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Conjugation of verbs in Russian. Basic rules

Hello, dear student! Today we will talk about one of the most difficult parts of speech in Russian - verb. No wonder that foreigners always have difficulties with this part of speech during their study. After all, even Russian-speaking people make mistakes. Well, what is the conjugation?

Conjugation is changing of verb in persons and numbers. There are 2 types of conjugation in Russian: the 1st and 2nd one. But here are quite enough exceptions that you need to memorize. Person in the Russian language is a category of verbs which helps to denote who is perfoming an action. As we know from the previous articles, there are 3 persons: the 1st - such pronouns as "я" [ya] - I, "мы" [my] - we; the 2nd - "ты" [ty] - you, "вы" [vy] - you; the 3rd - "он" [on] - he, "она" [ana] - she, "оно" [ano] - it, "они" [ani] - they.

To understand what conjugation this or that verb has, we need to know the importance of stress. The thing is that we determine conjugation according to endings and suffixes of a verb.

1. According to personal stressed verbs in the present tense.
2. If the ending of a verb is unstressed, we determine conjugation according to the suffixes of indefinite form. Let's find out, how to determine conjugation according to personal endings - the highlighted letters are stressed:

1 conjugation

Person Ending Sing. f. Ending Pl. f. Example
1 -у/ю -ем Рисую/Растём - I'm drawing/We are growing
2 -ешь -ете Рисуешь/Растёте - You are drawing/You are growing
3 -ет -ут/ют Рисует/Рисуют - He/She is drawing/ They are drawing

2 conjugation

Person Ending Sing. f. Ending Pl. f. Example
1 -у/ю -им Куплюупим - I'll buy/We'll buy
2 - ишь -ите Приготовишь/Купите - You'll cook/You'll buy
3 - ит -ат/ят Держит/Купят - He/She is keeping/ They'll buy

If a verb has unstressed ending, to determine conjugation of a verb, we need to turn to indefinite form and look at the suffix. But there are many exceptions in the Russian language, which I have described above.

The following suffixes perform verbs of the 1st conjugation:
  • verbs in indefinite form with the suffix -еть [et'], except for 7 verbs-exceptions: видеть [videt'] - to see, обидеть [abidet'] - to offend, ненавидеть [ninavidet'] - to hate, зависеть [zavisit'] - to depend on, терпеть [tirpet'] - to suffer/have patience, смотреть [smatret'] - to watch, вертеть [virtet'] - to turn.
  • verbs which have the suffix -ать [at'] in indefinite form, except for some verbs-exceptions: дышать [dyshat'] - to breathe, гнать [gnat'] - to drive on, слышать [slyshat'] - to hear and держать [dirzhat'] - to hold.
  • three verbs with the suffix -ить [it']: зиждиться [zixdit'sa] (to base on smth.), стелить [stilit'] - to spread and брить [brit'] - to shave.
  • all verbs with the suffixes: -оть [ot'], -уть [ut'], -ть [t']: обуть [abut'] - to put one's shoes, полоть [palot'] - to weed, смолоть [smalot'] - to grind.

Verbs of the 2nd conjugation:
  • all verbs with the suffix -ить, except for 3 verbs which are described in the first conjugation.
  • seven verbs with the suffix -еть, which are described in the first conjugation.
  • four verbs-exceptions with the suffix which are described in the first conjugation.
However, there are a lot of heteroclitic verbs in Russian which can be referred as to the 1st conjugation as to the 2nd one, for example:

Хотеть [khatet'] - to want, чтить [chtit'] - to honor, бежать [bizhat'] - to run, прощать [prashchat'] - to forgive.

These verbs are partially referred to the 1st and 2nd conjugation.

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