12.1 - Reviewing the present

The present tense has, in the main, been covered in Unit 10, including:

  • uses of the present tense
  • the endings for each person ("I", "you" etc.)
  • the different types of stem in the first and second conjugations
  • the most frequently used verbs of each type
  • some exceptions or verbs belonging to smaller sub-groups.

By learning the characteristic endings (which are summarised on page 10.5), you can tell at a glance who is doing the action, i.e. what the subject of the sentence is. Although the vowel which connects the stem to the ending varies in different verbs types, you can see from the summary chart that there is a considerable degree of similarity in the endings, making the person easily identifiable.

You can probably see, from pages 10.4 and 10.3, that it is sometimes more difficult to recognise the stem (and therefore understand the meaning) of a verb, as there are a number of verb types, and the verb in the present does not always resemble the infinitive closely. Given below are some of the points to remember when identifying the infinitive of a verb (once this is done you can look up the meaning in the dictionary).

1. Actively learn the most frequently used verbs which are not readily recognisable, or which may be confused with another verb as, for example:

їду їхати
іду іти
їм їсти
хочу хотіти
ходжу ходити
можу могти
беру * брати
живу жити
п'ю/б'ю пити/бити
пишу писати
кажу казати

* This is an example of a verb where the epenthetic vowel «е» has been inserted in the present.

2. Be aware of possible changes to the consonants in the stem of the verb, for example:

з > ж (возити - вожу)
с > ш (носити - ношу)
гт > ж (могти - можу)
т > ч (хотіти - хочу)
к > ч (плакати - плачу)
д > дж (водити - воджу)
ст > щ (чистити - чищу)
ст > д (класти - кладу)

3. Remember about the insertion of л in verbs whose stem ends in a labial (see 10.4), e.g. любити – люблю.

4. If you don't recognise a verb, check whether it begins with a prefix (covered in 11.6), then try to identify the stem, which will help you to work out the meaning of the verb in context, e.g.:

Вона завжди придумує смішні анекдоти.
  при - дум - у - є
She's always thinking up funny stories.

5. Finally, if all else fails, look it up in the orthographic dictionary!

To practise recognising some of the forms of the present, do Exercise 12.1A.

Part of the collection of resources at UkrainianLanguage.org.uk
© 2007 Marta Jenkala