minutes, (минута, feminine-singular,) then the ordinal of the following hour in the genitive-singular. That's quite a mouthful, so here are some examples to help you catch your bearings:
- 15.10 -- десять минут четвёртого. (Literally "five minutes of the fourth")
- 11.17 -- семнадцать минут двенадцатого.
- 9.03 -- три минуты десятого
- 7.22 -- двадцать двe минуты восьмого.
For "half-past" times, you use the word половина plus an ordinal in the manner we saw just now. Thus:
- 6.30 -- половина седьмого.
- 14.30 -- половина третьего.
- 21.30 -- половина десятого.
Note that when used with the preposition в, половина must decline accordingly, becoming в половину, "at half-past..." In colloquial Russian, however, it can often be heard as в половине. When in doubt, I would suggest saying в половину.
For times in the bottom half of the hour, you take the minutes remaining until the next hour with the preposition без, followed by the next hour in the nominative-cardinal form. Thus:
- 10.47 -- без тринадцати минут одиннадцать.
- 8.58 -- без двух минут девять
- 23.35 -- без двадцати пяти минут двенадцать
And finally for times of "quarter to" and "quarter past, you use the word четверть in the same manner as the minutes are above:
- 7.15 -- Четверть восьмого
-7.45 -- Без четверти восемь
In all cases, you can use the adverbs утром (in the morning,) днём (in the afternoon,) or вечером (in the evening,) if you feel that there may be ambiguity over which one, or wish to add emphasis to the fact. Also, instead of 12.00 and 24.00, you can say полдень or полночь, respectively.
Dates are a somewhat different animal, and are, for better or worse, equally as complex.
To say them, you must first learn the months of the year and the days of the week:
To say "on" a specific day, you use the preposition в (accusative,) while for months you use в in the prepositional case.
To give a specific date, you would first say the day (if necessary) then the date and month, both in the genitive case, and the year plus the word год ("year,") also in the genitive case. Years are said in full, such as "one thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine." If you are simply referring to the day, as in saying "today is..." the date is given in the neuter-nominative.
For example, if asked my birthday I would say "Я родился тридцать первого июля тысяча девятьсот восемьдесят шестого года " (Literally, "I was born of the thirty-first of July, of the one thousand eight hundred and eighty sixth year." Whereas if one was to say "today is the 31st of July," it would be written as "Сегодня тридцать первое июля." The year would be written the same.
If you are referring solely to a year and want to say "in x-year" you say the year as above, but the last number and год take the prepositional case. Note that you cannot use this form with days and months; those always take the genitive. So, if I were to say "in 1986" it would be written as "в тысяча девятьсот восемьдесят шестом году." In many cases, года and году are abbreviated as г. or г.г. in writing, and dates are always written day/month/year, with Roman Numerals sometimes used to abbreviate the names of months.
For summary examples, below are a few dates in Russian history. All dates are in the new style calendar. Genitive endings are used because the ideas is that "X happened of this day," rather than "this day is such-and-such of this month."
-Ivan IV crowned Tsar, the first ruler crowned as such -- January 16, 1547.
--Шестнадцатого января тысяча пятьсот сорок седьмого года.
-Election of Mikhail Romanov, foundation of the Romanov Dynasty -- February 21, 1613.
--Двадцать первого февраля тысяча шестьсот тринадцатого года.
-Founding of St. Petersburg -- May 27, 1703.
--Двадцать седьмого мая тысяча семьсот третьего года.
-Birth of Aleksandr S. Pushkin -- June 6, 1799.
--Шестого июня тысяча семьсот девяносто девятого года.
-Battle of Borodino -- September 7, 1812.
--Седьмого сентября тысяча восемьсот двенадцатого года.
-Birth of Fyodor M. Dostoyevsky -- November 11, 1821.
--Одиннадцатого ноября тысяча восемьсот двадцать первого года.
-Birth of Lev N. Tolstoy -- September 9, 1828.
--Девятого сентября тысяча восемьсот двадцать восьмого года.
-Abdication of Nicholas II -- March 15, 1917.
--Пятнадцатого марта тысяча девятьсот семнадцатого года.
