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When to use the soft sign in verbs with -тся

Hello, dear student!
My students often make mistakes in the usage of verbs, especially of the soft sign after -тся [tsya]. Moreover, even Russians don't always use verbs with the soft sign or without it correctly. Let's find out, what should we do and how should we use it correctly?

We use the soft sign in verbs, if we can ask questions "что делать?" [shto delat'?], "что сделать?" [shto sdelat'?] in their indefinite form (that is given in dictionaries).

На деревьях начали появляться цветы [Na derevyakh nachali payavlyat'sya tsvety] - There are flowers on the tree which began to appear.

(начали что делать?) - появляться - They began to do what? - to appear.

We do not write the soft sign in verbs, if they answer the questions "что делает?" [shto delait?], "что сделает?" [shto sdelait?].

На небе скоро появятся первые звездочки, и деревня начнет засыпать [Na nebe skora payavyatsya pervye zvyozdachki, i direvnya nachnyot zasypat'] - There will be the first stars on the sky, and the village will fall asleep.

Что сделают? Появятся - They will do what? - They will be.

There can be such situations, when a sentence doesn't have any subject and we can't ask question, - it means we will write the verb in the 3rd person without soft sign:

Учиться всегда пригодится [Uchit'sya fsigda prigaditsya] - To study/learn something is always useful
Приходится жить на пособие [Prikhoditysa zhit' na pasobie] - To have to live on unemployment benefit

Что делается? Пригодится/ приходится

There is one more way to check the presence of the soft sign in verbs - you should just omit the particle -ся [sya] in the verb and get the following:

Приходится - приходит_ - [prikhoditsya - prikhodit].

Even if you don't write it but just pronounce, omitting the particle you will understand that the sound -т [t] is hard, without the soft sign. Compare:

Спускаться с горки [Spuskat'sya s gorki] - To go down the hill

Спускаться (go down) - we omit the particle -ся so the verb should definitely have the soft sign - it's important to know the difference between the soft and hard sign.

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