“To be” and “To have” in Russian language

The verb БЫТЬ – “To be”

This verb is the most irregular verb in Russian language, even not only in Russian, but in almost all languages. Its conjugation just must be memorized. Everything you need to know about this verb is in the table below.

Important notice – the verb To Be – БЫТЬ is NOT used in present tense in Russian language!

PresentPastFuture
Я (ЕСТЬ)Я БЫЛ (male)

Я БЫЛА (female)

Я БУДУ
ТЫ (ЕСТЬ)ТЫ БЫЛ (male)

ТЫ БЫЛА (female)

ТЫ БУДЕШЬ
ОН (ЕСТЬ)ОН БЫЛОН БУДЕТ
ОНА (ЕСТЬ)ОНА БЫЛАОНА БУДЕТ
МЫ (ЕСТЬ)МЫ БЫЛИМЫ БУДЕМ
ВЫ (ЕСТЬ)ВЫ БЫЛИВЫ БУДЕТЕ
ОНИ (ЕСТЬ)ОНИ БЫЛИОНИ БУДУТ

But it has the form “ЕСТЬ” in present tense for all pronouns(Я есть, ты есть, он есть etc.), but it is used only in special cases.

Examples are after the lesson “to have”.

The verb “To have”

There is the verb ИМЕТЬ,  and this verb is conjugated as all other verbs; this is a regular verb. ИМЕТЬ means “to have”. However, in Russian, this verb is not used in direct conjugation. Instead, one uses the construction: У + (pronoun in genitive case) + ЕСТЬ. In order to say “I have” in Russian, you have to say “У меня есть”. Learn more about genitive case in the lesson pronouns – cases, and nouns – cases.

PresentЕСТЬ
У МЕНЯI have
У ТЕБЯYou have
У НЕГОHe has
У НЕЁShe has
У НАСWe have
У ВАСYou have
У НИХThey have

Essentially, in Russian language the construction “to have” is the verb “to be” with exact pronouns. If you don’t understand how it works, check the examples in this lesson in order to get it clear in practice.

PastБЫЛ/БЫЛАЫЛО/БЫЛИ
У МЕНЯI had
У ТЕБЯYou had
У НЕГОHe had
У НЕЁShe had
У НАСWe had
У ВАСYou had
У НИХThey had

БЫЛ – for masculine,  БЫЛА – for feminine, БЫЛО – for neuter, БЫЛИ – for plural.

FutureБУДЕТ/БУДУТ
У МЕНЯI will have
У ТЕБЯYou will have
У НЕГОHe will has
У НЕЁShe will has
У НАСWe will have
У ВАСYou will have
У НИХThey will have

EXAMPLES (for two previous lessons)

Я водитель, он инженер – I am a driver, he is an engineer

Она моя жена – She is my wife

Мы были там вчера – We have been there yesterday

Сергей и Ольга будут встречать нас завтра – Sergey and Olga will meet us tomorrow

У меня есть телефон – I have a phone

У них было пианино – They had a piano

У Андрея есть фотоаппарат – Andrey has a photo camera

У нас скоро будет новая машина – We will have a new car soon

Зачем мы будем искать работу если у нас она есть? – Why we will look for a job if we have it?

Note, that nouns in all of these examples are in appropriate cases.

У него скоро будет ребёнок – He will have a child soon

У моего папы есть машина – My dad has a car (МОЙ ПАПА – my dad, becomes МОЕГО ПАПЫ in genitive case)

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