Categories: "Motion"


by Don  

The determinate verb for “to carry” in Russian is нести:

Infinitive нести
Past нёс
Present несу
Future буду нести
будешь нести
будет нести
будем нести
будете нести
будут нести
Imperative неси(те)

This is a determinate imperfective verb which means it is used to describe motion heading in a single direction. Although it means “to carry,” it is often best translated with variations on ‘take’ and ‘bring’:

— Смотри, вон идёт Боря. Интересно, что это он несёт?
— Кажется, цветы. Сегодня ведь день рождения его сестры.
“Look, there goes Boris. I wonder what he is carrying?”
“Looks like flowers. Today's his sister's birthday, after all.”
— Куда ты несёшь эти книги?
— Обратно в библиотеку.
“Where are you taking those books?”
“Back to the library.”
— Привет, Борь. Ты помнишь, что сегодня мой день рождения? Надеюсь, ты несёшь мне шоколад?
— Ой, нет! Я цветы принёс!
— Почему ты никогда не знаешь, что я хочу?
“Hi, Boris. Do your remember that today's my birthday? I hope you are bringing me chocolate?”
“Oh, no! I brought you flowers!”
“Why don't you ever know what I want?”
Когда я нёс домой продукты, я споткнулся и упал. Яйца разбились и сметана разлилась по тротуару. While I was carrying the groceries home, I slipped and fell. The eggs broke, and the sour cream spilled poured out onto the sidewalk.

Носить (часть вторая)

by Don  

The most generic verb for “to carry” in Russian is носить. Note the consonant mutation in the я form:

Infinitive носить
Past носил
Present ношу
Future буду носить
будешь носить
будет носить
будем носить
будете носить
будут носить
Imperative носи(те)

This is an indeterminate imperfective verb which means it can be used with the preposition по + dative to indicated carrying something here and there, all over the place:

Олечка всё утро носила свою новую куклу во дворе, знакомя её со всеми соседями. All morning long little Olga carried her new doll around the courtyard, introducing her to all the neighbors.
Мой девиз — «Всегда готов!» Я везде ношу с собой швейцарский армейский нож. My motto is “Always be prepared!” I carry a Swiss Army knife with me everywhere I go.

Most indeterminate imperfective verbs can bear the meaning of “go there and back.” Носить is a bit odd in that it really isn't considered good style to use the verb that way. You will find it used conversationally, though, in that sense:

— Где ты был?
— Я носил черновик доклада к профессору. Хотел посоветоваться. Кажется, надо переписывать с нуля.
“Where were you?”
“I took the rough draft of my presentation to my professor's office. I wanted some advice. Looks like I'll have to rewrite it completely.”

Notice that the translation of the last sentence doesn't contain the word “carry” in it. It is often the case that the Russian verbs of carrying (носить, нести, возить, везти, and the dozens of words derived from them) are best translate with “bring” or “take” in English.

Носить can also be used to take something to a particularly place on multiple occasions:

Каждый день почтальон нам носит почту. Every day the mailman brings us mail.
Мама каждый день носит свой обед на работу. Mom takes her lunch to work every day.


by Don  

The most generic perfective verb for travelling by air in Russian is полететь “to fly”:

Infinitive полететь
Past полетел
Present No such thing as
perfective present
in Russian.
Future полечу
Imperative полети(те)

Perfective verbs like полететь have several different uses. The nature of the perfective verb is to put focus on the result of an action, so полететь can mean “to head off somewhere by air and actually arrive there.” Thus it can be used to describe a series of flights, each one complete:

Какая у меня была сумасшедшая неделя! В понедельник я полетел в Киев. Во вторник я полетел в Самару, и потом в четверг я полетел в Новосибирск. What a crazy week I had! On Monday I flew to Kiev. On Tuesday I flew to Samara, and then on Thursday I flew to Novosibirsk.

The verb can also mean “to go and arrive” on a single trip; we see it in that meaning in a headline from Guy Laliberté's recent flight into space. (He is the founder of Cirque du Soleil).

Клоун-миллионер полетел в космос. The millionaire-clown has flown into space.

