возить/везти/носить/нести are all imperfective verbs meaning "to carry", возить/носить are abstract, везти/нести are concrete, возить/везти are by vehicle, and носить/нести are by foot.

In this regard they are similar to ездить/ехать/ходить/идти.

When one makes prefixed verbs to alter the meaning of "to carry", возить/носить are often (always?) treated like imperfective, and везти/нести are treated like the perfective counterparts of возить/носить, despite the fact that везти/нести are imperfective.

To clarify what I mean, here are some examples:
привозить/привезти (imperfective/perfective -- to bring here by vehicle)
приносить/принести (imperfective/perfective -- to bring here on foot)
относить/отнести (imperfective/perfective -- to refer)
произносить/произнести (imperfective/perfective -- to pronounce)

Question: Why are the behaviors of the verbs возить/везти/носить/нести so different between the unprefixed and prefixed verbs? Is there a historical reason for this perhaps?

Or are we supposed to understand that abstract verbs naturally replace imperfective verbs and concrete verbs naturally replace perfective verbs in some contexts? If so, then why?

Why aren't there two imperfective/perfective verb pairs, one abstract, one concrete, e.g. привозывать/привозить and привеживать/привезти?

  • c.f. объезжать/объездить and объезжать/объехать or ездить/съездить and съезжать/съехать for different behavior. Or compare выходить/выйти, приходить/прийти for similar behavior (ходить and идти are both imperfective, the first abstract, the second concrete). Jun 21, 2017 at 8:25
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    Свозить (to take smth/smb to a place and then bring that back), сносить (to wear down [clothes]), and съездить (to hit smb.) are prefective, although in their other meanings these verps are imperfective.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jun 21, 2017 at 12:21
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    while "относить" might stand for "refer" or even "classify", in this list it is more like "bring a thing to some person or place". The "refer" is coming from the cluster that is going obsolete today, like "сноситься" - to establish communication with someone
    – Arioch
    Jun 21, 2017 at 17:08
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    I'm not sure I understand what the problem is, but it might be helpful to look at that from the following point. "Возить" used to denote a repeating action (Я вожу сына в школу [каждый день] ) and "везти" means a single currently performed action (Я везу сына в школу [сейчас]). So whatever prefix you add to the former form you can't make it perfective because the repeating action goes on infinitely and can't be completed.
    – AlexVB
    Jun 21, 2017 at 20:09
  • @AlexVB Well the idea is that they are two separate imperfective verbs, right? So how is the phenomenon I describe so much different from taking читать and писать and making them into an imperfective/perfective pair хлебчитать/хлебписать (I know хлеб isn't an actual prefix, I didn't want to use real words). Then why should хлебчитать and хлебписать be associated with each other in this manner if читать and писать aren't? And if both писать and читать are imperfective, then why does хлебписать become perfective, but хлебчитать doesn't? (But I do understand your argument about возить.) Jun 21, 2017 at 20:17

3 Answers 3


Let's take a step back and look at two interrelated concepts: the two kinds of motion expressed by Russian verbs of motion and the two aspects of verbs.

Unprefixed verbs of motion are all imperfective. That means that they refer to motion which was, is, or will be taking place at the time named. For example:

Я иду в магазин. I am on my way to the store.

Я шёл в магазин. I was on my way to the store.

Я буду идти в магазин. I will be walking to the store.

Verbs of motion come in two forms:

Unidirectional (which you call concrete):

Я шёл в магазин. I was on my way to the store.

Я шёл с рынка. I was walking from the marketplace.

This implies purposeful motion leading to a predictable change in the traveler's location. It implies physical progress.

Multidirectional (which you call abstract):

Я ходил по магазинам. I visited the stores.

Since ходить describes motion in various unspecified directions, it is difficult to say where it leaves the traveler. Thus, it does not imply progress.

How is this related to the question of which which motion verbs become perfective when prefixed? Remember that the perfective aspect of a verb refers to an action or event which the narrator wishes to portray as completed and as advancing his narrative (or argument).

