Russian way to say “I had”

Last time I told you about how Russians  say “I have” in the present tense (watch here). Today I’d like to tell you about how to say it in past tense (I had).

у меня есть – I have
(or there is near  me)

To say ‘I had smth.’ in Russian we use the construction “У меня было” which really means ‘smth. was near me.
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to be – быть

Today I’d like to tell you about the most important Russian verb “быть” (to be).  In the table below you can see, how we use it in all tenses.

“БЫТЬ” in the present tense

In the present tense the verb “быть” is the same for all the persons (есть).  This is why we never use it. 

  • Я – студент.  –  I am a student

“БЫТЬ” in the past tense
For the 1-sf and 2-d person singular (яты) there are two variants “был” or “была”. It depends on “who was“. If it is a male we use “был”, for female is used “была”.

  • я был – I was (if I am a man)
  • я была – I was (if I am a woman)
  • ты был  – you were ( if I’m talking to a man)
  • ты была – you were (if I’m talking to a woman)


“БЫТЬ” in the future tense

The future tense has diffrent forms for all the persons, but the endings are the same with the 1-st conjugation of verbs in present tense.

  • Я буду там – I will be there

The difference with the English language is that we don’t say “to be” twice if there is not a verb after.

I will be there – Я буду там (Not: Я буду быть там).

the verb to be in Russian