The phrase я ошибся is past tense but doesn't include an л near the end. Are there any other examples of this phenomenon? I asked some native speakers and they couldn't think of any. One of them proposed that this might be a special property of the verbs that only have a form ending with -ся, but this isn't the case since the past tense for надеятся, смеяться, and улыбаться uses л.

  • 2
    Other verbs that don't have "л" in the past form are грести, скрести, ушибить(ся). However, "л" is missing only in singular masculine forms.
    – stillenat
    Jul 30, 2013 at 12:59
  • погиб, умер, высек
    – Yury
    Jul 30, 2013 at 14:00
  • 1
    @Yury: Oops, I did know погиб and умер but had forgotten about them.
    – KCd
    Jul 31, 2013 at 6:03
  • пёк, нёс, рос, постриг(ся), ...
    – Anixx
    Aug 3, 2013 at 21:23

2 Answers 2


There are a number of verbs that do not take "-л-" to form past masculine forms.

Those are verbs that have the stem ending in -с, -з, -б, -г, -к, -р in the past tense. For example,

нести -> нёс, спасти -> спас, трясти -> тряс, везти -> вёз, ползти -> полз, лезть -> лез, грызть -> грыз, грести -> грёб, скрести -> скрёб, ошибиться -> ошиб-ся, ушибить(ся) -> ушиб-(ся), мочь -> мог, умереть -> умер

Note that "-л-" is missing only in masculine forms. Feminine, neuter and plural forms all take "-л-".

я/ты/она несла, спасла, лезла, гребла, ошиблась, могла etc. мы/вы/они несли, спасли, лезли гребли, ошиблись, могли etc.

The explanation for this that I could find is that in Old Russian, short participle forms (that in modern Russian are used for past tense) took gender endings -ъ(masculine), -а(feminine), -о(neuter).

писалъ - писала - писало, моглъ - могла - могло

Later the weak reduced vowel -ъ was dropped, and pronouncing consonant clusters like "-сл-, -зл-, -бл-, -гл-, -кл-, -рл-" at the end of a word became more problematic. "-л-" was often devoiced or hard to pronounce in words like *спасл, *могл, *умерл and was later dropped as well.

It didn't happen with feminine, neuter and plural endings because there was a vowel following "-л-".

  • +1: How about verbs with with stem ending in -х like высохнуть → высох?
    – Yury
    Jul 30, 2013 at 15:07
  • @Yury Yes, you're right! There might be even more. The point here is, it's not easy to pronounce /l/ in final position after most fricatives and plosives.
    – stillenat
    Jul 30, 2013 at 16:25
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    There're also verbs, that have an opposite effect in them, they have the -л, but the final consonant of the stem disappears before this -л, for example: ел (ate), the stem is ед-; упал, the stem is упад-; сел.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jul 31, 2013 at 2:27

That can happen in verbs ending in stuff like -чь and -нуть.

Like беречь. (To take care of)

The masculine singular past tense is берёг.

But this -л comes back in the other forms, plural, feminine, and neuter.

I would say: я берегла, since I am female. I drop the ë and it becomes an e. And I add the л ending. :)

  • 1
    Thanks. What are some -нуть verbs with past tense not involving л? Off the top of my head, the past tense forms of (под)черкнуть all involve л.
    – KCd
    May 19, 2022 at 15:44
  • The verb “сохнуть”. My family, at least, in the dialect I speak (I’m from Uzbekistan) он сох, она сохла, оно сохло, они сохли May 24, 2022 at 12:32

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