Russian Grammar

Introduction to Russian verbs

Russian verbs never keep the same initial form. Their endings change depending on the person perfoming an action. The original form of the verb is called the infinitive. It shows the action or a state of being but does not tell who performs the action or when it was performed. The infinitive form of the Russian verbs always ends in -ТЬ, -ЧЬ or -ТИ as you can see in the table.

-ТЬ                   Читать (to read)
-ЧЬ Мочь (to be able to)
-ТИ Любить (to love)

Now let’s see how you can put the infinitive to use.

1. The first way is to use a constuction of the form:

(Russian verbs)
Хотеть
Мочь                       
Любить
+ infinitive

Keep in mind that the first verb in the structure changes. We are going to learn the ins and outs of conjugation (a scarie term meaning that verbs change) in the next lesson. But if you can’t help waiting to express that you or someone else wants, loves, or is capable of doing something, the following table will come in handy. Simply pick the appropriate form of verb and use it in the structure you've just learned. For example, you could say: Я хочу читать. - I want to read.

Pronoun
to want
to be able to
to love
Я
хочу
могу
люблю
Мы
хотим
можем
любим
Ты
хочешь
можешь
любишь
Вы
хотите
можете
любите
Он, она
хочет
может
любит
Они
хотят
могут
любят

2. The second way to use the infinitive is in a construction of the form:

(Russian verbs)
Надо      
Нужно
Можно
Нельзя
+ infinitive

Here are some examples:

Нельзя курить.      No smoking.
Надо купить. It's needed to buy.
Нужно работать.                   It's needed to work.
Можно сделать. It's possible to make.

3. Finally, the infinitive is used when talking about things in the future. Imagine that your Russian friend has just asked you a question “Что ты будешь делать завтра?” Although you don’t understand all the grammar used in the sentence, your intuition suddenly tells you that your friend asked about your plans for tomorrow. Here is a template to help you in this situation:

Я буду + [infinitive].                 I will + [infinitive].

Mini Quiz #1

Use the correct form for the verbs in the brackets.

1. Он …………………… (хотеть) позвонить домой.
2. Мой брат ………………………… (хотеть) учить русский язык.
3. Мои дети ……………………….. (хотеть) спать.
4. Я ………………………. (любить) работать.
5. Вы …………………….. (хотеть) есть?
6. Она ………………………….(любить) смотреть телевизор.
7. Ты ………………………… (хотеть) курить?
8. Мои родители ……………………….. (хотеть) приехать завтра в 4 часа.
9. Ты ……………………… (мочь) танцевать?

Mini Quiz #2

Answer the questions. The answer to the first question is given for you.

1. Что вы хотите делать сегодня вечером? Сегодня вечером я хочу + [a verb in the infinitive].
2. Что вы любите делать?
3. Вы можете плавать?
4. Вы хотите спать сейчас?
5. Вы можете рисовать?

Other sites that explain Russian verbs: Russian verbs, Conjugation of Russian verbs





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