Basic Russian verbs you should know

Today we're going to learn some basic Russian verbs you should know to have a good conversation with your Russian friends. There will be a short list but also a lot of work because you need to learn all the forms of these verbs to use them correctly in different situations.

So, the essential Russian verbs are:

быть - to be
делать - do/make
ходить/идти - to go (on foot)
ездить/ехать - to go by car/train/bus or any other kind of transport
приходить - to come
думать - to think
говорить - to speak
смотреть - to look
видеть - to see
знать - to know
понимать - to understand
спрашивать - to ask  
хотеть - to want
брать - to take
давать - to give
работать - to work
есть - to eat
пить - to drink
открывать - to open
закрывать - to close
входить - to enter
выходить - to go out/get out

Let's take a closer look at each verb in the list.

Быть - to be

The verb быть in the Russian language has many different forms. But it's rarely used in the present tense. For example, we don't say "I am", "he is" and so on.  If you want to say "I am a student", you just say "Я студент" (literally: I sudent).

But it is important to know the future forms of this verb - will be.

the verb to be in Russian

It can be both will and will be. For example:

Я буду врачом. - I will be a doctor.
Он будет спать. - He will sleep/ He's going to sleep.

The past tense form of the verb быть is more simple. It doen't change so much:

Я был. - I was.
Ты был. - You were.
Он был. - He was.
Она была. - She was.
Оно было. - It was.
Они были. - They were.
Мы были. - We were.
Вы были. - You were.
Они были. - They were.

Делать - to do/to make

Luckily there's just one verb for both these actions. Here's the conjugation of this verb:

Я делаю домашнюю работу. - I'm doing my homework.
Она делает серьги из полимерной глины. -  She makes earrings out of polymer clay.

Ходить/идти, ехать/ездить - to go and

You'll probably hate it but it's not easy to choose the right verb for this action. We have four options. At first, let's separate a pair ходить/идти from ехать/ездить. The first pair of verbs means walking on foot. It doesn't mean movement in general. The second pair expresses the movement by transport. If you want to say that when you're moving you don't use your own legs and feet, you choose the verb ехать (ездить).

Приходить - to come


Я прихожу домой с работы в 8 вечера.
Приходите в гости в четверг.

Думать - to think