-Surrender of Nazi leaders to Marshal Zhukov -- May 9, 1945.
--Девятого мая тысяча девятьсот сорок пятого года
-Declaration of the Russian Federation -- June 12, 1990.
--Двенадцатого июня тысяча девятьсот девяностого года.
32. Verbs of Motion
Now that we've examined regular Russian verbs, it is necessary to get to know a special group of verbs in Russian: verbs of motion. These forms are similain concept to the German verbs gehen and fahren in that they tell you how the action was carried out (on foot or by vehicle,) but in Russian, they also give information about the direction and nature of the motion itself, which can be further narrowed by the addition of prefixes, not discussed here. These verbs have what amounts to three aspects: the progressive, the imperfective, and the perfective; the progressive however, is only used in the present tense.
The imperfective-progressive typically refers to an action in progress, that is, like "I am going," but like English, these can also be used like future tense verbs. In the tables below, these verbs are in black text. For example: Сегодня вечером, Саша идёт на концерт -- "This evening, Sasha is going to a concert."
Imperfective verbs refer to motions which follow more than one direction (i.e. a round trip/there and back), happens habitually or more than once (i.e. the daily commute) or has no real destination but the starting point (i.e. a stroll through the park). In the tables below, these verbs are in blue text. For example Каждый день я хожу на работу -- "Every day I go to work." or Мария ходила в библиотеку -- "Maria went to the library (and has since returned)"
Perfective verbs refer to an motion in the past that occurred once and in one direction, such as a direct flight, or such an action that will occur in the future. Also important with the perfective here is the method of completion; if a person goes somewhere, and at the time you describe the action has yet to return, the perfective, barring any contextual nuance, is used. Likewise these verbs are marked with red text. For example: Катя пошла в магазин -- "Katya went to the store (and has yet to return)"
||Movement by Vehicle|
||пошёл, пошла, пошли||Past Tense||ехал(а)/(и)||ездил(а)/(и)||поехал(а)/(и)|
Note: If you can't decide whether to refer to motion on foot or motion by vehicle, and there is no illogic in choosing one or the other, simply use идти/ходить.
Additional Verbs of Motion
There are a number of other verbs that either are or behave like the Verbs of Motion above. The идти/ходить and ехать/ездить pairs are repeated below to more clearly show the equivalents.
|To Go (on foot)
||шёл, шла, шли
|To Go (by vehicle)
||ехал, ехала, ехали
||бежал, бежала, бежали
|To Wander, Stroll
||брёл, брела, брели
|To Carry (by vehicle), Deliver
||вёз, везла, везли
|To Lead, Conduct
||вёл, вела, вели
|To Chase, Drive
||гнал, гнала, гнали
||лeз, лезла, лезли
||летeл, летeла, летeли
||нёс, несла, несли
|To Swim, Sail
||плыл, плыла, плыли
||полз, ползла, ползли
||тащил, тащила, тащили|
|To Go (on foot)
||ходил, ходила, ходили
|To Go (by vehicle)
||ездил, ездила, ездили
||бегал, бегала, бегали
|To Wander, Stroll
||бродил, бродила, бродили
|To Carry (by vehicle), Deliver
||возил, возила, возили
|To Lead, Conduct
||водил, водила, водили
|To Chase, Drive
||гонял, гоняла, гоняли
||лазал, лазала, лазали
||летал, летала, летали
||носил, носила, носили
|To Swim, Sail
||плавал, плавала, плавали
||ползал, ползала, ползали
||таскал, таскала, таскали
33. Food-related verbs
There are a number of verbs associated with food in Russian, many of which have slight to major irregularities in conjugation, so it makes sense to show them here. (The word-list for foods from the previous edition will be added to a second edition in the future.)
The verb "to eat" in Russian is есть in the infinitive-imperfective, and съесть in the perfective. Be careful not to confuse this verb with its homophone which means "is."
However, these aren't the only verbs associated with food and drink. Some are regular, others not.
The past tense of Печь
is irregular: Пёк (masc.,) Пекла (fem.,) Пекло (neut.,) Пекли (pl.) As is that of Жечь:
Жёг (masc.,)Жгла (fem.,) Жгло (neut.,) Жгли (pl.)
