Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript


Hi everybody! Lena here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher where I’ll answer some of your most common Russian questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: What is verb conjugation and what to consider when conjugating a verb?
Verbs conjugation is their form change depending on number and person. Similarly to in English, in Russian, there are three persons: я (ya, “I”), ты (ty, “you”), and он, она, оно (on, ona, ono, “he, she, it”) for singular, and мы (my, “we”), вы (vy, “You”), and они (oni, “they”), for plural.
According to the above, verbs’ conjugations are formed by personal endings, for example, Я читаю (Ya chitayu, “I am reading”), Он читает (On chitayet, “He reads”), Дети читают (Deti chitayut, “Children are reading”).
Knowing conjugations allow us to choose the right unstressed vowel in personal endings of verbs, either Е (e)or И (i). The example of common dilemma: ЧитаЕте (Chitayete, “You are reading”) or ЧитаИте (Chitaite, “you are reading”)? Both words sound equal but have the only correct spelling - ЧитаЕте (Chitayete, “You are reading”). The answer lies in knowing the right conjugation!
In Russian, there are two conjugations. The vowel Е (e) is used for 1st conjugation, and И (i) - for the 2nd. Let’s explore the typical endings of verbs for both conjugations for any person and number.
I conjugation
-у / -ю (-u / -yu),
-ешь / -ёшь (-yesh' / -yosh'),
-ет / -ёт (-yet / -yot),
-ем /-ём (-yem / -yom)
-ете / -ёте (-yete / -yote),
-ут / -ют (-ut / -yut)
II conjugation
у / -ю (u / -yu),
-ишь (-ish'),
-ит (-it),
-им (-im),
-ите (-ite),
-ат /-ят (-at / -yat)
Let’s have a closer look to the first conjugation, by conjugating the verb читать (chitat'), meaning "to read."
Я читаю (ya chitayu), "I am reading"
Ты читаешь (ty chitayesh'), "You are reading"
Он читает (on chitayet), "He is reading"
Мы читаем (my chitayem), "We are reading"
Вы читаете (vy chitayete), "You are reading"
Они читают (oni chitayut), "They are reading"
The pattern is the VERB without the ending ТЬ (t') plus the appropriate ending.
The first conjugation verbs usually end in -ать (-at'), - ять (-yat'), -оть (ot') -еть (et'), -уть (ut') and so on.
Now, let’s see the second conjugation, by conjugating the verb учить (uchit'), meaning "to teach," "to learn," or "to study":
Я учу (ya uchu), "I teach"
Ты учишь (ty uchish'), "you teach"
Он учит (on uchit), "he teaches"
Мы учим (my uchim), "we teach"
Вы учите (vy uchite), "you teach"
Они учат (oni uchat), "they teach"
The pattern is the VERB without the ending ить (-it') plus the appropriate ending.
Usually verbs ending in -ить (-it') fall into the second conjugation. There are some exceptions, for example Брить (brit, “to shave”) and Слышать (slyshat, “to hear”) fall under the first conjugation.
Now, you can easily find the right conjugation of any verb by deriving it into an infinitive form, and then, use the respective correct vowel in its ending! The same works for all the aspects and moods of verbs, for example, if you have ПрочитаЕте (ProchitaYEte, “will have read”), don’t be afraid of the added prefix про- (pro-): just find the infinitive form of the word and the trick's done!


Conjugating verbs may look difficult, but starting practicing with basic verbs will certainly make you proficient and confident in a short time!
Pretty interesting, right?
If you have any more questions, please leave a comment below!
До встречи! (Do vstrechi!) “See you soon!”