One last use is a colloquial one. It can also mean “I'm gone,” just as побежал and пошёл can.

— Пашенька, не уходи! Останься ещё хоть на полчаса.
— Нет, Юлeчка, я полетел. Ты же знаешь, что мама не любит, когда я опаздываю.
— Господи, почему я хожу с таким маменькиным сынком, понятия не имею.
“Pavel, don't leave! Just stay another half hour.”
“No, Yuliya, I'm out of here. You know that Mama doesn't like it when I'm late.”
“Lord, why I'm going out with such a Mama's boy I'll never know.”


by Don  

Another verb for travelling by air in Russian is лететь “to fly”:

Infinitive лететь
Past летел
Present лечу
Future буду лететь
будешь лететь
будет лететь
будем лететь
будете лететь
будут лететь
Imperative лети(те)

This is a determinate (unidirectional) verb of motion, which means it is normally used to indicate a flight currently in progress. Thus if you glance at the sky and spot an airplane, you might say:

Смотри, вон летит самолёт! Look! There goes an airplane!

If you are a friendly type of person, chatting with your fellow passenger on an aircraft, you might have the following dialog:

— Я лечу в Финикс. А вы?
— А я подальше. Я лечу в Лос-Анжелес.
“I'm flying to Phoenix. What about you?”
“I'm going a bit farther. I'm flying to Los Angeles.”

Time for a pop quiz: what verb should you use when you see birds in flight? The multidirectional летать or the unidirectional лететь? Come up with an answer, then scroll down to see my response.

The answer is: it depends. Let's say you are sitting on a bench, and you see a bunch of swallows darting hither and thither. In that context you will use the multidirectional form:

Я очень люблю смотреть, как летают ласточки! I really love watching the swallows fly!

But if a mother spots geese going in a particular direction, she will use the unidirectional verb to test her son's knowledge:

— Юрочка, ты знаешь куда летят гуси?
— Мама, я же не ребёнок. Они летят на юг на зиму.
— Какой ты умница! Дай я тебя расцелую!
“Yuri, do you know where the geese are going?”
“Mama, I'm not a little boy. They are heading south for the winter.”
“You are so smart! Let me give you a big, fat kiss!”

Приходить/прийти (часть первая)

by Don  

The verb pair приходить/прийти is usually translated as “to arrive, come.” Notice that there is an й in the perfective infinitive:

Imperfective Perfective
Infinitive приходить прийти
Past приходил
Present прихожу
No such thing as
perfective present
in Russian.
Future буду приходить
будешь приходить
будет приходить
будем приходить
будете приходить
будут приходить
Imperative приходи(те) приди(те)

In English we often use the preposition “at” with the verb “arrive,” so we have to bear in mind that for Russians arrival is a motion; that is, you complement the verb with either в/на + accusative or with к + dative:

Профессор пришёл в университет в восемь часов утра. The professor came to the university at eight o'clock. or
The professor arrived at the university at eight o'clock.
Юля всегда приходит на работу поздно. Julie always comes to work late. or
Julie always arrives late at work.
Когда ты придёшь к нам в гости? When will you come visit us?

Now here's an interesting quirk. Compare these two sentences:

1. Профессор пришёл в университет в восемь часов утра.
2. Профессор пришёл в Москву в восемь часов утра.

Although the sentences are grammatically identical, (1) sounds perfectly natural, whereas (2) sounds awful. That's because the stems ход- and ид- often imply going somewhere by foot, and it's quite uncommon to travel to a city by foot. In other words, avoid приходить/прийти when talking about travel over a long distance.

One last quirk. When someone knocks at a door, in English the response is “Come in.” Beginning students sometimes translate that as «Приходите, пожалуйста». A Russian will never say приходите in that context because the person knocking has in fact already arrived. Instead a Russian will express that idea with входить/войти “to enter”:

Входите, пожалуйста. Come in.
— Можно войти?
— Пожалуйста.
“May I come in?”
“Yes, please do.”
Когда я вошёл в комнату, я заметил, что телевизор был включён. When I came into the room, I noticed that the television was on.

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