Lesson 154

Можно, нельзя, надо, должен, пора in the Past and Future tense

The audio for the lesson is available at the bottom of the screen under the blue button.

In the last two lessons we’ve learned and practiced such Russian words as можно, нельзя, надо, нужно, пора, должен. But all our examples were in the Present tense. In this lesson we’ll learn to use all these words in the Past and the Future tense.

This is actually quite simple:
– For the Past tense, just add было to the sentence as in the examples below. Change было in gender and number for должен and нужно.
– For the future tense, use будет in accordance with the gender and number.

Have a look at the examples:

Мне на́до бы́ло позвони́ть.
I needed to make a call.

Мне на́до бу́дет позвони́ть.
I will need to make a call.

Ему́ пора́ бы́ло уходи́ть на пе́нсию.
It was time for him to retire.

Ему́ пора́ бу́дет уходи́ть на пе́нсию.
It will be time for him to retire.

In some cases “надо было” is translated as “should have”, for example:

На́до бы́ло слу́шаться роди́телей.
(You) should have listened to (your) parents.

Нам на́до бы́ло оста́ться до́ма.
We should have stayed at home.

Masculine examples:

Ему́ ну́жен был сове́т.
He needed a piece of advice.

Ему́ ну́жен бу́дет сове́т.
He will need a piece of advice.

Feminine examples:

Ка́тя должна́ была́ э́то сде́лать.
Katya was supposed to do that.

Ка́тя должна́ бу́дет э́то сде́лать.
Katya will have to do that.

Neuter examples:

Э́то должно́ бы́ло оста́ться ме́жду на́ми.
It was supposed to stay between us.

Э́то должно́ бу́дет оста́ться ме́жду на́ми.
It will have to stay between us.

Russian Pod 101

Plural examples:

Ему́ ну́жны бы́ли де́ньги.
He needed money.

Ему́ ну́жны бу́дут де́ньги.
He will need money.


Let’s do some exercises. Fill up the blanks with the correct tense and the form of the words we’ve learned:

  1. Ты … этого делать.
    You (feminine) didn’t have to do it.
  2. … ваши документы.
    I will need your documents.
  3. … мне сказать.
    (You) should have told me.
  4. Ты … все убрать.
    You (masculine) will have to clean everything.
  5. … твоя помощь.
    I needed your help.
  6. … этого делать.
    You should not have done it. / You didn’t have to do that.
  7. … всех предупредить.
    We’ll have to warn everyone. (Lit. – It will be needed to warn everyone.)

1. не должна была
2. Мне нужны будут
3. Надо было
4. должен будешь
5. Мне нужна была
6. Тебе не нужно/надо было
7. Надо будет

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The offline version of the course includes the lessons in MP3 and PDF formats. The PDF files are available in two formats: for desktop and mobile devices.