. 4
( 17)


There are three patterns. First, the overt vowel, if stressed, is realized as [ó], not
under stress as [™]; the preceding consonant is hard, or Co . This pattern occurs in
speci¬c lexical items (lyj ˜bottom™, gen pl lj and with the diminutive suf¬x
´ ´y)
(gk«nrf ˜plate™, gen pl gk«njr) and speci¬cally after a preceding velar (juj ´ym
˜¬re™). (Examples are given in Table 2.13.) In notation, this pattern of vowels is
{º ∼ Co {ó ∼ ™}} -- an alternation of {-º-} with full grade, which is then either
stressed [ó] or unstressed [™].
Secondly, the preceding consonant is Ci -- either paired soft or a palatal. The
vowel under stress is [o], [¬] in unstressed position. In notation: {º ∼ Ci {ó ∼ ¬}}.

It occurs before velars (rjy=r ˜hobbyhorse™; cthmu’ ˜earring™, gen pl cth=u) and
hard dentals (dtckj ˜oar™, gen pl d=ctk, nom sg ,j,=h).

99 To describe alternations between full and null grades synchronically, there are three options:
deletion of an underlying mid vowel in certain speci¬ed contexts; insertion of a vowel in clusters
in speci¬ed contexts; or a static (non-derivational) relation of alternate lexical forms, some with
the vowel (full grade) and some without (null grade). The last approach is assumed here.
Table 2.13 Vowel-zero variants (genitive plural, nominative singular)

stressed unstressed
(nom sg) gen pl ´] ¤j≥ rf,fhu’ rf,fhj pkj
´u, ´ ¤j≥
lexical [j [´] ---
pj lyj lj
´k, ´ ´y
nom sg (gen sg) vj v[’, kj k,’,
´[ ´, k’gjnm k’gnz
kjvj kjvn„¦

(nom sg) gen pl ´] ¤j≥ ¤j≥ gk«nrf gk«njr, hju’nrf
[j --- [´]
suf¬xal {-k-}
hju’njr, dtl=hrj dtl=hjr
nom sg (gen sg) recj recr’, uhe,eij
´r ´r r©,jr r©,rf, bp,snjr ´
uhe,eir’ kbcnj kbcnr’
´r bp,snrf, ltcz
´ ´njr ltcz´nrf,
;yxj ;yxr’
´r jcn’njr jcn’nrf
(nom sg) gen pl ´] ¤j≥ ¤j≥ r©rkf r©rjk, r©[yz r©[jym,
[j --- [´]
nz´ukj nz ´ujk
¤j≥ nom sg (gen sg) juj juyz ,euj ,euh’
´ym ´, ´h cd=rjh cd=rhf, ©ujk ©ukf,
©ujkm ©ukz, l=ujnm l=unz,
´ujnm yj ´unz rj ´ujnm rj
kj´rjnm kj ´rnz
(nom sg) gen pl ´] ¤=≥ itcnthyz itcnth=y,
´ ¤t≥ gjkjnyj gjkj
´ ´nty, dtlhj d=lth,
[j [¬]/[ï]
/C {To Ko }
ctcnh’ ctcn=h dtckj d=ctk, g†cyz g†cty,
,h’iyj ,h’ity
nom sg (gen sg) rjn=k rjnk’, g=c gc’, ,©,ty ,©,yf, d†nth d†nhf,
k=l kml’, ,j,=h ,j,h’, ©ptk ©pkf, ,fh’itr ,fh’irf
hj;j hj;y’, yj;j
´y ´r
yj;r’, rjy=r rjymr’,
gepsh=r gepshmr’ but
[ht,†n [ht,n’
Table 2.13 (cont).

stressed unstressed

(nom sg) gen pl ´] ¤j≥ ibir’ ibij cthmu’
´r, ¤t≥ h©xrf h©xtr, yj
´;rf yj
ˇ [j [¬]/[ï]
/So {To Ko }
cth=u, lsymrf lsytr,
´ ´ cj
´irf cj´itr
rbir’ rbij ´r

(nom sg) gen pl ¤t≥ rjhxv’ rjhx†v, nmv’ ¤t≥ celm,’ c©lt,, ec’lm,f ec’lt,,
/C Po [†] [¬]
n†v, celm,’ n/hmv’ n·htv, rjiv’ rj ´itv
cel†, (archaic) (rj
nom sg (gen sg) ´] k†d kmd’, yf=v y’qv
[†]/[j ---
(nom sg) gen pl ¤t≥ ptvkz ptv†km
´ ¤t≥ r’gkz r’gtkm
/C C
¸ [†] [¬]
nom sg (gen sg) htv†ym htvyz ´ k«dtym k«dyz

(nom sg) gen pl ¤t≥ ckjdwj ckjd†w, ctkmwj
´ ´ ¤t≥ ld†hwf ld†htw, p†hrfkmwt
/C c [†] [¬]
ctk†w, rhskmwj rhsk†w
´ p†hrfktw
nom sg (gen sg) jn†w jnw’, ;bk†w g’ktw g’kmwf
;bkmw’, rjy†w rjyw’
(nom sg) gen pl ¤t≥ cnfnmz cnfn†q
´ ¤t≥ uj
´cnmz uj
/C j [†] [¬] ´cnbq (¤b≥)
nom sg (gen sg) hex†q hexmz cjkjd†q
´, ©ktq ©kmz, «htq «hmz, x«htq
cjkjdmz djhj,†q
´, x«hmz
djhj,mz vehfd†q
vehfdmz ´
Sounds 91

The third pattern is one in which [†] occurs under stress along with [¬] not
under stress. The preceding consonant is Ci . In notation, the pattern is: {º ∼
Ci {† ∼ ¬}}. It occurs by default, when the lexical conditions for {º ∼ Co {ó ∼ ™}}
and the phonological conditions for {º ∼ Ci {ó ∼ ¬}} are not met. It is relevant
to note that, before hard labials, one might expect the same vowel as with hard
velars and dentals, but in fact the majority of the few forms have {º ∼ Ci {† ∼ ¬}}
rather than {º ∼ Ci {ó ∼ ¬}}.
The distribution of variants is summarized in Table 2.13.
Matters are analogous but simpler in the masculine predicative (short) form of
adjectives. The majority of tokens of ¬‚eeting vowels involve suf¬xal {-n-}, from
— -mn-. Synchronically the alternation is the pattern {º ∼ Ci {ó ∼ ¬}}. Observe:
A F T E R P A L A T A L S , cvtiyj ˜amusing™, cvtij (note spelling with ¤j≥), nj
´q ´y ´iysq
˜nauseating™, nj ´ity; A F T E R L A B I A L S A N D D E N T A L S , ©vysq ˜intelligent™, ev=y;
lehyj ˜bad™, leh=y; elj ´,ysq ˜comfortable™, elj ´,ty; rh’cysq ˜beautiful™, rh’cty.
This {º ∼ C {ó ∼ ¬}} is also the pattern for anaptyctic vowels in clusters in

which the second consonant is a dental: j ´cnhsq ˜sharp™, jcn=h; r«cksq ˜sour™,
r«ctk. A velar normally conditions {º ∼ Co {ó ∼ ™}}, hence [™] for the unstressed
position: lj ´kubq ˜long™, lj ´urbq ˜soft™, vz ´ujr. If the preceding consonant
´kju; vz
is soft or a palatal, palatalization is maintained, and the pattern is {º ∼ Ci
{ó ∼ ¬}}: uj ´hmrbq ˜bitter™, uj ´htr [¬]; [©ltymrbq ˜thin™, [©ltytr [¬]; ,j ´qrbq ˜boisterous™,
,j [¬]; nz ´;rbq ˜dif¬cult™, nz ´;tr [ï].
From the range of contexts the following generalizations emerge. The pattern
{º ∼ Co {ó ∼ ™}} is restricted; it occurs with a limited number of individual
lexical items, with suf¬xal {-k-}, and after a velar. If the speci¬c conditions for
{º ∼ Co {ó ∼ ™}} are not met, then either {º ∼ Ci {ó ∼ ¬}} or {º ∼ Ci {† ∼ ¬}}
occurs, which are the same for unstressed vowels. Under stress, they are dis-
tributed complementarily according to the following consonant. Before (hard)
velars and hard dentals (not [c]), the pattern is {º ∼ Ci {ó ∼ ¬}}, with stressed
[ó], and elsewhere {º ∼ Ci {† ∼ ¬}}, with stressed [†].
There are some additional, rather speci¬c, contexts in which full-null ablaut
occurs. Pre¬xes acquire {o} (usually unstressed) before roots with the null grade,
for example: cjlh’nm (clth©) ˜rip off™, gjlj,h’nm (gjl,th©) ˜pick up™, cjpd’nm ˜call
together™, jnjvh© (jnvth†nm) ˜die off™. The roots which condition the full grade
in pre¬xes have to be speci¬ed lexically. Prepositions likewise adopt ¤j≥ before
certain roots (§4.2.2).
Inflectional morphology

3.1 Introduction
Much of the work of Russian grammar is done by in¬‚ectional morphology: a
given word has a basic shape that is relatively stable, while the end of the word
varies, resulting in different forms of one word that are used with different
functions or in different contexts. Nouns and verbs differ somewhat from each
other in their strategies of in¬‚ection.
Nouns present a pleasingly geometric paradigm: to use a noun, a speaker
chooses one of about a dozen distinct forms expressing one of six cases and, si-
multaneously, one of two numbers. Nouns are partitioned into three declension
classes. With few exceptions, the stems of nouns remain the same, or nearly the
same, in all cases and numbers. Thus rj ´cnm ˜bone™ (from Declension<IIIa> ) uses
a stem {kost˛-} in all forms (nom sg rj ´cnb), while l†kj ˜deed, mat-
´cnm, dat sg rj
ter™ (of a different declension class, Declension<Ib> ) uses the same stem {d˛ el-} in
almost all forms (nom sg l†kj, dat sg l†ke, ins pl ltk’vb, though loc sg l†kt
implies a slightly different stem, {d˛ el˛-}). Though the stems are stable, the endings
differ depending on the declension class, as is evident from the difference in (for
example) dat sg rj ´cnb as opposed to dat sg l†ke. Nouns are also partitioned into
one of three syntactic genders re¬‚ected in patterns of agreement in adjectives
and verbs; the partition into syntactic genders is closely correlated with (though
it is not identical to) the partition into declension classes. A noun belongs to
a single gender. Adjectives, unlike nouns, vary in their shape according to the
case, number, and gender, in agreement with the noun with which they are
associated. Adjectives and verbs distinguish gender in the singular but not in
the plural. Accordingly, it is possible to speak of a distinction of four gender--
number forms: the three singular genders and the plural. Personal pronouns
(¬rst-person, second-person, re¬‚exive) distinguish case and number but not gen-
der. Third-person pronouns distinguish gender in the singular, as well as case
and number.
Verbs differ from nouns in various respects. While singular nouns have dif-
ferent endings depending on the declension class, verbs have more uniform
grammatical endings. For example, {-s} marks the second-person singular of

Inflectional morphology 93

the present tense, in all verbs; {-l˛i} (spelled ¤kb≥) is the past-tense plural ending
for all verbs. With respect to the shape of the stem, verbs are morphologically
more heterogeneous than nouns (§3.2.1).
Each form in the whole set of in¬‚ectional forms of any word -- noun, adjective,
verb -- has a stress. Stress is not automatically and consistently assigned to one
and the same syllable in every word or form of a word, such as the ¬rst syllable
(as in Czech) or the penultimate syllable (as in Polish). Depending on the word,
stress can be ¬xed on the root or on a suf¬x or can vary between the ending
and other positions, as, for example, in nom sg lei’ ˜soul™, acc sg l©ie, gen sg
lei«, nom pl l©ib, dat pl lei’v ˜soul™ or 1sg yfgbi© ˜I write™, 2sg yfg«itim, fem
pst yfgbc’kf, psv yfg«cfy ˜write™. The number of patterns of stress is, however,

