Russian verb aspects
Today we start one of the hardest parts of the Russian grammar for foreign students – aspects of the verb.
In Russian, there are only three verb tenses: present, past and future. How do Russians make it with so little? Thanks to the verb aspects: Perfective and Imperfective one.
In general, the Imperfective aspect describes the actions that are taking place at the moment of speaking or during some other action, actions with no indication of the start and the end, and actions that haven’t finished yet or repeat. It is also used with negative pronouns such as никто, никогда, ничем etc.
The Perfective aspect is used to talk about the actions that happened or were supposed to happen once, actions that have finished with success. The Perfective aspect, due to the fact that it implies a finished action, does not have a Present tense form.
In negative sentences, using the perfective verbs means that the person failed to do the action, and using the imperfective usually means that the action didn’t happen.
So most (not all) of the Russian verbs form pairs where one verb is perfective and another one is imperfective.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that two verbs look very much alike most of the times, you can’t create one from another, there are not rules for that. They are just two different verbs. However, in many cases, adding a prefix to an imperfective verbs makes it a perfective verb. But there are also many prefixed imperfective verbs.
Here are some common Russian verbs in such pairs (imperfective/perfective):
де́лать – сде́лать
говори́ть – сказа́ть
брать – взять
помога́ть – помо́чь
смотре́ть – посмотре́ть
чита́ть – прочита́ть
учи́ть – вы́учить
плати́ть – заплати́ть
покупа́ть – купи́ть
ходи́ть – сходи́ть
понима́ть – поня́ть
хоте́ть – захоте́ть
слы́шать – услы́шать
дава́ть – дать
ду́мать – поду́мать
по́мнить – запо́мнить
We will practice the use of verb aspects with examples in the following lessons when we learn the Past the the Future tenses in Russian.
For now, memorize the verbs from today’s lesson and practice them with the audio track.Start the quiz
Question # 1Which aspect describes actions that haven’t finished yet?
Question # 2Which aspect describes one-time actions?
Question # 3Which aspect describes finished actions?
Question # 4Which aspect describes actions with no indication of the start and the end?
Question # 5Which verb is imperfective?
Question # 6Which verb is perfective?
Question # 7Which option is incorrect?
- помога́ть – помо́чь
- брать – взять
- понима́ть – запо́мнить
- дава́ть – дать
Question # 8Which verbs do not have the Present tense?
Question # 9Which option is incorrect?
- покупа́ть – купи́ть
- говори́ть – сказа́ть
- ду́мать – поду́мать
- учи́ть - чита́ть
Question # 10Which verb is imperfective?
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Correct answers: 0 (0%)