Category: "Vehicular motion"


by Don  

Поехать is the most generic perfective verb that means “to go by vehicle.” Note especially its irregular future and imperative forms.

to go
Infinitive поехать
Past поехал
Present No such thing as
perfective present
in Russian.
Future поеду
Imperative поезжай(те)

Поехать is more specialized than ездить in that it always talks about motion in one particular direction; since it is perfective it also focuses on some result of the action:

Я поехал на Красную площадь и посмотрел на забальзамированное тело Ленина. I went to Red Square and viewed Lenin's embalmed body.

In that sentence, the result is that I arrived at the square and thus could view the body.

Поехать can also be used to describe each leg of a multileg journey:

Я поехал в Подольск, потом я поехал в Климовск, и потом я поехал в Чехов. I went to Podolsk, then I went to Klimovsk, and then I went to Chekhov. ¹

Of course you can do the same thing in the future tense:

Я поеду в Подольск, потом я поеду в Климовск, и потом я поеду в Чехов. I'll go to Podolsk, then I'll go to Klimovsk, and then I'll go to Chekhov.

Now here's something amusing... let's think about this English dialog:

“Where's Mom?”
“She went to the farmers market.”

Does the second sentence imply that Mom got to the farmers market? No, it doesn't. Here it emphasizes absence from the point of departure while mentioning her intended destination. Likewise in Russian a perfective verb of motion can be used with meaning of “absence from point of departure”:

— Где мама?
— Она поехала на рынок.

The sentence does not say where Mom has necessarily reached the market, just that she is no longer here.

¹ All three of those places are suburbs of Moscow that you can reach on the электричка on the way to Tula.


by Don  

Ехать is the determinate (unidirectional) form of the verb ездить “to go by vehicle.” Note especially the odd д that shows up in the present tense forms, as well as its curious command form.

to go
Infinitive ехать
Past ехал
Present еду
Future буду ехать
будешь ехать
будет ехать
будем ехать
будете ехать
будут ехать
Imperative поезжай(те)

Ехать is more specialized than ездить in that it always talks about motion in progress toward a particular place. Let's say you bump into a friend on the subway. Because you are in a vehicle, you can say:

— Куда ты едешь? “Where are you going?
— Еду в библиотеку. “I'm going to the library.”
“I'm on my way to the library.”
“I'm heading to the library.”

Although normally adverbs of frequency and phrases of frequency (like часто and каждый день) usually trigger an indeterminate verb, if the situation describes something that happens regularly on the way to a place, then you use the determinate verb ехать:

Каждое утро, когда я ехал на метро, мы с Ниной Петровной обсуждали наш любимый телесериал «Санта Барбара». Every morning, when I was going to work on the subway, Nina Petrovna and I would discuss our favorite soap opera, “Santa Barbara.”
Когда я утром еду на работу, я всегда проезжаю мимо Кремля. Every morning when I go to work, I always pass by the Kremlin.
Когда ты будешь ехать по улице Плеханова, ты увидишь справа электростанцию. When you ride down Plekahnov street, you will spot a power plant on the right.

One of the curious uses of determinate verbs is that they can be used to say how long it takes to get to a place. From the English-speaking point of view that is rather odd. After all, getting to the place implies a completed action, so we should use a perfective verb, right? But from the Russian point of view in these sentences they are indicating how long the process takes, so the imperfective works:

Я eхал от дома до работы двадцать минут. It took me twenty minutes to get to work from home.
Сколько минут будем ехать из Министерства здравоохранения до табачной фабрики? How long will it take us to get from the Ministry of Health to the cigarette factory?


by Don  

Ездить is the most generic word in Russian that means “to go by vehicle.”

to go
Infinitive ездить
Past ездил
Present езжу
Future буду ездить
будешь ездить
будет ездить
будем ездить
будете ездить
будут ездить
Imperative езди(те)

Although we often say the verb addresses motion by vehicle, it's actually broader that that. It covers travel on animals (horse, donkey, camel, etc.), bicycle or motorcycle or scooter, and by the typical wheeled conveyances like train, bus, car and truck. In addition to the “go” translations, words like “ride” and “drive” are also suitable:

Каждое утро я езжу на работу на своей машине. Every morning I drive to work.
Каждую субботу я езжу в парк на своём велосипеде. Every Saturday I ride my bike to the park.
Автобусы ездят из Тулы в Брянск два раза в день. Buses go from Tula to Bryansk twice a day.

The verb is also used to describe the driving around a locale with no set direction, e.g., driving around an area for sight-seeing, or going here and there to shop. In this meaning the verb is complemented by the preposition по with the dative case:

В воскресенье мы ездили по Москве, посещали самые знаменитые места, в том числе и Красную площадь, Воробьёвы горы, Парк им. Горького. On Sunday we drove all over Moscow visiting the most well-known spots including Red Square, Sparrow Hills, and Gorky Park.

Last but not least, the verb is used to indicate a single completed trip in the past. In this usage it implies that the person is no longer at the place mentioned.

Вчера мы ездили в Тулу. Yesterday we went to Tula (and then came back).
В августе я ездила в Загорск. Как там было красиво! In August I went to Zagorsk. It was so pretty there!