Memorising Russian Verbs

As you may be aware, I am learning Russian and it is taking me a long time. One of my biggest difficulties (aside from Writing, Reading, Listening and Speaking) is memorising the new vocabulary. Some months ago I spent significant time memorising numbers in Russian up to 1000 and I find today that I can’t recall them precisely. Not to worry.  Повторение — мать ученья. (Repetition is the mother of learning.)

I’ve spent my commuting time drilling verbs, nouns and adjectives. There is nothing better to do on a C2C train in the autumn – trust me.

This method of memorising verbs is probably the best I’ve come across. If you don’t know what a verb is or you are not interested in Russian, you can probably stop reading now.

  1. Learn the infinitive. Obviously.
  2. Learn the я and the ты forms.
  3. From the ты form, you can usually deduce the он, мы and вы forms. The vowel in the ending will almost always be the same.
  4. For the 1st conjugation (е, ё in the ending) the они form will be -ют after a vowel and -ут after a consonant.
  5. For the 2nd conjugation (и in the ending) the они form the ending will be -ят. The spelling rules apply so after ж, ч, ш and щ it will be -ат.
  6. (The past tenses can usually be deduced from the infinitive.)
  7. (There are number of irregular verbs that just need to be learnt by heart.)

Let’s run through this with жить, to live.

  1. Learn the infinitive. It is жить.
  2. Learn the я and the ты forms. They are: живу and живёшь.
  3. Deduce the other forms from the ты form. Here we have -ёшь so: живёт, живём  and живёте.
  4. This is the 1st conjugation and в is a consonant so: они живут.

Similarly with the verb знать, to know.

  1. Learn the infinitive. It is знать.
  2. Learn the я and the ты forms. They are: знаю and знаешь
  3. Deduce the other forms from the ты form. Here we have -ешь so: знает, знаем and знаете.
  4. This is the 1st conjugation and а is a consonant so: они знают.

And finally with the verb смотреть, to watch.

  1. Learn the infinitive. It is смотреть.
  2. Learn the я and the ты forms. They are: смотрю and смотришь
  3. Deduce the other forms from the ты form. Here we have -ишь so: смотрит, смотрим and смотрите.
  4. Not 1st conjugation.
  5. This is the 2nd conjugation so: они смотрят.

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