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Verbs in Russian Language - Part I (Introduction)
Infinitive form of the verb is the basic form of the verb that is listed in dictionaries. Verbs in infinitive form end in -ать, -ить, -еть or -ся (for reflexive verbs).
ЗНАТЬ - to know
ПИТЬ - to drink
ВИДЕТЬ - to watch
УЛЫБАТЬСЯ - to smile
These verbs apply the action to the subject in the sentence. They can be described as one word verb that would be translated in English as "VERB ...self".
You bought yourself a car.
He washed himself after the training.
In these examples the action reflects on the subject in the sentence.
In Russian language "VERB ...self" is replaced by a single verb. These verbs end in -ся in the dictionaries. Bear in mind that the reflexive aspect of the verb is not always the same in English language and in Russian language.
The important thing to notice is that -ся is appended to the standard form of the verb, ending in -ать, -ить or -еть.
КОНЧАТЬСЯ - to end
ДОГОВОРИТЬСЯ - to agree
Before we see how to express actions that are taking place now, in the past or in the future, let me point out one important thing about Russian verbs. Every verb in Russian language has an aspect, and there are two aspects: perfective and imperfective aspect. What is verb's aspect is determined by the fact whether the verb itself implies the action that is finished or is still taking place.
ПРОДАВАТЬ - to sell (still selling) - IMPERFECT aspect
ПРОДАТЬ - to sell (sold) - PERFECT aspect
Although it seems that one verb is in present form and the other in past form in English language, in Russian that is not the case. How each aspect is used will be explained further down the road in this text. Just remember that there a verb has an aspect. In different situation, different verb must be used.
Also note that for every verb with imperfective aspect there is it's match with perfective aspect. When you want to speak about an action in present tense you will use imperfective verb (there is no present for perfective verbs), but when you want to speak about the same action in the future, you can use its perfective match.
Now that we are familiar with these three important facts about verbs in Russian let's move on to verb tenses.