159 – Russian verbs of motion

The audio for the lesson is available at the bottom of the screen under the blue button.

In the previous lessons we have already covered the aspects and the conjugation of Russian verbs. At this moment you should be able to conjugate Russian verbs in the Present, Past and Future tense. Today we are uncovering another block of the Russian grammar about verbs: the verbs of motion.

There are 14 pairs of Russian verbs you need to memorize among other things. They are the verbs of motion, i.e. the verbs what imply moving from one place to another. Which verb of a pair to choose depends on what type of trip one performs: in one direction (unidirectional) or a return trip (multidirectional).

The verbs of motion are divided into two groups, unprefixed and prefixed. Prefixed verbs are based on the 14 pairs of unprefixed ones but have a different meaning based of the type of the prefix attached to them.

In this lesson we’ll be looking at the unprefixed verbs of motion to understand the general idea, and in the next lesson we’ll cover the prefixed verbs.

The list of unprefixed verbs of motion in Russian

unidirectional multidirectional translation
идти́ ходи́ть to go (by foot), to walk
бежа́ть бе́гать to run
е́хать е́здить to go (by transport)
лете́ть лета́ть to fly
плыть пла́вать to swim, to sail
тащи́ть таска́ть to drag, to pull
кати́ть ката́ть to roll, to wheel
нести́ носи́ть to carry, to wear
вести́ води́ть to drive (a car), to lead, to accompany
везти́ вози́ть to carry (by vehicle)
ползти́ по́лзать to crawl
лезть ла́зить / ла́зать to climb
брести́ броди́ть to stroll, to wander
гнать гоня́ть to drive (~ to force to move)

So how to use this table?

Use unidirectional verb when you talk about:
– moving in one direction,
– a one-time action,
– an action which is taking place at the moment you are talking

Use multidirectional verb when:
– you talk about moving in more than one direction,
– you talk about the actions that repeat,
– you talk about going to some place in general,
– the number of directions doesn’t matter.

Russian Pod 101

Example sentences with verbs of motion

идти́ – ходи́ть

Куда́ ты идёшь? – Я иду́ в магази́н.
Where are you going to? – I’m going to the shop. (right now)

Я обы́чно хожу́ на рабо́ту че́рез парк.
I usually go to work through the park. (repeated action)

е́хать – е́здить

По доро́ге е́дет ско́рая по́мощь.
An emergency car is going down the road. (one direction)

Гора́здо прия́тнее е́здить на маши́не, чем в метро́.
It’s much more enjoyable to go by car than on the subway. (in general)

бежа́ть – бе́гать

Он бежа́л без огля́дки.
He was running as fast as he could. (in one direction)

Я реши́ла бе́гать по утра́м.
I decided I will jog every morning. (as a habit, in general)

нести́ – носи́ть

Он нёс большу́ю су́мку.
He was carrying a big bag. (in one direction, once)

Заче́м ты всё вре́мя но́сишь таку́ю большу́ю су́мку?
Why do you carry such a big bag all the time? (repeated action)

вести́ – води́ть

Куда́ ведёт э́та доро́га?
Where does this road lead to? (it can only lead to one direction)
Он во́дит маши́ну сли́шком бы́стро, это опа́сно.
He drives too fast, it’s dangerous. (all the time)

гнать – гоня́ть

Нам на́до гнать быстре́е, а то мы не успе́ем.
We have to drive faster or we’ll be late. (right now)

Он купи́л маши́ну, что́бы про́сто гоня́ть на ней.
He bought himself a car just for running around in. (repeated action)

Practice the verbs and examples of today’s lesson with the audio file and do some exercises below.

Exercises

Fill up the gaps with the correct verb of motion in the correct form:

1. Когда́ ты … в Барсело́ну?
When is your flight to Barcelona? (When do you fly to Barcelona?)

2. … напра́во, а пото́м пря́мо.
Go to the right and then straight. (formal)

3. Они́ ча́сто … за грани́цу.
They often travel (go by the means of transport) abroad.

4. Ты уме́ешь … маши́ну?
Can you drive a car?

5. Он уста́ло … по у́лицам.
He wandered tiredly through the streets.

6. Он ме́дленно … по направле́нию к до́му.
He walked slowly toward the house.

7. Де́ти … на у́лице.
Children are running on the street.


1. лети́шь (лете́ть; one-time action; 2d person singular, Present tense)

2. иди́те (идти́; one-time action, do it right now; command form)

3. е́здят (е́здить; repeated action; 3d person plural, Present tense)

4. води́ть (води́ть; in general; infinitive)

5. броди́л (броди́ть; direction does not matter; 3d person singular, Past tense)

6. шёл (идти́; one direction; 3d person singular, Past tense)

7. бе́гают (бе́гать; direction does not matter; 3d person plural, Present tense)

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