Woman: Я могла бы остаться здесь навсегда.

Man: Так оставайся.

I wonder why you need to use the perfective "остаться" on one hand and the imperfective "оставаться" on the other, even though they both refer to the same action of the woman staying in the same place.

2 Answers 2



Я могла бы остаться здесь навсегда.

Imperfective verbs can't go together with the adverb навсегда. They do with the adverb всегда, because the 1st denotes a momentary manner of action and the 2nd a continuous/incomplete one. So one can say

Я могла бы остаВАться здесь ()всегда.

I believe it's useful to think of навсегда as from this point onwards and of всегда as always. And since навсегда implies a starting point, the verb it's associated with must be perfective, because these denote an action which has either started or ended, where a putative fixed point in time is evident.

Concerning politeness, which is true, in this dialogue останься could possibly work as well because the interlocutors seem to be close acquaintances, which allows for more informal address. Perfective imperative also sounds somewhat more persistent and demanding and in informal setting the degree of imperative is up to the speaker.

  • Hi. Do you pronounce "бы остаться" like "бостаться" like a liaison in French? Feb 14, 2018 at 15:33
  • @alone-Zee hi, it's ponounced быастацца, if instead of бы its shortened form б is used, then the pronunciation looks like маглап астацца Feb 14, 2018 at 15:49
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    @alone-Zee There is no French-style liaison in Russian.
    – Dmitriy
    Feb 14, 2018 at 16:06
  • @alone-Zee some people may voice unvoiced consonants before words starting with a vowel and it's not unthinkable to have the shortened б pronounced like маглаБастацца, but vowels at final position don't get merged with the following word, if there's бы this Ы must be articulated... б(ы) itself is enclitic which in Russian connect with the preceding word, that's why маглап астацца is more natural, and маглабы астацца accordingly Feb 14, 2018 at 16:19
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    Hi. Regarding "навсегда" and "всегда": Interestingly, the same nuance applies to "auf ewig" and "ewig" in German. :) Feb 22, 2018 at 19:30

Imperfective imperatives (проходите, садитесь) sound more polite than perfective (пройдите, сядьте).

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