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Lesson 65 - Verbs. Imperfective vs. Perfective.

 

Imperfective vs. Perfective verbs

 

Imperfective

In Russian, imperfective verbs are those that denote habitual or incomplete actions (or when an action”s completion is not the point). For example, using the verb to write, "I write a letter" or "I am writing a letter" mean pretty much the same thing in English. We don”t know whether the action has been completed.

The best way to think about your choice in Russian is to decide whether the action has been completed or not but including all the information you can. For example, " I am writing this letter (right now and but I haven”t finished it yet)."

The habitual action is a little more complicated, because the action can be completed, but the person often does this action. "I am writing this letter (and will soon finish like I have in the past.)

Key words to look for are: always, never, often, every (hour, day, week, month, year), etc. These words tell us that the actions are done over and over again.

Russian imperfective verbs are most often unprefixed.

Perfective

Perfective verbs are reserved for actions that have been completed, or, at least, when the speaker wants to emphasize the completion of the action. The most important question to ask when deciding which aspect to use is "Has the action been completed?"

"I wrote the letter (and completed it)" would use the perfective, prefixed form of the verb.

"I am going to buy the groceries today" would use the perfective aspect because the speaker is planning on completing the action, but "I will buy groceries every week" uses the imperfective aspect because that action is habitual.

When choosing your aspect, think the action through - will it be complete? Do you do that action habitually, or is it a one-time action? Are there any key words like “every” or “always”?

The table below demonstrates some frequently used Russian verbs in imperfective/perfective pairs:

 

Imperfective

Perfective

Translation

бежать

побежать

to run

видеть

увидеть

to see

давать

дать

to give

делать

сделать

to do, to make

думать

подумать

to think

ехать

поехать

to go by a vehicle, to ride, to travel

ждать

подождать

to wait

жить

прожить

to live

звонить

позвонить

to call, to phone

знать

узнать

to know

идти

пойти

to go

изучать

изучить

to study

класть

положить

to put

кончать

кончить

to finish

любить

полюбить

to love

мочь

смочь

can, to be able, to manage

мыть

помыть

to wash

находить

найти

to find

начинать

начать

to begin

отвечать

ответить

to answer

отдыхать

отдохнуть

to rest, to relax

открывать

открыть

to open

переставать

перестать

to stop

петь

спеть

to sing

писать

написать

to write

пить

выпить

to drink

платить

заплатить

to pay

повторять

повторить

to repeat, to review

показывать

показать

to show

покупать

купить

to buy

получать

получить

to get, to receive

помогать

помочь

to help

понимать

понять

to understand

посылать

послать

to send

приходить

прийти

to come, to arrive

просить

попросить

to ask (to do smth)

решать

решить

to decide

рисовать

нарисовать

to draw

слушать

послушать

to listen

слышать

услышать

to hear

смотреть

посмотреть

to see, to watch

спрашивать

спросить

to ask

становиться

стать

to become

строить

построить

to build

танцевать

потанцевать

to dance

уставать

устать

to tire (of doing smth)

уходить

уйти

to leave, to go away

ходить

пойти

to go, to walk

хотеть

захотеть

to want

читать

прочитать

to read


 

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