RUSSIAN COURSE
-Basic Russian for beginners-


LESSON 11: DON'T SAY WHAT YOU WERE DOING, 
BUT SAY WHAT YOU DID 

In this lesson you will learn:
- the verbal aspect:
  imperfective and perfective verbs in Russian.


 


1. USEFUL PHRASE IN RUSSIAN
                          Listen and repeat the following sentence:


- DON'T SAY WHAT YOU WERE DOING, BUT SAY WHAT YOU DID (Russian saying)
- НЕ ГОВОРИ, ЧТО ДЕЛАЛ, А ГОВОРИ, ЧТО СДЕЛАЛ
   (nye ga-va-ri, shto dye-lal, a ga-va-ri shto sdye-lal)

Pay attention to this lesson: You will learn something very important, the verbal aspect. We can define it like this:
In Russian there are two kinds of verbs:
- verbs which mean "to be doing something" (imperfective verbs).
- verbs which mean "to have done something / to have finished doing something" (perfective verbs).
The concept of "verbal aspect" is not studied in English, that's why it is something new for you. But today you'll learn it!
 




 2. RUSSIAN VOCABULARY

Read, listen and repeat the basic Russian vocabulary of this lesson:



     ENGLISH
  • to be tired
  • all, every, everything
  • novel
  • dinner
  • e-mail
  • home / at home
  • favourite
  • yummy, delicious
  • what a pity!
  • long, for a long time
  • usually
  • while
  • about
       RUSSIAN
  • устал (masc.) / устала (fem.)
  • весь (mas.) / вся (fem.) / всё (neuter)
  • роман
  • ужин
  • имейл
  • дом / дома
  • любимый
  • вкусный
  • жаль!
  • долго
  • обычно
  • пока
  • про



IMPERFECTIVE AND PERFECTIVE VERBS

In this lesson you will learn that Russian verbs are presented in couples.
Each couple of Russian verbs has (usually) only one English equivalent.
In the grammar section, at the end of this lesson, you have an explanation on this topic.



     ENGLISH
  • to do
  • to read
  • to watch, to look
  • to write
  • to like, to please
  • to think
  • to cook
       RUSSIAN (imperfective verb / perfective verb)
  • делать / сделать
  • читать / прочитать
  • смотреть / посмотреть
  • писать / написать
  • нравиться / понравится
  • думать / подумать
  • готовить / приготовить







 3. DIALOGUES IN RUSSIAN
   With extra help for verbs!

Now you are going to see a series of short dialogues which include perfective and imperfective verbs. In the grammar section (after these dialogues) you will learn more about these verbs.

 
 We are going to help you:
- Perfective verbs will be highlighted in blue.
- Imperfective verbs will be highlighted in green.


DIALOGUE 1:

RUSSIAN

- Как я устала! Вчера я работала весь день.

- Молодец! Ты всё сделала?

- Нет, я работала долго, но сделала не всё.

- Жаль! А я вчера не работала. Я читала интересный роман.


- Ты прочитала его?

- Нет, я читала всё утро, но не прочитала его.

- А что ты делала весь вечер?


- Я смотрела телевизор. И знаешь что? Я посмотрела твой любимый фильм.

- Очень хорошо!

ENGLISH

- How tired I am! Yesterday I was working the whole day.

- Good girl! Did you do everything?

- No, I worked long, but I didn't finish to do  everything.

- What a pity! And yesterday I didn't work.
I was reading an interesting novel
.
 
- ¿Did you read it all?
 
- No, I read the whole morning, but I haven't finished (reading) it.

- And what did you do the whole evening?

- I was watching television. And you know what? I watched your favourite movie.

- Very well!

DIALOGUE 2:

RUSSIAN
 
- Вы были вчера в кино?

- Нет. Мы были дома. Я долго писала имейл.

- Но ты его написала, да?

- Да, я его написала. Это был очень важный имейл.


- А что делал Майкл, пока ты писала имейл?

- Он готовил. Вчера он приготовил очень вкусный ужин.
ENGLISH
 
- Were you yesterday in the cinema?

- No. We were home. I was writing an email for a long while.

- But you wrote it all, right?

- Yes, I finished (writing) it. It was a very important email.


- And what was Michael doing while you were writing the email?

- He was cooking. Yesterday he cooked a very delicious dinner.

 


DIALOGUE 3:

 RUSSIAN

- Что ты делаешь?

- Я думаю про новый фильм. Обычно мне нравятся комедии, но этот фильм мне не понравился.

