Russian Grammar

The past tense of verbs

You know the intial form of the verb already.  It’s time now to see how easy it is to change it to the past tense. The past tense is used to talk about actions and situations that took place in the past. To form the past tense of verbs ending in -ТЬ you should take the -ТЬ ending off and add -Л, -ЛА, -ЛО or -ЛИ depending on the gender and number of the noun related to this verb.

Add -Л if the noun is singular masculine, -ЛА if it is singualr feminine, -ЛО if it’s singualr neuter, and -ЛИ if the noun is plural. See the following table for examples.

  Infinitive  
  Remove  
  Add 
    Get the past tense form    
     Example     

Читать

-ТЬ

Читал
(singular masculine)

Он читал.

-ЛА

Читала
(singular feminine)

Она читала.

-ЛО

Читало

(singular neuter)

Оно читало.

-ЛИ

Читали

(plural all genders)
Они читали.

If the infinitive ends in -ТЬСЯ then the process is the same as above with the exception that you should add -СЯ after -Л and -СЬ after -ЛА, -ЛО and -ЛИ. Let’s take a look at how it works.

  Infinitive  
  Remove  
       Add      
    Get the past tense form    
     Example     

Учиться

-ТЬСЯ

-Л + СЯ

Учился
(singular masculine)

Я учился.

-ЛА + СЬ

Училась
(singular feminine)

Она училась.

-ЛО + СЬ

Училось

(singular neuter)

Оно училось.

-ЛИ + СЬ

Учились

(plural all genders)
Они учились.

Other sites teaching paste tense: Past Tense of Russian Verbs





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