Background: I am located in southern Sweden and we are using some strange verbs that I often place 200 years back in time but are part of the "modern" Russian grammar we must learn so I need to ask you guys. Learning these verbs have no links to any other activities. They are useless but we must learn them by heart. We are always told that we have to talk well but the ones that say that would have to stop being lazy and do more and better.

Question: Which one would you use in your every day conversation: "избéг" or "избéгнул"?


Past tense

Masculine Feminine Neutral Plural

избéг//избéгнул избéгла избéгло избéгли

5 Answers 5


In modern language (especially spoken language) you should better use "избежать". Its past tense in masculine is "избежáл".

"Избегнуть" does sound old-fashioned and kind of poetical.

  • 1
    Thanks! I am located in southern Sweden and the material is often not updated. They always blame on that someone "wise men" else have decided that these old verbs should be included. On top of all those "myths" we have a lazy teaching assistant that is good at generating all kind of typos. Seems that is what he is best at.
    – Ева
    Feb 28, 2016 at 23:55
  • No problem, please feel free to ask any time. I think these "old" verbs are pretty important for understanding the classical Russian literature (18th to early 20th century). Consider, for example, usage statistics for the verb we discuss. So its clear that the usage has diminished during the Soviet times, when the modern language started evolving. Feb 28, 2016 at 23:59
  • Actually, the verbs used in the literature section of my course are more updated. I like studying Russian language.
    – Ева
    Feb 29, 2016 at 0:01
  • I wonder what exactly do you have in the literature section? Are these 20th century or adapted earlier works? Feb 29, 2016 at 0:04
  • Reading 1800 century works from example Gogol and the other course is translating course book texts from Russian to Swedish in group. The latter is more to ease the pressure off the teacher and to help the low achievers.
    – Ева
    Feb 29, 2016 at 0:13

The situation is like this:

Избежал is normal
Избег is perfectly OK, but uncommonly spoken
Избегнул is rare and should be avoided

In a broader perspective, the verbs ending in -нуть often denote one-time instant actions, kind of сказануть, взгрустнуть etc. As we always use the verb избегнуть in the sense of "to avoid", not just "to run away" as the root suggests, we'd better to avoid using "-нуть" in a conjugation pattern. Yet the infinitive "избегнуть" is still certainly OK.


В русском языке есть два глагола: бегать (to run, т.е. заниматься бегом) и бежать (to flee, т.е. находиться в состоянии бега) — которые имеют разные грамматические возможности. Поэтому нельзя сказать что избежал является предпочтительной формой для прошлого времени глагола избегнуть. Это не верно, т.к. это разные глаголы.

Глагол избегнуть производный от избегать и имеет два вида в прошедшем времени: совершенный избег, избегла, избегло, избегли и несовершенный избегал, избегала, избегало, избегали.

Глагол избежать (синоним избегнуть) имеет только совершенный вид в прошедшем избежал, избежала, избежало, избежали.

Когда вид и время этих глаголов совпадает, то в современном русском языке предпочтительнее использовать глагол избежать вместо избегнуть и избежал вместо избег.

В этих предложениях одинаковый смысл, но предпочтительнее второй вариант:

"Он избег встречи." и "Он избежал встречи."

"Он хотел избегнуть встречи." и "Он хотел избежать встречи."

Но в этих предложениях смысл разный, замену делать нельзя:

"Надо избегать встречи." и "Надо избежать встречи."

"Он избегал встречи." и "Он избежал встречи."

Что касается XIX века, то уже в то время Пушкин, ярый сторонник московского варианта русского языка, использовал слово "избежал" вместо "избег":

"Присоветуй им встретить меня с детской любовию и послушанием; не то не избежать им лютой казни." А.С. Пушкин, "Арап Петра Великого"

"Барков шутливых од тебе не посылал, Радищев, рабства враг, цензуры избежал, И Пушкина стихи в печати не бывали; Что нужды? их и так иные прочитали." А.С. Пушкин, "К цензору"

Поэтому, можно заключить, что форма избег была уже в те времена дико книжкой и канцелярской. Т.к. Гоголь с московским вариантом языка знаком был совсем не так хорошо, то не удивительно что языковая практика была намного менее элегантная чем у Пушкина. Отсюда такие косноязычные формы.


I know you asked six years ago, but if anyone stumbles upon this one time I am here :)

I have heard “избежать”, but here, in Uzbekistan, since many people speak that “old Russian”, at least from my experience, I have heard “избегнуть”, at least in my hometown (little town in Southern Uzbekistan, live in Tashkent and hear this less.). In our case it is “избегнул(а/о/и).”

If I say I performed this action in the past, I tell people “я избегнула.”


there is no such a word in any russian language as "избегнуть". there is only "избежать", that is similar to 'avoid'. it is difficult verb, a complex verb. it's consists of "из" and "бежать". where the first word means from something, the second means to run. but when you running, you can run continiously in a long period of time, so you do run somewhere, or from something, or from someone. but 'избежать' means, that you trying to get as far as possible from undesired happening. and this word build on the root of 'бежать' instead of your meaning : 'бег'. the root here is a verb - to run, to run away from. избежать избежал избегаю избегать - here it means some process in some time избежание


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