Imperative mood in Russian

English is easy: you say “I do it every day”. When you ask somebody to do something, you again say, “Do it for me please”. In Russian, when you give an order or a command to do something, you need to reflect it in the ending. We have two types of endings:

– 2nd person singular (if you say “ТЫ” to the person you speak with);

– 2nd person plural (if you say “ВЫ” to the person(s) you speak with).

So, to determine which ending you need, go through my little questionnaire (good for most verbs):


For example (red means stressed):

делать – делаю – делай, делайте

верить – верю – верь, верьте

говорить – говорю – говори, говорите


Be! – Будь! Будьте!

Love! – Люби! Любите! (even though the stem of infinitive ЛЮБИТЬ in 1st person singular is ЛЮБЛ. Just disregard changes you do to some Type 2 verbs, in 1st person singular, like for example changing Д into Ж or Б into БЛ)

If the scheme is a bit blurry, just click on it.

2 Comments on “Imperative mood in Russian”

  1. Ben says:

    I think I’ve heard of something similar, but previously I’d heard it was the third person plural stem rather than the first person singular as the starting point. That would work for любить too?

    • Eugenia says:

      Of course, there can be a few ways to do it but many of them are more confusing rather than helping. If we take ЛЮБИТЬ and turn it into 3rd person plural, that would be ЛЮБЯТ, right? So, we will have stressed stem ЛЮБ. If the stem is stressed and it ends with one consonant, the ending is supposed to be Ь (ЬТЕ) like in ВЕРИТЬ (to believe) – ВЕРЯТ (they believe) – ВЕРЬ! (believe!). So why do we say ЛЮБИ from ЛЮБЯТ and ВЕРЬ from ВЕРЯТ? Because in 1st person singular the first is stressed and the second is not. We need 1st person singular to see where the stress goes, which affects the ending (Ь or И). We have И (ИТЕ) when 1st person singular ending (У or Ю) is stressed.

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