by Don  

The Russian word for 'to sleep' is спать/поспать. It conjugates like this:

Imperfective Perfective
Infinitive спать поспать
Past спал
Present сплю
No such thing as
perfective present
in Russian.
Future буду спать
будешь спать
будет спать
будем спать
будете спать
будут спать
Imperative спи(те) поспи(те)

The perfective form of the verb has the prefix по-, which often adds the idea of ‘for a while,’ as it does in this verb.

Я посплю и потом пойду в кино. I'm going to sleep for a bit and then go to the movie.

When you use duration phrases like два часа ‘for two hours,’ they normally require the use of an imperfective verb, but in the case of perfective verbs prefixed with по- in the ‘for a while’ meaning (and sometimes for verbs with the prefixed with про-), duration phrases are possible:

Я два часа посплю и потом пойду в кино. I'm going to nap for two hours and then go to the movie.

But of course when you talk about sleeping somewhere regularly, you must use the imperfective:

Я обычно сплю днём, потому что мне приходится работать ночью. Usually I sleep in the daytime because I have to work at night.
— После пяти стопок водки я очень хорошо сплю.
— Какой ты алконавт!
“After five shots of vodka I sleep very well.”
“You are such an alconaut!¹”
Летучие мыши спят вверх ногами. Bats sleep upside down.

¹ ‘Alconaut’ is a Russian slang word for an alcoholic. Here is what lurkmore.ru has to say about the word:

Видимо, восходит к началу 1960-х годов: алкаш+космонавт. Впрочем, алконавт имеет все признаки алкаша, и ни одного значительного признака космонавта, кроме, разве что, послеполётной гипер­чувствитель­ности к земному притяжению. Apparently it originated in the early ’60s: alcoholic + cosmonaut. An alconaut, however, has all the traits of an alcoholic and not one significant feature of a cosmonaut, except maybe for a post-flight hyper­sensi­tiv­ity to gravity.

1 comment

Comment from: Artyom [Visitor]

Do not forget that спать also means “to have (more or less continuous) sexual relations with someone, like – - Петя спит с Катей
– Petya is dating Katya and they have sex sometimes.

- А кто ещё с ней спит?
- Не знаю, я свечку не держал.

- Who also does have sex with her?
– No idea, I do not have full report of her sexual life.

01/21/13 @ 07:39

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