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!”

1 comment

Comment from: Natalie [Visitor]

Еще у этого слово есть жаргонное значение “падать” (откуда-нибудь).
“Улететь с лестницы.” - Упасть с лестницы.

03/04/10 @ 10:46

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