As the title states, what is the difference between the two perfective forms of the verb видеть? Essentially, I am asking:

When would you use завидеть and when would you use увидеть?

To give you an example of where I am trying to use it is in a message stating:

I do not know, if you will see this message.

What I have so far:

Я не знаю, если вы завидите/увидите это письмо.

  • There is no word завидеть. You could easily discover it by examining dictionaries. -1 for the question.
    – user31264
    Jan 5, 2017 at 19:31
  • Pray tell me, what is this then? завидеть and увидеть. Additionally, another one for you: завидеть. Are you satisfied? @user31264
    – Marley
    Jan 5, 2017 at 19:32
  • Ok, there is such a word, which is so rare that I didn't know it. In ruscorpora.ru it is about two orders of magnitude less frequent than увидеть. Still, you should only use увидеть.
    – user31264
    Jan 5, 2017 at 19:58
  • 3
    Значение слова Завидеть по Ефремовой: Завидеть - Заметить издали
    – V.V.
    Jan 5, 2017 at 20:08
  • @MrMarley, also if you will say завидеть to most native russian speakers they would think that you're talking about envy.
    – user28434
    Jan 9, 2017 at 13:48

4 Answers 4


Увидеть means just to see. This word is frequently used in different situations.

Вчера я увидел его на вокзале.

Завидеть means to nofice from the distance. The verb is used mostly in the form of деепричастие(завидев, завидя)

Не боясь его, стрекотали в густой траве кузнечики, летали бабочки, ящерицы сидели на тёплых камнях и грелись и, завидев Колюнчика, исчезали в траве. [Алексей Варламов. Купавна // «Новый Мир», 2000] …→

Павел стоял в коридоре у окна и, завидев меня, неприветливо поморщился, немного согнувшись при этом в поясе ― будто хотел встретить гостя поклоном. [Андрей Волос. Недвижимость (2000) // «Новый Мир», 2001]

There are lots of examples in the national corpus.

Я не знаю, увидите ли вы это письмо. This will be correct.


Завидеть seems to be an obsolete and colloquial (perhaps) word. This word appears in dictionaries, but usually is not used in modern speech. This can be translated as to see something from afar.

I think you want say Я не знаю, увидишь ли ты это письмо.


Завидеть is (practically?) never used as a verb, but you can meet its adverbial participle завидев, mostly in texts.


Завидеть - to see from or at a great distance. It's a very rarely used word.

Он убежа́л, завидев полице́йского. - He ran away at the sight of the policeman.

source: https://en.openrussian.org/ru/%D0%B7%D0%B0%D0%B2%D0%B8%D0%B4%D0%B5%D1%82%D1%8C

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