- А мне понравился. Мне нравятся интересные фильмы. Я посмотрела его вчера и подумала, что это хороший фильм.

- А я думала, что тебе тоже не нравятся комедии.


- Обычно они мне не нравятся, но этот фильм мне понравился.

 ENGLISH

- What are you doing?

- I'm thinking about the new movie. Usually I like comedies, but I didn't like this movie.

- And I liked it. I usually like interesting movies. I watched it yesterday and tought that this is a good movie.

- And I was thinking that you also don't like comedies.

- Usually they don't please me, but this movie pleased me.




RUSSIAN LANGUAGE FORUM

Do you have any questions about this lesson, about grammar rules or vocabulary? 
Ask in our free forum. If you want to learn Russian, it's very important that you ask everything you don't understand:





 4. RUSSIAN GRAMMAR

                                         Read the following grammar explanations for this lesson:


 
The aspect: imperfective and perfective verbs



WHAT IS THE "VERBAL ASPECT"?

In this lesson we have seen something VERY IMPORTANT regarding Russian, which we will now explain in a way that is easy to understand:

In English we can talk about
imperfect actions (ongoing or not finished actions) and perfect actions (=finished actions):
   - Imperfect actions: Yesterday Anna was reading when I came home. This morning I was cooking when you called me.
   - Perfect actions: Yesterday Anna read a book. This morning I have cooked soup.

The "verbal aspect" is this comparison between "what is finished" and "what is happening". Thus, we will have:
   - Imperfective aspect: when we express an imperfective (non-finished) action.
   - Perfect aspect: when we express a perfect (finished) action.


WHAT IS AN IMPERFECTIVE VERB? AND A PERFECTIVE VERB?

In English, the same verb ("to cook") is used to express both an ongoing action (I was cooking, I have been cooking)
or a finished action (I cooked, I have cooked). That is why, when learning English, we don't talk about "verbal aspect".


In Russian, the contrast between imperfect and perfect is expressed with two different verbs:
   - The imperfective verbs are those which only express imperfect actions (= ongoing and unfinished actions).
   - The perfective verbs are those which only express perfect actions (= finished actions).
That is why, when learning Russian we MUST take into account the concept of "verbal aspect".


EXAMPLES

   - IMPERFECTIVE: Готовить / Читать = to cook / to read (when we talk about and ongoing/unfinished action).
   - PERFECTIVE: Приготовить / Прочитать = to cook / to read (when we talk about an already finished action).

When you learn a new verb, try to memorize the pair imperfective / perfective. In the vocabulary section, at the beginning of this lesson, we show you some pairs of verbs, so you start getting used to this way of learning them.


 WHEN DO WE USE AN IMPERFECTIVE VERB?

 1. To explain what we usually do, repeated actions, habits, etc...
    a) ...in the present: Я читаю каждый день / Он готовит очень хорошо /  Мы смотрим только русские фильмы.
                                  I read every day / He cooks very well / We only watch Russian movies  

    b) ...or in the past: Раньше я читал каждый день / Когда я жил в России, я
часто готовил суп.
                                   Before I used to read every day / When I was living in Russia, I
would often cook soup.

 2. To explain a process while it's happening...
    a) ... in the present (what are we doing?): Я читаю (I am reading) -
Он делает что-то (He is doing something)
                                                                 
Мы готовим ужин (We are cooking dinner)
           
    b) ...or in the past: (what were we doing?):
Я смотрел телевизор, когда.. (I was watching tv, when..)
                                                                    Вчера я читал роман (yesterday I was reading a novel).
      

 WHEN DO WE USE A PERFECTIVE VERB?

 1. To explain a finished action (in Russian it is always in the past)
    - Я прочитал роман = I have read the novel / I finished (reading) the novel.
    - Он приготовил ужин = He has cooked dinner / He finished cooking dinner.
     
Perfective verbs don't exist in the present: when you finish something, that is already the past (even if only one second in the past).


 NOTE: The future of perfective and imperfective verbs will be studied in lesson 13 of this course.


 



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 5. TEST

                          Check how much you have learnt in this lesson:

 
1. How would a woman say "I'm tired"?   я устал  я устало     я устала   

2. What kind of verb describes what you have been doing?     imperfective     perfective   both

3. How do you say "to cook"?  готовить   приготовить   both answers are correct

4. How do you say "yesterday I was reading"? вчера я читал вчера я читаю  вчера я прочитал 

5. Say "I have read (and finished) the novel"  я читал роман        я читаю роман   я прочитал роман




             go to lesson 12


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