3.2 Conjugation of verbs

3.2.1 Verbal categories
In contrast to the pleasingly geometric declension of nouns, the conjugation of
verbs is more heterogeneous. The morphological techniques used by verbs are
not always strictly in¬‚ectional, and verbs have more variation in their stems.
In verbs, the in¬‚ectional endings are added to a verbal stem that includes the
root and, in most verbs, an additional c o n j u g a t i o n a l s u f f i x . The suf¬x
together with the root forms a stem that is phonologically suitable for adding
endings. The suf¬x and the verbal stem can have different shapes in anticipation
of the ending. For example, the past-tense feminine form nh†,jdfkf includes a
conjugational suf¬x {-ova-} that ends in a vowel before the following consonan-
tal marker of the past tense (the {-la}), while the present second-person singular
form nh†,etim includes a suf¬x {-uj-} ending in a consonant before the end-
ings of the present tense, which begin with vowels. Because the stem does not
always have the same shape, it is necessary to distinguish two stems for verbs,
the past-infinitive stem and the present stem. The pairing of stems de¬nes the
conjugation class to which a verb belongs. For example, nh†,jdfnm with its two
stems belongs to the class {{-ova-}<pst-inf> : {-uj-}<prs> }, or, more simply, if the
alternate stems are cited in the same order consistently, {-ova- : -uj-}.1
A prominent, characteristically Slavic category, is the category of aspect. Al-
most every verb can be classi¬ed as perfective or imperfective, with only a limited
number of indeterminacies. The distinction of aspect is more a partition of the
lexicon than an in¬‚ectional operation. There is no single morphological device
that marks the opposition of aspect; rather, aspect is expressed by a combination

1 On verbal categories, see Jakobson 1932/1971[b], 1957[a]/1971[b].
94 A Reference Grammar of Russian

of strategies. Verbs without pre¬xes (s i m p l e x verbs) are, as a rule, imperfective:
gbc’nm<if> ˜write™, rhen«nm<if> ˜spin™. Verbs with pre¬xes as a rule are perfec-
tive -- gthtgbc’nm<pf> ˜write over™, pfrhen«nm<pf> ˜twirl around™ -- except when
an additional derivational suf¬x makes them imperfective: gthtg«csdfnm<if> ,
pfrh©xbdfnm<if> .
Finite forms distinguish the imperative mood from forms expressing tense.2
The imperative makes use of the present-tense stem. If the stress falls on the
verbal stem throughout the present and if the stem ends in a single consonant,
no further vowel is added to the stem: vehkßxm ˜purr!™ (1sg vehkßxe is not
stressed on the ending). If the ¬rst-person singular present is stressed or if the
stem ends in a consonant cluster, the stem is expanded by adding a suf¬x {-i-}:
gbi« ˜write!™ (1sg gbi© is stressed on the ending) or g©lhb ˜powder!™ (though 1sg
g©lh/ is not stressed on the ending, the stem ends in a cluster). In the singular
there is no further marker; an extra morph {-te-} ([t˛¬], spelled ¤nt≥) is added
to make a plural imperative or an imperative for formal address to one person.
Verbs with the pre¬x dß, which is necessarily stressed as long as the verb is
perfective, rely on the stress in the simplex verb from which the perfective is
derived to determine whether to add the suf¬x {-i-}. Thus, root stress in 1sg
´ie ˜I throw™, imv ,hj and cn’dk/ ˜I place™, imv cn’dm implies imv dß,hjcm,
,hj ´cm
dßcnfdm, while, in contrast, stress on the ending in 1sg dtl©, imv dtl« and nzy©,
nzy« implies dßdtlb, dßnzyb. However, analogical forms with {-i-} -- dß,hjcb,
dßcnfdb -- have become frequent (as much as a third of the tokens on the web).3
Another idiosyncrasy concerns the small number of verbs whose monosyllabic
present stem ends in [j]: rktd’nm ˜peck™, cvtz ´nmcz ˜laugh™, cnjz ˜stand™ (§3.2.6).
With the appropriate intonation, ¬rst-person plural forms can be used horta-
tively, to encourage the participation of the addressee (--- Bltv r yfv, --- crfpfk
?hf ˜--- Let™s go to our place, --- said Iura™). Expanded with -nt, the ¬rst-person
plural is used as a plural or formal B-form (--- Bltvnt cnfhbxrf gjntibnm ˜--- Let™s
[all] go comfort the old man™).
The expression of tense intersects with aspect. Imperfective verbs distinguish
three tenses: past, present, and future. The morphological means used to express
these three tenses differ. The present tense in¬‚ects for three persons and two
numbers, 1sg rhex© ˜I turn™, 2sg rh©nbim, etc. The future of imperfectives is
a combination of the unique future of ,ßnm (1sg ,©le, etc.: §3.2.8) plus the
in¬nitive. The past tense is marked by a transparent and generally stable formant
{-l-}. (It is, however, lost in the masculine singular of those verbs whose stem
ends in a consonant other than a dental stop: y=c ˜he carried™, g=r ˜he baked™,
2 Trubetzkoy 1975:223 stated clearly that the imperative and in¬nitive were tense-less forms.
Dß,hjcb(nt): 6,310 xx / 17,090 xx total = 37 percent, dßcnfdb(nt) 2,838 xx / 18,948 xx total = 15

percent <15.IX.02>.
Inflectional morphology 95

uh=, ˜he rowed™, d=p ˜he conveyed™). Since it developed from a participle, the past
expresses the three singular genders and one plural that does not distinguish
gender rather than person and number: msc g†k ˜he sang™, fem g†kf, nt g†kj,
pl g†kb.
Perfective verbs distinguish two tenses. One, marked by {-l-} and gender--
number markers, is unambiguously a past tense. The other tense has the same
morphological shape as the present tense of imperfectives: perfective pfrhen«nm
˜to wind around™ forms 1sg pfrhex©, 2sg pfrh©nbim, parallel to imperfective 1sg
rhex©, 2sg rh©nbim, etc. These present-tense forms of perfective verbs, however,
do not report present events -- events that are actual at the here and now of
speech, but events that are anticipated to occur at some future or hypothetical
time (§6.5.8, 6.5.7): rj´yxbncz ˜will come to an end™, cjxby«n ˜she will compose™.
Thus, in these perfective forms there is something of a discrepancy between
the form, which is parallel to the present-tense forms of imperfectives, and the
function, which is not that of a present tense. It is an old problem what to call
these forms -- whether “present,” in honor of their form but not their function,
or “non-past,” in honor of their function but not their form. Here these forms
are termed p r e s e n t -t e n s e f o r m s , but with the understanding that they do
not report actual, present-time events.4
The particle ,s expresses irrealis modality -- a situation that is not unambigu-
ously real. The resulting combination is less of an in¬‚ectional category than, for
example, the opposition of present vs. past tense. The verb, if ¬nite, must at
the same time in¬‚ect for past tense; the tense marking is the real in¬‚ection.
Morever, the particle does not always occur immediately after the verb (§6.2.1).
Participles are adjectival -- the usual sense of participles -- or adverbial (that
is, lttghbxfcnbz). Adjectival participles can be active or passive. Participles are
created by adding a formant that forms the participial stem. In adjectival par-
ticiples, the stem is then followed by the in¬‚ectional endings of adjectives. The
formation of active adjectival and adverbial participles intersects with aspect.
Not all of the eight conceivable forms are used freely.5 The possibilities are
schematized in Table 3.1.
are formed by adding {-vs-} to the past-in¬nitive stem when it ends in

a vowel, and to this stem are added adjectival endings expressing gender,
case, and number: hfpuhjv«dibq ˜having routed™, yfgbc’dibq ˜having writ-
ten™, ljcn«uyedibq ˜having reached™, dßhdfdibq ˜having ripped out™, gjl©vfdibq
˜having thought™. Verbs whose past-tense stem ends in a consonant use the for-
mant {-ˇ-}: ghby=cibq ˜having brought in™ (msc nom sg), ghbd†lie/ ˜having led

4 5
Rathmayr 1976. Gvozdanovi´ 1994 calls them “present/future.”
c Brecht 1976.
96 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 3.1 Aspect, tense, and participles

imperfective imperfective perfective perfective
adjectival adverbial adjectival adverbial
participle participle participle participle

present ---
g«ieobq g«if ghbytcz´
past [? gbc’d(ib)]
gbc’dibq yfgbc’dibq yfgbc’d
cnjkry©dibqcz cnjkry©dibcm

gbc’nm<if> ˜write™, yfgbc’nm<pf> ˜write™, ghbytcn«<pf> ˜deliver™, cnjkry©nmcz<pf>
˜con¬‚ict with™
= {CVT- : CVT-|e|} stems ending in dental consonant

in™ (fem acc). Past imperfective participles are still used:

<. . .> [elj;ybr, gbcfdibq<if pst pcl> gjhnhtns b
hfcgbcsdfdibq<if pst pcl> wthrdb
<. . .> an artist, who used to do portraits and decorate churches

The P R E S E N T A C T I V E A D J E C T I V A L P A R T I C I P L E ( I M P E R F E C T I V E ) can be gen-
erated by subtracting the {-t} from the third plural present and adding the
formant {-s ˛ ‹ -}: vjk„¦n > vjk„¦obq ˜beseech™, g«ien > g«ieobq ˜write™. Present
active adjectival participles of imperfectives are used freely ([2]); perfectives are
not used.
<. . .> ,evfujq, ghtlgbcsdf/otq<if prs pcl> d 24 xfcf jxbcnbnm dtcm dnjhjq эnf;
<. . .> a document dictating the evacuation of the whole second story within 24

Adverbial participles developed from adjectival participles as they stopped de-
clining. The P R E S E N T A D V E R B I A L P A R T I C I P L E ( I M P E R F E C T I V E ) is {-a} added to
the stem of the present tense: «of ˜searching™, l©vfz ˜thinking™ (present stem
{dum-aj-}), jhufybp©z ˜organizing™ (present stem {or an˛ iz-uj-}). A mutable conso-
nant is palatalized (Ci grade): ytcz ˜carrying™, ghbdjlz ˜adducing™, ukzlz ˜seeing™,
´ ´ ´
´vyz ˜remembering™. The present adverbial participles formed from verbs
with phonologically minimal stems are awkward (but possible: gthbjlbxtcrb
gjdbpubdfz, cdbcnz, b hdz<dee> yf ct,t jlt;le jn bp,snrf xedcnd ˜periodically
squealing, whistling, and tearing their clothes from an excess of feelings™); they
are not standard with stems that require a velar to be palatalized (?gtrz [˜baking™], ´
?,thtuz [˜protecting™]). The P A S T A D V E R B I A L P A R T I C I P L E is a truncated version
of the adjectival participle in {-vs-‹ }, usually just {-v}: jcn’d ˜having left behind™,
dß,hfd ˜having chosen™, gjcn’dbd ˜having placed™, ed«ltd ˜having seen™, ghb†[fd
˜having arrived™; the fuller form in {-vsi} is used occasionally: jcn’dib (§6.3.5).

