In the middle of the process of learning the verbs of motion I stuck at за & обо because it seems a little bit complicated. I would appreciate if you could direct me into the right direction.

What I know about the prefix за-

  • to beginn an action
  • to go into something
  • to go behind something

What I know about the prefix обо-

  • to go around something
  • to visit a place with reason
  • to walk around

All sentences a picked up from RT Russian Course

Question 1

(A couple talks about to buy a tour for her mum as a present.)

Молодец, давай зайдём в турфирму и выберем.

Would the meaning drastically change if I would use войдём or rather пойдём? (In the meaning of "to go into this agency" / "let's go to the agency") What does a russian native speaker understands here exactly?

Question 2

Она сказала, что зайдёт в магазин на пять минут, а я жду её уже два часа!

Here I'm generally stuck with зайдёт. Would it not be correct to use войдёт as well? In the meaning of "she will be in the store in 5 minutes". I know it's wrong because the online course states that but I'm confused.

Question 3

Марк, это ты вчера заходил ко мне в офис? – Да, я заходил к тебе, я был недалеко, хотел попить кофе вместе с тобой.

Does заходил mean that Mark went straight into the office or more in the sense of he visited the office. If the latter, why not use обходил?

Many thanks!

4 Answers 4


«войти» and «зайти» are ALMOST synonymous in the context of entering something like a room or a building, when no indication of the purpose is given. For instance: Они прошли через двор и вошли в дом. You could also say «… зашли в дом». What matters here is that they went inside the building, even though we don't know why they went there. В гостиную вошел молодой человек со свертков в руке. Same logic here. When you say «Она зашла в магазин», the obvious purpose is implied, and «она вошла в магазин» sounds awkward «Зайти» и «пойти» are almost synonymous when describing a visit (or a trip) with a purpose, but there is a subtle difference: «зайти» is more like “to stop by”, it implies an action along the way of something else. For example: -Ты пойдешь со мной в магазин сейчас? - Да, только давай зайдем на почту, мне нужно отправить письмо. This implies that the store is the final destination, while post office is visited along the way.


Q1. Войти means to go inside, to enter; it's not what you mean, I guess. Concerning Пойти vs. Зайти, the first verb is just the "normal" way of saying "to go to", but the second one is special: prefix за- here gives the notion of "by the way", i.e. давай зайдём is not really "let's go", but rather "let's go as we're close to it" (also давай зайдем как-нибудь = "let's go some day, when it will be convenient for us").

Q2. Again, Войти means simply to enter, which has little sense here ("she said that she enters the shop" - so what!?). The speaker tries to emphasize that she will go for a short time (cf. also commonly spoken заскочить). So the choice of Зайти is obvious.

Q3. Well, why Заходить is OK, it should be clear from Q1 and Q2. About Обходить, it means go around or make rounds, but you can't use it when talking about a single person.


The prefix за- has another distinct meaning:

To perform a quick action (without disturbing larger plans).

Thus, зайдём or забежим means we'll also visit the agency, see if they have something on the spot.

If they plan to go for more thorough examination, they would probably say "сходим".


Войти в агентство — Just a change of location. Completed action. A moment ago, you were out of the agency, and now - within the agency, nothing more.

Зайти в агентство — Completed action. Visit the agency with any purpose. Also can means "Войти в агенство"

Пойти в агентство — Guides(Go) to the Agency. Uncompleted action. You can go, but do not get into the agency for some reason.

Обойти агентство — To bypass Agency without entering into it.
Обойти всё агентство — Being already within the agency, to visit every room, visit all the places within it.

Зайти в магазин на 5 минут — enter the store and leave it in 5 minutes. "зайти" here - not only to enter but to go out after a short time.

Зайти в офис (находясь рядом) — Slightly changing the route(located nearby) cause a short visit to the office.

Обойти офис — To bypass office without entering into it.
Обойти весь офис — Being already within the office, to visit every room, visit all the places within it.

  • 'Обойти' may also mean 'traverse'.
    – ach
    Dec 16, 2015 at 11:40
  • I unfolded the explanation to "обойти"
    – Eugene
    Dec 16, 2015 at 14:03

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