Russian Language Grammar

    Structure and Verbal Forms

Structure

Russian verbs have:

  • Moods – Infinitive, Indicative (Common), Conditional (Subjunctive), and Impera­tive.

  • Tenses – Present, Past, Future.

  • Other forms – Participles and Gerunds.

  • Aspects – Imperfective and Perfective.

 

This last notion can be summarized here as follows:

The Imperfective aspect expresses a continuous or a repeated action.

The Perfective aspect usually expresses the completion, beginning or a duration of an action.   

The meaning (if not always the translation) is expressed as follows:

  • Imperfective Infinitive – to be doing something (continuously or repeatedly), it answers the question "что делать?" (what to do? what to be doing?).

  • Perfective Infinitive – to do something, it answers the question "что сделать?" (what to have done?).

Note:  The present tense, the present participle, and the present gerund have no perfective aspect.

Derivation of Verbal Forms

All verbal forms are derived from one of the following stems:

1. The stem of the infinitive   

 

Infinitive

Past

Example:

писать

писал

 2. The stem of the present (or the perfective future)

 

Present

(3rd pers. plural)

Imperative

Example:

пишут

пиши

Notes :

(a)    The two stems may coincide:

Infinitive:   нести   

Present: (они) несут

(b)    The following verbal forms have the same stem as the infinitive: the past tense, the past participle, the past gerund, the imperfective future which is formed with the aid of the infinitive, and the condi­tional mood which is formed with the aid of the past tense.

(c)   The following verbal forms have the same stem as the present: the imperative, the present participle, the present gerund, and the perfective future.