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Is this correct grammar? Мы пели. ('We sang' with the word 'songs' or 'a song' missing but implied.

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  • "Петь" and many other verbs can be both transitive and intransitive. – Abakan Jan 5 '18 at 11:43
  • @Abakan - There's philosophical question: in Russian if a verb can have a direct object, it's transitive. So, can all the verbs that can have direct objects are transitive? The answer is NO, because in Russian almost every verb can or cannot have direct objects, that's why almost every verb can be used in its transitive or intransitive meangs. – Yellow Sky Jan 5 '18 at 12:22
  • The category of transitivity/intransitivity _ISN'T_ essential for the language across the world, e.g. in Russian almost every verb can have both transitive and intransitive meanings. – Yellow Sky Jan 5 '18 at 12:28
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Yes it's correct. It's the same in English, isn't it?

As far as necessity of the object is concerned, some verbs (or verbs in certain forms) do require it.

Phrases such as

Я мыл - I washed

Я поднимал - I lifted

Я вскапывал - I spaded

are lacking.

On the other hand

Я красил - I painted

Я повскапывал - I spaded (a little/for some time)

sound right even without an object.

I guess necessity of an object is inherent to the semantics of a verb and governed by habitual patterns of its usage.

Perfective verbs seem to require it a lot more often that the imperfective.

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As opposed to the languages that need to use at least formal objects with their transitive verbs, like in Japanese you cannot simply say "I'm eating", you need an object, usually it's the formal object "rice", "I'm eating" is expressed as "I'm eating rice" irrespective of what food you're actually eating, in Russian no formal or necessary objects are needed. If it's clear from the context what you're eating, or it's not important what you're eating, "Я ем" or even simply "Ем" are perfectly correct sentences, answering both the question "Are you eating now?" and also "Do you eat {name of food}?" The same goes for the rest of the transitive verbs, too.

The Germanic languages typically need formal parts of the sentence, like "It can well be true" in which it is the formal subject and well is a formal adverbial modifier, Russian usually does not need any formal parts of the sentence.

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