As far as I understand they both mean "go", but I'd like to know when I should use each. Are these words interchangeable?

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    the only difference I can formulate now is that 'ходить' can (or even more so, does) mean a repetitive action, while 'идти' usually means only a singular action. There can be numerous examples, I can't fit them all in a comment, but just a couple: я иду в школу / я хожу в школу (I go to school, I'm going to school)
    – d.k
    Nov 2, 2017 at 20:14
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    "I'm going to school" means by the way either you are going to school now, or you are preparing to go to school etc.
    – d.k
    Nov 2, 2017 at 20:16
  • Note that both mean mainly "to walk" and not "to go" (except some expressions like "ходить в школу/в гости")
    – Abakan
    Nov 2, 2017 at 21:44

4 Answers 4

  1. "Ходить" is a repetitive action, while "идти" is not. For example,

Я иду в гости --> I go visiting
Кто ходит в гости по утрам, тот поступает мудро --> One who (is used to / often) goes visiting in the mornings, does a smart thing (just kidding)

  1. Both verbs have also other usages, which are not interchangeable in any way. For example,

Идёт дождь --> It rains
Пол ходит ходуном --> The floor shakes

  • "I go visiting"? May be, it's "I'm going", not "I go"?
    – d.k
    Nov 2, 2017 at 20:15
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    I go visiting -> это как раз "я хожу в гости". Английский — это не мой родной язык, но вам, кажется, надо разобраться с временем Continuous, без обид
    – d.k
    Nov 2, 2017 at 20:26
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    @user907860 - How fo you know that Идёт дождь is "It is raining"? )))
    – Yellow Sky
    Nov 2, 2017 at 20:35
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    @YellowSky Well, the dictionary gives 27 entries for "идти" and 17 entries for "ходить", and almost all of them are different. I don't feel like citing them all here.
    – Matt
    Nov 2, 2017 at 20:50
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    @user907860 Как и не мой, но кое-что я все же выучил. Когда почувствую, что начал забывать, тогда и повторю.
    – Matt
    Nov 2, 2017 at 20:53

Иду in one direction, from A to B Хожу in two or more directins.

Compare: 1) Сейчас я иду на работу (one way, from home to work). 2) Я каждый день хожу на работу. (from home to work, then from work to home, there and back)

1) Недавно ребёнок научился ходить. (as child can go in any direction, not only to the north or south) 2) Когда я шел на рынок, я встретил Мишку. (I went only one way, from home to the market, when I met him).

1) Обычно в школу Маша идёт с мамой, а из школы с бабушкой. (In one direction she goes with mother, in other with granny). 2) Она ходит в школу каждый день. (to the school, then back home, then to the school again...) And so on.


One more difference is: ходить is used if the expression concerns the ability to walk; then идти is not appropriate.

  • That is a good observation! However, if the situation implies (or the speaker believes) that this inability to walk is temporary, we have to use "идти". Compare "Я не могу идти" (I am not able to walk at this particular moment: I'm just not in the mood/too tired right now, or maybe an accident has just happened) and "Я не могу ходить" (I am not able, and I don't expect this to change any time soon (if ever)). Nov 3, 2017 at 17:00
  • As a side note, in Russian the clock has an ability to "walk". Часы идут - The clock is working. Часы ходят - The clock works.
    – Vitaly
    Nov 3, 2017 at 23:34
  • @ArthurKazykhanov Good point! Nov 5, 2017 at 9:55

While Matt's answer is almost correct, his examples are a bit off.

In most cases the difference is the same as between Simple and Continuous tenses in English.

Я иду в школу - I'm on my way to school (technically it's "I'm going to school", but this latter sounds a bit weird)

Я хожу в школу - I go to school

Идёт дождь - It is raining

Пол ходит ходуном - The floor is saggy

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    But "It rains" is also Идёт дождь, in Russian the rain cannot ходить.
    – Yellow Sky
    Nov 2, 2017 at 22:14
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    Saggy? No, no, "vibrating", "shaky" are better translations.
    – Alexander
    Nov 2, 2017 at 22:18
  • @Yellow Sky not quite :) “It rains” means «Дождь бывает/имеет обыкновение идти (в этом городе, в это время года, ...)». It sounds so awkward in Russian because we hardly ever use it in this context. Also, sometimes the same verb can be used in both cases in Russian. So we can say «В Питере часто идут дожди», even though in most cases we’d use «ходить». I would say this is an exception, not the rule. Nov 3, 2017 at 5:46
  • Are you kidding? “It rains” means "дождь идёт [обычно/постоянно/всегда/]" like in "когда идёт дождь, мне хочется спать" (when it rains, I feel sleepy). If you are not sure in your Russian it's better not to post here.
    – Yellow Sky
    Nov 3, 2017 at 6:44

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