Inflectional morphology 97

Re¬‚exive verbs require {-vsi} to support the re¬‚exive af¬x: cjck’dibcm ˜having

referred to™, jcn’dibcm ˜having remained™, cnjkry©dibcm ˜having collided™. Per-
fective verbs whose past-in¬nitive stems end in a dental consonant now use
the original present-tense formant {-a} for the past adverbial participle: ghbytcz ´
˜upon bringing, having brought™, ddtlz ˜having led in™, j,htnz ˜upon discovering,
´ ´
having discovered™.6
The distribution and use of adverbial participles is especially sensitive to as-
pect (§6.3.6). Present adverbial participles of imperfectives are used widely, but
past adverbial participles of imperfectives, such as l©vfd ˜having thought™, ,«d
˜having been beating™, though they are listed in grammars, are rarely used. There
is basically only one type of adverbial participle of perfective verbs.7
The past passive participle is formed from transitive perfective verbs, those
governing accusative objects in their active form. (It is formed residually from
a small number of simplex imperfectives: g«cfy ˜written™.) There are three for-
mants. Verbs whose past-in¬nitive stem ends in {a} take a suf¬x {-n-}: yfg«cfy
˜written™, cajhvbhj ´dfy ˜formed™, jnj´hdfy ˜ripped off™. Another, related suf¬x is
used with verbs whose past-in¬nitive stem ends in a consonant (y=c implies
ghbytc=y ˜brought™) or verbs whose past-in¬nitive stem should end in a vowel
other than {-a-}, when the vowel is truncated speci¬cally in this form: {CVC-i-} >
{CVCj -} edj´kty ˜released™, {CVC-e-} > {CVCj -} ghtjljk=y (ghtjljkty’, ghtjljktyj ´,
ghtjljk=yysq) ˜overcome™. This suf¬x, spelled ¤ty≥ (explicit ¤=y≥), is pronounced
[on] under stress (ghbytc=y, ghtjljk=y) and [¬n] not under stress (edj ´kty) ([ïn] after

´;ty ˜multiplied™). And third, {-t-} is used with speci¬c verb
hard palatals: evyj
classes, notably verbs suf¬xed with {-nu-}: ljcn«uyen ˜achieved™, also with past-
in¬nitive stems that end in a vowel that is not part of a conjugational suf¬x:
pfrhßn ˜closed™, jni«n ˜sewn off™, erj ´kjn ˜pierced™.
Present passive participles, limited to written Russian, are formed by adding
{-m-} to the present-tense stem of imperfectives: herjdjl«vsq ˜led™, from
imperfective herjdjl«im; jgbcsd’tvsq ˜being described™, from imperfective
In¬nitives, like participles, lack a subject. If participles present an event as
a quality (adjectival) or circumstance (adverbial), in¬nitives present events as
possibilities. And indeed, in older grammatical traditions, the in¬nitive was
considered a mood. The in¬nitive is marked by {-t˛} added to the past-in¬nitive
stem; that stem ends in a vowel for most verbs. With those verbs whose stem
Rarely, ghbytcib (4%), ghbdtlib (1.9%) <04.XI.02>.
7 SRIa 2.165 cites an innovative use of present-tense perfective participles with an exemplary
meaning: Z vju ghbdtcnb cjnyb jnhsdrjd bp rybu Uhbyf, dpdjkye/ob[<pf prs prc> rf;ljuj, yt
gjnthzdituj cgjcj,yjcnb djkyjdfnmcz gthtl phtkbotv ghtrhfcyjuj ˜I could cite hundreds of ex-
amples of fragments from Greene™s books that would excite anyone who has not lost the capacity
to experience excitement in the face of the spectacle of the beautiful.™
98 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 3.2 Morphological strategies of verbal categories

category stem morphological marker

<pst-inf> {-t˛}
<pst-inf> {-l-} + gender--number markers
past tense
<pst-inf> {-vs-} + adjectival declension
past active adjectival ‹
<pst-inf> {-v} (resultative {-vsi}) ∼ {-vsi-s˛})
past active adverbial ‹ ‹
<pst-inf> {-t-} + adjectival declension (/{-nu-}
past passive participle
verbs; /asuf¬xal vowel-stem verbs)
{-n-} + adjectival declension (/{-a-} verbs)
´n-} ({-[¬n]-}) + adjectival declension (/stem
ends in vowel not {-a-})
<prs> {-…} ∼ {-í-} (if 1sg {-ú}
or if {CVCC<prs> -}) + sg {-…} ∼ pl {-te}
<prs> {-u}, all classes
present tense: 1sg
<prs> thematic |i| ∼ |e| + person--number markers
present tense: 2sg 3sg 1pl
<prs> {-at} if thematic |i|
present tense: 3pl
{-ut} if thematic |e|
<prs> {-a} if thematic |i| + {-s¦-} + adjectival declension
present active adjectival
{-u} if thematic |e| + {-s¦-} + adjectival
<prs> {-a} (implying CI )
present adverbial

ends in a consonant, the consonants and the in¬nitive ending together are
stressed {-st˛í} (ytcn« ˜carry™, uhtcn« ˜row™). In stems ending in a velar, the velar
and in¬nitive fuse as {-c˛ }: g†xm ˜to bake™, ghtyt,h†xm ˜to ignore™.

The categories of verbs and their morphological strategies are summarized in
Table 3.2.

3.2.2 Conjugation classes
As noted, verbs have two possible stems, used for different categories.8 The pa s t -
i n f i n i t i v e is used for the in¬nitive, past, and past participles (the past active
adjectival participle, the past adverbial participle, the past passive participle).
8 The issue of whether verbs should be described in terms of two stems (as in a long tradition, from
Leskien on) or one (as in Jakobson 1948/1971[b]) is a non-issue. The most durable observation of
Jakobson™s study is the observation that there is complementarity in the shape of stems in the past-
in¬nitive (the stem ends in a vowel before consonantal endings) and the present (the stem ends in
a consonant before vocalic endings). If one starts with the single underlying stem, to produce this
complementarity, the single stem has to be modi¬ed immediately to yield two alternate stems --
that is to say, there are two stems after all (Chvany 1990, Elson 1986). Alternative approaches to
verbal morphology are offered by Lehfeldt 1978, Fegert 1986.
Inflectional morphology 99

The p r e s e n t s t e m is used for the present-tense forms, the imperative, and
present participles (adjectival and adverbial active and present passive partici-
ple). When the stems are different, as they are for most verb types, they differ
in how the conjugational suf¬x is treated: it is longer in one stem and shorter
or missing altogether in the other. In¬‚ectional endings in the past-in¬nitive
subsystem begin with consonants, and by complementarity, the stem of the
past-in¬nitive of most verbs ends in a vowel. The in¬‚ections of the present tense
begin with a vowel, and by complementarity, the verbal stem ends in a consonant
before these vocalic endings.
There are two conjugations, which differ according to the t h e m a t i c l i g -
a t u r e used between the stem and the markers of person and number in the
“middle” forms of the paradigm -- the second- and third-person singular and ¬rst-
and second-person plural. One conjugation uses a suf¬x spelled ¤b≥: vjkx«im
˜be silent™, 3sg vjkx«n, 1pl vjkx«v, 2pl vjkx«nt. The third plural of this con-
jugation is {-at} without the ligature: 3pl vjkx’n. Verbs of this type might be
termed “i-Conjugation”; its thematic ligature can be written as “|i|.” The other
conjugational class has a vowel in the middle forms of the paradigm that derives
from — e and is spelled now ¤t≥ (or if stressed, in explicit style, ¤=≥): 2sg l†kftim,
ytc=im (inexplicit ytctim), 3sg l†kftn, ytc=n (ytctn), 1pl l†kftv, ytc=v (ytctv),
2pl l†kftnt, ytc=nt (ytctnt). The third plural is {-ut} without the ligature: 3pl
l†kf/n, ytc©n. Although the vowel is pronounced as [o] when it is stressed, as

in 2sg ytc=im, etc., it is convenient to follow history and orthography and iden-
tify this as the “e-Conjugation” and write the thematic vowel as “|e|.” The ¬rst
singular is {-u}, without the ligature, in both conjugations.
Within each of these two conjugations, it is possible to distinguish more spe-
ci¬c conjugation classes depending on the shape of the two stems. The classes
with illustrative verbs are listed in Table 3.3. An abstract stem shape is given for
the past-in¬nitive and the present stem of each type. A verb class can be iden-
ti¬ed as the set composed of the two stems. Thus k/,«nm is: {{CVCi -i-}<pst-inf> :
{CVCi -|i|-}<prs> } or, more simply, {CVC-i- : CVC-|i|}. In the column before the
gloss, they are identi¬ed by the number of the conjugation type assigned in
Zalizniak 1977[a].
All verbs of the i-Conjugation (top group in Table 3.3) have an overt suf¬x
in the past-in¬nitive subsystem, but the suf¬x is missing in the present tense.
The e-Conjugation divides into four groups. In one group, which includes the
two most productive classes, there is a conjugational suf¬x that is syllabic in
both subsystems; for example, ,hjc’nm ˜throw™ is {{bros-a-}<pst-inf> : {bros-aj-
|e|}<prs> }. In a second group, there is a suf¬x in the past-in¬nitive but it is
lost or reduced to a non-syllabic form in the present subsystem, for example,
gk’rfnm ˜cry™ {{plak-a-}<pst-inf> : {plac‹-|e|-}<prs> }. The third group, of a s u f f i x a l
verbs, is a heterogeneous set of conjugation classes, each of which has a limited
100 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 3.3 Conjugation classes

2sg no.
past-infinitive present infinitive

{CVC-i-} {CVC-|i|} 4 ˜love™
k/,«nm k·,bim
{CVC-e-} {CVC-|i|} 5 ˜look at™
cvjnh†nm cvj
{CVC-a-} {CVC-|i|}
ˇ 5 ˜be silent™
vjkx’nm vjkx«im

{CVC-a-} {CVC-aj-|e|} 1 ˜toss™
,hjc’nm ,hjc’tim
{CVC-e-} {CVC-ej-|e|} 1 ˜get tipsy™
gmzy†nm gmzy†tim
{CVC-ova-} {CVC-uj-|e|-} 2 ˜require™
nh†,jdfnm nh†,etim

{CVC-nu-} {CVC-n-|e|} 3 ˜splash™
,hßpyenm ,hßpytim
{CVC-a-} {CVCj -|e|} 6 ˜cry™
gk’rfnm gk’xtim
{CVC-a-} {CVC-|e|} 6 ˜suck™
cjc’nm cjc=im

{CCa-} {CC-|e|} 6 ˜wait™
;l’nm ;l=im
{CCa-} {CVC-|e|} 6 ˜take™
,h’nm ,th=im
{CVJa-} {CVJ-|e|} 13 ˜give™
lfd’nm lf=im
{CVJa-} {CVJ-|e|} 2 ˜peck™
rktd’nm rk/=im
{CV-} {CVJ-|e|} 16 ˜live™
;«nm ;bd=im
{CV-} {CVJ-|e|} 12 ˜cover™
rhßnm rhj´tim
{CV-} {CJ-|e|} 11 ˜drink™
g«nm gm=im
{CV-} {CVN-|e|} 15 ˜set™
l†nm l†ytim
{CV-} {CN-|e|} 14 ˜squeeze™
;’nm ;v=im
{CVRV-} {CVR-|e|} 10 ˜prick™
rjkj´nm rj
{CVR(V)-} {CR-|e|} vth†nm (v=hkb) 9 ˜die™

{CVC-} {CVC-|e|} 7 ˜carry™
ytcn« ytc=im

= index of conjugation class in Zalizniak 1977[a]

number of members. The stems of the two subsystems differ in not entirely
predictable ways, for example pd’nm ˜call™ {{zva-}<pst-inf> : {zov-|e|-}<prs> }. The
fourth type is the set of verbs that lack any suf¬x; the stem ends in a consonant
in both subsystems: ytcn« ˜carry™ {{n˛ os-}<pst-inf> : {n˛ es-|e|-}<prs> }. Verbs of the
e-Conjugation have unpalatalized consonants (C0 ) in the ¬rst-person singular and
third plural, but palatalized consonants (Ci ) in the middle forms: k†pe ˜climb™
with [z] but k†ptim with [z˛]. The past-in¬nitive is generally stable, except for the
type vth†nm ˜die™ (cf. v=hkb) and consonant stems such as inf dtcn« ˜lead™ (msc
pst d=k, fem dtk’).

