Perfective or imperfective aspect? How to define which form to use?
by Svetlana Mart
After we have done great work and have learnt 2 forms of verb you shall face an even greater challenge, how to choose the necessary form correctly. The fact is that many inexperienced Russian teachers do not understand the topic in full and try to make analogies with the English - Perfect / Imperfect tenses, which is incorrect.

 The point is that it is it’s relation to present, which influences the aspect of a verb in English and it’s completeness of action – in Russian.

But you will be more confident when you choose each form.


We choose НСВ form if our action happened:
More than once or 0 times.Usually we describe habits in such way.

- В детстве я часто играл (НСВ) в футбол. (When I was a child I used to play (НСВ) football a lot.) or
- Я никогда не читал (НСВ) Пушкина. (I never read (НСВ) works by Pushkin)

We talk about the fact of competition of action but not about the result (Either there is a fact or not)

- Ты читал (НСВ) Пушкина? (Did you read (НСВ) works by Pushkin)

We talk about duration of the action, but we do not indicate how much time it takes us to complete it.Compare!

Вчера я читал (НСВ) книгу 2 часа. Yesterday I was reading (НСВ) the book for 2 hours. (I have read part of the book, perhaps I have finished it or not.)

Вчера я прочитал (СВ) книгу за 2 часа. Книга была очень интересная. Yesterday I read (СВ) book for 2 hours. The book was very exciting. (We talk about result and that the book is finished and we must start reading a new one)

We choose СВ form, if our action happened:

1) Only once
2) The action is completed
3) There is a result or its absence

ATTENTION : there must be all 3 attributes

For example:

- Сегодня я сделал (СВ) много работы, поэтому я хочу отдохнуть вечером. (Today I have done (СВ) a lot of work that’s why I want to have a rest in the evening. (We talk about result – I’m tired and want to have a rest).
- Я выпил (СВ) три чашки кофе сегодня утром, но никак не могу проснуться. (This morning I have drunk (СВ) three cups of coffee but I still can’t wake up. (three cups is a quantative result).
- Я купил (СВ) новый словарь и заплатил (СВ) 50 $. (I bought (СВ) a new dictionary and paid (СВ) 50 $.)


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