Direct and Reported speech in Russian

For a start compare these two images and say, where the person says with the direct speech (прямая речь) and where with the reported speech (косвенная речь).

что такое прямая и косвенная речь

She said, “I’ll think about this”.        She said that she will think about this

As you can see from the example the direct speech is when we quote somebody. For example:

  • Мама сказала: “Сегодня я не хочу работать!” – My mom said, “I don’t want to work today”.
  • Папа сказал: “Вставай! Хватит спать!” – My father said, “Get up! Stop sleeping!”
  • Друг спросил: “Ты пойдёшь со мной в бар?” – My friend asked, “do you go to the bar with me?”

In the reported speech we change people’s  words a little.  It is not a quote anymore:

  • Мама сказала, что она не хочет сегодня работать. – My mom said that she doesn’t want to work today..
  • Папа сказал, чтобы я вставал.  – My father said to me to get up.
  • Друг спросил, пойду ли я в бар с ним. – My friend asked me if I go to the bar with him.

So as you can see from the examples above  to make  reported speech in Russian you need to use the conjunction “что” (that) for retelling somebody else’s speech.

  • Ты сказал мне, что  хочешь пойти со мной. – You told me  that you wanted to go with me.

But if they talked to you using a verb in the Imperative Mood, you should use the conjunction “чтобы” (that for imperatives).

  • Мама сказала, чтобы я купил хлеб. – My mom told me to buy a bread.

If they asked something, it is better to use the particle “ли” after the verb:

  • Мама спросила, хочу ли я ужинать. – My mom asked me if I want to have dinner.

But if they asked something using the question word  (кто? что? где?когда? почему? как? etc.) – do not use “ли”,  just use the question word:

Мама спросила, почему я не хочу есть. – My mom asked me, why I don’t want to eat.


Conditionals in Russian

Compare these two situations:

условное наклонение в русском языке

In the first situation we talk about real possibility. In this case we use:

Если  ….. verb in the future, …… verb in the future.

  • Если завтра будет хорошая погода, мы пойдём на пикник. – If tomorrow the weather is good, we’ll go to the picnic .
  • Если мы будем играть в теннис, я выиграю. – If we play tennis, I will win.

The second example shows you the situation in the past – “Yesterday the weather was bad, that’s why we didn’t go to the picnic”. For the past tense we should use:

Если бы …….  verb in the past,  …  бы   verb in the past.

  • Если бы вчера погода была хорошая, мы бы пошли на пикник. – If the weather yesterday had been good, we would have gone to the picnic.
  • Если бы ты встал раньше, ты бы не опоздал – If you had woken up earlier, you wouldn’t have been late.

The same structure is used for unreal situations when we’re just dreaming:

Если бы я был миллионером, я бы был  очень рад. – If I were a millionaire, I would be really glad.

Future tense

To make the future tense you need to use the verb “быть” in the future tense + infinitive
The verb “быть” changes for persons in the future tense. But conjugation is very simple. It is the same with the 1st type conjugation for the present tense.


я буду работать завтра – I will work tomorrow
ты будешь пить кофе? – will you drink coffee?
она будет знать это – she will know this
мы будем готовить ужин – we will cook the dinner
вы будете завтра дома – you will be home tomorrow*
они будут читать книги – they will read books

* We never use the verb to be (быть) twice for future:
I will be at home Я буду дома (I will at home)
NEVER!!! Ты будешь быть дома


Past Tense

We change verbs to describe actions in the past (went, bought, did). The same thing occurs in the Russian language as well .

We make the past tense by replacing the infinitive ending -ть with:

1.    (for masculine gender)
Он работал вчера – He worked yesterday.

2.  -ла (for feminine)
Она работала вчера – She worked yesterday.

3.    -ло ( for neutral)
Это хорошо работало – it worked good.

4.       -ли (for plural: мы, вы, они)
Мы работали вместе – we worked together.

It is easy to remember for he (он) you need to use, for she (она) you need -ла.

Pay attention for I (я) and for singular you (ты) you may use both:

or -ла. It depends on who made this action in past: male or female.
Я думалI thought (if I am a man)
Я думала – I thought (if I am a woman)


Aspects of Verbs / Аспекты глагола

Russian verb has two aspects: imperfective and perfective. Usually when you start  to learn Russian you learn imperfective verbs only. Later you learn that almost every verb has its perfective aspect.

We use the imperfective aspect for verbs in two cases:

  • when we are focusing on the process of action
  • when we mean a general action (usually, sometimes, always, often, many times etс.)


  • Вчера я писал письмо 2 часа – Yesterday I was writing a letter for two hours. (focus on the process)
  • Я писал письма каждый день – I wrote letters every day. (many times)

We use the perfective aspect when we want to focus on the result:

Я написал письмо. Оно на столе. – I have written my letterIt is on my desk. (I focus on the result – the finished letter is on my desk)

difference between imperfective and perfective
Он писал письмо 2 часа.                        Он написал письмо.

Look at the other example to feel the difference between imperfective and perfective aspects:

aspects of verbs

 Она  готовила суп.

Она приготовила суп. Cемья сейчас ужинает.

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