The Past Tense of the Verb

Прошедшее время глагола

The Russian language has only one past tense form.

The English counterparts of the Russian past tense are the Past Indefinite,

the Past Continuous, the Present Perfect, and the Past Perfect.

Past tense forms are derived from the Infinitive stem.


The past tense of verbs whose infinitive ends in -ть is formed by adding the suffix -л- to the infinitive stem:

я, ты,


чита-ть чита + л = читал

  to read

я, ты, она чита-ть чита + ла = читала
мы, вы, они чита-ть чита + ли = читали

The majority of Russian verbs whose infinitive stem ends in a vowel, form the past tense in this way.

In the past tense verbs do not change for person; they change for number and gender.


REMEMBER special formation of past tense forms in the following verbs:

есть (to eat) ел, ела, ело, ели

сесть (to sit down) сел, села, село, сели

идти (to go) шёл, шла, шло, шли