From what I understand, both can mean activity, but действие also means action.

However, they seem similar enough that I don't know when to use which.

According to this frequency list, действие is ranked #83 among Russian nouns, #302 overall. деятельность is ranked #94 among Russian nouns, #322 overall. Given the prevalence of these 2 words, I believe a deeper understanding of when to use each is necessary.

4 Answers 4


Деятельность is mostly about working activities, while действие is about actions and functioning activities.

But note that the notion of working activity is rather vague. For example, higher nervous activity = высшая нервная деятельность, that is brain really works, not just functioning etc.


Действие means that the process will be short. Деятельность is the long-running process.

For example:

  • brushing teeth is a short process. It's an action as действие.
  • working activity is a long process so it means рабочая деятельность
  • 2
    Also, it will a good example that action (действие) has begin and end, however activity (деятельность) sometimes doesn't have the end. Jan 17, 2016 at 18:53

Действие is a single act while деятельность is a number of different actions with (or without) common purpose.

So, деятельность can consist of many действие.


I believe действие is action, while деятельность is activity. And I can't remember any exceptions.

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