Construction «I had» / Конструкция «У меня был»

If you want to use the construction «У меня есть …» in the past tense, you should put the verb «есть» (to be) into the past tense. Here are some examples,

  • У меня был урок – I had a lesson
  • У меня была встреча – I had a meeting
  • У меня было совещание – I had a business meeting
  • У меня были проблемы – I had problems

Pay attention that the verb «быть» depends on the gender of the object. «Урок» is a masculine gender noun, we say «был урок», and «встреча» is a feminine noun – we say «была встреча». Basically we say, «meeting was near me», so this is why the verb depends on the logical object.

Construction «I have» / Конструкция «У меня есть»

When we want to say in Russian that we have something, we use a special construction which literally can be translated as «there is something near me». For example,

  • У меня есть дом – I have a house (There is a house near me)
  • У меня есть машина – I have a car
  • У тебя есть собака – You have a dog (you informal)
  • У вас есть ручка? – Do you have a pen? (you formal)


First, you say «у», then name a person who has, and then use the word «есть«.

русский как иностранный

Pay attention that there is «н» added to pronouns starting with a vowel (него, неё, них).

  • У него есть семья – He has a family
  • У неё есть друзья – She has friends.
  • У них есть – книга – They have a book.

If we are talking about events (abstract nouns we cannot touch, like «lesson», «date» etc.), we skip the word «есть».

  • У меня урок – I have a lesson
  • У нас проблемы – We have problems

If you want to say that you don’t have something, you should say «У меня нет …». One of the common mistakes I hear foreigners make when they speak Russian is, «У меня не есть». Forget it and never say it. Say, «У меня нет». For example,

  • У меня нет фото – I don’t have a photo.
  • У Диего нет кофе – Diego doesn’t have coffee.

Accusative case. Direction / Винительный падеж. Направление

The accusative case is used not only with direct objects (more about it here) but also with destinations. Destination is a place to which someone or something is going or being sent. It is usually used with verbs of motion like «идти» (to go on foot) or «ехать» (to go by transport).

где и куда. разница

And one of the common mistakes foreigners make, they use the prepositional case with the destination. Remember, the prepositional case (the ending -e) is used for location, when the person is already there, not when they are on their way. For the destination, it is used the accusative case. That means masculine, neuter or plural nouns are not changed. But feminine nouns have the endings / . So this is why we say,

  • Это Москва. Я живу в Москве. Я еду в Москву. – This is Moscow. I live in Moscow. I go to Moscow.
  • Это Китай. Я живу в Китае. Я еду в Китай. – This is China.I live in China. I go to China.
  • Это аптека. Я сейчас в аптеке. Я иду в аптеку. – This is a pharmacy. I am in the pharmacy. I’m walking to the pharmacy.

It is important to remember two question words:

  • где? – where? (location) – prepositional case
  • куда? – whereto? (direction) – accusative case

Asking these questions you always know what case of two to use.