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I'm pretty comfortable with the use of aspects in conjugated verbs. However, the choice of aspect for infinitives still gives me trouble. I recently read the following snippet, in which twice the act of paying fines is referred to in the exact context both times, however one is perfective and one is imperfective. Assuming this is correctly written, what is the logic behind the choice of aspect in each case?

Мы выехали рано утром и через несколько часов обнаружили что водитель забыл его водительское удостоверение. В поездке он вынужден был заплатить два штрафа. В конце нашего пути мы поняли, что пересекли пограничную зону и каждый из нас вынужден был платить штраф.

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    It is not perfectly written. In the first sentence a comma is needed after 'обнаружили' and 'своё' must be instead of 'его'. The second sentence is OK. The third sentence lacks a comma after 'зону' - in case it's about real fine (not the one they 'understood' about); otherwise it should be '... и что каждый из нас вынужден будет (за)платить штраф'. – Alex_ander Feb 1 '16 at 7:09
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    They let him continue driving without the license? Twice? – Quassnoi Feb 1 '16 at 10:13
  • My question is about the infinitives... – CocoPop Feb 1 '16 at 12:47
  • @CocoPop: ok, ok, infinitives is no matter for jokes indeed! – Quassnoi Feb 1 '16 at 12:52
  • @Quassnoi: I realize the rest of the composition may be total shit, but if the two bolded infinitives are correct, I'm curious as to why they were used. My guess is that in the first instance, the perfective indicates that he was cited and actually paid the citations. In the second instance perhaps he speaking about the general act of "paying a citation" generically to name the act, without specifying whether it was done or not. (The joke was funny too:) – CocoPop Feb 1 '16 at 13:14
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Мы выехали рано утром и через несколько часов обнаружили что водитель забыл его водительское удостоверение. В поездке он вынужден был заплатить два штрафа. В конце нашего пути мы поняли, что пересекли пограничную зону и каждый из нас вынужден был платить штраф.

I am afraid it's a bad translation from English. Your second sentence should sound as

каждый из нас вынужден будет платить/заплатить

The first sentence refers to a completed action so a perfective infinitive should be used.It means "He had to pay and he did it. The second sentence refers to an expected obligation where the choice of the form платить/заплатить doesn't influence the general meaning

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Leaving aside the ugliness of this excerpt, the choice of perfective/imperfective is sometimes absolutely free.

On the first occurence, the speaker says about what already happened, while they were riding. Thus he/she must use perfective.

But on the second occurence he/she has a free choice. The difference is really subtle. By choosing perfective one shows again that it's all finished already. Yet by choosing imperfective one gives a slight feeling of "presence".

Putting it into other words, if you would have translated the first sentence into English, you couldn't use the continouos tense (you may be paying twice, but not paying two fines in different places/times etc.). Thus you couldn't use imperfective here. But in the second sentence there's no such restriction. I know, everyone would go with simple tense here too, but technically you might choose free. In Russian there's no such thing as "indefinite" tense, so you have to choose one of two.

Your problem probably lies in the observation that the speaker uses different verb types in the consequent sentences. But it's not the fault on itself. They belong to different setups, so one may mix them, just like English speaker mixes perfect/continouos/simple tenses.

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  • +1, however with the imperfective in the last sentence, strictly speaking, they might have not necessarily actually paid the fines by the time the story is set (though it's obvious from the context). Я был вынужден платить штраф means the author realized he had to pay, я был вынужден заплатить штраф means the author paid it. In something like я был вынужден платить штраф и начал рыться в кошельке в поисках денег replacing it with a perfective would have been poor style. – Quassnoi Feb 1 '16 at 13:08
  • @Quassnoi Well, yes, but the difference is slight, so the speaker still has the right to choose imperfective, even though he's not really going to explain how exactly he was paying a fine (which is a formal reason to allow the usage of imperfective here). – Matt Feb 1 '16 at 13:52
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Despite of the previous answers I tell you that there is no difference at all. First of all the version "заплатить" is a little more euphonic in both cases. BUT second - you can use "заплатить" and "платить" in both cases, it does not matter. You can switch it just for not repeating the same word.

UPD I mean - just in this case

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  • Надо немного уточнить, нет разницы в использовании в данном контексте или в значении форм инфинитива. Но "минусовка" не моя. – V.V. Feb 3 '16 at 4:23
  • Great :) somebody don't like the answer of the native speaker about language he speaks through all of his life. Maybe downvoters want to explain or discuss? – Yarri Feb 3 '16 at 18:04

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