"To be" in Russian
The verb to be is the basic building block in any language. Today we will learn the Russian verb to be.
To be in Russian is БЫТЬ [byt’].
It is an irregular verb and it changes completely in the Present tense.
Быть in the Present tense is есть [yest’].
Be careful, as it looks and sounds absolutely the same as the infinitive of the verb to eat, but don’t confuse them!
What makes the Russian verb “to be” even more irregular is that Russians do not really use it in the Present tense except for rare cases. Have a look at these examples:
Я студе́нт. – I am a student.
Ты учи́тель. – You are a teacher.
Он до́ктор. – He is a doctor.
Она́ краси́вая. – She is beautiful.
Вы до́брые. – You are kind (plural).
Они́ у́мные. – They are smart.
As you might have noticed, there are no articles in these sentences either. It’s because articles do not exist in the Russian language.
Practice the examples of this lesson with the audio recording.
Congratulations on learning your first Russian verb! Stick with us, and we will help you with your journey to learn Russian! 🙂
For your homework, practice the conjugation of the Russian verb “быть” with examples and audio.
The offline version of this lesson is available hereStart the quiz
Question # 1Translate to English:Он студент.
- She is a student.
- He is a student.
- I am a student.
- You are a student.
Question # 2Which option is incorrect?
- Он доктор.
- Оно доктор.
- Она доктор.
- Я доктор.
Question # 3Say it in Russian:to be
Question # 4Say it in Russian:She is an engineer.
- Она есть инженер.
- Он есть инженер.
- Она инженер.
- Он инженер.
Question # 5Say it in Russian:He is a professor
- Она профессор.
- Он профессор.
- Они профессор.
- Вы профессор.
Question # 6What is "быть" in the Present tense?
Question # 7Say it in Russian:He is a teacher.
- Он учи́телъ.
- Оно учи́тель.
- Ты учи́телъ.
- Он учи́тель.
Question # 8Say it in Russian:She is beautiful.
- Оно́ краси́вая.
- Ана́ краси́вая.
- Она́ краси́вая.
- Она́ кроси́вая.
Question # 9Which option is incorrect?
- Мы студенты.
- Вы учителя.
- Они брат.
- Она профессор.
Question # 10Translate what you hear
Answered: 0 out of 10
- They are smart.
- We are smart.
- You are kind.
- We are kind.
Correct answers: 0 (0%)
17 comments on “009 – “To be” in Russian”
Hi i am english and have learned to speak a little and read a little and would like to be fluent can you help
I can give you a direction. It all depends on if you can and like to study on your own.
If yes, there are plently of online websites where you can find possibilities to learn and practice on a regular basis. Among our network of Russian websites, I can especially recommend you Learn Russian Words and Very Much Russan:
– The first one, Learn Russian Words, will provide you with the Russian Word of the Day with examples, audio and exercises. You will find a few useful tools as well, such as Russian verb conjugation, declension of Russian nouns and numerals, flashcards. Here is the link: https://learnrussianwords.com/
– The second one, Very Much Russian is for more advanced learners, there you will find an audio podcast about Russian slang and conversational language, collections of Russian jokes and proverbs with translation and audio, as well as a collection of Russian songs. Here is the link: https://verymuchrussian.com/
You can find the list of all the websites of our network here: https://learnrussian101.com/network/
With these and other tools, available online, all you need is a bit of a discipline. Learning and practicing every day a little bit more, you will notice your progress soon enough.
I would also recommend you to find a native speaker to practice with. You can do it, for example, here: http://russianpenpal.com/
If, on the other hand, you prefer to study with a teacher, I can recommend you online Russian school Russificate (https://russianschoolrussificate.com/).
you’re awesome! i’m learning a lot, you’re helping a brazilian here
Thanks for the comment. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask 🙂
I’ve tried 2 simple tests on present and past of to be and there mistakes in each of them. The idea is really good though. I just wish you checked it before implementing.
Can you please let us know what were the mistakes so we can correct them? We do check our tests and don’t see any mistakes in the tests you mentioned.
We also have a page where you can report on any mistakes you find on the site so we can make it better. Thank you.
The subject and predicate are the only words as displayed/written in Russian.
My doubt is, from where did the words like ‘am a ‘, ‘are a’, ‘is a’ appear from?
Are they to be assumed?
As it is said in the lesson, in most cases we omit the verb быть in the Present tense.
When you see a structure like “I student” you should understand it as “I am a student” (and other cases by analogue) by default.
sorry to say in second example you have used ты in place of вы as you taught us in earlier lesson to use вы for elder person and for boss and teachers etc. but you have used ты. Please explain me if i am wrong.
Of course, if you are talking to your own teacher, you should use вы. But if your friend (or your brother, dad, uncle and so on) is a teacher, you say ты. Ты учитель.
Hi, I was reading the comments above, are you Thai? It’s incredibly impressive that you are teaching Russian in English. I’m trying to learn Russian as my third language and it has been a struggle. Your website has helped fill in a lot of gaps! I have noticed a few spelling errors in the first few lessons so far, I didn’t want to comment on all of them and have you feel like I was picking on you. Like I said I am super impressed! Would you like me to go through and find the mistakes and let you know where they are? There aren’t many.
No, I’m Russian, the visitors that left the comments were Thai. But thank you anyway. 🙂
I started this website when I could barely speak English myself, then I re-wrote some of the lessons, but I assume there are still quite a few mistakes. I would greatly appreciate the proofreading indeed. There is actually a form to report on the errors, you can access it via the link right above “We appreciate your support!”. Or you can do it in any convenient for you form and send to valeria at learnrussian101 dot com.
Thank you 🙂
Yes u r helping another Thai here!!
I hate to say this, but exactly in this case using a hyphen is a mistake, because the subject is a pronoun. However, if both subject and predicate are nouns, a hyphen must be used. Compare:
Эта женщина – известный врач. A hyphen is required.
Вы студент? A hyphen is absent.
You can check any puncuation textbooks about that, e.g. http://orthographia.ru/punctum_uk.php?rid=46
Like it is said in the link I gave above, only in rare cases a hyphen is possible between a pronoun subject and a noun predicate, e.g. to express surprise or in contexts of contraposition.
Hope that helps!
In this case what we meant is featuring the pronoun, as it’s described in notes to the rule 1 you mentioned, where the hyphen is possible.
Anyway thanks for the comment, it’s very useful.
I am a Thai and want to speak Russian. Thank you very much for your good website. (I just found it). I think this is one of the best websites for those who study the Russian as second language. There are only vocabularies and phrases (very good phrases) in most Russian language websites but we, as foriegners don’t know how to pronouce them . The good thing for your website is that I can see the words, phrases and hear them at the same time. Thank you very much. Большой сбасибо.
Thanks for your comment. I love Thailand and I’m glad to be helpful to Thai people.