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There are many verbs based on the root -гляд-, which all mean something similar to "look at/glance" (взгляд), and are among the most commonly used words of the Russian language.

Because of this, they are all blurred together in my mind, despite the fact that they are seemingly not used interchangeably.

Does anyone have any suggestions for understanding and/or remembering the distinctions between these words?

Question: In particular, my confusion boils down to the following two core issues:

1. What is the difference between the forms глядеть, глянуть, and глядывать?

2. What is the difference in meaning between the prefixes вз- and вы- for these verbs?

Any answer that addresses only 1. and 2. above would be sufficient.

Attempt: For 1. my guess is that the "original" imperfective/perfective pair was глядеть/глянуть, since -нуть seems to be a perfectivizing suffix. But then for some reason, instead of simply appending prefixes to this same imperfective/perfective pair, in some of the derived verbs, the глядеть was used as the perfective form, thus requiring the creation of a lexeme which was an imperfectivized version: глядывать (note that I am deliberately saying lexeme, and not word).

Thus there seem, in general, to be two types of imperfective/perfective pairs associated with the root гляд: (prefix)+глядывать/(prefix)+глядеть and (prefix)+глядеть/(prefix)+глянуть.

However, for 2. I genuinely have no idea. The noun взгляд seems to mean exactly the same thing as the root -гляд-, so I do not see at all how turning взгляд into the verbs взглядывать/взглянуть adds anything in terms of meaning compared to the original глядеть/глянуть. (Also the imperfective/perfective pair взглядывать/взглянуть does not follow either of the two patterns, (prefix)+глядывать/(prefix)+глядеть and (prefix)+глядеть/(prefix)+глянуть, I identified above, confusing me even further.)

Also, why was the perfective form глянуть of глядеть ever necessary if there was already a simpler perfective form of глядеть built by prefixization (поглядеть)? Also, in addition to глянуть and поглядеть, which all make sense somewhat as perfective forms of глядеть, how or why is взглянуть also a perfective form of глядеть (according to Wiktionary)?

And then поглядывать, in addition to just глядеть, is also an imperfective form of поглядеть.

And the вы- forms make absolutely no sense to me; not only do they not seem to mean anything different compared to глядеть/глянуть=глядеть/поглядеть=глядеть/взглянуть, but there are all three forms: выглядывать, выглядеть, выглянуть, something which seemingly should be impossible, since there are only two aspects in Russian, and not three, but according to Wiktionary, выглядеть is both imperfective and perfective. Even worse, both выглядеть and выглянуть are perfective forms of выглядывать, again according e.g. to Wiktionary.

Note: Most of these words seem to be derived by adding prefixes and the suffix -ся which in most cases I kind of understand, to the above three forms (note that I am saying words -- the third is clearly not a separate individual word, I am saying form, i.e. a lexeme). Thus there is no need to explain all of the prefixes по-, в-, раз-, пере-, о-, при-, за-, etc. and how they apply in this case, nor any need to explain the suffix -ся. As explained in 2., the only prefixes which I am unable to distinguish in this context are вы- and вз- - neither seem to add any meaning compared to the unprefixed lexemes глядеть, глянуть, and глядывать.

  • "Глядывать" doesn't exist. As for suggestions and differences - did you look in a dictionary? Better in two or three of them. – Abakan Jan 19 '17 at 12:57
  • @Abakan well it clearly exists as the base/root of prefixed forms. Also yes I did look in a dictionary, this list is compiled from 2 different frequency dictionaries of Russian. They all mean something like "glance" or "look at". – Chill2Macht Jan 19 '17 at 13:03
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    There are подглядывать, углядывать, проглядывать, переглядывать, доглядывать etc, all not mentioned but no глядывать. – Anixx Jan 19 '17 at 13:38
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    Prefix вы- carries the meaning of out/outside in general. Выглянуть - look outside. Выглядывать - look outside periodically. Выглядеть - appear to others (kind of outside of itself). – Vitaly Jan 19 '17 at 14:37
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    Actually глядывать exists - «Думай о комсомоле дни и недели! Ряды свои глядывай зорче. Все ли комсомольцы на самом деле Или только комсомольца корчат?» [А. И. Солженицын. Архипелаг ГУЛаг (1958-1973)]. "На втором таможенном карбасе подхватили с угрозою, басистее, ниже: Травку-муравку не таптывать, На свою на милую не глядывать". «Ох, и царь-осударь, ты мой батюшка, отродясь я такой красоты не видывала, сызмальства в такие очи не глядывала» [С. А. Клычков. Князь мира (1927)] Видал-с в трактирах, но не глядывал в них. [А. Ф. Писемский. Люди сороковых годов (1869)] – Artemix Jan 19 '17 at 14:41
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Often one can infer the meaning of the word in Russian by analyzing prefixes and suffixes. Because there are stable patterns. However, one also needs to consult a dictionary, because there are so many exceptions. To better understand the words from the list, first let's look at the suffixes:

  • -деть (as in глядеть) is used for prolonged actions, e.g. actions that took some period of time. It's not necessarily a long period of time, but definitely not a momentary action.

