5

Beginner here.

I'm trying to figure out the difference between поде́лать and сделать.

According to the above wiktionary links, they both mean to make / to do and are both perfective verbs.

Are they synonyms? In their some connotation difference between the two? How would I know which to use?

Which one is correct (if any...): Я сделал ошибку vs Я поделал ошибку. I seem to find way more examples of the former on reverso

Also, they both list the imperfective form as делать, so I am confused as to why делать needs 2 perfective forms.

Many thanks / большое спасибо

2
8

Many Russian verbs have several perfect forms with prefixes "по-" and "с-". "C-" prefix usually means that the act is complete, while "по-" means doing something without having a tangible result. Ex. "сходить" - to go (and come back), "походить" - to walk for a while.

In case of "делать", predominant perfect form is "сделать". "Я сделал ошибку" - "I made a mistake". The word "поделать" has a much more narrow use. Ex. "Он что-то там поделал" - "He did something there", the implied meaning is that the work was either incomplete or incompetent.

There is, however, one very common phrase with the word "поделать" - "Ничего не поделать", meaning "There's nothing can be done". Using the word "сделать" in this case will be inappropriate, unless we talk about an event in the past, when a window of opportunity to fix something existed, but now it's gone - "Ничего уже не сделаешь" - "Nothing can be done now".

P.S. The typical "incomplete, intermittent" meaning of "по-" verbs does not hold true when there are no corresponding "с-" verbs, or the "с-" verb has a distinctly different meaning. In those cases "по-" verbs describe successfully completed acts. Ex. "постирать" - "to wash" (clothes), "починить" - "to fix". There are no respective words like "сстирать" or "счинить". Ex.2 "помыть" - "to wash" (rigid object) - the word "смыть" - "to wash something away" - has a different meaning.

7
  • Ok, it sounds like a pretty subtle point, a perfective verb (so a single, completed action) without a tangible result. Thank you for an explanation that not only answers my question but why there would be multiple perfect forms. – Eric Feb 6 '18 at 20:45
  • 1
    Поделать has its own imperfective form поделывать – V.V. Feb 6 '18 at 20:53
  • Значение слова поделывать: - что, делать понемногу, исподволь; делать иногда, порою, временем. Что поделываешь? как живешь, можешь. По зимам столярную работу поделываем, тем кормимся. – V.V. Feb 6 '18 at 20:59
  • @V.V. true, but only because there is no such word as "сделывать" Более глубокая информация. – Alexander Feb 6 '18 at 21:12
  • 2
    essentially it is по-- do a bit, some of X, a little bit/ and с-- make, do, create. Just like in English we have --think over, think through, think a bit, think up etc, so does Russian have multiple perfective forms. – VCH250 Feb 6 '18 at 21:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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