остаться здесь навсегда

уснуть навеки / навек

вовеки / вовек не забуду

любить тебя вечно

Тhey can all translate as "forever" in English, but they each seem to match better with some ideas than the others do. How can I determine when to use each one? How are they nuanced?

And about the extra letter "и"... I wonder if "навеки/навек" and "вовеки/вовек" are simply interchangeable respectively?

  • 1
    -и is original archaic form. With -и reduced it is somewhat modernized form of yet archaic words. Those words i guess more belongs to poetry (where the rhyme would dictate how many syllables u need) or some half-poetic speaking style, significantly above casual speech. W.r.t. на-веки vs во-веки it is like continuous tense, во- emphasizes looking from INside that timespan, living it all through, while eternal sleep implies you are not actually present through that eternity. Навсегда is much more casual word, like again, forever vs for eternity. – Arioch Oct 14 '18 at 20:42
  • The first phrase i'd translate "i am settling here" without "forever" or any other special time denoting word. As for me the gist of "permanent change" in "to settle" is quite enough to convey the casual side of "навсегда"/"насовсем" with no need for extra words. – Arioch Oct 14 '18 at 20:48

Вовеки is mostly used with negated verb in which case it means never.

When negation accompanies the rest of them, be it applied to the verb or to the adverb, in most cases what essentially is negated is the adverb itself to mean not forever, without creating the meaning of never.

Навеки and (на)вечно are cognates with the root being век

The choice may depend on the aspect of the verb (im/perfective)

Остаться здесь навсегда/навеки/навечно BUT оставаться здесь всегда/вечно

Любить тебя всегда/вечно BUT полюбить тебя навсегда/навеки/навечно

Уснуть is not so straightforward as in its imperfective aspect the choice of adverb depends on the actual meaning

Уснуть/засыпать навсегда/навеки/навечно - to fall/to be falling asleep for good

Всегда/вечно засыпать - to be falling asleep every time/to always fall asleep

  • Expand what u meant by combining with negation. Снег выпал не навсегда, только до апреля. Also перестань плакать, снег не выпал навсегда, в апреле опять побежишь по траве – Arioch Oct 14 '18 at 21:12
  • this is a bit tricky, both Снег выпал не навсегда and Снег не выпал навсегда mean It's been snowed up not forever, so essentially what's negated is the adverb itself, in the meaning of never what's negated is the verb – Баян Купи-ка Oct 14 '18 at 21:19
  • I see what you mean, it is about grouping, about "putting parentheses" as in math formula. Here is would be "не (выпал навсегда)" rather than "навсегда (не выпал)". However i can imagine a use like "Навсегда не рождены / не родились дети убитых девочек". So, while навсегда have complicated relations with negated verbs, i would not so absolutely prohibit such combinations... – Arioch Oct 14 '18 at 21:20
  • But, "never" is not "combined with negated verb", instead "never" is itself the negation applied. Like ЖОДНИЙ in Ukrainian, which is missed in Russian. I feel that using English patterns here would not help to grasp patterns of Russian. We are double negation language and that is how it is :) – Arioch Oct 14 '18 at 21:24
  • point taken and the answer corrected accordingly – Баян Купи-ка Oct 14 '18 at 21:25

Good answers in terms of meaning. I would add that both навеки and вовеки aren't really used in casual speech.

Навеки is quite formal or bookish and I haven't heard вовеки outside of poems, songs, anthems or religious texts.

Both навсегда and вечно are pretty neutral, both used causally and formally. Their difference is навсегда is more like "from now and forever," as in forever but starting now, or from some point.

Они там останутся навсегда

They will stay there forever (after probably arriving from elsewhere)

Вечно, on the other hand doesn't really imply a beginning, in usage it's more like "always". Something is always like that, unchanged.

Ты вечно молчишь

You're always silent

But if used in the future tense, it could be the same as навсегда

Они будут стоять здесь вечно

They will stand here forever, or they will always stand here (this can mean from now on)

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