Suppose, for example, that a new verb снапчатовать ("to snapchat") was coined in Russian. Would Russian speakers agree on what the perfective form of this verb should be? Is that generally the case for all new verbs?

  • 2
    I think it would be снапчатить (analog to чатить). And all other forms would be equal to those of чатить too - поснапчатить, снапчатиться, etc.
    – Abakan
    May 2, 2017 at 16:43

3 Answers 3


Different Russian speakers may come up with different perfectives for the same verb (new or not) and there is a good chance that listeners will recognise the original verb and the perfectiveness.

Given the abundance of ways to form a perfective that Russian offers, a new verb is likely to have more than one perfective. But the choice is not random and will often appeal to an existing verb with a similar meaning.

As an IT professional, I tend to use a lot of English loanwords. Some of them have expanded beyond the industry and even made their way into dictionaries. Let's take a look at a few examples:

Гу́глить 'to google' – perf. погу́глить, нагу́глить.

  • Погу́глить (compare to поиска́ть, посмотре́ть): Погу́гли его имя! – Google his name!
  • Нагу́глить (compare to найти́): Смотри́, что я нагу́глила! – Look what I’ve found (online)!

Фо́рвардить 'to forward an email' – perf. отфо́рвардить / форвардну́ть. Compare отфо́рвардить to отпра́вить, отосла́ть ‘to send’.

  • Форвардни́ мне его имейл! – Forward his email to me.
  • Сейчас отфо́рваржу! – Forwarding now!

The above two examples could easily have been a dialogue where one speaker uses one perfective form and the other replies with a different perfective form.

Кли́кать 'to click' - perf. кли́кнуть. In this case there already was (and still is) a verb with exactly the same spelling (кли́кать) but a different meaning, 'to call'. So the new verb just assumed the existing verb's grammar, including the perfective, with the exception of present forms such as кли́чет in favour of кли́кает.

Комми́тить 'to commit source code' – perf. закомми́тить / комми́тнуть:

  • Закомми́ть свои́ измене́ния в бранч! – Commit your changes to the branch!
  • Подожди́, сейча́с закомми́чу! – Hang on, committing now.

Апгре́йдить 'to upgrade computer hardware' – perf. проапгре́йдить, заапгре́йдить, апгре́йдить:

  • Комп ка́ждый день пла́чет: «Апгре́йдь меня!» – My computer is begging for an upgrade.
    Here the verb is perceived as bi-aspectual with апгре́йдить being used as both perfective and imperfective.

  • Кому́-то пора́ проапгре́йдить мозги́! – Someone’s brains need an upgrade!
    The prefix про- appeals to such verbs as прочи́стить, промы́ть ‘to clean, wash thoroughly’.

  • Мой друг заапгре́йдил Де́вушку 1.0 до Жены́ 1.0. – My friend has upgraded his Girlfriend 1.0 to Wife 1.0 (google it, it's fun).

To sum up, here are the most common ways of forming a perfective:

  • Treat the verb as bi-aspectual. This is very common in verbs ending in -и́ровать, -ова́ть: легализи́ровать, легализова́ть, ликвиди́ровать, рационализи́ровать but can also be found in more traditional verbs: казни́ть, жени́ть. Your снапчатова́ть could easily fall into this category.
  • Add the suffix -ну: кли́кнуть, комми́тнуть, пеленгова́ть – пеленгану́ть, снапчатова́ть – снапчатану́ть.
  • Add a prefix.

And here is where the fun begins. How do we know what prefix to add? There is a good dozen of them in Russian and they tend to modify the original verb’s meaning. Take писа́ть ‘to write’ as an example:

  • написа́ть ‘to write’ (as in to write a book, a poem, a song…) i.e. it’s about creativity.
  • записа́ть ‘to write down’, ‘to record’ i.e. it’s about copying from one medium to another.
  • вписа́ть ‘to fill in’ e.g. впиши́те своё и́мя ‘fill in your name’
  • подписа́ть ‘to sign’, ‘to underwrite’
  • списа́ть ‘to copy’ (another student’s work)
  • дописа́ть ‘to finish writing’
  • etc (omitted for brevity)

So, which of the above should we consider the perfective of писа́ть? Linguists came up with a test whereby they ask Russian speakers to use a given verb in a context of mandatory imperfectivization (ситуа́ция обяза́тельной имперфектива́ции). One such context is «не (де́лай)» or «не на́до (де́лать)». To make the test more natural, a respondent might be asked to talk the experimenter out of something. E.g.

  • Experimenter: Я хочу́ записа́ть э́тот реце́пт. – I want to write down this recipe.
  • Respondent: Не на́до запи́сывать, он у меня́ есть. – No need to write it down, I already have it.

