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Learn about the masculine, feminine, and neuter genders of Russian nouns

Russian Verbs of Position (pt. I): сидеть, стоять, лежать, висеть

blog post:

Всем привет!

Welcome to the first part of my four part series about Russian Verbs of Position and Placement! In these guides you will learn how to express the location of things and how to “put” those things in their locations.

Now, you might be asking yourself why this topic might require a four-part guide. Let’s take a look at some verbs of position and placement in English below.

A man lies a rug on the floor.
Now, a rug lies on the floor.
Finally, the man lies down for a nap.

Lies, lies, and lies – Seems simple enough, right? Now, let’s look at how these sentences translate into Russian.

A man lies a rug on the floor. – Мужчина кладёт ковёр на пол.
Now, a rug lies on the floor. – Теперь, ковёр лежит на полу.
Finally, the man lies down for a nap. – Наконец, мужчина ложится поспать.

As you can see by the bolded text, the corresponding translations of lies, lies, and lies is, respectively, кладёт, лежит, ложится – three different verbs. Why is this? Well, that’s exactly what you will learn in this four-part guide.

Throughout this series you will get an in-depth understanding of a) the 12+ verbs that are used to denote position and placement in Russian, b) how they differ and why, and c) how to use them appropriately.

Here is the breakdown of this four-part series for reference:

Russian Verbs of Position (pt. I)
Russian Verbs of Placement (pt. II)
Using Russian Verbs of Position & Placement Together (pt. III)
Russian Verbs of Position and Placement: A Comprehensive Guide (pt. IV)

So, let’s start part I . . .

Note: This is a living document, so if you see a translation that could be improved in some way, feel free to leave a note in the comments or reach out! 🙂

Lines bee Lines

What are Verbs of Position?

horizontal position

to lie (to be in a lying or horizontal position)

vertical position

to stand (to be in a standing or vertical position)

hanging position

to hang (to be in a hanging position)

sitting position

to sit (to be in a seated position)

These four verbs indicate where the subject of a sentence is located. Verbs of position are state verbs, meaning they do not describe any action that takes place (i.e. changing from one position to another), they describe the state of being in particular position.

Lines bee Lines

How do Verbs of Position differ in English and Russian?

In both English and in Russian we can use verbs of position to indicate where people, animals, and objects/things are located. The tricky part about Russian verbs of position is that Russian-speakers use them with object/things much more frequently that English-speakers do.

For example, in English we can say “The painting is hanging on the wall,” or, “The blanket lies on the bed.” It is grammatically sound, but to a native English-speaker’s ear it sounds a bit formal or even poetic. We typically just use the verb “to be” when it comes to objects/things – “The painting is on the wall,” or “The blanket is on the bed.”

Teapot with legs to depict how teapots "stand" in Russian

In Russian, verbs of position are used with objects/things in formal and informal speech alike. Take a look at the following example:

The teapot is on the table. – Чайник стоит на столе.
This sentence translates literally to “The teapot stands on the table.”

But Melissa – A TEAPOT DOESN’T HAVE LEGS??? IT DOESN’T STAND???

Well, first of all, may I say you are very observant. And second of all – it does in Russian. Why? Because it is located on the table and it is in a vertical position – much like how people stand (vertically). This is the mindset you need to put yourself into when using Russian verbs of position.

Remember — There is no verb in Russian for “to be.” So while English speakers typically describe an object’s location with “is/are,” Russian-speakers do not. Rather, they indicate the location (on the table – на столе) and how the object is positioned (vertically – вертикально). So, just like in English, if you are on the table and you are in a vertical position, you are standing.

Isn’t this fun? Let’s look at the verbs individually, and what kinds of objects “lie,” “stand,” “hang,” and “sit.”

Lines bee Lines

Russian Verbs of Position

1. лежать: to lie, be in a lying / horizontal position

To be considered “lying” a person, animal, or object needs to be in a horizontal position and not have a base or a foundation holding it up.