Let us explain by starting with an imperfective example:

Мы пили молоко и пели песни. We were drinking milk and singing songs.

While this may have been a fun way to spend an evening (or not), it does not take the plot in any obvious direction. This statement does not prepare the listener for any new developement of the plot. Compare this to the following perfective statement:

Я пришёл домой и нашёл письмо от адвоката. I got home and found a letter from a lawyer.

Here we have clear narrative progression. The speaker's unidirectional motion toward his home was continued until he arrived. Because he arrived he was able to find the letter. Here we see that the verb прийти expresses an idea (arrival) which advances narratives. The ability to express such an idea (rather than some morphological feature) is what makes it a perfective verb.

Note the distinction between making progress (which идти does) and advancing the narrative (which прийти does). A character's physical progress on his journey does not advance the narrative to the next step until it fulfils some defined goal. The goal is specified by adding a prefix such as при-, у-, от-, об-, с-, на-, до- etc. These prefixes are prepositions doing double duty. They specify a relationship to physical objects (such as persons or landmarks) which the motion is to achieve. Reaching such a defined point turns the motion into a perfected fact able to advance the narrative to the next step.

Perfectivity of a motion verb requires both these elements: the motion must make progress, and it must reach or pass a goal post. By doing so it produces an effect which advances the narrative to the next step. Only prefixed unidirectional motion verbs provide both elements.

Prefixed multidirectional verbs of motion define the goal, but because they describe aimless, circular, or repeated motion, they do not move the character to a specific location for the next step of the narrative. While "Анна пришла в школу." places Anna at the school for the next stage of the action, "Анна ходила в школу." does not. Now she could be anywhere, quite possibly at home. Thus, prefixed multidirectional verbs of motion are seldom perfective.

  • a very good one!
    – Quassnoi
    Jun 22, 2017 at 20:47
  • I get that, but why should the prefixed versions of multidirectional and unidirectional verbs be related to each other? Why don't we have something like пришивать/прийти and приходить/прихить? Otherwise, by your logic, all unprefixed unidirectional verbs would also have to be perfective, which as you yourself note, is not true. Jun 23, 2017 at 6:57
  • also, while it is true that perfective prefixed versions of multidirectional verbs are less common than perfective prefixed versions of unidirectional verbs, they nevertheless still do exist. Anyway, my question isn't really so much about the aspect that prefixed versions of носить and возить have, but rather why their prefixed versions are related to the prefixed versions of нести and везти, when the unprefixed versions are completely unrelated. It doesn't happen with any other verbs: писать and читать are unrelated with and without prefixes, for example. Jun 23, 2017 at 7:26
  • While it might seem that two factors (directionality and aspect) each with two options ought to produce four possibilities, this is not the case. This is because in the Russian system an unprefixed perfective motion verb makes no sense. Presumably your шивать would mean a completed unidirectional walking motion. But with no prefix to provide a reference it is impossible to tell what is accomplished by this motion. It does not advance the narrative to the next step and so would not really be perfective.
    – David42
    Jun 23, 2017 at 12:43
  • I have expanded the last part of my answer to more clearly show that perfectivity of motion verbs is a product of their meaning and not of their spelling.
    – David42
    Jun 23, 2017 at 12:43

Thе words in each of the two groups are considered to have the same root. However, for historical reasons, a single root may have multiple forms.

According to Russian Derivational Dictionary (volume 1, pages 94-96), there are 6 different forms of root воз:

  • занаваживать
  • везти
  • подвёзший
  • унавоженный
  • возить
  • обоз

The same dictionary shows 5 forms of root нос (volume 3, pages 401-404):

  • вынашивать
  • нести
  • принёс
  • носить
  • ношение

So the words in your examples are related - they share the same root. Prefixes change the meaning of the word and sometimes change very significantly. You found some examples, but there are many more. There are some general patterns that help you understand the meaning of the word. You may understand a word, because you know the root and the prefix, but often enough you need to consult a dictionary.

