Lesson 024

Russian verb aspects


Today we start one of the hardest for foreign students parts of the Russian grammar – 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, actions with no indication of the start and the end, and actions that haven’t finished yet or repeat.

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.

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.

Russian Pod 101

Here are some common Russian verbs in such pairs (imperfective/perfective):

де́лать – сде́лать
to do

говори́ть – сказа́ть
to say

брать – взять
to take

помога́ть – помо́чь
to help

смотре́ть – посмотре́ть
to watch

чита́ть – прочита́ть
to read

учи́ть – вы́учить
to learn

плати́ть – заплати́ть
to pay

покупа́ть – купи́ть
to buy

ходи́ть – сходи́ть
to go

понима́ть – поня́ть
to understand

хоте́ть – захоте́ть
to want

слы́шать – услы́шать
to hear

дава́ть – дать
to give

ду́мать – поду́мать
to think

по́мнить – запо́мнить
to remember

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.

The offline version of this lesson is available here


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