Читать (часть первая)

by Don  

I have just realized that I have never blogged before about the word читать. Hm. Seems pretty basic, eh? Still, we can probably come up with something. Let's start with the basic imperfective verb.

Infinitive читать
Past читал
Present читаю
Future буду читать
будешь читать
будет читать
будем читать
будете читать
будут читать
Imperative читай(те)

The verb has several meanings, one of which is ‘to know how to read.’ In this sense it only has an imperfective, no perfective.

Ксюша такая умница! В пять лет она уже читала. Ksyusha is such a smart girl! At five years of age she could already read.
— Почему твой сын не читает?
— Потому что ему всего три года.
“Why can't your son read?”
“Because he's only three years old.”

If you want to specify the ability to read a language, then add the language in the по- adverbial form.

— Ты читаешь по-английски?
— Читаю.
“Can you read English?”
“I can.”
Я читаю по-английски, по-русски и чуточку по-татарски. I can read English, Russian, and a bit of Tatar.
— Ты читаешь по-китайски? Где ты научился?
— Нигде. Я маг третьего уровня. Читаю на всех языках.
“You know how to read Chinese? Where did you learn that?”
“Nowhere. I'm a third-level magician. I can read every language.”

Ah, that last little dialog is a cultural puzzle for the reader. In what well known series of novels can supernaturally gifted beings understand foreign languages without training? You may show off your knowledge in the comments.

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