I learned that перечитать can mean

  • read one more time
  • read everything that is available from one author or one subject

While начитаться means: read a great quantity of (books from an author...)

so what's the difference between:

  • "он перечитал все книги Пушкина"
  • "он начитался все книги Пушкина" ?

Does the first example underline that he read ALL from Pushkin, while the second means that he read A LOT?

please provide other examples similar to each other and explain the difference in usage!

3 Answers 3


The verbs built according to the model на-<verb>-ся mean "to do the action so much that you do not want to do it any more, to do the action so much that you feel satisfied with the result". All the verbs ending in -ся, the reflexive verbs, are intransitive, they cannot have direct objects, that is, they cannot have an Accusative case object. In the case of the на-<verb>-ся verbs, the object with which the satisfaction is achieved is usually in the Genitive case.

Typical examples of such verbs are наесться 'to eat until you are fed up' and напиться 'to drink that much that you are not thirsty any more'. In the following examples the Genitive objects are italicized.

Вова наелся варенья. - Vova ate jam (until he was fed up with it and didn't want to eat it any more).

Колодец, колодец, дай неба напиться! - O well, o well, give me some sky to drink (so that my thirst ceases). - From a song.

Гости на свадьбе напились самогонки и танцевали до утра. - The guests at the wedding party drank so much moonshine that they danced until morning.

Я не видел Олега 5 лет, просидели весь день, никак не могли наговориться. - I haven't seen Oleg for 5 years, we spent the whole day together and couldn't stop talking (however much we talked it never seemed enough for us).

As for your two sentences, the first one is right. In the second one, the object should be in the Genitive case, and usually after начитаться you simply say the name of the author, because it is clear that the writer writes books, so it should be Он начитался Пушкина - "He read Pushkin much" or "He read Pushkin so much that he doesn't want to read him anymore".

Он начитался Пушкина и сам начал писать стихи. - He read Pushkin much and began to write poems himself.

Он начитался Троцкого и вступил в коммунистическую партию Парагвая. - He read many books by Trotsky and joined the Communist Party of Paraguay.

Иди спать, ты что, ещё не начитался своих комиксов? - Go to bed. Haven't you read your comic books enough yet?

From the verb начитаться the adjective начитанный "lettered, well-read, deep-read" is formed.

  • I should say that these 'на-' verbs purport the notion of an action which is complete in itself due to accomplishment of some change in the subject, as opposed to object. For example, one might 'начитаться' 1) so as to get tired and dizzy; 2) so as to start to feel disgust to further reading; 3) so as to train one's feel of orthography and proper style; 4) so as to get comprehensive knowledge of literature; 5) so as to start giving suitable quotations in every situation of life; 6) so as to become queer etc.
    – ach
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 18:23
  • @AndreyChernyakhovskiy - A very interesting observation. Still, the change in the subject you mention is somehow too broad, that's why your list of the possible changes is open ("etc."), and the list suits only the verb 'начитаться'. It seems to me, most of those changes are expressed in the definition I gave above, "to do the action so much that you do not want to do it any more, to do the action so much that you feel satisfied with the result". And many 'на-' verbs are much simpler, can you give so many kinds of change in the subject for the verb 'набегаться' or 'наиграться'?
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 18:48
  • 1
    Well, not so many perhaps, but of course there are options: Я при Совке по очередям так набегался, что теперь едва ноги волочу. (loss of health), Этим летом он был в деревне и много бегал. Так набегался, что теперь выглядит крепким и поджарым. (gain in health), Я вам что, мальчонка, за вами всё время бегать? Хватит, набегался уже, теперь вы побегайте. (indignation) Дочка во дворе набегалась — заснула как убитая! (tiredness).
    – ach
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 18:58
  • 1
    @AndreyChernyakhovskiy - Don't Nos. 1, 3, 4 mean "you do not want to do it any more", and doesn't No. 2 mean "you feel satisfied with the result" (both from my definition)? I'm a teacher, and when the OP's author writes "начитался все книги", I think the author needs to get the general idea of the thing first, not the in-depth analysis of all the possible variants. I told you, your observation is very interesting, why don't you post it as another answer here? I never tried to answer this question completely, as you can see I wrote nothing about 'перечитать'. Make it an answer, I'll upvote it.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 19:54

Перечитать (two meanings):

  1. Перечитать (Пушкина) means to read something (by Pushkin) one more time - in whatever complete form (usually it's some mentioned part).

Вчера я перечитал Пушкина - чтобы уточнить текст из "Онегина", о котором мы вчера поспорили.

  1. If you add the sense of completeness to that word, like saying "перечитать всего Пушкина", that would mean reading the subject in its entirety. Most likely, you'd need to add more words if you also mean doing it one more time: "ещё раз перечитать всего Пушкина".

Он перечитал всего Пушкина, включая последние найденные его письма.

Начитаться (two meanings):

  1. To have enough of reading something (negative sense) or to have read as much as one wanted (positive sense):

Я вчера начитался газет и больше видеть их не могу.

Он провёл несколько часов в библиотеке и вдоволь начитался Пушкина, о чём давно мечтал.

  1. (sarcastic) To get some strange knowledge or ideas which are definitely out of context - as a result of intensive reading some specific writings.

Он начитался Пушкина и теперь сам пишет стихи, вставляя готовые строчки из его произведений.

Он начитался Пушкина, и теперь "Шаланды полные кефали..." кажутся ему плагиатом с "Мой дядя самых честных правил..."

  • I would say перечесть for 2 meanings you mentioned ("иль перечти женитьбу Фигаро" - Пушкин). May be it sounds slightly archaic, but more precise. Перечитать can be interpreted also as to read more than necessary, probably with bad consequences (compare: переесть, перепить); so this (3d) meaning of перечитать is quite close to начитаться
    – user396672
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 14:50
  • I agree about that possible interpretation of перечитать, but I intentionally left it out as extremely untypical usage. As for "перечесть", I tend to see it more as a synonym to "перечислить" (like in "всех не перечесть").
    – Alex_ander
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 15:46
  • 1
    There's another meaning of 'пере-', translated with English 'over-', namely, doing too much of something. Curiously, this meaning may also be expressed with 'на-': For example: Что ты всё нудишь о слезинке ребёнка? Достоевского перечитал/начитался/обчитался, что ли? Notice the 'об-' verb. It has basically the same meaning as the 'на-' verb, but also conveys disapprobation.
    – ach
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 18:34

The first example means either that he read all books from Pushkin or that he read all books from Pushkin once again.

The secons example is grammatically incorrect. Correct would be он начитался Пушкина, он начитался книг Пушкина or он начитался всех книг Пушкина (the last one sounds quite peculiar but is possible in some situations). Depending on context it can mean that

  • he read a lot of Pushin and his hunger for Pushkin is satisfied now. In this meaning you can add вдоволь (Он начитался Пушкина вдоволь or Он вдоволь начитался Пушкина).


  • he read so much from Pushkin and is fed up with Pushkin now (Он начитался Пушкина в школе и больше смотреть на него не может).
  • 1
    'Он начитался всех книг Пушкина' sounds wrong to me. These 'на-' verbs purport the notion of an action which is complete in itself due to the ensuing changes in subject, not object. Therefore, the object is always partitive.
    – ach
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 18:06

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