3.2.3 Stress patterns
The possible stress patterns of verbs are relatively restricted.
In the past, there are four patterns overall, two widespread and two re-
stricted. (a) Stress can fall consistently on the root (= ˜R™): ck’dbkf<fem> ,
Inflectional morphology 101

ck’dbkb<pl> ˜glorify™. (b) Or stress can fall on the conjugational suf¬x (= ˜F ™):
jhufybpjd’kf<fem> , jhufybpjd’kb<pl> ˜organize™. Less frequently, (c) stress may
fall consistently on the desinence (= ˜E™): ytck’<fem> , ytck«<pl> ˜carry™, or (d)
stress may be mobile (= ˜M™) -- that is, it may alternate between stress on the end-
ing in the feminine past and stress not on the ending in other forms: dhfk’<fem>
˜lied™, but dh’k<msc> , dh’kj<nt> , dh’kb<pl> .
In the present system, there are four possibilities. (a) Stress can fall consistently
on the root (= ˜R™): ck’dk/, ck’dbim. (b) If there is a conjugational suf¬x and
if it is syllabic, stress can fall on that suf¬x (= ˜F ™): jhufybp©/, jhufybp©tim.
(c) Stress can fall consistently on the thematic vowel (= ˜T™): ytc©, ytc=im ˜carry™.
(d) Stress can vary between the ¬rst singular (and the imperative) and the syllable
preceding the thematic vowel except in the ¬rst singular: gbi©<1sg> , gbi«<imv> ,
g«itim<2sg> ˜write™. This last pattern is a n t e t h e m a t i c accentuation (= ˜A™), in
that stress often falls on the syllable preceding the thematic vowel. It is mobile
accentuation, though different from that of the past tense.

3.2.4 Conjugation classes: i-Conjugation
i-Conjugation has a limited number of groups, all suf¬xal. The conjugational
suf¬x can be {-i-}, {-e-} (<—ˇ), or {-a-} (historically a variant of the preceding,
since —ˇ > a after palatals and — j). The conjugational suf¬x is present in the
past-in¬nitive stem (ghjc«nm ˜ask™, ghjc«kb), lost or replaced by the conjugation
´cbim). Consonants were followed by — j (hence
marker |i| in the present (ghji©, ghj
Cj ) in the ¬rst-person singular and palatalized before the conjugational suf¬x
(whether — i or —ˇ) and before the thematic vowel |i| in the other forms of the
present tense and the past-in¬nitive, resulting in an alternation of Cj grade 1sg
ghji©, j,«;e and Ci grade: ghjc«nm, 2sg ghj ´cbim ˜ask™, j,«ltnm, 2sg j,«lbim
˜insult™. In abstract terms, the conjugation pattern is: {{CVCi -i-}<pst-inf> : {CVCi -
|i|-}<prs> } or, more simply, {CVCi -i- : CVCi -|i|-}. Similarly, cvjnh†nm ˜observe™ is
{CVCi -e- : CVCi -|i|-} and lth;’nm ˜hold™ {CVC-a- : CVC-|i|-}. Included in the last
ˇ ˇ
group are cnjz ˜stand™, ,jz ´nmcz ˜fear™, and their derivatives, which have a stem
ending in [j] (though the [j] is absorbed before [í]); despite stress, the imperative
lacks the characteristic -«: cnj (despite cnj·), yt ,j ´qcz (1sg ,j·cm).
In verbs of the type {CVC -i- : CVC -|i|-}, the consonant was also followed by — j in
i i

´ity. In verbs in —ˇ, Cj is etymologically incorrect
the past passive participle: -ghj e
in the passive participle j,«;ty ˜insulted™; the original Ci is preserved in ed«lty
˜seen™ and in archaic ghtn†hgty, now usually ghtn†hgkty ˜endured™. The passive
participle in this class of verbs thus has the suf¬x {-on-} (unstressed [¬n], [ïn]).
The conjugations of representative verbs are given in Table 3.4. There are three
accentual types. (a) Stress falls consistently on the root in past and present; the
102 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 3.4 i-Conjugation

{CVC-i- : {CVC-e- : {CVC-a- : {CVj-a- :
CVC-|i|} CVC-|i|} CVC-|i|} CVj-|i|}

{R : R } {F : T } {F : A} {F : T }

inf uh’,bnm ktn†nm lth;’nm cnjz´nm
prs 1sg uh’,k/ ktx© lth;© cnj·
prs 2sg uh’,bim ktn«im l†h;bim cnj«im
prs 3sg uh’,bn ktn«n l†h;bn cnj«n
prs 1pl uh’,bv ktn«v l†h;bv cnj«v
prs 2pl uh’,bnt ktn«nt l†h;bnt cnj«nt
prs 3pl uh’,zn ktnz´n l†h;fn cnjz´n
prs pcl uh’,zobq ktnz´obq l†h;fobq cnjz´obq
prs dee uh’,z ktnz´ l†h;f cnj
imv 2sg uh’,m ktn« lth;« cnj
imv 2pl uh’,mnt ktn«nt lth;«nt cnj
pst msc uh’,bk ktn†k lth;’k cnjz´k
pst fem uh’,bkf ktn†kf lth;’kf cnjz´kf
pst nt uh’,bkj ktn†kj lth;’kj cnjz´kj
pst pl uh’,bkb ktn†kb lth;’kb cnjz´kb
(yf) cnjz
pst pcl uh’,bdibq ktn†dibq lth;’dibq ´dibq
(j)uh’,bd (e)ktn†d (pf)lth;’d (yf)cnjz
pst dee ´d
(j)uh’,kty --- (pf)l†h;fy (yf)cnj
psv ´zy

˜rob™ ˜¬‚y™ ˜hold™ ˜stand™

pattern could be written as {R<pst-inf> : R<prs> }, or more simply as {R : R }:
uh’,bnm ˜bury™, uh’,k/, uh’,bim; d«ltnm ˜see™, d«;e, d«lbim; ckßifnm ˜hear™,
ckßie, ckßibim. (b) Stress falls consistently after the root -- on the suf¬x in
the past and on 1sg {-ú} and 3pl {-’t} and thematic {-í-}, or {F : T}: ujdjh«nm
˜speak™, ujdjh«k, ujdjh«kf; ujdjh·, ujdjh«im; pdty†nm ˜ring™, pdty†k, pdty†kf;
pdty·, pdty«im; vjkx’nm ˜be silent™, vjkx’k, vjkx’kf; vjkx©, vjkx«im. (c)
Stress falls on the suf¬x in the past and variably on the 1sg {-ú} but antethe-
matically on the last syllable of the stem in the rest of the present, or {F : A}:
k/,«nm ˜love™, k/,«k, k/,«kf; k/,k·, k·,bim; cvjnh†nm ˜observe™, cvjnh†k,
´nhbim; lth;’nm ˜hold™, lth;’k, lth;’kf, lth;©, l†h;bim.
cvjnh†kf; cvjnh·, cvj
In the past passive participle, stress stays on the root if it is on the root in
other forms: hfcck’dkty ˜praised™, hfcck’dktyf, hfcck’dktyj, hfcck’dktyysq;
j,«;ty ˜insulted™, j,«;tyf, j,«;tyj, j,«;tyysq; eckßify ˜heard™, eckßifyf,
eckßifyj, eckßifyysq. The combination of suf¬xal stress in the past with
antedesinential stress in the present ({F : A}) gives stress on the syllable
before the suf¬x in the passive: djpk/,«nm ˜love™ (djpk/,k·, djpk·,bim),
Inflectional morphology 103

djpk·,kty, djpk·,ktyf, djpk·,ktyj, djpk·,ktyysq; elth;’nm ˜restrain™
(elth;©, el†h;bim), el†h;fy, el†h;fyf, el†h;fyj, el†h;fyysq; hfccvjnh†nm
˜examine™ (hfccvjnh·, hfccvj ´nhbim), hfccvj ´nhty, hfccvj ´nhtyf, hfccvj ´nhtyj,
´nhtyysq. When stress in the present is thematic ({F : T}), the class {CVCi -
i- : CVCi -|i|-} keeps stress on the ending: jvhfx«nm ˜darken™ (jvhfx©, jvhfx«im),
jvhfx=y, jvhfxty’, jvhfxtyj jvhfx=yysq. The other two classes ({CVCi -e- : CVCi -
|i|-}, {CVC-a- : CVC-|i|-}) pull stress back to the syllable before the passive formant:
ˇ ˇ
ecbl†nm ˜sit through™ (ecb;©, ecbl«im), ec«;ty, ec«;tyf, ec«;tyj, ec«;tyysq;
jnkt;’nm ˜¬nish reclining™ (jnkt;«, jnkt;«im), jnk=;fy, jnk=;fyf, jnk=;fyj,
In the {CVC-i- : CVC-|i|} type, there is a tendency to shift from the-
matic stress to antethematic stress in the present and past passive partici-
ple. Verbs differ. Some have just begun to shift: hfpuhjv«nm ˜rout™, hfpuhjv«im
(— hfpuhj´vbim), hfpuhjvk=y (?hfpuhj ´vkty). Other verbs have almost completed
the shift: bccei«nm ˜dry out™ bcc©ibim, current bcc©ity (older bccei«im,

3.2.5 Conjugation classes: suffixed E-Conjugation
e-Conjugation verbs, less uniform overall, vary in the extent to which they make
use of a conjugational suf¬x. Some do. Others, termed asuffixal below, do not
have a suf¬x, or have only a remnant of the conjugational suf¬x.
Two of the classes maintain the suf¬x in both stems. These are the two most
productive classes of Russian conjugation. One type has stems {CVC-a-<pst-inf> :
CVC-aj-|e|-<prs> }. Stress can be either consistently on the root or consistently
on the suf¬x: {R : R} l†kfnm ˜do™, l†kfk, l†kf/, l†kftim; {F : F} ,hjc’nm
˜throw™, ,hjc’k, ,hjc’/, ,hjc’tim. The passive participle has {-n-} added to the
stem {CVC-a-}; stress is drawn off the {-a-} onto the previous syllable: hfp,hj ´cfy
˜thrown around™, hfp,hj ´cfyf, hfp,hj
´cfyj, hfp,hj ´cfyysq.
A related type has the vowel {-e-} rather than {-a-} in the suf¬x: {CVC-e- : CVC-
ej-|e|}. This type, which makes verbs from adjectives, has the same two stress
options: {R : R} euh·vtnm ˜grow sad™, euh·vtk, euh·vt/, euh·vttim; {F : F}
gmzy†nm ˜become intoxicated™, gmzy†k, gmzy†/, gmzy†tim. These are mostly intran-
sitive and do not form passives. An exception is ghtjljk†nm ˜overcome™, whose
participle is ghtjljk=y, ghtjljkty’, ghtjljktyj ghtjljk=yysq, which shows the
passive formant {-on-}.9

Another, productive, group of suf¬xed e-Conjugation verbs has a stem {CVC-
ova-} alternating with {CVC-uj-|e|-}. There are two stress options: root stress

The form and stress are innovative. Etymologically, the suf¬xal vowel derives from —ˇ, which did
9 e
— e > o (witness ghtjljk†k).
not undergo the change of
104 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 3.5 Representative conjugations: suffixed e-Conjugation

{CVC-a-: {CVC-ova-: {CVC-a : {CVC-nu-: {CVC-a-:
CVC-aj-|e|} CVC-uj-|e|} CVCj -|e|} CVC-n-} CVC-|e|}

