Forming Russian aspectual pairs

Russian ns, prons, adjs & nums decline in gender: m, f, n; number: s, p & case: n, g, d, a, i, p. Adv, conj, interj, prep stay the same. Verbs: 3 ten, 2 asp; asp pairs are formed: via pref, suf & lex. Beware of verbs of position and motion!

Most Russian verbs have two verbs to express the same action, the imperfective (impf) and the perfective (pf), they have two verb aspects that you need to learn. A pure aspectual pair is made up from the imperfective and the perfective forms of a Russian verb, they both have exactly the same lexical meaning, differing only in aspect. The perfective form expresses nothing more than the imperfective form made perfective: the action is finished and came to it's logical conclusion.

This pair of Russian verbs учить (impf) - выучить (pf) (to learn) is an aspectual pair because in this case the prefix вы- does not brings a new meaning to the Russian verb учить. In this case выучить (pf) is the pure perfective pair of the verb учить (impf). The verb выучить (pf) is an imperfective verb учить (impf) plus result of the action (logical conclusion) only.

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 impf - to study in detail pf) because the prefix из- brings a new meaning to the verb учить. In this case perfective form of the verb учить is an imperfective verb plus result of the action (logical conclusion) plus the new meaning of doing something in detail.

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". 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

Some imperfective verbs don't have an aspectual pair:

  • бытийные глаголы: быть, иметься, существовать, находиться;
  • связочные и полусвязочные глаголы: быть в значении "являться", являться, считаться;
  • глаголы логического соотношения: равняться, соответствовать;
  • модальные глаголы: хотеть, желать, мочь;
  • глаголы принадлежности: иметь, владеть, обладать, принадлежать;
  • глаголы положения в пространстве: стоять, сидеть, лежать, висеть;
  • глаголы со значением физического и психического состояния: спать, бодрствовать, страдать, гордиться, сердиться;
  • глаголы интеллектуального и эмоционального отношения: знать, предвидеть, интересоваться, любить, уважать;
  • глаголы со значением рода занятий: учительствовать, дирижировать, командовать;
  • глаголы со значением проявления тех или иных свойств характера, внешности: умничать, горячиться, буянить, кусаться, заикаться, хромать;
  • глаголы неоднонаправленного движения: летать, плавать, бегать
  • existential verbs: to be, to have, to exist, to be;
  • connective and semi-connective verbs: to be in the meaning of "to be", to be, to be considered;
  • verbs of logical correlation: equal, match;
  • modal verbs: want, wish, be able;
  • verbs of belonging: to have, to own, to possess, to belong;
  • verbs of position in space: stand, sit, lie, hang;
  • verbs with the meaning of the physical and mental state: sleep, stay awake, suffer, be proud, angry;
  • verbs of intellectual and emotional attitude: to know, to foresee, to be interested, to love, to respect;
  • verbs with the meaning of the occupation: to teach, to conduct, to command;
  • verbs with the meaning of the manifestation of certain properties of character, appearance: to be smart, get excited, rage, bite, stutter, limp;
  • non-unidirectional movement verbs: fly, swim, run

жить, знать, стоять, горевать, иметь, думать, преобладать, присутствовать, находиться, most of Russian verbs of motion. Some perfective verbs don't have an aspectual pair: толкнуть, расстараться, очутиться, ринуться, поспать, раскричаться, etc.

When new verbs are borrowed into Russian from other languages they adapt to the Russian aspectual system. The borrowed verb takes on the functions of one of the two aspects and often (but not always) forms a corresponding verb in the other aspect, forming an aspectual pair, one imperfective and one perfective verb sharing meaning but differing in aspect. Often they 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: механизировать, акклиматизироваться, электрифицировать, etc.

Что я взяла со стола, и куда я всё это положила

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