34. The Imperative Mood
The Imperative Mood is used when giving instructions, orders, or advice to another person. There are three forms, depending on how well you know the person/people involved, how many people there are, and how polite you want to be. We can break the imperatives down into three groups via this criteria:
1-- Informal: used when you know the person well or when talking to children.
2--Formal/Plural: Used when talking to a person you just met, a person of authority, or a group of people.
3--Informal-Plural: Used when talking to a group of people, when you have no desire to indcate formality. Most often used in the Army and similar circumstances.
How to form the Imperative:
For number 1, you have would add one of the following four endings to the stem, and number 2 is simply adding -те onto number 1. This is, admittedly, easier said than done, since the endting to be added is dependent on factors of syllable stress and stem endings.
--и -If the stress moves at any point during conjugation.
i.e. Входить (the я вхожу ты входишь) Входите!
--ай -If the stress is on the ending and doesn't shift in conjugation; most, but not all, verbs have -ать infinitive endings.
i.e. Передать - The stress is on the ending (a,) and does not change in conjugation, so it becomes Передай.
--ь -If the stress is on the stem rather than the ending, and the ending itself has a softening vowel, such as -ять, -еть, or -ить.
i.e. Доставить - The stress is on the stem, and does not change in conjugation, and so it becomes Доставь.
--уй - for verbs ending in -овать.
i.e. голосовать, which becomes голосуйте.
--ой - for verbs ending in -ыть, excluding быть.
i.e. Закрыть becomes закройте.
Number three is simply the infinitive form of the verb.
Aspect is also very important when using infinitives, and while Russians don't always follow the general rules in place, (but then who does all the time?) they are as follows:
-When the imperative is not negated (that is, it's a "do" command, not a "don't do" command) the perfective is generally used first, and successive repetitions of the command use the imperfective. That said, if the imperative is used in conjunction with an adverb that indicates the repetition of (i.e. всегда, etc.) or manner of doing said action (i.e. быстрее, громче, etc.) or if you simply want the action done right away, the imperfective is generally used.
-In cases where the imperative is negated ("don't do" rather than "do") the situation is generally reversed; in the majority of cases, the perfective is used, while the imperfective generally serves as a warning of some dire circumstance should we end up doing the action in question.
Don't be afraid to use imperatives in public situations as they are not necessarily considered rude, though adding пожалуйста dampens even that.
In addition to the above forms, there is also the word пусть, which translates as "let" and used in the same way it is in English. For example:
"Пусть они едят торты," ("Let them eat cake.") Note how the verb is conjugated in agreement with the subject, and not changing due to пусть.
The "Мы imperative"
Alongside the second-person imperative we have already seen, Russian also posesses a first-person. For verbs of motion, this can be as simple as taking the мы form of the verb, while omitting the subject pronoun, and so can be as simple as "пойдём туда!" (let's go there!) When used with more than two people, the sufffix -те can be added, though in conversational speech only, the result being "пойдёмте туда."
More often, however, for both regualr verbs and verbs of motion, the word давай(те) comes before. The word давай itself is the imperative form of the verb давать (to give,) but aside from the literal meaning is one of the most versatile words in Russian; depending on context it can mean "let's go," "hurry up,""get going," or a host of other meanings beyond the scope of this tutorial. As a result, to say "let's go see a movie,"you could say "пойдём(те) в кино," давай(те) пойдём в кино," or "давай(те) сходим в кино."
The Past Imperative
The final imperative form to learn is the past-imperative. Unlike the other imperative forms, however, the past-imperative is mostly restricted to the verbs пойти поехать. We are already familiar with the formation of the past tense, here, as always dependent only on gender and number, so all you need to remember are the three main uses:
-An emphatic way of saying "let's go" or "let's get going."
-A direct (and, depending on whom you are talking to, impolite) way of saying "get going" or "get moving."
-A response to a request to go somewhere or do something, meaning "on the way" or "right away."
