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Russian course - Lesson 6

Russian course
Basic Russian for beginners

Lesson 6: Yesterday I didn't know anything, but today I know everything

In this lesson you will learn:

  • to conjugate verbs in the past tense
  • to conjugate the past tense of "быть"
Useful phrase in Russian

Useful phrase in Russian

Listen and repeat the following sentence:

Вчера́ я ничего́ не зна́л, а сего́дня я всё зна́ю
vchye-rá ya ni-chye-vó nye znál, a sye-vód-nya ya vsyo zná-yu
Yesterday i didn't know anything, but today i know everything

Pronunciation of "Л": Now you will see that, to build the past tense in Russian, you only have to add "-л", "-ла" or "-ли" to the verb root. Pay attention to the sound of "л": "-ли" sounds like in "litter", but for "-л" and "-ла" the sound is a bit different (similar to the one in "title")

Russian vocabulary

Russian vocabulary

Read, listen and repeat the basic vocabulary of this lesson:













all / everything









in / on






to look / to watch



Russian dialogues

Dialogues in Russian

These dialogues will help you memorise this lesson's vocabulary:

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Russian grammar

Russian grammar

Read the following grammar explanations for this lesson:

The past tense in Russian

It is very easy to express a verb in the past tense in Russian. This is the general rule that applies to almost every Russian verb.

First, you remove "ть" from the verb (for example ду́мать / ду́ма-). Second, you add:

  • for masculine singular (думал)
  • -ла for feminine singular (думала)
  • -ло for neuter singular (думало)
  • -ли for every form of plural (думали) y and for formal forms (both in singular and plural)


  • I thought (said by a woman):я ду́мала
  • I thought (said by a man): я ду́мал

  • You did (it's a woman who did): ты де́лала
  • You did (it's a man who did): ты де́лал

  • She saw: Она́ ви́дела
  • He saw: Он ви́дел

  • We wanted: Мы хоте́ли
  • You (plural) wanted: Вы хотели
  • They: Они́ хоте́ли

  • You talked (said to one person, addressing him or her formally): Вы говори́ли
  • You talked (said to more than one person, addressing them formally): Вы говори́ли

Russian conjugations: verb смотре́ть

I this lesson we give you the verb смотре́ть (to watch). conjugated in the present and past tenses. Compare it with the verb говори́ть.

Verb: смотре́ть


  • Я смотрю́
  • Ты смо́тришь
  • Он/он́а/оно́ смо́трит
  • Мы смо́трим
  • Вы смо́трите
  • Они́ смо́трят


  • смотре́л
  • смотре́ла
  • смотре́ло
  • смотре́ли

    Verb: говори́ть


    • Я говорю́
    • Ты говори́шь
    • Он/она́/оно́ говори́т
    • Мы говори́м
    • Вы говори́те
    • Они́ говоря́т


    • говори́л
    • говори́ла
    • говори́ло
    • говори́ли

How to translate Russian verbs in the past tense

In Russian there is only one form to express the past tense. However, in English there are many.

This means that, for example, я ду́мал could be translated for "I thought", "I was thinking", "I have thought" "I have been thinking",...

The context will always helps us know which "past" in English should we use.

In dialogue 3 you have seen different ways to translate the past in Russian. For example:

  • но я ви́дела Сте́фани = but I have seen Stephanie
  • Когда́ я ви́дела Сте́фани = when I saw Stephanie
Russian test


Check how much you have learnt in this lesson:

1. Complete the sentence: Я ....... не знаю.     всё          ничего       где    

2. Complete the sentence: Я ..... тебя вчера.   видела    видели       вижу    видим

3. How do you say "They were at the cinema"?    она был в кино   они были в кино  вы были в кино

4. Complete the sentence: Вы ...этот фильм?   смотрел            видели           смотрели   

5. How many Past tenses are there in Russian?    as many as in English   two    one   zero

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