Russian Verbs and Pronouns
Russian Language Lesson 5

Now that you have learnt some basic Russian phrases, it is time to start forming your own Russian sentences. To do this you need to learn about Russian verbs and pronouns. This lesson will enable you to start forming short Russian sentences. When you are learning to speak Russian it is easiest to start by just using short sentences. Often you can break a long sentence into several short ones. This is a long lesson, and introduces some of the most difficult concepts in Russian. So don't worry if you need to go slowly, or it takes some time to understand at first. You can always come back and review this lesson. When you have completed this lesson you will have taken a major step forward in understanding Russian grammar.


Verbs are action words, they are things you can do. For example: run, walk, love, eat, want.

Pronouns are words that can replace names. For example: I, you, he, she, him, her, it.

In the sentence "I love him". "love" is the verb. The subject is "I", and the object is "him".

Russian Pronouns

Here are the Russian pronouns that can be used as the subject of a sentence. (Known as the nominative case.)

Я - I

Ты - You (informal)

Он - He, It (m)

Она - She, It (f)

Оно - It (n)

Мы - We

Вы - You (formal, or plural)

Они - They

Вы is used as the formal singular "you", and the plural "you" (slang: "yous" or "you all") when talking to more than one person.

Here are the Russian pronouns that can be used as the object of a sentence. (Known as the accusative case)

Меня - Me

Тебя - You (informal)

Его - ("yevo") - Him, It (m,n)

Её - Her, It (f)

Нас - Us

Вас - You (formal, or plural)

Их - Them

You should be familiar with using different pronouns for the subject and object of a sentence ("me" instead of "I"). Just remember that unlike English,Russian uses an extra version of the word "you". You should memorise these pronouns.

Russian Verbs

You will be pleased to know that Russian has only one present tense. In Russian there is only one way of saying "I work", "I am working" and "I do work".

Russian verbs change their endings depending on the subject. This happens a little in English, but not as much. (Example: I work, he works). This happens according to two different patterns known as the first conjugation, and the second conjugation. (There are also some irregular verbs). Both these patterns are quite similar, and once you get the hang of it, it is not too difficult.

The first conjugation

The first conjugation is used for verbs ending in "ть" but not "ить". It is the most common.

To form the verb for each person you need to drop the last two letters of the infinitive (normally "ть"), and add the appropriate ending ("ю", "ешь", "ет", "ем", "ете" or "ют").Let’s take a look at a verb that uses the first conjugation: работать (to work).

Playработать - To work. (infinitive, dictionary form)

PlayЯ работаю - I work

PlayТы работаешь - You work

PlayОн, Она, Оно работает - He, She, It works.

PlayМы работаем - We work

PlayВы работаете - You work.

PlayОни работают - They work.

Let's try some other Russian words from the first conjugation:

Playпонимать - To understand. (infinitive, dictionary form)

PlayЯ понимаю - I understand.

PlayТы понимаешь - You understand.

PlayОн, Она, Оно понимает - He, She, It understands

PlayМы понимаем - We understand.

PlayВы понимаете - You understand.

PlayОни понимают - They understand.

PlayЗнать - To know. (infinitive, dictionary form)

PlayЯ знаю - I know.

PlayТы знаешь - You know.

PlayОн, Она, Оно знает - He, She, It knows.

PlayМы знаем - We know.

PlayВы знаете - You know.

PlayОни знают - They know.

Remember you can make a statement negative by using the word "не" (not). For example:

PlayЯ не знаю - I don't know.

PlayЯ не понимаю - I don't understand.

PlayОн не понимает - He doesn't understand.

You can also form questions:

Ты знаешь? - Do you know?

PlayТы понимаешь? - Do you understand?

The second conjugation

Verbs where the infinitive ends in "ить" use the second conjugation.

Now we will introduce some verbs from the second conjugation. There are also some other verbs that use this conjugation.

The second conjugation uses the endings "ю" (or "у") "ишь" "ит" "им" "ите" "ят" (or "ат"), which replace "ить".

Note 1: The second conjugation is affected by the spelling rules.

Note 2: The first person singuar is affected by the rule of consonant mutation. Remember, this only applies to the first-person singular (Я).

Playговорить - To speak. (infinitive, dictionary form)

PlayЯ говорю - I speak.

PlayТы говоришь - You speak.

Он, Она, Оно говорит - He, She, It Speaks.

Мы говорим - We speak.

Вы говорите - You speak.

Они говорят - They speak.

Playслышать - To hear.

Playслышу - I hear.

Playслышишь - You hear.

слышит - He, She, It hears.

слышим - We hear.

слышите - You hear.

слышат - They hear.

For Example:

PlayЯ говорю по-английски - I speak English

PlayОн говорит по-русски - He speaks Russian

PlayВы говорите по-русски? - Do you speak Russian?

PlayМы не говорим по-русски - We don't speak Russian.

PlayСобака не говорит по-английски - The dog doesn't speak English.

Irregular Verbs

There are a number of irregular verbs in Russian. (Verbs that don't exactly follow the above rules). However, often once you know the stem of the verb, you can often predict the endings. Even irregular verbs normally follow a similar pattern to those above.

Some examples:

PlayЕхать - To go (by transport).

PlayЯ еду - I go (by transport).

PlayТы едешь - You go (by transport).

PlayОн, Она, Оно едет - He, She, It goes (by transport).

PlayМы едем - We go (by transport).

PlayВы едете - You go (by transport).

PlayОни едут - They go (by transport).

Notice that once you know the stem "Ед" it almost follows the first conjuction, except that "у" replaces "ю".

PlayЖить - To live.

PlayЯ живу - I live.

PlayТы живёшь - You live.

PlayОн, Она, Оно живёт - He, She, It lives.

Мы живём - We live.

Вы живёте - You live.

Они живут - They live.

Notice that "ё" is used instead of "е" when the stress falls on the ending.


Я живу в Лондоне - I live in London.

Он едет домой - He is going home


Use this video to practice some phrases about languages. Take me to YouTube.


You now know the main concepts involved in forming Russian verbs. This lesson contained a lot of grammar, which is some of the hardest in the Russian language, so don't worry if you found this lesson a little difficult at first. In lesson 7 you will get some more practice. In the next lesson we will introduce some grammar associated with nouns (things), so by lesson 7 we will have covered enough grammar to have some practice forming sentences.

To help you remember some of the concepts learnt in this lesson, you may wish to work through the exercises.

More Conjugations of Russian Verbs

Recommended Books For Learning Russian

A Comprehensive Russian Grammar - A great reference on Russian grammar.

The New Penguin Russian Course: A Complete Course for Beginners - Probably the best course in a book.

The Big Silver Book of Russian Verbs - A great reference book of conjugated Russian verbs.

Russian Learners' Dictionary: 10,000 Russian Words in Frequency Order - A simple but powerful concept. Expand your vocabulary by learning the most used words first.