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

  • Try a better dictionary— translate.academic.ru/поделать/ru/en
    – VCH250
    Feb 6, 2018 at 20:02
  • @VCH250 Thanks for the link, though it gave more examples, it definitely wasn't as clear about the nuances given in the answer below.
    – Eric
    Feb 6, 2018 at 20:47

1 Answer 1


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.

  • 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, 2018 at 20:45
  • 1
    Поделать has its own imperfective form поделывать
    – V.V.
    Feb 6, 2018 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, 2018 at 20:59
  • @V.V. true, but only because there is no such word as "сделывать" Более глубокая информация.
    – Alexander
    Feb 6, 2018 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, 2018 at 21:29

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