Aspects of Verb / Вид глагола

Russian verb has two aspects: imperfective (НСВ) and perfective (СВ). The imperfective aspect is used:

  • when we are focusing on the process of action (for two hours, for long time)
  • when we mean a general or repeated action (usually, sometimes, always, often, many times, every day etс.)

Examples

  • Вчера я писал письмо 2 часа – Yesterday I was writing a letter for two hours.
  • Я писал письма каждый день – I wrote letters every day. 

We use the perfective aspect when we are focusing on the result (completed action):

Я написал письмо. Оно на столе. – I have written the letterIt is on my desk. (I focus on the result)

difference between imperfective and perfective
Он писал письмо 2 часа.  (процесс)                                                                  Он написал письмо. (результат)

For present tense you can use only imperfective aspect. For past and future you have two options: imperfective or perfective. The choice depends on the focus (process/general action or result)

  • Я напишу письмо сегодня вечером -– I will write a letter tonight (but it really means that it will be finished by this night).
  • Я приготовлю суп на ужин. – I will cook soup for dinner (it will be  prepared by dinner time – I focus on the result).

You can also meet the perfective aspect as infinitive when you are focusing on the result.

  • Я хочу пойти в театр – I want to go to the theatre (I focus on the result).

First when students start to learn Russian they learn only imperfective verbs. Later they learn that almost every verb has its perfective aspect. And they try to find a way to learn how to form perfective aspects. But the truth is that it is better to learn every new verb with its perfective verb separately. Because there are different variants of forming perfective verbs.

1. Many verbs make perfective aspect by adding the prefix -по.

  • думать / подумать  – to think
  • ехать / поехать  to go by transport
  • идти / пойти – to go on foot
  • смотреть / посмотреть  to look, to watch
  • слушать / послушать  to listen
  • менять / поменять  to change

2. Some verbs have different prefixes.

  • видеть / увидеть  to see
  • готовить / приготовить  to cook, to prepare
  • писать / написать  to write

3. Some verbs change their suffixes.

  • Понимать / понять  to understand
  • Забывать / забыть – to forget

4. Sometimes the perfective aspect is an absolutely different word.

  • покупать / купить – to buy
  • говорить / сказать  to say, to speak

So everytime when you learn a new verb, look up  the perfective aspect of it.

And the conjugation is really simple: past tense has the same endings with imperfective aspect (-л, -ла, -ло, ли) and future tense has the same conjugation as the present tense (-ю, -ешь, -ет, -ем, -ете, -ют).

tenses and aspects in one table

How to make an order at the restaurant


Everytime when we want to ask something we can use the phrase “Можно … ?”. We can translate it to English as “May I have … ?”
Thus, if you want to order food you can say,

Можно салат, пожалуйста?
May I have a salad, please?

how to order in the restaurant

Everything you have to do is just to rise your intonation and to add the magic word “пожалуйста” (sounds like / pa-`ʒA-loos-ta/) to sound polite.

Можно капучино, пожалуйста? 

Можно суши, пожалуйста?

Можно десерт, пожалуйста?

 

The nouns after можно should be in the accusative case. Which means feminine nouns should change their endings.  We replace with and with . As we talk about ordering  food, we are talking about inanimate nouns. With animated nouns accusative case is more complicated. But you can read about it here.

 

Можно, пожалуйста, пиццу, рыбу и кока-колу
May I have a pizza, fish and coca cola please?

 

Usage “Можно” with verbs

If you need to ask people to do something or if you ask for permission, you can use

можно” + the verb in the  infinitive form.

Examples

  • Можно спросить вас?May I ask you?
  • Можно позвонить? May I call?
  • Можно посмотреть?May I see/watch?
  • Можно войти?May I come in?
  • Можно выйти?May I go out?
  • Можно, пожалуйста, выключить музыку? Could you please turn the music off ?
  • Можно платить кредитной картой?May I pay with a credit card?