Past tense in Russian

February 11, 2016

Russian verbs have only 3 tenses – past, present and future. It is quite easy – when you speak about anything that happened some time ago (even one second ago), you should use the Past Tense. The past tense is very easy in Russian if you know the infinitive of the verb ('to...'). All you do is remove the last two letters -ть from the infinitive "быть" and add the following endings:

masculine - Л

feminine - ЛА

neuter - ЛО

plural - ЛИ

For example:

он был (He was)

онА былА (She was)

онО бЫло (It was) - The sky was blue (НЕбо (онО) бЫло голубОе)

онИ бЫли (They were)

If the subject is "я" (I) or "ты" (you), we use "был" if the pronoun refers to a man and "была" if it refers to a woman: Я былА в Мaнчестере в прошлом году. (I was in Manchester last year.- (I'm a woman)

We always use "были" with "вы" (You), even if we address just one person:

Иван АндрЕевич, где Вы бЫли? = Ivan AndryEyevich, where have you been?

Ты уже был в Перу? = Have you been to Peru yet? (You're a man)

Ты уже былА в Перу? = Have you been to Peru yet? (You`re a woman)

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