Past tense

  1. The past tense in Russian is formed from the infinitive stem. You simply drop the infinitive ending and add the past tense ending.
  2. Verbs in the past tense do not have a different ending for each person. Past tense endings agree only with the gender and number of the subject of the sentence
  3. masculine Максим читал газету.
    feminine Нина играла в парке.
    neuter Письмо было на столе.
    plural Дети смотрели телевизор.
  4. Masculine nouns that end in -a or -я will take the masculine form of the verb in the past tense:
    Папа читал газету.
  5. Unlike English, Russian has only one past tense form. Each of these English expressions can be translated into Russian with only one form:
    I worked.Я работал
    I was working.
    I did work.
    I had worked.
    I had been working.
  6. Russian does not have the verb "to be" in the present tense. In the past tense, however, Russian does have this verb. The infinitive form of the verb is быть.
    masculine был
    feminine была
    neuter было
    plural были
  7. The interrogative pronoun кто always goes with the masculine form of the verb:
    Кто читал?
  8. The interrogative pronoun что always goes with the neuter form of the verb:
    Что это было?
  9. The past tense of reflexive verbs is formed in the same way as with non-reflexive. Remember to add the reflexive particle (сь after vowels, ся after consonants) after you add all other endings:
    masculine начинался
    feminine начиналась
    neuter начиналось
    plural начинались