The infinitive verb in Russian

Some of you may be confused with Infinitive verb in Russian language topic but we want to assure you that there is nothing hard about it. Lots of websites have already posted their explanations of it but they could hardly explain 3 easy questions:

  1. What is an infinitive verb in Russian?
  2. How can you remember such a large number of endings of infinitive verbs in Russian?
  3. How infinitive verbs can be used in sentences?

If you know answers on these questions, then skip this article because you already know this topic very well.

#1 What is an infinitive verb in Russian?

It worth to mention, that Russian language has initial form of the words. Initial words are changeable and can be found in a Russian Dictionary. So if you open the Dictionary and see words there, be sure they are all initially formed and by changing endings depending on case, gender, tense, number etc., you get the right formed word for your sentence.

Initial nouns: машина – a car, мебель – a furniture, гитара – a guitar etc.

and

Infinitive verbs: смотреть – to watch, знать – to know, мочь – to be able to…

So what is an Infinitive verb in Russian? It is initial form of verbs that can be found in a Dictionary. Such verbs designate an action or condition but don’t give us information about tense, gender or number in which those are used.

Such infinitive verbs answer two, similar to each other, questions:

What to do? – “Что делать?” – see some examples:

Russian

English

говорить

to speak

любить

to love

готовить

to cook

(Imperfective verbs – simply means the action is in the process

 What to do? – “Что сделать?” – see some examples:

Russian

English

рассказать

to tell

полюбить

to love

готовить

to cook

 (Perfective – simply means the action is finished or complete)

 #2 How can you remember such a large number of endings of infinitive verbs in Russian?

Now, we are about to give you the irrefragable answer.

Some internet resources are offering you to memorize such endings of infinitive verbs in Russian language:

 -ать | -ять | -еть | -уть | -оть | -ыть | -ти | -чь | -зть | -сть | -ить

The secret is that you don’t have to memorize them all! Because you only need to keep in mind those 3 main endings:

Ending

Russian

English

-чь

Беречь

to keep, to safeguard

-ть

Петь

to sing

-ти

Идти

to go, to walk

So the answer on the second question is simple: You have to memorize only 3 main endings of infinitive verbs. The other 8 endings are formed based on those 3.

 #3 How infinitive verbs can be used in sentences?

It’s also quite easy to understand. You just need to remember those simple and logic 6 situations in which Russian infinitive verbs can be used:

1. Russian infinitive verbs can be used in the construction of compound future tense. Therefore it’s similar to English language.

Russian

English

Они будут гулять на улице

They will walk outside

Маша будет петь песню

Maria will sing a song

Мы будем идти в лес

We will go to the forest

 

2. Russian infinitive verbs are used with verbs denoting the beginning, continuation, or ending of an action.

Russian

English

Я начал читать новую книгу

I started reading a new book

Они продолжали кричать друг на друга

They kept shouting at each other

Мы заканчиваем плести новый браслет

We finish weaving a new bracelet

 

3. Russian verbs are also used after such words:

Russian

English

Example

должен

must

Я должен ехать в Москву – I must go to Moscow

рад

glad

happy

Они рады приветствовать новых чемпионов в своём городе – They are happy to welcome new champions in their city

готов

ready

Мы готовы взять маленького щенка к себе домой –

We are ready to take the little puppy to our home

обязан

obliged

Ты должен дать интервью журналистам – You’re obliged to give an interview to journalists

намерен

Intended

Президент намерен распустить парламент – President intends to dissolve parliament

 

4. Russian infinitive verbs are used in combination with predicative adverbs and adjectives, such as: 

Russian

English

Example

надо, нужно

should,

have to

Мне нужно ехать в Москву – I should go to Moscow

необходимо

it is necessary

Необходимо поддерживать друг друга – It’s necessary to support each other

можно

may,

it is possible

Мне можно взять маленького щенка к себе домой –

I may to take the little puppy to my home

нельзя

can’t,

should not

Тебе нельзя пить много кофе – You shout not drink too much coffee

трудно

difficult

Президенту трудно управлять парламентом – It is difficult for the president to manage the parliament

 

5. Russian infinitive verbs are used also in combination with verbs of motion, such as:

Russian

English

Example

идти

to go (by foot)

Мария идёт в кинотеатр смотреть новый фильм – Maria goes to the cinema to watch a new film.

ездить

to go (by vehicle)

Каждый год, мы ездим на море ловить морскую рыбу – Every year we go to the sea to catch sea fish

поехать

to go (by vehicle)

Они поехали покупать новый костюм Андрею –

They went to buy a new suit to Andrew

ходить

to walk

Каждые выходные, я хожу в кафе кушать мороженое – Every weekend, I go to a cafe to eat ice cream

лететь

to fly

Команда канадских хоккеистов летит в США играть с Русской сборной – The team of Canadian hockey players flies to the USA to play with the Russian national team

 Please keep in mind the following: The infinitive verbs are never used with the verb знать – to know!

 

6. Russian infinitive verbs are used as a subject of a sentence where the infinitive often expresses a peremptory (business-like) order.

See the following examples:

Russian

English

Согласно договору №12345, выплатить господину Андрею денежную сумму в размере…

According to the contract #12345, to pay Mr. Andrew a sum of money in the amount of …

Здесь курить ЗАПРЕЩЕНО!

It is forbidden to smoke here!

Громко НЕ разговаривать

Do not talk loudly

 

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