  • навоз и воз - однокоренные? не исторически, а вот сегодня? ню-ню...
    – Arioch
    Jun 22, 2017 at 8:29
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    @Arioch, I, personally, would consider them related (one is derived from the other) only in a historical context. For morpheme analysis I would follow Tihonov's dictionary "Морфемно-орфографический словарь".
    – Vitaly
    Jun 22, 2017 at 13:20

привозывать/привозить and привеживать/привезти

If I got your idea, you want there be some fixed root(stem?) and some uniform setoff suffixes and endings(post suffixes).

I have a hypothesis that it maybe always is the case, or once was.

воз/вез looks like the same root with volatile vowel (чередующаяся гласная).

Then we would take возить/везти pair, and the difference remained is -ить and -ти

Next thing to try would be morphologic deconstruction of those words.

I open http://ya.ru and look for "разбор слова на части" (он же морфологический или морфемный разбор). The top 4 links follow:

  1. http://vnutrislova.net/%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B7%D0%B1%D0%BE%D1%80/%D0%BF%D0%BE-%D1%81%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B0%D0%B2%D1%83/%D0%B2%D0%BE%D0%B7%D0%B8%D1%82%D1%8C - claims to have "algorithmic" deconstruction, so it does not depend upon vocabularies, but computer heuristic might span wrong results.
  2. http://udarenieru.ru/index.php?morph_word=%D0%BE%D0%BD%D0%BB%D0%B0%D0%B9%D0%BD&word - works nice, but don't forget to choose "морфемика" button.
  3. http://sostavslova.ru/search/?text=%D0%B2%D0%BE%D0%B7%D0%B8%D1%82%D1%8C - don't work for me. Very slow and in the end you get a list of related words, nothing more.
  4. http://morphemeonline.ru/В/возить - again, very slow. But their homepage lists a number of paper books on Russian words morphology :-)

Okay, in "везти" word all the working services see "вез" root with "ти" ending.

In "возить" word services #1 and #2 see "воз" root with "и" suffix and "ть" ending. Historically "-ть" is merely a shortened "-ти", I think. You may say "возити" and you would sound funny archaic, but it would be understandable.

The #4 service thinks "воз" and "и" are both roots! And "ть" is suddenly a suffix. I wonder.... Looks like some "off-by-one" bug.

So, to wrap things up, with воз-и-ть and вез-ти you have

  • a very close roots, to the point that I personally feel them the same root with alternating vowel,
  • an almost the same ending,
  • and then there is the only significant difference left: empty suffix or "и" suffix.

You wanted the uniform rule of constructing words here, didn't you? :-D

  • I'm not sure I understand -- so возить and везти are derived from a common root -- so you are saying that the other verbs are derived neither from возить nor from везти, but rather this common root ве/оз? So that's why возить/везти show up as they do in the other verbs, because they are the natural imperfective/perfective pair for this ве/оз root, e.g. при+возити and при+везити ? And then возить and везти were both spun off as imperfective verbs from the common root/stem imperfective/perfective pair возити/везити? Jun 21, 2017 at 18:06
  • That does make sense, inasmuch as there are words like просквозить, унавозить, вывозить, засквозить, извозить, навозить which are perfective [gramota.ru/slovari/dic/…*%D0%B2%D0%BE%D0%B7%D0%B8%D1%82%D1%8C] Jun 21, 2017 at 18:14
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    @Chill2Macht просквозить/засквозить are deemed to have stem 'сквоз/скваж' and are related to words 'насквозь', 'скважина'.
    – Vitaly
    Jun 21, 2017 at 21:15
  • @Vitaly So the stem сквоз isn't related to the stem воз? I guess that is what confuses me. Jun 22, 2017 at 7:52
  • Maybe they were related in very oooold times. maybe some proto-Indo-European linguist might hint how "ск" prefix once meant "drive through the wall to the other side" or something. Maybe. But today in modern Russian they hardy are the same stem.
    – Arioch
    Jun 22, 2017 at 8:21

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