{R : R } {F : F } {F : A} {F : A} {F : T }

inf l†kfnm rjkljd’nm gbc’nm nzy©nm cjc’nm
prs 1sg l†kf/ rjkl©/ gbi© nzy© cjc©
prs 2sg l†kftim rjkl©tim g«itim nz´ytim cjc=im
prs 3sg l†kftn rjkl©tn g«itn nz´ytn cjc=n
prs 1pl l†kftv rjkl©tv g«itv nz´ytv cjc=v
prs 2pl l†kftnt rjkl©tnt g«itnt nz´ytnt cjc=nt
prs 3pl l†kf/n rjkl©/n g«ien nz´yen cjc©n
prs pcl l†kf/obq rjkl©/obq g«ieobq nz´yeobq cjc©obq
[? nzyz
prs dee l†kfz rjkl©z g«if ´] cjcz´
imv 2sg l†kfq rjkl©q gbi« nzy« cjc«
imv 2pl l†kfqnt rjkl©qnt gbi«nt nzy«nt cjc«nt
pst msc l†kfk rjkljd’k gbc’k nzy©k cjc’k
pst fem l†kfkf rjkljd’kf gbc’kf nzy©kf cjc’kf
pst nt l†kfkj rjkljd’kj gbc’kj nzy©kj cjc’kj
pst pl l†kfkb rjkljd’kb gbc’kb nzy©kb cjc’kb
pst pcl l†kfdibq rjkljd’dibq gbc’dibq nzy©dibq cjc’dibq
(c)l†kfd (pf)rjkljd’d (j)gbc’d (yf)nzy©d (j,)cjc’d
pst dee
(c)l†kfy (pf)rjklj (j)g«cfy (yf)nz (j,)cj
psv ´dfy ´yen ´cfy

˜do™ ˜enchant™ ˜write™ ˜stretch™ ˜suck™

{R : R}, as in nh†,jdfnm ˜demand™, nh†,jdfk, nh†,e/, nh†,etim, or consistent
suf¬xal stress {F : F}, as in rjkljd’nm ˜enchant™, rjkljd’k, rjkl©/, rjkl©tim.
The passive has {-n-}, with stress on the syllable before {-a-}: yfhbcjd’nm ˜sketch™,
´dfyysq, similarly hfcwtkjd’nm ˜kiss™.
yfhbcj ´dfy, yfhbcj´dfyf, yfhbcj
´dfyj, yfhbcj
In the two remaining classes of suf¬xal e-Conjugation, the suf¬x is re-
duced in the present. The type {CVC-nu- : CVC-n-} is used productively to
make semelfactive (=singular occasion) perfectives of verbs that report intrinsi-
cally cyclical processes. These verbs have two stress patterns: {R : R} (,hßpyenm
˜spurt™, ,hßpyek, ,hßpye, ,hßpytim) or {F : T} (njkry©nm ˜shove™, njkry©k, njkry©,
njkry=im). Some {-nu-} verbs are not semelfactive. They allow a third stress pat-
tern: {F : A} nzy©nm ˜pull™, nzy©, nz´ytim. The passive participle for {-nu-} verbs
is {-t}, which forces stress off the suf¬x to the root: hfcnzy©nm ˜stretch out™
(hfcnzy©, hfcnz ´yensq; jnnjkry©nm ˜shove away™
´ytim), hfcnz
´yenf, hfcnz´yenj, hfcnz
(jnnjkry©, jnnjkry=im), jnnj ´kryenf, jnnj ´kryenj, jnnj
In the verbs in this class that are not semelfactive, the suf¬x {-nu-} may be
absent in some forms of the past-in¬nitive system. The suf¬x is expected by
Inflectional morphology 105

the purely consonantal endings of the in¬nitive and the passive participle in
{-t}: ljcn«xm ∼ ljcn«uyenm ˜reach™, ljcn«uyen; jnd†huyenm ˜cast away™, jnd†huyen.
((J)cnßnm ˜grow cold™, however, by ending in a vowel, is more tolerant.) Active par-
ticiples and the masculine singular past may lose the suf¬x: pst pcl ljcn«uibq ∼
ljcn«uyedibq, jnd†huibq ∼ jnd†huyedibq; msc ljcn«u, jnd†huyek. The other past-
tense forms are most likely to lose {-nu-}: ljcn«ukf, jnd†hukb. Simplex forms are
more likely to keep {-nu-} than pre¬xed forms. For example, v=hpyenm ˜freeze™,
has variation in two forms (v=hp ∼ v=hpyek, v=hpibq ∼ v=hpyedibq), while its
pre¬xed derivatives consistently lack the suf¬x {pf-, yf-, j,-, d-, gjl-, gtht-, bp-,
ghb-, gj-, ghj-, c-, dß-}v=hp, v=hpibq. The development is towards increasing use
of {-nu-} and regularizing this class of verbs. Occasionally the suf¬x even appears
in the feminine of simplex forms, the context that usually omits {-nu-}: k«gyekf
for usual k«gkf.10
Another class of suf¬xed e-Conjugation has a minimal suf¬x {-a-} in the past-
in¬nitive and no suf¬x in the present, while the consonant is modi¬ed and
adopts the Cj grade: {CVC-a- : CVCj -|e|}. There are two stress options. One is
consistent root stress {R : R}: gk’rfnm ˜cry™, gk’rfk, gk’xe, gk’xtim. The other is
{F : A} -- suf¬xal in the past-in¬nitive and antethematic in the present: gbc’nm
˜write™, gbc’kf, gbi©, g«itim, implying yfg«cfy.
The past-in¬nitive stem of this group {CVC-a- : CVCj -|e|} is {CVC-a-}, which is
the same as the past-in¬nitive of the productive group {CVC-a- : CVC-aj-|e|}. As a
result, this type is being absorbed into the more productive group, at different
rates depending on the ¬nal consonant of the stem. The old pattern is preserved
well when the stem ends in a dental. Only one of the thirty-four verbs ending in
a dental (twenty-six in stop, eight in fricative) shows variation; vtn’nm ˜throw™,
vtn’k, vtx© ∼ vtn’/.11 Of the twenty-four verbs ending in velar, sixteen show
some variation, the innovative variant vf[’tn ˜wave™ (for v’itn) being used in
the 1960s survey by 17 percent of speakers born in the decade 1940--49 (but only
3% on www.lib.ru <15.IX.02>), ,hßpuftn ˜splash™ (for ,hßp;tn) by 32 percent for
,hßpufnm (18% on www.lib.ru). Of the eleven verbs ending in labials, eight use
the innovative present in {CVP-aj-|e|}; the most advanced is r’gfnm, which uses
the new variant (r’gftn ˜drip™ for r’gktn) to the tune of 72 percent of speakers
interviewed in the 1960s (82% on www.lib.ru).
There is another very small group of verbs that has the same in¬nitive shape
{CVC-a-}, but in the present uses no suf¬x and no consonant modi¬cation: {CVC-
a- : CVC-|e|}. Because the thematic vowel is added directly to the root-¬nal conso-
nant, the present of these verbs has an alternation of consonants in the present,

10 Il ina 1976. However, forms such as (ghb)kbgyek(f) are infrequent on the web.
11 In the investigation from the 1960s reported in Krysin 1974.
106 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 3.6 Quasisuffixed e-Conjugation

{CVJa- : {CVJa- : {CCa- : {CCa- : {CCa- :
CVJ-|e|} CVJ-|e|} CC-|e|} CVC-|e|} CVC-|e|}

{F : T } {F : T } {M : T } {M : T } {M : T }

inf lfd’nm rktd’nm hd’nm ,h’nm hd’nmcz
prs 1sg lf· rk/· hd© ,th© hd©cm
prs 2sg lf=im rk/=im hd=im ,th=im hd=imcz
prs 3sg lf=n rk/=n hd=n ,th=n hd=ncz
prs 1pl lf=v rk/=v hd=v ,th=v hd=vcz
prs 2pl lf=nt rk/=nt hd=nt ,th=nt hd=ntcm
prs 3pl lf·n rk/·n hd©n ,th©n hd©ncz
prs pcl lf·obq rk/·obq hd©obq ,th©obq hd©obqcz
[? hdz [? hdz
prs dee lfd’z rk/z ´ ´] ,thz´ ´cm]
imv 2sg lfd’q rk·q hd« ,th« hd«cm
imv 2pl lfd’qnt rk·qnt hd«nt ,th«nt hd«ntcm
pst msc lfd’k rktd’k hd’k ,h’k hd’kcz
pst fem lfd’kf rktd’kf hdfk’ ,hfk’ hdfk’cm
pst nt lfd’kj rktd’kj hd’kj ,h’kj hdfkj ´cm
pst pl lfd’kb rktd’kb hd’kb ,h’kb hdfk«cm
pst pcl lfd’dibq rktd’dibq hd’dibq ,h’dibq hd’dibqcz
[? lfd’d] (pf)rktd’d (jnj)hd’d (yf),h’d (pf)hd’dibcm
pst dee
--- (pf)rk=dfy (jnj (y’),hfy ---
psv ´)hdfy

˜give™ ˜peck™ ˜tear™ ˜take™ ˜strain™

C0 grade (absence of palatalization) in the ¬rst singular and third plural, Ci grade
in the middle forms. Three stress patterns are found: {R : R} ;’;lfnm ˜thirst
for™, ;’;lfk, ;’;le, ;’;ltim; {F : T } cjc’nm ˜suck™, cjc’k, cjc©, cjc=im; and
{F : A} cnjy’nm ˜moan™, cnjy’k, cnjy©, cnj ´ytim. In the passive participle, stress
shifts back: j,cj
´cfy ˜licked round™. A related subgroup is the small set of verbs in
which the ¬nal consonant of the root is [j], and the suf¬x {-a-} disappears in the
present; these verbs have root stress (c†znm ˜sow™) or thematic stress (cvtz ´nmcz
˜laugh™, cvtz´kcz, cvt·cm, cvt=imcz). Exceptionally, the imperative has no vowel:

3.2.6 Conjugation classes: quasisuffixed E-Conjugation
Some verbs of the e-Conjugation have the re¬‚ex of a suf¬x {-a-} in the past-
in¬nitive. The root without this vowel is phonologically minimal.
Lfd’nm ˜give™ and jcnfd’nmcz ˜remain™ have present-tense stems in [j] without
[v], except in the imperative and participles. Another class is that of rktd’nm
Inflectional morphology 107

