I know there is perfective and imperfective verb structure in interesting Russian language such as гулять(imperf) and погулять(perf). However after i've tried to translate those 2 verbs in the question title, i came across with same equivalent which is the verb "to call" and that made me a bit confused. Can you explain difference(s) with examples in English and Russian. Thanks in advance.

2 Answers 2


Звонить is the phone verb. In Russian, you don't call but "ring" someone on the phone. Звать is the general calling verb, as in shouting after someone or referring to what someone is named. Позвонить and позвать are their respective perfective pairs.

There is yet another equivalent of the English "call", and it's называть. It means "call" in the narrow sense of "refer to as"; it's the one you use when talking about what inanimate objects are called (В Петербурге бордюр называют поребриком "In St Petersburg, a kerb is called porebrik"), and when talking about something that a person is called which isn't a name (Многие называют его шарлатаном — "Many are calling him a quack".) The perfective of называть is назвать. The reflexive form называться is also often used in the sense of "to be called".

  • In the latter case, "звать" can also be used. "В Петербурге бордюр зовут поребриком". "Многие зовут его шарлатаном". Feb 22, 2016 at 18:54
  • @AntonPoznyakovskiy It's markedly colloquial, though, isn't it? Feb 22, 2016 at 19:00
  • perfect answer! instead of the verb "to call" in english exist 3 different verbs in russian! and i realized its definitely natural because those 3 verbs are related to 3 different concepts! this means russian is really much richer language than our tovarish english!:) thank you sir! Feb 22, 2016 at 19:01
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    @NikolayErshov It certainly sounds less formal, but I wouldn't call it colloquial. "Бывало, писывала кровью / Она в альбомы нежных дев, / Звала Полиною Прасковью / И говорила нараспев;" Your mileage may vary, though. Feb 22, 2016 at 19:07
  • @IsmailYilmaz I wouldn't be so definite about language richness :) You need at least two English words for Russian "звонить" - "to call" and "to ring". An to toll is "звонить" too.
    – Abakan
    Feb 23, 2016 at 10:17

Звать essentially means to use a voice, that is to cry for someone or smth. Although there is yet another meaning - to refer to smth., to give a name to someone - but it's clear that "a name" is just a thing said in "voice".

Звонить means to ring a bell, that is to make some noise by using an object. It applies to door bells, or telephone ring etc.

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