It's not a secret that Russian grammar is a little bit complicated. When people start learning Russian they think that cases are the hardest part, but from my own experience as a teacher, verbs of movement are pretty tricky too. I usually spend a great amount of time doing grammar exercises with my students to make them feel comfortable using verbs of movement. It will be difficult to describe all verbs of movement in one article so I would like to start with the most useful verb of movement: to go.


As you know in Russian, we have two forms of the verb to go: идти and ходить. Both of these verbs have the meaning “go.” We, Russians, use these verbs intuitively without thinking why in one situation we use идти, and ходить in another. If you have time to finish my article, I hope it will become clearer and you will be able to use these verbs correctly.


Let's start with the verbs’ conjugation.



Настоящее время





Он, она, оно





















I think that everything is pretty clear in this part. Now, let's see how we should use these very similar verbs.


All verbs of movement in Russian are divided into two groups. I want to focus only on two right now to make it 100% clear. I'm sure that if you understand these easy principles of using the verbs идти и ходить, you will have no problem applying this rule to all verbs of movement in Russian.


I. Group: идти


There are two main rules for how to use the verb идти.


I.1: Movement that is happening right now, and in one direction


  • Куда ты идёшь (сейчас)? Where are you going (now)?
  • Я иду в университет. I'm going to the university.
  • Эти туристы идут в горы. These tourists are going to the mountains.
  • Мой друг идёт на вечеринку. My friend is going to the party.


As you see from these examples, the movement is happening right now. We don't have to use the world сейчас because it's clear that we are talking about movement that is happening presently.


Also, you should use the verb идти if the movement you are talking about is in one direction. The above examples have a specific goal: to get to the university, в университет, to the mountains, в горы, and to the party, на вечеринку.


I.2: Movement that is going to happen in the future


We use the verb идти when we explain that we are going to go somewhere tonight, сегодня вечером, tomorrow, завтра, or next week, на следующей неделе, etc.


  • Сегодня вечером мы идём в кино. We are going to the cinema tonight.
  • Завтра моя мама идёт в больницу. Tomorrow my mother is going to the hospital.


Now, let's see how we use the verb ходить.


II. Group: ходить


II.1: Movement that is happening in different (multiple) directions


  • Во время урока учитель ходит по аудитории. During the class the teacher is going around the room.


In the example, the teacher is not trying to go to the room. He is already inside the room and is making movements within.



II.2: Movement that you do обычно (usually), часто (often), каждый день (every day), or каждую неделю (every week)


  • Я хожу в спортивный  зал каждый день. I go to the gym every day.
  • Он каждое воскресенье ходит в библиотеку. He goes to the library every Sunday.


II.3: Movement as a physical capacity: люди могут ходить пешком (people can walk), птицы могут летать (birds can fly)


  • Он может быстро ходить пешком. He can walk very fast.


II.4: We need to use the verb ходить with the verbs любить (love) and нравиться (like)


  • Я люблю ходить пешком. I like walking.


As you see with the verb идти, we use this when we talk about movement that is happening right now, in one direction, and in the future.


You need to remember four main principles for how to use the verb ходить.  First, we use it when movement doesn't have one concrete direction. We don't have a goal to get to a specific place. Second, we use it when we infer that the movement happens regularly. Third, ходить is used when we talk about movement as a physical ability. Finally, the construction любить (love) and нравиться (like) + verb of movement is always with the verb ходить.


You can apply this rule to all verbs of movement without a prefix. I hope that my article will be helpful for everyone who is learning Russian. I would like to continue talking about verbs of movement with prefixes in my next article.


Image Sources


Hero image by Magdalena Roeseler (CC BY 2.0)