First, for the aim of this question I must say that I am not familiar with the Russian language, but I read a bit about it and am curious. I've never learned Russian before and just able to say a handful of sentences.
Thus the intention of this question is to get a rough understanding of what the aspect actually is and how it does work.
I read that the Russian language does have three tenses (past, present, future) and contains a concept called aspect. There are two aspects, the perfective and the imperfective aspect, which determine if actions are successfully completed or not.
I'm not sure if I understand that concept correctly. Maybe it's the wrong way trying to compare them with the English tenses, but that's what I actually do. However, in my current understanding there are several things which the English language supports, but Russian not. First, are English and Russian tenses somehow comparable or is it the wrong way to start with?
For instance, I wonder why there is no perfective aspect in present. What about actions that have happened right now, but are already completed. I think of the English present perfect:
I have cooked dinner.
This action is already completed, but very close to now. Is such a thing only provided by the past perfective using catchwords like "just now" to declare that the action has just recently happened?
And does the past perfective also cover the English past perfect? If an action had been completed before another action started, how does the Russian language provide that? And to go one step further: What about progressive tenses? E.g. how to differ between past perfect and past perfect progressive:
I had read a book ...
I had been waiting ....
My best guess regarding those two tenses is:
- past perfect -> past perfective
- past perfect progressive -> past imperfective
But if that were true then either the past perfective do in fact cover two (or even more) English tenses or my conjecture for the "cooking-example" above is totally wrong.
So, it's very confusing to me how a language can handle all requirements in specifying time measurements with a little set of tenses. So, what does the aspect cover? Is it (as the name suggests) the equivalent to the English perfect tenses or is it actually more?