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 the present, past and future tenses.


БЫТЬ in present

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

я  студент – I am a student


БЫТЬ in past

Probably in the beginning it can seem difficult that  я (I) and ты (you singular) have two variants был/была. It depends on “who was“. If it is a masculine gender we use был, for feminine – 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 future

The future tense has diffrent forms for all persons but endings are the same with  the 1st type 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.

I will be there (will – “to be” in future, “be” – infinitive form for the verb “to be“). In Russian we say: Я буду там (not я буду быть там).

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