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

лежа́ть: to lie, be lying
+где?
я лежу́ мы лежи́м
ты лежи́шь вы лежи́те
она лежи́т они лежа́т
лежа́л
лежа́ла
лежа́ли
лежи́!
лежи́те!

Ex.

Ковёр лежит на полу.
Кошка весь день лежала на ковре.

A rug lies on the floor.
The cat lied / was (lying) on the rug all day.

Вилки и ножи лежат на столе.
Ложки не лежали на столе.

Forks and knives lie / are (lying) on the table.
Spoons weren’t (lying) on the table.

Она лежит в больнице.
Я месяцами лежал в больнице.

The girl is (lying) in the hospital.
I was (lying) in the hospital for months.

2. стоять: to stand, be in a standing / vertical position

To be considered “standing” a person, animal, or object needs to be in a vertical position. Objects can “stand” if they are upright or have a base or a foundation. However, such objects “lie” when they are upside down and, thus, not utilizing the base or foundation.

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

стоя́ть: to stand, be standing
+где?
я стою́ мы стои́м
ты стои́шь вы стои́те
она стои́т они стоя́т
стоя́л
стоя́ла
стоя́ли
стой!
сто́йте!

Два стула стоят на полу.
На столе стоит глобус.

There are (standing) two chairs on the floor.
There is (standing) a globe on the table.

Тарелки стоят на столе.
Стакан и бокал стояли на столе.

The plates are (standing – it has a base) on the table.
The glass and wine glass were (stood) on the table.

Лампа стоит на прикроватной тумбочке.
На прикроватной тумбочке стоял цветочный горшок.

The lamp is (standing) on the bedside table.
On the bedside table was (stood) a flower pot.

3. висеть: to hang, be in a hanging position

To be considered “hanging” a person, animal, or object needs to be in a hanging position off the ground.

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

висе́ть: to hang, be hanging
+где?
я вишу́ мы виси́м
ты виси́шь вы виси́те
она виси́т они вися́т
висе́л
висе́ла
висе́ли
виси́!
виси́те!

Четыре картины висят на стене.
Два подвесных светильника висели на потолке.

Four pictures hang on the wall.
Two hanging lights hung on the ceiling.

Половник висит рядом с мерным кувшином.
Несколько сковородок, кашпо с зелёнью и поварёшек висели на крючках.

The ladle hangs / is (hanging) next to the measuring glass.
Several pans, plant pots, and cooking utensils hung / were (hanging) on hooks.

Зонт висит слева от ключей.
Несколько вещей висели на крючках.

The umbrella is (hanging) to the left of the keys.
Several things were (hanging) on hooks.

4. сидеть: to sit, be in a sitting position

To be considered “sitting” a person, animal, or object needs to be in an upright, sitting position on a surface. I’ve included сидеть in this article because it is a verb of position like the first three, however, it is mostly used to describe the positions of people. There are situations where you can describe the position of an animal or an inanimate object with the verb сидеть, but the rules aren’t as steadfast. Let’s look at a few loose rules below.

сиде́ть: to sit, be sitting
+где?
я сижу́ мы сиди́м
ты сиди́шь вы сиди́те
она сиди́т они сидя́т
сиде́л
сиде́ла
сиде́ли
сиди́!
сиди́те!
  • Little animals, birds and insects when they are flightless and motionless on a surface
  • Clothes, hats and shoes on a person’s body
  • Objects or body parts that are partly lodged into something bigger or stuck and spending time inside something completely ( ex. овощи сидят на грядке, пробка сидит в бутылке, глаза сидят глубоко, гвоздь крепко сидит в стене). Similarly, people can сидить if they are stuck somewhere physically or because of some consequence or commitment (ex. сидеть в тьюрме, сидеть дома с детьми, сидеть в пробке, сидеть на диете).

A big thank you to Michele A. Berdy for her Moscow Times article, A Guide to Russian Stance Verbs, and Sharon on StackExchange for their resources.

Let’s take a look at a few more examples:

Пчёла сидит на цветке.
Пчёла сидела на цветке.