Having done this for multiple prefixes, we might get answers such as these:

  • записа́ть ви́део => не на́до запи́сывать ви́део (not *не на́до записа́ть ви́део)
  • вписа́ть => не на́до впи́сывать (not *не на́до вписа́ть)
  • подписа́ть => не на́до подпи́сывать (not *не на́до подписа́ть)
  • списа́ть => не на́до спи́сывать (not *не на́до списа́ть)
  • дописа́ть => не на́до допи́сывать (not *не на́до дописа́ть)
  • написа́ть кни́гу => не на́до писа́ть кни́гу (not *не на́до написа́ть кни́гу and not *не на́до напи́сывать кни́гу)

As we can see, only написа́ть has писа́ть as its imperfective counterpart. It’s a good test but the downside is whether two verbs form an aspectual pair becomes a matter of opinion. Especially for newly coined verbs, opinions may differ (проапгрейдить / заапгрейдить).

Here is another interesting example of a difference of opinion. The English Wiktionary says the perfective for гу́глить is погу́глить, while the Russian Wiktionary says it has no perfective («Соответствующего глагола совершенного вида нет»).

This answer barely scratches the surface of Russian aspectology. Aspect in Russian is intertwined with semantics and semantics is nearly as deep as the language itself. For the curious and the brave-hearted, I recommend this article:

  • Well, it looks like stress can vary on these words. Because I always say гугли́ть and форварди́ть. May 3, 2017 at 15:49
  • *списа́ть * means "to copy something", not always impying cheating. Awesome post, though. May 3, 2017 at 20:18
  • @Taosique - yes, stress is another aspect of Russian that exhibits lots of variation. E.g. in начался any of the three syllables can be stressed! No wonder we can't agree on stress in newly coined words. Oct 11, 2017 at 10:33

There would be no consensus for most new verbs yet for verbs with -овать four main models are possible:

  1. Biaspectual verb (like казнить): same forms used for both aspects;
  2. Imperfective pair: снапчатовать used as perfective verb, снапчатовывать as imperfective;
  3. -ну-pair: снапчатовать used as imperfective verb, снапчатнуть as perfective (unlikely in this case I suppose though can't quickly explain why);
  4. Perfective prefix: снапчатовать used as imperfective verb, поснапчатовать as perfective.

There are, as mentioned above, other perfectivising prefixes, but the Vey-Schooneveld effect paradigm and similar teachings would predict по- as the default, purely perfective one for most verbs.

  • 6
    Among the four proposals above, I actually find proposal number 3 the most intuitive. However, neither one of them feels entirely right to me. In fact, even the proposed verb "снапчатовать" feels weird - I would have probably coined something else, like "снапчатить" (which pairs up very well with "снапчатнуть"). Note however that even though I am a native Russian speaker, I have left Russia a long time ago (so unaware of the "usual practice" surrounding such neologisms), and I am not very familiar with Snapchat (which matters, because the form I would choose depends a lot on the semantics). May 1, 2017 at 12:41
  • 3
    @IliaSmilga, from native speaker perpective, "снапчатовать" indeed sounds weird. That's not russian, at least not the modern one. "снапчатить" is the only natural form in this case.
    – creker
    May 1, 2017 at 13:39
  • The previous opinion just confirms the expressed idea of 'no consensus'. I personally find unnatural verb production in "снапчатить" or "истерить" style.
    – Alex_ander
    May 2, 2017 at 4:19
  • 1
    Неохваченные формы: снапчатствовать/поснапчатствовать; снапчатничать/поснапчатничать (иронически-пренебрежительно, по аналогии со "сплетничать"); (по аналогии с неформ. глаголом "тусоваться") снапчатиться/поснапчатиться и доснапчатиться.
    – Alex_ander
    May 2, 2017 at 5:42
  • Они не охвачены, потому что они не входили в заданный вопрос - это не формы, сцепленные со "снапчатовать".
    – Viridianus
    May 4, 2017 at 19:25

Well, judgung by the most answers and comments here, the Russian speakers hardly agree on anything.

As for the Russian grammar, it is naturally polycentric (that is, the grammar comprises a number of variative norms and modalities, while many speakers and - alas! - even some language teachers believe it should be monocentric (just like a former empire), with a norm for something like a kind of modal RP (whatever this sort of an abomination might in a real life be).

Because of many modalities (I believe the imperfective form would be closer to already existing чатиться and look like снап-чатить) the perfective forms are also various due to different prefixes encoding different event structures:

поснапчатить / поснапчатовать

заснапчатить / заснапчатовать

расснапчатить / расснапчатовать

обснапчатить / обспапчатовать

оснапчатить / оснапчатовать

наснапчатить / наснапчатовать

доснапчатить / доснапчатовать

выснапчатить / выснапчатовать

соснапчатить / соснапчатовать


The only regular perfective form is a (quasi)participle of a perfective kind:

снапчатено / снапчатовано

(but such forms are mostly near-archaic and I doubt their productivity).


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.