˜peck™, rk/·, rk/=im; rjd’nm ˜forge™, re·, re=im; gktd’nm ˜spit™, gk/·, gk/=im,
in which additionally [v] alternates with [j]. Stress is on the second syllable in the
past-in¬nitive, thematic in the present ({F : F}). The passive has antethematic
stress: (pf)rk=dfy. Although the ¬rst singular present is stressed, the imperative
lacks -«: gk·q, c©q, ;©q, rk·q, r©q.
In some other classes the past-in¬nitive ends in {a}, but the preceding root
is phonologically debilitated. The thematic ligature can be added directly to the
cluster: ;l’nm ˜wait™, ;l©, ;l=im, implying the formula {CCa- : CC-|e|-}. Like
;l’nm are: hd’nm ˜tear™, dh’nm ˜lie™, ;h’nm ˜devour™, ch’nm ˜defecate™, -gh’nm ˜tram-
ple™, nr’nm ˜weave™. In some verbs the cluster is broken up in the present tense
by a vowel augment, as in ,h’nm ˜take™, ,th©, ,th=im; lh’nm ˜tear™, lth©, lth=im;
pd’nm ˜call™, pjd©, pjd=im, implying the formula {CCa- : CVC-|e|-}). In the present,
stress always falls on the thematic vowel. In the past, stress is mobile: ;l’nm
˜await™, ;l’k, ;lfk’, ;l’kb, ;l’kj; ,h’nm, ,h’k, ,hfk’, ,h’kb, ,h’kj; hd’nm,
hd’k, hdfk’, hd’kb, hd’kj; pd’k, pdfk’, pd’kb. When these verbs are made re-
¬‚exive, stress becomes ¬xed on the ending (except in the masculine singular):
hd’kcz, hdfk’cm, hdfkj hdfk«cm. But this end stress has begun to yield to stem
´cm, hdfk«cm > hd’kjcm, hd’kbcm.12 Gjgh’nm
stress in an informal register: hdfkj
˜¬‚out™, with no augment in the present, has ¬xed root stress in the past.
The passive participle, in {-n-}, puts stress on the syllable before the [a], and
since the root is non-syllabic, stress ends up on the second or only vowel of the
pre¬x: jnj ´hdfy ˜torn off™, jnj ´hdfyysq; ©,hfy ˜cleaned up™,
´hdfyf, jnj´hdfyj, jnj
©,hfyf, ©,hfyj, ©,hfyysq.
Next comes a set of heterogeneous verbs that have a hyposyllabic stem {CV-} or
{CCV-} in the past-in¬nitive. The present can have various shapes. The following
subtypes can be distinguished. Corresponding to a past-in¬nitive stem {C(C)V-},
the present has the consonant followed by some vowel and [j]: dßnm ˜howl™, dßkb,
´/, ´tim (also rhßnm ˜cover™, yßnm ˜moan™, hßnm ˜dig™, vßnm ˜wash™). Sim-
dßkf, dj dj
ilar, except for differences in vocalism, are g†nm (gj·) ˜sing™, l©nm (l©/) ˜blow™,
py’nm (py’/) ˜know™, uh†nm (uh†/) ˜warm™, gjx«nm (gjx«/) ˜rest™, j,©nm (j,©/) ˜shoe™,
,h«nm (,h†/) ˜shave™. Stress in the past falls on the root vowel consistently: g†kf,
g†kb. A second type uses an augment [v] in the present instead of [j]: ;«nm, ;bd©
˜live™; ckßnm, cksd© ˜be reputed™; gkßnm, gksd© ˜swim™. Stress in the past is mobile:
;bk’, ;«kb. Another subtype has the augment [j] added to the present tense but
with no root vowel, or {CJ-|e|}. Stress in the present is thematic by default. The
past has mobile stress: g«nm ˜drink™, gm·, gm=im, gbk’, g«kb (also d«nm ˜wind™,
k«nm ˜pour™), with the exception of ,«nm ˜beat™ and i«nm ˜sew™, whose past tenses
are not mobile: ,m·, ,m=im, ,«kf, ,«kb.

12 Strom 1988, SRIa 1.144.
108 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 3.7(a) Asuffixal e-Conjugation

{CV- : CVJ-|e|} {CV- : CVJ-|e|} {CV- : CVJ-|e|} {CV- : CJ-|e|}

{F : T} {F : T} {M : T} {M : T}

inf rhßnm g†nm ;«nm g«nm
prs 1sg rhj´/ gj· ;bd© gm·
prs 2sg rhj´tim gj=im ;bd=im gm=im
prs 3sg rhj´tn gj=n ;bd=n gm=n
prs 1pl rhj´tv gj=v ;bd=v gm=v
prs 2pl rhj´tnt gj=nt ;bd=nt gm=nt
prs 3pl rhj´/n gj·n ;bd©n gm·n
prs pcl rhj´/obq gj·obq ;bd©obq gm·obq
--- [? ;bdz ---
prs dee rhj´z ´]
imv 2sg rhj´q gj ´q ;bd« g†q
imv 2pl rhj´qnt gj ´qnt ;bd«nt g†qnt
pst msc rhßk g†k ;«k g«k
pst fem rhßkf g†kf ;bk’ gbk’
pst nt rhßkj g†kj ;«kj g«kj
pst pl rhßkb g†kb ;«kb g«kb
pst pcl rhßdibq g†dibq ;«dibq g«dibq
(pf)rhßd (c)g†d (ghj);«d (ghj)g«d
pst dee
(pf)rhßn (c)g†n (ghj);«n (ghj
psv ´)gbn

˜cover™ ˜sing™ ˜live™ ˜drink™

Super¬cially similar are verbs which have the augment [n] in the present. There
are two variants. In one, the nasal (originally an in¬x added to the present tense)
appears after the root-¬nal vowel and the present-tense thematic vowel is added
to a fully syllabic root in {CVN-}; such are l†nm ˜put™, l†ye, l†ytim; cn’nm ˜be-
come™, cn’ye, cn’ytim. Stress is ¬xed on the root in the present and the past: l†nm,
l†k, l†kf, l†kb; cn’nm, cn’k, cn’kf, cn’kb. In the other variant the nasal conso-
nant appears in place of the vowel of the past-in¬nitive (re¬‚ecting the historical
alternation of — VN in position before vowels with a nasal vowel in position be-
fore consonants): ;’nm ˜reap™, ;y©, ;y=im; ;’nm ˜squeeze™, ;v©, ;v=im; (yf)x’nm
˜begin™, (yf)xy©, (yf)xy=im; (jn)yz ˜grasp, take™, (jn)ybv©, (jn)y«vtim (substan-
dard variant, (jn)sv©, (jn)ßvtim). Stress in the present is thematic, except -yz´nm.
Stress in the past is either root (;’nm, ;’k, ;’kf, ;’kb, ;’kj) or mobile, even
going onto the pre¬x (yfx’nm, y’xfk, yfxfk’, y’xfkb). All of the verbs in these
groups that have mobile stress in the past have ¬xed end stress in the re¬‚exive
counterparts of the verbs: yfx’kcz (older yfxfkcz yfxfk«cm, yfxfkj yfxfk’cm.
´), ´cm,
Rather different are: rjkj ˜prick™, rjk·, rj ´ktim; vjkj ˜grind™, vtk·,
´nm ´nm
´nmcz ˜¬ght with™, ,jh·cm, ,j ´htimcz; gjhj ˜lash™, gjh·, gj
v†ktim; ,jhj ´nm ´htim.
Inflectional morphology 109

Table 3.7(b) Asuffixal e-Conjugation

{CV- : CVN-} {CV- : CVN-} {CVRV- : CVR-|e|} {CVR(V)- : CVR-|e|}

{R : R } {R : T } {R : A } {M : T }

inf l†nm ;’nm rjkj´nm nth†nm
prs 1sg l†ye ;v© rjk· nh©
prs 2sg l†ytim ;v=im rj´ktim nh=im
prs 3sg l†ytn ;v=n rj´ktn nh=n
prs 1pl l†ytv ;v=v rj´ktv nh=v
prs 2pl l†ytnt ;v=nt rj´ktnt nh=nt
prs 3pl l†yen ;v©n rj´k/n nh©n
prs pcl ;v©obq rj´k/obq nh©obq
--- [? ;vz ---
prs dee ´] rjkz ´
imv 2sg l†ym ;v« rjk« nh«
imv 2pl l†ymnt ;v«nt rjk«nt nh«nt
pst msc l†k ;’k rjkj´k n=h
pst fem l†kf ;’kf rjkj´kf nthk’
pst nt l†kj ;’kj rjkj´kj n=hkj
pst pl l†kb ;’kb rjkj´kb n=hkb
(e)rjkj (e)n=hibq
pst pcl l†dibq ;’dibq ´dibq
(e)nth†d ∼ (e)n=hib
(hfp)l†d (gj);’d (e)rjkj
pst dee ´d
(hfp)l†n (gj);’n (e)rj (e)n=hn
psv ´kjn

˜place™ ˜squeeze™ ˜prick™ ˜rub™

Stress is antethematic in the present, when the consonant adopts Cj grade even
in the ¬rst-person singular. In the past-in¬nitive, stress is ¬xed on the second
root syllable: rjkj rjkj ´kb. The two transitives rjkj and vjkj
´k, ´kf, rjkj ´nm ´nm
have retracted stress in passive participles: erj ´kjn, erj
´kjnf, erj´kjnj, erj´kjnsq.
Vth†nm ˜die™, gth†nm ˜close™, nth†nm ˜wipe™ have a non-syllabic present stem (imply-
ing thematic stress by default): vh©, vh=im. Unusually for Russian conjugations,
the past stem differs from the in¬nitive stem: gth†nm, g=h, gthk’, g=hkb, g=hkj;
vth†nm, v=h, vthk’, v=hkb, v=hkj.
Throughout these asuf¬xal verbs, the passive participle is generally marked
by {-t-}. If the verb otherwise has root stress in the past, it has root stress in the
passive participle: hfpl†nm ˜deck out™, hfpl†k, hfpl†kf, hfpl†n, hfpl†nf, hfpl†nj,
hfpl†nsq; yf;’nm ˜squeeze™, yf;’k, yf;’kf, yf;’n, yf;’nf, yf;’nj, yf;’nsq;
hfcnth†nm ˜wipe away™ (hfcn=h, hfcn=hkf), hfcn=hn, hfcn=hnf, hfcn=hnj, hfcn=hnsq;
c,h«nm ˜shave off™ (c,h«k, c,h«kf), c,h«n, c,h«nf, c,h«nj, c,h«nsq; jng†nm ˜read
the service over™ (jng†k, jng†kf), jng†n, jng†nf, jng†nj, jng†nsq; e,«nm ˜kill™ (e,«k,
e,«kf), e,«n, e,«nf, e,«nj, e,«nsq.
For those asuf¬xal verbs that take {-t-}, mobile stress in the past once im-
plied mobile stress in the participle: yfx’nm ˜begin™ (y’xfk, yfxfk’, y’xfkj)
110 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 3.8 Consonant-stem e-Conjugation

{CVC- : {CVC- : {CVC- : {CVC- : {CVC- :
CVC-|e|} CVC-|e|} CC-|e|} CVC-|e|} CVC-|e|}

{E : T } {R : T } {E : T } {R : R } {E : T }

inf ytcn« rh’cnm g†xm k†pnm ,th†xmcz
prs 1sg ytc© rhfl© gtr© k†pe ,thtu©cm
prs 2sg ytc=im rhfl=im gtx=im k†ptim ,tht;=imcz
prs 3sg ytc=n rhfl=n gtx=n k†ptn ,tht;=ncz
prs 1pl ytc=v rhfl=v gtx=v k†ptv ,tht;=vcz
prs 2pl ytc=nt rhfl=nt gtx=nt k†ptnt ,tht;=ntcz
prs 3pl ytc©n rhfl©n gtr©n k†pen ,thtu©ncz
prs pcl ytc©obq rhfl©obq gtr©obq k†peobq ,thtu©obqcz
--- ---
prs dee ytcz´ rhfl« k†pz
imv 2sg ytc« rhfl« gtr« k†pm ,thtu«cm
imv 2pl ytc«nt rhfl«nt gtr«nt k†pmnt ,thtu«ntcm
pst msc y=c rh’k g=r k†p ,th=ucz
pst fem ytck’ rh’kf gtrk’ k†pkf ,thtuk’cm
pst nt ytckj ´ rh’kj gtrkj´ k†pkj ,thtukj´cm
pst pl ytck« rh’kb gtrk« k†pkb ,thtuk«cm
pst pcl y=cibq rh’libq g=ribq k†pibq ,th=uibqcz
(e)ytcz (e)rh’dib (bp)g=rib (pf)k†pib (e),th=uibcm
pst dee ´
(e)ytc=y (e)rh’lty (bp)gtx=y (yf)k†pty ---

˜carry™ ˜steal™ ˜bake™ ˜crawl™ ˜protect™

´cnm ˜curse™ (ghj
y’xfn, yfxfn’, y’xfnj, y’xfnsq; ghjrkz ´rkzk, ghjrkzk’, ghj´rkzkj),
´rkznsq; hfcg«nm ˜drink a shared bottle™ (hfcg«k,
ghj´rkzn, ghjrkzn’, ghj ´rkznj, ghj
hfcgbk’, hfcg«kj), hfcg«n, hfcgbn’, hfcg«nj, hfcg«nsq; jn;«nm ˜outlive one™s
time™ (jn;«k, jn;bk’, jn;«kj), jn;«n, jn;bn’, jn;«nj, jn;«nsq. These cita-
tions illustrate the point that, historically, mobile stress once meant that the
stress retracted onto the pre¬x when it was not on the end (in the feminine).
Stress on the pre¬x has been fading (manuals must be consulted for details), but
it is still preserved in frequent verbs like yfx’nm.13
Among asuf¬xal verbs, the largest and most homogeneous group are obstru-
ent stems -- verbs like ytcn« whose stem ends in an obstruent in both subsystems.

