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Formation of Russian Aspectual Pairs

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Formation of Russian Aspectual Pairs Образование видов глагола
Russian Aspectual Pairs Виды русского глагола
Russian Past, Present, Future Прошедшее, настоящее и будущее в русском
Russian Verbs Русские глаголы
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Ученик: What is an aspectual pair?

Учительница: A pure aspectual pair is made up from the imperfective and the perfective forms of a Russian verb that have exactly the same meaning. The perfective form expresses nothing more than the imperfective form made perfective.

Ученик: I can't understand it. What do you mean: "the imperfective form made perfective".

Учительница: I mean that the action is finished and came to it's logical conclusion.

This is an aspectual pair: учить - выучить (to learn)
Perfective = Imperfective + result, logical conclusion

If an addition of a prefix or changing of a suffix adds any new meaning to a Russian verb then these two verbs wouldn't make an aspectual pair.

This is NOT an aspectual pair: учить - изучить (to learn - to study in detail)
Perfective = Imperfective + result, logical conclusion + new meaning

Ученик: If I want to say "I read a book" in English I just say it. I don't have to say "I upread, preread or downread it".

Учительница: You can say "I reread a book" in English.

Ученик: Yes, but the verb "reread" has a different meaning. "Read" and "reread" are two different verbs!

Учительница: That's right. That's how it is in English. Many languages like English have only one verb to express a particular action. We have two in Russian. The verbs "read" and "reread" form an aspectual pair in Russian but not a pure one. There are two verbs that don't have the same but a slightly different meaning "читать" and "перечитать".

Ученик: I find it very difficult to understand which words are an aspectual pair and which aren't.

Учительница: Watch my lesson Что я взяла со стола, и куда я всё это положила. Study the other lessons about Russian imperfective and perfective verbs.

Ученик: I know that there are more words and verbs with the root -уч- exist. What is the difference between изучить, проучить, поучить и переучить?

Учительница: The aspectual pairs with the root -уч- are:

  • изучить - изучать - to learn, to study in detail
  • поучить - поучать - to learn or to teach for some time or to teach from time to time
  • проучить - проучать - to teach someone a lesson
  • переучить - переучивать - to learn or to teach a new skill
  • выучить - выучивать - to learn well, to teach thoroughly


Ученик: Can I know somehow that the verb is perfective?

Учительница: An addition of a prefix to a Russian "base verb" makes the verb perfective but an extra addition of suffixes can make the verb imperfective again.

Ученик: Oh! How do I know what to add and when? How do I know what verbs make aspectual pair and what verbs don't?

Учительница: You have to learn it.

Ученик: How many ways are there to form an aspectual pair?

Учительница: There are 6 major ways to form Russian aspectual pairs.

Ученик: Do all Russian verbs have an aspectual pair?

Учительница: No, some imperfective verbs don't have an aspectual pair:

Some perfective verbs don't have an aspectual pair:

Ученик: We don't have "imperfective", "perfective". Are there any Russian verbs that are used like the English verbs?

Учительница: The good news for you! Some Russian verbs of foreign origin can be used both as imperfective and perfective. Since there are more and more foreign verbs entering the Russian language, this group of verbs is expanding:

Can you recognise the words?