Немно́го о языке́ 6.2 По́сле семина́ра

Aspect pairs

So how will you know what the perfective form of a verb is?

You will need to learn a pair of imperfective and perfective forms of each verb.  Almost all of the verbs that you have encountered so far described present actions so they are imperfective verbs.  You can find a complete list of their perfective partners in the vocabulary list for this unit. 

In Ме́жду на́ми, we will present new verbs as pairs: imperfective infinitive slash (/) perfective infinitive.

Aspect pairs with prefixes

One of frequent ways that Russian makes perfective verbs is by adding a prefix to the imperfective verb. This prefix does not change the lexical meaning of the verb, it only makes the verb perfective. Here are some examples of perfectives formed by prefix:

де́лать / сде́латьписа́ть / написа́тьчита́ть / прочита́ть
гото́вить / пригото́витьслу́шать / послу́шатьсмотре́ть / посмотре́ть
чи́стить / почи́ститьзвони́ть / позвони́тьждать / подожда́ть
Aspect Pairs with Suffixes

The second common way of making an aspect pair is to start with the perfective and add a suffix to make its imperfective partner.  The suffixes in the imperfective verbs are underlined below.

oпа́здывать / опозда́тьрасска́зывать / рассказа́тьзабыва́ть / забы́ть
открыва́ть / откры́тьначина́ть / нача́тьзака́нчивать / зако́нчить
встава́ть / встать
Aspect Pairs by Conjugation Changes

The third common pattern for aspect pairs is that the imperfective verb will be a first conjugation verb, while its perfective partner will be a second conjugation verb.

повторя́ть / повтори́тьобъясня́ть / объясни́тьпокупа́ть / купи́ть
отвеча́ть / отве́тить
Aspect Pairs from Different Roots

While most verb pairs are build on the same root, there are some mismatched pairs, or pairs where the connections are not apparent.

говори́ть / сказа́ть брать / взять понима́ть / поня́ть

There are some verbs that just focus on processes (e.g., быть, рабо́тать, жить ) and do not have a perfective partner.

Упражне́ние 1

Match each imperfective verb with its perfective counterpart.

Aspect and Verb Conjugation

The aspect of the verb does not change the basic conjugation patterns for first and second conjugation verbs that you have already learned.

You will need to learn the stems and conjugation types of new verbs as you encounter them.

Using Aspect in the Past Tense (Continued)

Aspect and Questions

When we ask a yes/no question in the past tense, we can focus the question in one of two ways: we can ask if the action has ever happened or we can ask if an action has reached its anticipated result. 

When asking if an action has ever happened or what activity was going on, we use imperfective verbs in the question. 

If we know something of the context and are interested in knowing if an expected result has been reached, we can ask the question with the perfective verb.

Вы чита́ли «Войну́ и мир»? Implication: Have you ever done this?
You are not interested in whether they finished or not.
Вы прочита́ли «Войну́ и мир»? Implication: You were expected to do this.
Have you accomplished this?

Упражне́ние 2


Below there are some questions that Katya asked Amanda in their opening conversation.  Identify which aspect Katya used in her question, and think about why she chose that aspect.

Упражне́ние 3. Listening

Listen to the following questions, paying close attention to whether the verb is imperfective (asking if an action has ever happened) or perfective (asking if an action reached its anticipated result).

Aspect and Negation

We can apply negation to verbs of either aspect, as you can see from these examples from our story line when Amanda says:

Поэ́тому я не спала́. I didn’t sleep. [She didn’t engage in this activity at all]
Нет, не опозда́ла. I wasn’t late. [She may have been running behind schedule, but she
did not accomplish the result of “being late.” She showed up on time.]

When we negate an imperfective verb in the past tense (не спала́), we signal that the action did not happen at all, that the subject did not even engage in the activity. 

When we negate a perfective verb in the past tense (не опозда́ла), we signal that the subject might have engaged in the activity, but did not accomplish its anticipated result, or that the subject did not complete an action that was expected.

Упражне́ние 4. Listening Activity

Listen to the following statements from Caitlin and indicate whether the verbs are negated imperfective or negated perfective.  Pay close attention to whether Caitlin did not engage in the activity at all (imperfective) or whether she did not achieve the anticipated result of her activity or did not engage in an expected action (perfective).

The Genitive Case with Prepositions

Another use of у

You know that the preposition у can go with the genitive to express the notion of “having” in Russian.  The preposition у can also be used in Russian to express the idea “at someone’s place” / “in someone’s space.”  So, when Katya and Lena discuss Amanda’s whereabouts they conclude:

Она́ была́ у Же́ни. = She was at Zhenya’s house.


The preposition по́сле is used with nouns and pronouns in the genitive case to express the idea of «after something», and in Russian you should use по́сле only when you have a noun or pronoun to put right after it. For example:

по́сле конце́рта after the concert
по́сле ле́кции after the lecture
по́сле фи́льма after the film
по́сле за́втрака after breakfast
по́сле э́того after that

Be careful, however, since not every use of "after" in English will be expressed as по́сле in Russian. In cases where "after" introduces a clause, you should plan to use the conjunction когда rather than the preposition после as there is no way to put a clause into the genitive case. For example:

After I read the article, I started writing my composition. Когда́ я прочита́л статью́, я на́чал писа́ть сочине́ние.