A bee sits / is (sitting) on the flower.
A bee sat / was (sitting) on the flower.

Пирог в печи сидит.
Пирог сидел в печи 30 минут.

The pie sits / is (sitting) in the oven.
The pie sat / was (sitting) in the oven.

Они сидят в тюрьме.
Они сидели в тюрьме.

They are (sitting) in prison.
They were (sitting) in prison.

Lines bee Lines

Quiz time!

Time to practice everything you learned in the article above – take the quiz for Russian Verbs of Position (pt. 1) below.

horizontal position
лежа́ть: to lie, be lying
+где?
я лежу́ мы лежи́м
ты лежи́шь вы лежи́те
она лежи́т они лежа́т
лежа́л
лежа́ла
лежа́ли
лежи́!
лежи́те!
vertical position
стоя́ть: to stand, be standing
+где?
я стою́ мы стои́м
ты стои́шь вы стои́те
она стои́т они стоя́т
стоя́л
стоя́ла
стоя́ли
стой!
сто́йте!
hanging position
висе́ть: to hang, be hanging
+где?
я вишу́ мы виси́м
ты виси́шь вы виси́те
она виси́т они вися́т
висе́л
висе́ла
висе́ли
виси́!
виси́те!
sitting position
сиде́ть: to sit, be sitting
+где?
я сижу́ мы сиди́м
ты сиди́шь вы сиди́те
она сиди́т они сидя́т
сиде́л
сиде́ла
сиде́ли
сиди́!
сиди́те!
  1. I stand
    • a) Я стою
    • b) Я сижу
    • c) Я вишу

  1. I am standing in the kitchen.  
    • a) Я лежу на столе.  
    • b) Я стою на кухне.  
    • c) Я сижу в кухне.

  1. A mirror hangs on the wall.
    • a) Зеркало лежит на стене.
    • b) Зеркало висит на стене.
    • c) Зеркало сидит на стене.
  1. Which variant is correct?
    • a) Рисунок висит на стене.
    • b) Рисунки висят на стене.
    • c) Рисунок стоят на столе.
    • d) Рисунки сидят на столе.

  1. Select all that apply.
    • a) Часы стоят на столе.  
    • b) Книга лежит на столе.  
    • c) Часы висят на стене.  
    • d) Ноутбук стоит на столе.
Questions 4, 5
  1. Select all that apply.
    • a) Картины стоят на полочке. 
    • b) На стене висят часы. 
    • c) Подушки лежат на кровати. 
    • d) Вазы стоят на полочке. 
Question 6
  1. Select all that apply.
    • a) Пять горшков с растениями стоят на стеллаже. 
    • b) Три стула стоят на полу.
    • c) На потолке висит люстра.
    • d) Куча книг лежат на столе.
Question 7
  1. Select all that apply.
    • a) Два пиджака висят на дверной вешалке. 
    • b) Туфли стоят на полке. 
    • c) Придверный коврик лежит на полу. 
    • d) Коробка с крышкой стоит на полке.
Question 8
  1. Select all that apply.
    • a) Ёж сидит на дереве. 
    • b) Белка стоит на дереве.
    • c) Паука сидит на дереве. 
    • d) Гусеница лежит на дереве.
    • e) Мышь лежит на дереве.
    • f) Бабочка сидит на дереве. 
    • g) Птица стоит на дереве.
    • h) Божья коровка лежит на дереве.
Question 9

10. На стене картина __________.

11. Тарелки уже __________ на столе.

12. Платье хорошо __________ на тебе.

13. Я хочу похудеть. Я собираюсь __________ на диете.

14. На столе __________вилка, нож и ложка.

15. Цветок в вазе __________.

16. Обезьяна __________ на хвосте на дереве.

Question 16

Questions, Comments, Good Jokes? Leave them in the comments below!

March 21, 2021

Melissa Miller

  1. Little_Louis says:

    Excellent article – really helped me understand the topic. Thank you very much.

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