35. Relative Pronouns and Conjunctions
Relative clauses in Russian are difficult for two main reasons, the first being that full relative clauses are rarely used in either spoken or written English; the second that there are three different relative constructions in use in Russian, which cannot be used interchangeagbly. Each is examined individually below.
But first, what is a relative clause? Relative clauses are a part of speech, which describes the subject or an object in the sentence, usually wth the am of specifying one among many, with the use of a relative pronoun to replace the subject and a verb and predicates to describe it. They are, in effect, mini-sentences within a sentence.
For instance, look at the sentence "The woman, who was standing on the corner, is my friend's wife." "...who was standing..." is the relative clause in this example. Notice both how it s used to specifiy which woman is the one you are talking about, and how the word "who" takes the place of the noun in question, while the remainder of the words in the sentence follow as though "who" was simply a repetition of the word described. Russian relative pronouns work on this same principle, but must be used in Russian, both written and spoken, unlike in English.
Который is equivalent to the English pronouns which, who, and whom, and is used in much the same way, and is the most straightforward of the relative pronouns use. As the final two letters imply, который declines according to the gender and number of the word described, as well as with any preposition you use, following the same paradigm as most adjectives. However, который must be used when the subject of the relative clause is a noun, rather than a pronoun. Now, let's see the above sentence in Russian:
"Девушка, которая стояла на углу, жена моего друга."
Notice how both the relative pronoun and verb both agree with the word being described (женщина) in gender and number. The same applies if you use a preposition with который:
"Девушка, с которой я учился, сейчас работает врачoм." (The woman I went to school with is now a doctor, or more accurately, the woman, with whom I went to school, now works as a doctor.)
Again, notice how the ending on который follows the gender and number of the word described (femnine, singular) and the case dictated by the preposition c (instrumental.) In this sentence, however, the verb ending corresponds with that of я rather than девушка, since the description within the relative clause is based not around the action of the person in question, but the speaker.
The real difficulty comes when you do just that, and describe in a relative clause based on your own experience; который must be declined in accordance not only with the word being described, but how который fits into the relative clause, as though it were a standalone sentence; the gender and number come from the word beng described, but everything else is determined by the relation to the verb of the relative pronoun. For instance:
-"Девушка, которую я знаю..." (The woman, whom I know...) In this instance, the relative pronoun is the direct object of the verb with the speaker as the subject, and thus it takes the accusative case. And:
-"Девушка, которой он дал подарок..." (The woman, to whom he gave the gift...) Here, it takes the place of the indirect object, and so takes the dative case, since in the relative clause the woman is the recipient of the gift, regardless of the case of the word in the rest of the sentence.
The pronoun который, however, is only used when the thing described is written as a noun in the sentence. There are of course instances where the use of a noun is impractical or simply repetitive. In such cases, you would use a то, что or то, кто construction, depending on whether you are referring to a thing or person, respectively. The best way to learn them is to see examples of how they are used:
То, что/То, кто/То, как
The construction то, что along with its counterpart то, кто are somewhat more difficult to learn to use properly. They translate as "that, which" or "they, who." Either pronoun can be declined according to context, with or without prepositions. In addition, they are used in instances where in English you can attach prepositions to an action or verb instead of a noun or pronoun as a result of weak case governance and the expansion of roles of participles. Russian, along with most languages, however, does not allow this, as a preposition must be tied to a noun or pronoun, no exceptions. То, как is really more of a conjunction than a relative pronoun, but I include it here due to the similarities with то, что and то, кто.
-Я не знаю то, о чём ты говоришь. -- "I don't know what you are talking about."
-Преподаватель спросил нам о том, что мы делали. -- "The teacher asked us about what we were doing."
-Я ещё не нашёл то, что я ищу. -- "I still haven't found what I'm looking for."
-Кошки любят тех, кто их кормит. -- "Cats love those who feed them."
-Бог помогает тем, кто себе помогает. -- "God helps those who help themselves."
-Бери только то, что нужно, чтобы выжить. -- "Take only that which is necessary to survive."
-Мы хотели бы пoблагодарить ваc за то, что вы пришли сюда сегодня. -- "We would like to thank you for coming here today."
