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Difference between perfective and imperfective aspects?

+2 votes
I am looking for the way to say "Pass the salt please" I found two forms of a verb передавать and передать. I searched the conjugation table for the imperative form but am presented with the perfective and Imperfective aspects. Could someone please explain what is the difference between these aspects and when to use them ? I thank you in advance....
asked Jan 21, 2013 by Widiyanti (270 points)

2 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer

Hi Widiyanti,

Almost all Russian verbs have two aspects: the Imperfective and the Perfective. There are many rules to be able to use them properly, bus the basics are:

The Imperfective aspect:

  • is used when we speak about an action as a process:

Я читала книгу. I was reading a book.

  • is used when we speak about a regular action:

Я буду читать книги каждый день. I will read books every day.

The Imperfective aspect has three tenses: Present, Past and Future.

The Perfective aspect:

  • is used when we speak about the result of an action:

Я прочитал книгу. I have read the book.

  • is used when we speak an action that happens once:

Я прочитаю книгу завтра. I will read the book tomorrow.

The Perfective aspect has two tenses: Past and Future.

In the case of "Pass the salt, please" it is the Perfective aspect, because a one-time, precise action is meant here, so the translation will be: "Передай мне соль, пожалуйста".

Kind regards,

Yulia Amlinskaya,

Russian Language Teacher.

answered Jan 21, 2013 by RussianTeacher (19,690 points)
selected Jan 21, 2013 by Widiyanti
Excellent explanation! I wanted to ask the same questions!
Спасибо большое!
I, too, wanted to pose this very question. The explanation was most helpful. Прекрасный!
+1 vote

Передай= an action that will be done once

передай мне соль

передавай= an action that will be done many times

Передавай эту информацию всем, кого увидишь.= Give this information to everyone whom you will meet.

answered Jan 21, 2013 by Princess (1,440 points)