  • -нуть (as in глянуть) is used for short actions.

  • -дывать (as in глядывать) is used for periodic actions. Something that happens a few times.

  • -ся is a suffix for a reflexive verb. Which means that the action is performed on itself.

The guidelines above work maybe 80% of the time.

UPDATED: As for differences between prefixes вы- and вз-

  • вы- carries the meaning of out/outside in general. Выглянуть - look outside. Выглядывать - look outside periodically. Выглядеть - appear to others (kind of outside of itself).

  • вз- carries a meaning of moving upwards, and/or sudden actions; more here. But with the verbs using the root -гляд- it does not change the meaning significantly. Взглянуть means about the same as глянуть. Взглянуть may imply a turn of a head while glancing, or looking up, but not necessarily. Additionally, взглянуть is by far a more popular form than глянуть chart

I would like to emphasize again that it's important to consult the dictionary, because the general rules above do not fully explain the differences between приглядеть, приглядеться, приглянуться and приглядывать.

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    "поглядеть, подглядеть " is a "momentary " acton, and "оглядывать,вглядываться, разглядывать"do not belong to periodic actions – V.V. Jan 20 '17 at 8:03
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First of all there are pairs: imperfective-perfective.You should learn them in these pairs.Besides it might be useful to divide them into groups:

  1. general meaning.

    Глядеть- глянуть (to look, glance)

взглянуть (to glance for a short time)

Глянуть-взглянуть -поглядеть are very close, and often interchangeable.

Heт, вы только гляньте (colloquial )/взгляните(neural )/поглядите(colloquial village talk)!

поглядывать-поглядеть (to throw glances from time to time-to have a look)the imperfective form can be also interpreted as "watch".

выглядеть- (to look like)

Как я выгляжу, ничего?

  1. inside-outside -in different directions

заглядывать-заглянуть (to look,glance inside, to make a short visit)

Ты бы заглянул ко мне чайку попить(visit). Загляни-ка в сумку, что там вкусненького.(inside)

выглядывать-выглянуть (look outside, out of the window )

оглядываться-оглянуться often with назад (turn back and look)

И некогда нам оглянуться назад.

Оглядываться-оглядеться. Most often with вокруг.(to look around)

Он огляделся по сторонам.

переглядываться-переглянуться( to look at each other, exchange glances)

  1. to try to see something with a certain effort.

разглядывать-разглядеть (to thoroughly try to see)

Он долго разглядывал /вглядывался в фотографию. Это была она.

вглядываться-вглядеться (to look into something, often the distance or darkness trying to see )

приглядываться-приглядеться most often to something like surroundings or to someone in order to understand a person's character.

Ты сначала приглядись, как и что, а потом уже критикуй.

оглядывать-оглядеть (to thoroughly investigate, to study, to get a complete impression

Она почувствовала, что ее оглядывают с ног до головы.

But all these verbs can have more than one meaning, so a good dictionary should be your guide.

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there are all three forms: выглядывать, выглядеть, выглянуть, something which seemingly should be impossible, since there are only two aspects in Russian, and not three, but according to Wiktionary, выглядеть is both imperfective and perfective. Even worse, both выглядеть and выглянуть are perfective forms of выглядывать.

You are mixing several different words actually.

  1. выглядывал (was looking outside, imperfective) - выглянул (looked outside, perfective);
  2. выглядывал (tried to see something, imperfective) - выглядел (managed to see something, perfective) (similar to высматривал - высмотрел) - quite rare case, however here the examples of its usage:

    Лукавый татарский наездник, Мурзенко, сквозь щели глаз своих, успел выглядеть проводника в лицо и с того времени имел к нему полное доверие. [И. И. Лажечников. Последний Новик (1833)]
    Он осмотрелся, выглядел крикуна погорластее, собственноручно взял его за шиворот и приказал связать. [А. В. Амфитеатров. Отравленная совесть (1882-1893)]

  3. выглядеть (to look like) - imperfective only.

This proves that you cannot just reconstruct the meaning of the word based on its structure - you need to use a good dictionary.

See also Wiktionary entry on выглядеть (eng).

  • выглядеть=look like is imperfective, выглядеть=высмотреть (find) is perfective, imo. – V.V. Jan 20 '17 at 9:43

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