-Перед тем, как я ухожy на работу, я каждый день готовлю для семьи кофе. - "Before I leave for work, every morning I make coffee for the rest of the family."
-В своей книге Социальный Контракт, философ Руссо говорит о том, как строить идеальную демокрацию. - "In his book The Social Contract, the philosopher Rousseau writes about how to build the perfect democracy."
Also, if you use a pronoun other than то to one of its declensions such as их, тебя or нас and so forth, the same applies.
36. Expressing "To Be"
While Russian does have a verb "to be," it is unique in both the Slavonic family, as well as Indo-European languages as a whole in that it is generally omitted in Russian in the present tense, a phenomenon present in Turkish, Hebrew and Arabic as well. Therefore, not only does Russian have no articles, it also has no common words for "is" or "are." In writing, the "is," among other things, is represented by a dash, but not always. Thus you get statements such as: "Твоя подруга - красивая девушка" or "Your girlfriend is a beautiful young woman." Spoken Russian can be quite terse, as a result, but understanding it is not overly difficult once you get used to the idea, however.
To express "there is," the infinitive есть plus the nominative case. The verb есть can also be used to emphasize the "is" or "are," especially when the phrase would otherwise be the repetition of two words. The word есть also literally means "is," and is used to represent "is" or "are" for cases of particular strong emphasis.
To express "to be" something, you would use the verb быть plus the instrumental case. Thus, "После университета я хочу быть редактором газеты." (After university, I want to be the editor of a newspaper.)
If you're using adjectives, you may use the short forms to express "is" or "are." For instance, цветы красивы (the flowers are beautiful) or было приятно познакомться с вами! (It was good to meet you!) However, for most adjectives, short form usage is restricted to written and/or formal Russian, long forms being more common, as well as less ambiguous in certain instances; крациво and красива sound the same, though admittedly, so do красивы and красивый.
Otherwise, you speak as you would normally, just omitting "is" or "are."
37. School-related verbs
|There are a half-dozen verbs related to education
that are very similar in root and/or possible translations, but
each has a specific meaning not always interchangeable with the
38. Expressing "To Have" and "To Want" and Modality
Possession is usually shown by using the genitive preposition у plus the possessor, then есть and the object possessed in the nominative case. For example "I have a book" is "У меня есть книга." (Literally, "At me there is a book") If needs be, the word order can be changed a little, but keep the preposition y in front of the possessor.
-The verb хотить "to want" is one of only a few truly irregular verbs in Russian, and is used in much the same way as in English. Be sure to remember the conjugation:
Like English, however, Russian also contains ways of expressing desire in more polite forms. Two more are:
-Я хотел(а) бы... I would like (Used for polite requests; more official)
-Мне хочется... I would like (Used like хотел бы; but less official)
To express modality, Russians tend to use "impersonal" or "subjectless" constructions. The basis of this is the "modal," the dative case form of the name or pronoun, and an infinitive verb. Thus, if I wanted to say "I need to finish reading this book," I would say "Мне (dative of "Я") надо (modal) прочитать (infinitive verb) эту книгу (object)" Literally translated, this comes out as "It is necessary for me to read this book." Such forms are the basis for expressing modality.
Common modals include:
Надо -- "It is necessary" (Must, more colloquial)
Нужно -- "It is necessary" (Must, proper)
Трудно, Тяжело -- "It is difficult"
Легко -- "It is easy"
Невозможно -- "It is impossible"
Можно -- "It is possible" (May/Can) (The verb мочь --могу, можешь, может, можем, можете, могут-- can be used when it refers to physical ability)
Нельзя -- "It is impossible/forbidden" (Used with perfective verbs, this indicates that for the time being, the action is physically impossible to do, whereas the imperfective indicates that it is not allowed or that doing so is discouraged for whatever reason. )
Another common option is to use должен to express "must" or "have to," in conjunction with an infinitive verb. Должен declines according to the subject; masculine - должен, feminine - должна, and plural - должны.
If, however the thing needed is a noun, you would use the dative form of the subject, plus нужен/нужна/нужны plus the needed object in the Dative case. Note here that the form of нужен that you choose is dependent on the gender/number of the object, not the subject.