13 To illustrate the nature of this variation using derivatives of gth†nm. The old pattern -- complete mo-
bility in the past and the passive participle -- is preserved with pfgth†nm: p’gth, pfgthk’, p’gthkj,
p’gthn, pfgthn’, p’gthnj, p’gthnsq. In the middle, jgth†nm has eliminated pre¬xal stress, and
has even begun to allow the feminine stress on the root: jg=h, jgthk’ ∼ jg=hkf, jg=hkj; jg=hn,
jgthn’ ∼ jg=hnf, jg=hnj, jg=hnsq. Even further, gthtgth†nm has gone over to stem stress in both
past and participle: gthtg=h, gthtg=hkf, gthtg=hkj; gthtg=hnf, gthtg=hnf, gthtg=hkj, gthtg=hnsq.
Inflectional morphology 111

In the present, the thematic ligature |e| is added directly to a stem of the shape
{CVC-<prs> }. The ¬nal consonant is C0 in the ¬rst singular and third plural (ytc©,
ytc©n; gtr©, gtr©n) and Ci in the middle forms (ytc=im; gtx=im). The stem of the
past tense also ends (or could end) in an obstruent, and that fact occasions some
collision between the ¬nal consonant of the stem and the consonants of the
past tense and the in¬nitive. The collision is resolved in different ways. (a) Verbs
whose present stem ends in a D E N T A L S T O P lose the stop throughout the past,
and have an in¬nitive in -cn«: dtcn« ˜lead™ (dtl©, dtl=im, d=k, dtk’); vtcn« ˜sweep™
(vtn©, vtn=im, v=k, vtk’); gktcn« ˜weave™ (gktn©, gktn=im, gk=k, gktk’); uytcn«
˜oppress™ (uytn©, [no past]); ,htcn« ˜wander™ (,htl©, ,htl=im, ,h=k, ,htk’); ,k/cn«
˜watch™ (,k/l©, ,k/l=im, ,k·k, ,k/k’); uhzcn« ˜come™ (3sg uhzl=n, [no past]).
(b) Verbs whose present stem ends in a L A B I A L S T O P keep the stop and lose the
{-l-} in the masculine singular past, and have an in¬nitive in -cn«: crhtcn« ˜scrape™
(crht,©, crht,=im, crh=,, crht,k’); uhtcn« ˜row™ (uht,©, uht,=im, uh=,, uht,k’).
(c) Verbs ending in a V E L A R S T O P keep that consonant and lose the msc sg {-l-}
of the past, and have an in¬nitive in --xm: dk†xm ˜draw™ (dktr©, dktx=im, dk=r,
dktrk’); n†xm ˜¬‚ow™ (ntr©, ntx=im, n=r, ntrk’); (yf)h†xm ˜speak™ (-htr©, -htx=im, -h=r,
-htrk’); ghtyt,h†xm ˜ignore™ (ghtyt,htu©, ghtyt,ht;=im, ghtyt,h=u, ghtyt,htuk’);
,th†xm ˜take care of™ (,thtu©, ,tht;=im, ,th=u, ,thtuk’); cnth†xm ˜guard™ (cnthtu©,
cntht;=im, cnth=u, cnthtuk’); njkj ˜pound™ (njkr©, njkx=im, njkj njkrk’);
´xm ´r,
(pf)ghz ˜harness™ (pfghzu©, pfghz;=im, pfghz pfghzuk’). (d) Verbs ending in a
´xm ´u,
D E N T A L F R I C A T I V E keep that consonant and lose the msc sg {-l-} of the past,
and have an in¬nitive -n« added to the fricative (a voiced fricative letter is kept in
spelling): dtpn« ˜convey™ (dtp©, dtp=im, d=p, dtpk’); gjkpn« ˜crawl™ (gjkp©, gjkp=im,
´kp, gjkpk’); nhzcn« ˜shake™ (nhzc©, nhzc=im, nhz nhzck’); gfcn« ˜tend™ (gfc©,
gj ´c,
gfc=im, g’c, gfck’). Hfcn« ˜grow™ (hfcn©, hfcn=im, hj hjck’) combines the loss
of the dental stop and the loss of msc sg {-l-}. Exceptional vowel alternations
re¬‚ecting old nasal in¬xes occur in k†xm ˜lie™ (kz ´ue, kz´;tim, k=u, ktuk’); c†cnm
˜sit™ (cz cz
´le, ´ltim, c†k, c†kf). (Ghj-)xtcnm ˜read™ (ghjxn©, ghjxn=im, ghjx=k, ghjxk’)
and ;†xm ˜burn™ (;u©, ;;=im, ;=u, ;uk’) have null grade and stress on endings
in both the present and the past.
In stress, the predominant pattern is {E : T}, or thematic stress in the present,
end stress in the past (though not in the masculine singular). End stress in the
past also implies the unusual end stress in the in¬nitive as well (ytcn«), except
in velar stems. Root or mobile stress in the past precludes end stress in the
Other stress patterns are possible, for individual verbs or small groups of
´cnm ˜swear™ has {M : T}, or thematic stress in the present (rkzy©,
verbs. Rkz
rkzy=im) and mobile stress in the past (rkzk’, rkz ´kb). C†cnm ˜sit™ (cz´le, c†kf),
k†pnm ˜climb™ (k†pe, k†ptim, k†p, k†pkf), jnd†hpnm ˜open™ (archaic) have consistent
112 A Reference Grammar of Russian

root stress: {R : R}. (In recent times c†xm ˜hack™, originally {R : T}, has been
shifting to the productive stress pattern in the past: c†r, c†rkf, c†rkb > c=r,
ctrk’, ctrk«.) For other verbs the stress pattern is {R : T }: uhßpnm ˜gnaw™
(uhsp©, uhsp=im, uhßp, uhßpkf); rh’cnm ˜steal™ (rhfl©, rhfl=im, rh’k, rh’kf); rk’cnm
˜place™ (rkfl©, rkfl=im, rk’k, rk’kf); g’cnm ˜fall™ (gfl©, gfl=im, g’k, g’kf) and
(j-)cnh«xm ˜shear™ (jcnhbu©, jcnhb;=im, jcnh«u, jnch«ukf). Ghz ´cnm ˜spin™ has the-
matic stress in the present (ghzl©, ghzl=im) and variation in the past: like uhßpnm,
stem stress (ghz ´kf, implying re¬‚exive ghz´kfcm, etc.) or, like rkz´cnm, mobile past
(ghzk’, ghz ´kj, implying end stress in the re¬‚exives ghzk’cm, ghzkj ´cm). Vj ˜be
able, possible™ is a unique verb with {E : A}: vju©, vj ´;tim, vjuk’, vjuk«.
In obstruent stems with end stress in the past, the passive participle has the
suf¬x {-on-}, with stress on the ending in the short forms (eytcn« ˜carry off ™, ey=c,
eytck’, eytckj implies eytc=y, eytcty’, eytctyj and on the participial suf¬x in
´ ´)
the long form (eytc=yysq). Stress stays on the root in the participle if the past
is root-stressed: pfuhßpnm ˜chew up™, pfuhßpkf, pfuhßpty, pfuhßptyf, pfuhßptyj,

3.2.7 Stress in verbs: retrospective
The stress of verbs has to be learned, class by class and, in the smaller, less
productive, archaic classes, verb by verb. Yet some broad generalizations can be
discerned. Verb classes can be divided into four large sets.
The ¬rst set consists of verbs with a conjugational suf¬x that is syllabic in
both the past-in¬nitive and the present. Verbs in these classes allow only two
stress patterns: {R : R} (nh†,jdfnm, nh†,jdfk : nh†,e/, nh†,etim) and {F : F}
(rjkljd’nm, rjkljd’k : rjkl©/, rjkl©tim). This limitation suggests that roots
and suf¬xes are heavy. If either the root or suf¬x receives stress, stress remains
there in both subsystems. Furthermore, stress can never go further towards the
end of the word than a syllabic suf¬x.
The second set consists of verbs with an identi¬able, syllabic suf¬x in the past-
in¬nitive, but no suf¬x, or a suf¬x that is not syllabic, in the present subsystem.
There are three possibilities: {R : R}, {F : T}, {F : A}. The three patterns show
again that, in the past-in¬nitive, stress cannot go further towards the ending
beyond an overt and syllabic suf¬x. But in the present, where the suf¬x is miss-
ing (or lacks a vowel), it is possible to put stress on the syllable preceding the
thematic vowel: {F : A}, 1sg gbi©, 2sg g«itim. That means that mobile stress
in the present is possible only for those verb classes that lose the suf¬x in the
The third set is the array of heterogeneous verbs that have no conjugational
suf¬x and stem shapes that do not remain stable between the past-in¬nitive and
present subsystems. Some of these verbs have {R : R} stress, like dßnm, dj or´/,
Inflectional morphology 113

{R : T} stress, a minor variant that occurs by default when the present stem lacks
a vowel, such as i«nm, i«kf, i«kb, im·, im=im. Interestingly, these verbs with
stems that are minimal (“hyposyllabic”) or inconsistent over the two subsystems
allow mobile stress in the past (along with thematic stress in the present), or
{M : T}: g«nm, gbk’, g«kb; ,h’nm, ,hfk’, ,h’kb (gm·, gm=im; ,th©, ,th=im). In fact,
mobile stress in the past occurs only with such verbs.
The fourth group is the consonant-stem verbs like ytcn«, g†xm, which have the
same, stable, canonical root structure {CVC-} in both subsystems. These verbs
have a variety of stress patterns, but the most frequent is {E : T}, or end stress in
the past (y=c, ytck’, ytck«) correlated with thematic stress in the present (ytc©,
ytc=im). It is as if the stable structure requires stability in the placement of stress
(rather than mobility) and the absence of an intervening suf¬x encourages the
stress to go beyond the root out onto the endings.
Thus, roots and suf¬xes are heavy and hold stress towards the front of the
word. Absence of a suf¬x encourages stress after the stem. Mobility, in either
past or present, is tolerated by those verb classes in which there is instability in
the stem shape between the two subsystems.
In the passive participle, root stress occurs when other forms have root stress.
Mobile stress occurs if the participle is {-t-} and if the verb has mobile stress in
the past: y’xfn, yfxfn’, y’xfnj. End stress occurs in some verb classes that add
the suf¬x {-on-}, namely {CVC-i : CVC-|i|} and consonant stems ({CVC- : CVC-|e|}):
hfpuhjvk=y, eytc=y, provided stress is thematic in the present. Otherwise, the
productive stress pattern is stress on the syllable preceding the suf¬x: yfg«cfy,
´nhty ˜examined™, jnk=;fy ˜rested™, yfnz ´yen ˜stretched™,
jnj ´hdfy, el†h;fy, hfccvj
´kryen ˜pushed away™, erj ´kjn ˜punctured™.

