The tenses of the Russian verbs

There are three tenses in Russian—past, present and future. Their meaning is obvious from the names and is the same as in English. Let’s take a look at each of the tenses and see how they are related to the aspect of the Russian verbs.

The Past tense

The past tense is used to describe actions and situations that took place in the past. You can use either perfective or imperfective verbs in the past tense. If an action happened only once or its result is important to the speaker, the perfective form of the Russian verbs is used.

Я пригласил друзей.          I invited friends. (result)

If an action wasn’t finished or was taking place several times in the past, imperfective verbs must be used.

Я приглашал друзей.          I was inviting friends. (process)

The Present tense

The present tense form is very simple and similar to the present simple tense the English.

Я знаю.       I know.
Я вижу Анну. I see Anna.
Я звоню другу.       I am calling a friend.

Since actions take place in the present and are not finished yet, only imperfective verbs can be used in the present tense.

Я приглашаю друзей каждое воскресенье.            I invite friends every Sunday.

The Future tense

The future tense describes actions that will take place in future time. There are two forms of the future tense—simple and compound.


The simple future tense is used to stress the result of the future action. It is formed from perfective Russian verbs with the help of certain personal endings that will be covered later.

Я узнаю кто сделал это.          I will find out who did this.


The compound future tense is used to talk about ongoing actions in the future. It is formed by adding the infinitive of imperfective verbs to the future simple tense form of the verb БЫТЬ (to be). The structure of the compound future tense is remarkably similar to simple future tense in English.

Я буду знать кто сделал это.          I will know who did this.

Make sure that you conjugate the verb БЫТЬ as shown in the table.

       + will/shall       
      + to know       
Он, она

More sites that teach Russian verbs and aspect: List of Common Russian verbs, Russian verbs - Overview & Aspects

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