Past Tense in Russian language

As you already know Russian language is divided only in 3 tenses: Present Tense, Past Tense and Future Tense. In previous article, we have explained Present Tense and ways of its usage. We think it’s smart to study Past Tense as a second tense of Russian language since it’s easy and fast to learn.

It also worth to mention that Russian Past Tense is similar to Past Simple, Past Continuous, Past Perfect and Perfect Continuous as well as Present Perfect in English. The last one refers to Past tense in Russian because it’s already finished (complete) action. And everything that has been done has to be used in Past tense in Russian language.

In English

=

In Russian

Present Perfect

Past Tense in Russian

Past Simple

Past Continuous

Past Perfect

Past Perfect Continuous

The formation of Past Tense is the easiest to remember. From “The infinitive verb in Russian” lesson you already know that there is three types of ending of Russian infinitive verb:

-ть; -ти and -чь.

1. The formation of Past Tense in Russian language with infinitive ending: -ть.

All you need is to remove the ending “ть” from infinitive form of the Russian verb and add the following endings accordingly to Gender and Quantity:

Example of Infinitive verb

Ending in Past Tense

Past Tense

Делатьto do, to make

Replace the ending “ть” with the following ending in Past tense

Masculine gender – л

Он делал – He did

Feminine gender – ла

Она делала – She did

Neutral gender – ло

Оно делало – It did

Plural form – ли

Они делали – They did

Always keep in mind the following: When “я” is the subject, the verb agrees with the subject’s gender, so a man should say: “я делал”; a woman should say: “я делала”.

As well as the gender of the person addressed is “ты”. If the subject “ты” is a woman then feminine formation should be used or the subject “ты” is man then masculine formation has to be used accordingly: Ты сделала (for woman) / ты сделал (for man).

2. The formation of Past Tense in Russian language with infinitive ending: -ти.

The formation of Russian Past tense with such ending is the easiest thing to do. In case, you have infinitive verb ending “-ти” in Russian you need to remember this:

a)    With Masculine gender to form a Past Tense you simply remove the ending -ти.

b)    With Feminine, Neuter and Plural genders you apply the first rule of this article. Replace -ти with -ла, -ло and -ли accordingly.

For example:

Example of Infinitive verb

Ending in Past Tense

Past Tense

везтиto carry, convey (by transport)

ползтиto crawl

Masculine gender

Remove the ending -ти

Он вёз – He carried

Он полз – He crawled

Feminine -ла

Она везла – She carried

Она ползла – She crawled

Neuter -ло

Оно везло – It carried

Оно ползло – It crawled

Plural -ли

Они везли – They carried

Они позли – They crawled

Note: In the masculine form in the Past tense the letter “е” in the stem of some verbs has to be replaced with “ё”. This rule is also applicable to all situations.

3. The formation of Past Tense in Russian language with infinitive ending: -чь.

a)    In case of Masculine gender you replace the infinitive ending “-чь” with the ending “” or “”.     b)    Feminine, Neuter and Plural genders are formed by adding to Masculine formation (to the previous option “a)”) “” or “” endings additional endings of Feminine, Neuter and Plural accordingly “-ла”, “-ло” or “-ли”.

For example:

Example of Infinitive verb

Ending in Past Tense

Past Tense

беречьto take care of, to protect

отвлечьto distract, to divert

г / к

Он берёг – He took care of

Он отвлёк – He distracted

Feminine -ла

Она берегла – She took care of

Она отвлекла – She distracted

Neuter -ло

Оно берегло – It took care of

Оно отвлекло – It distracted

Plural -ли

Они берегли – They took care of

Они отвлекли – They distracted

Past Tense with Reflexive Verbs

Reflexive verbs maintain the reflexive endings (-ся and -сь) and they are conjugated in exactly the same way as discussed already above. Let’s explain what we mean by that.

For example:

Example of Infinitive verb

Ending in Past Tense

Past Tense

беречьto take care of, to protect

отвлечьto distract, to divert

г / к + reflexive ending -ся

Он берёгся – He took care of himself

Он отвлёкся – He distracted himself

Feminine -ла + reflexive ending -сь

Она береглась – She took care of herself

Она отвлеклась – She distracted herself

Neuter –ло + reflexive ending -сь

Оно береглось – It took care of itself

Оно отвлеклось – It distracted itself

Plural –ли + reflexive ending -сь

Они береглись – They took care of themselves

Они отвлеклись – They distracted themselves

All those 3 rules with infinitive endings “-ть”, “-ти” and “-чь” can go along with reflexive endings (-ся and -сь) in case you need to form SELF actionable form (or reflexive form). You simply apply the rule according to what ending it has and then simply add reflexive ending to form reflexive verbs in Past Tense in Russian language.

Some irregulars from Past tense conjugation

Example of Infinitive verb

Past Tense Conjugation

идти – to go (on foot)

Masculine gender – Он шёл

Feminine gender – Она шла

Neuter gender – Оно шло

Plural gender – Они шли

мочь – to be able to, can

Masculine gender – Он мог

Feminine gender – Она могла

Neuter gender – Оно могло

Plural gender – Они могли

мести – sweep, broom

Masculine gender – Он мёл

Feminine gender – Она мела

Neuter gender – Оно мело

Plural gender – Они мели

If you still have any questions, please write them in a comment section or ask for a professional tutor.


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