3.2.8 Irregularities in conjugation
Irregularities and exceptions of conjugation are limited in Russian.
The most archaic and irregular verbs are †cnm ˜eat™ and l’nm ˜give™. The ancient
athematic ending is preserved in the ¬rst-person singular, and the other two
forms of the singular are unusual: †v, †im, †cn; l’v, l’im, l’cn. The plural is
built on a more recognizable stem. L’nm follows the i-Conjugation in the ¬rst-
and second-person plural, but not in the third plural (lfl«v, lfl«nt, but lfl©n),
while †cnm follows the i-Conjugation throughout the plural (tl«v, tl«nt, tlz ´n).
The past-tense forms are regular.
<ßnm uses a different stem for the past and future (and no stem in the present),
but the individual forms are not irregular. The past exhibits consistent mobility:
,ßk, ,sk’, ,ßkj, ,ßkb, and in the negative, y† ,sk, yt ,sk’, y† ,skj, y† ,skb.
The conjugation of the future is regular if it is taken to be a consonant stem:
1sg ,©le, 2sg ,©ltim, 3sg ,©ltn, 1pl ,©ltv, 2pl ,©ltnt, 3pl ,©len.
114 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Table 3.9 Conjugation classes and secondary imperfectives

perfective perfective imperfective
past-infinitive present (present) infinitive

{CVC-i-} {CVC-|i|} {CVCj -aj-|e|} jcel«nm/jce;l’nm ˜judge™,
pfv†nbnm/pfvtx’nm ˜notice™,
hfpuhep«nm/hfpuhe;’nm ˜unload™,
gjlwtg«nm/gjlwtgkz ˜hook up™
{CVC(j )-ivaj-|e|} ´dbnm/pfujnjdkz (pfujn’dkbdfnm)
pfujnj ´nm
˜stock up™, jcvßckbnm/jcvsckz ∼ ´nm
jcvßckbdfnm ˜conceptualize™,
gjlvty«nm/gjlv†ybdfnm ˜substitute™,
gjl[dfn«nm/gjl[d’nsdfnm ˜grab hold of ™,
´bnm/ecnh’bdfnm ˜arrange™
{CC-i-} {CC-|i|} {CC-e-vaj-|e|} pfnv«nm/pfnvtd’nm ˜eclipse™,
ghjlk«nm/ghjlktd’nm ˜prolong™
{CVC-e-} {CVC-|i|} {CVCj -ivaj-|e|} hfccvjnh†nm/hfccv’nhbdfnm ˜examine™,
jncbl†nm/jnc«;bdfnm ˜sit out™
{CVC-a-} {CVC-|i|} {CVC-ivaj-|e|}
ˇ ˇ ˇ evjkx’nm/ev’kxbdfnm ˜keep silent about™,
ghjkt;’nm/ghjk=;bdfnm ˜spend time

{CVC-a-} {CVC-aj-|e|} {CVC0 -ivaj-|e|} jnl†kfnm/jnl†ksdfnm ˜trim™,
gtht,hjc’nm/gtht,h’csdfnm ˜throw
{CVC-e-} {CVC-ej-|e|} {CVC-e-vaj-|e|} pf,jk†nm/pf,jktd’nm ˜fall ill™
{CVC-ova-} {CVC-uj-|e|-} {CVC-ov-ivaj-|e|} ´dsdfnm ˜pack up™,
´dsdfnm ˜¬lter

{CVC-nu-} {CVC-n-|e|} {CVC0 -ivaj-|e|} ´gsdfnm ˜clap™
{CVC-a-} {CVCj -|e|} {CVC0 -ivaj-|e|} ∼ jgbc’nm/jg«csdfnm ˜write™,
{CVC0 -’j-|e|}) ´psdfnm ˜bind™,
jnh†pfnm/jnhtp’nm ˜cut off ™
{CVC-a-} {CVC-|e|} {CVC0 -ivaj-|e|} dßcjcfnm/dsc’csdfnm ˜suck out™

{CV∞ C0 -ivaj-|e|}
{CCa-} {CC-|e|} dß;lfnm/ds;«lfnm ˜wait out™
{CV∞ C0 -ivaj-|e|}
{CCa-} {CVC-|e|} e,h’nm/e,bh’nm ˜clean up™,
gjljpd’nm/gjlpsd’nm ˜call up™
{CVJa-} {CVJ-|e|} {CVJ-ivaj-|e|} jnc†znm/jnc†bdfnm ˜screen out™,
jnn’znm/jnn’bdfnm ˜thaw out™
{CVJa-} {CVJ-|e|} {CVC0 -ivaj-|e|} bcrktd’nm/bcrk=dsdfnm ˜peck thoroughly™,
jngktd’nm/jngk=dsdfnm ˜spit out™
{CV-} {CVJ-|e|} {CV-vaj-|e|} yf;«nm/yf;bd’nm ˜acquire™
{CV-} {CVJ-|e|} {CV-vaj-|e|} pfrhßnm/pfrhsd’nm ˜close™
{CV-} {CJ-|e|} {CV-vaj-|e|} dsg«nm/dsgbd’nm ˜drink down™
Inflectional morphology 115

Table 3.9 (cont.)

perfective perfective imperfective
past-infinitive present (present) infinitive

{CV-} {CVN-|e|} {CV-vaj-|e|} pfl†nm/pfltd’nm ˜shove off ™
{CV∞ N-aj-|e|}
{CV-} {CN-|e|} dß;fnm/ds;bv’nm ˜squeeze out™
{CVRV-} {CVR-|e|} {CVR0 -ivaj-|e|} ´nm/yfr’ksdfnm ˜puncture multiply™
{CV∞ C0 -ivaj-|e|}
{CVR(V)-} {CR-|e|} evth†nm/evbh’nm ˜die™, pfgth†nm/pfgbh’nm

{CVC-} {CVC-aj-|e|} {CVC-aj-|e|} yfgktcn«/yfgktn’nm ˜weave in quantity™,
´xm/yfghzu’nm ˜tense up™

= alternation of vowel grades null∼{i} in root
{. . . -ivaj-|e|} = boldface indicates imperfectivizing suf¬x (present tense)

A very small number of irregularities involves unusual pairings of allostems
or occasionally, sub-allostems. Cg’nm and uy’nm have a past-in¬nitive stem in
{CCa-}, and they have the mobile past-tense stress typical of such verbs: cg’nm
˜sleep™, cg’k, cgfk’, cg’kb, cg’kj; uy’nm ˜pursue™, uy’k, uyfk’, uy’kb, uy’kj. The
present tense of these verbs switches to i-Conjugation: cgk·, cg«im; ujy·, uj ´ybim.
The unusual verb pß,bnmcz ˜surge™ should belong to the i-Conjugation, to judge
by its in¬nitive, but forms its preferred present in |e|, with Cj : pß,ktncz. Eib,«nm
˜bruise™, on the basis of its in¬nitive and participles (eib,«dibq, ei«,ktyysq),
implies a stem {CVC-i} of the i-Conjugation, but it behaves like an obstruent
stem with {CVC-|e|} in the present (eib,©, eib,=im) and past (ei«,, ei«,kf).
´psdfnm ˜obligate™ conjugates either as expected {CVC-aj-|e|} (j,z ´psdftim) or
as unexpected {CVC-uj-|e|} (j,z ´petimcz).
<t;’nm ˜run, ¬‚ee™ looks like the type {CVCi -a : CVCi -|i|-} in the “middle” forms
of the present-tense conjugation -- ,t;«im, ,t;«nt -- but the ¬rst singular and
third plural rely on an allostem {CVC0 -|e|-}: ,tu©, ,tu©n. {jn†nm ˜want™ has a
singular in |e| with Cj throughout ([jx©, [j ´xtim); the plural has the thematic
vowel |i|, implying C i ([jn«v, [jn«nt, [jnz ´n).

3.2.9 Secondary imperfectivization
While derivational processes in general are not treated here, it is nevertheless
useful to illustrate the patterns of suf¬xation used to make secondary imper-
fectives from pre¬xed perfectives (see Table 3.9, following the verb classes of
Table 3.3). There are different suf¬xes. All imperfectivizing suf¬xes put the re-
sulting verbs in the class of {-a- : -aj-|e|}.
116 A Reference Grammar of Russian

Simplest and oldest is plain {-a- : -aj-|e|}, which was used in the oldest
layer of derivation, old unpre¬xed pairs (kbi«nm/kbi’nm ˜deprive™; hti«nm/hti’nm
˜decide™, ,hj ´cbnm/,hjc’nm ˜throw™). It is still used with many i-Conjugation verbs,
with which it now implies Cj (-gh’dbnm/-ghfdkz ˜direct™). For this class of verbs,
this older option is in competition with the more recent and productive strategy
(see below). This suf¬x, with C0 , is used by obstruent stems (-g†xm/-gtr’nm ˜bake™;
-;’nm/-;bv’nm ˜squeeze™).
A variant with a preceding [v] -- that is, {-va- : -vaj-|e|} -- is used when the
perfective stem ends in a vowel: with {CVC-e- : CVC-ej-|e|} (-gjn†nm/-gjntd’nm)
and with asuf¬xal verbs (-,«nm/-,bd’nm; -l©nm/-led’nm; -l’nm/-lfd’nm). A variant is
{CC-eva- : CC-evaj-|e|}, for the few roots of the shape {CC-i- : CC-|i|}: pfnv«nm/
pfnvtd’nm ˜eclipse™.
The newest and most productive strategy, which yields derived verbs of the
type {-iva- : -ivaj-|e|}, is applied to: i-Conjugation verbs (-vjkjn«nm/-vjk’xbdfnm
˜thresh™), with a vowel alternation and (usually) Cj grade in the root-¬nal conso-
nant; verbs of the type {CVC-a- : CVCj -|e|}, with C0 maintained (-gbc’nm/-g«csdfnm
˜write™); verbs of the type {CVC-a- : CVC-aj-|e|}, with C0 maintained (-l†kfnm/
-l†ksdfnm ˜do); and perhaps semelfactives of the form {CVC-nu- : CVC-n-|e|}
([kj ´gsdfnm ˜clap™). In these cases the original conjugational suf¬x dis-
appears (although with {CVC-i : CVC-|i|} the suf¬x leaves a trace in the muta-
tion to Cj ). This suf¬x is applied to {CVC-ov’- : CVC-új-|e|} verbs, when it gives
{-ov-iva- : -ov-ivaj-|e|} (-njhujd’nm/-njhuj ´dsdfnm ˜trade™). In this instance, the orig-
„ „
inal conjugational suf¬x remains.

3.3 Declension of pronouns

3.3.1 Personal pronouns
The declension of personal pronouns (¬rst, second, and re¬‚exive) and of inter-
rogative pronouns is idiosyncratic in various respects (see Table 3.10).
The re¬‚exive pronoun declines like the second singular pronoun, except for
the fact that it does not have a nominative form. All personal pronouns and the
animate interrogative rnj use the genitive form for the accusative (§§3.6.1, 4.1.6);
the inanimate interrogative xnj does not. The instrumentals vyj nj,j cj,j
´ ´q, ´q, ´q
allow a variant with {-u} (vyj etc.) in the formal register, if the pronoun is
prosodically autonomous, for example as a predicate argument ([3]) or the agent
of a passive ([4]):

[3] Crerf dct ,jkmit jdkfltdfkf vyj/<ins> .
Boredom ever more took hold of me.
Inflectional morphology 117

Table 3.10 Declension of personal and interrogative pronouns

1sg 2sg 1pl 2pl
rfl intg an intg in

nom z
´ nß vß dß rnj´ xnj
=gen =gen =gen =gen =gen =gen =nom
gen vtyz´ nt,z
´ ct,z´ y’c d’c rjuj ´ xtuj´
dat vy† nt,† ct,† y’v d’v rjv© xtv©
loc vy† nt,† ct,† y’c d’c rj
´v x=v
ins vyj
´q nj,j
´q cj,j´q y’vb d’vb r†v x†v

Table 3.11 Third-person pronouns

msc msc=nt nt fem pl

nom j
´y jyj
´ jy’ jy«
=gen =gen =gen


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