прекрасный вечер

прекрасная девушка

красивый пейзаж

I wonder if the choice depends on what noun follows?

  • 1
    Roughly speaking, "красивый" = "beautiful" and "прекрасный" = "wonderful".
    – Alexander
    Oct 15, 2018 at 22:18

1 Answer 1


Красивый is more about appearance of things, good look, прекрасный is about the spirit of things, the impression they inspire and feelings they evoke, their inner virtues, their effectiveness...

А woman can be НEкрасивая but прекрасная... Прекрасный вечер is about how it makes you feel, красивый вечер is about how the surroundings look.
This is the rule of thumb but there's a degree of overlap and interchangeability between them as well and probably there're some stable collocations where certain adjective is more idiomatic.

Аt the same time красивый & прекрасный пейзаж both mean more or less the same thing referring to the appearance with difference in degree of external beauty which is greater with прекрасный. Speaking however of a painting, прекрасный will rather refer to the workmanship and artistry of the painter, where beautiful is the work itself and not the depicted scenery. In this sense прекрасный means great.

Both words are cognates of each other having крас as their root. Красный in its archaic meaning and красивый are synonyms (красный угол, Красная площадь, красна девица). And in прекрасный the quality denoted by the root крас is amplified with the prefix пре- which means beyond, over. So literally прекрасный is simply more beautiful, more good looking.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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