As far as I understood, when a russian verb becomes perfective by prefixation, the resulting verb can either have a new nuance of meaning or just express the completion of an action.

As such, сделать is the "neutral" perfective counterpart of делать, because, here, the prefix с- just implies that something was done to the end or instantaneously - that's the general criterion of a perfective verb.

Whereas подделать is another perfective verb derived by prefixation, but with a new meaning: "to falsify". When the prefix adds a new meaning, an imperfective counterpart may be created by internal modification of the verb - thus подделывать.

And now for the verb тянуть... I know there are many perfective verbs derived from this one, like растянуть, вытянуть and затянуть. But all of them with additional nuances of meaning and imperfective equivalents which replace -тянуть by -тягивать.

So, is there a "neutral" perfective to тянуть? Is потянуть what I am looking for?

2 Answers 2


So, is there a "neutral" perfective to тянуть? Is потянуть what I am looking for?

No, there isn't. ''Потянуть'' has an imperfective form either - ''потягивать''.

I think the reason for the absence of the neutral perfective in this case is that it would be unclear exactly what is completed. There are just too many equally possible options - to successfully pull something out (вытянуть), to successfully make something strained (натянуть), etc. You have to specify the exact meaning by choosing the appropriate prefix.

The root of the problem is that one and the same process - тянуть - can lead to different outcomes - вытянуть, натянуть, подтянуть, стянуть, утянуть and so on. Any prefix here is perceived to clarify the outcome rather than to only emphasise that the action has been completed. The completeness of the action is conveyed simply by choosing -нуть instead of -гивать, provided a prefix is used.


Тянуть is durative, you need a prefix according to the context.

Стянуть, утянуть, оттянуть, притянуть, вытянуть, затянуть, перетянуть, не дотянуть, etc.

It seems to have no neutral perfective, as it describes a process in its neutral imperfective form.

Like идти - пойти, сойти, прийти, уйти, подойти, отойти, зайти, выйти, перейти, не дойти.

  • Understood... so "тянуть" itself means many things, and as such the derived perfectives are meant to clarify the ambiguity inherent to тянуть. But, as for идти... I was sure that пойти is the most neutral perfective counterpart... it isn't?
    – swrutra
    Jan 19, 2019 at 18:33
  • Not quite. Пойти means to start going. Потянуть may be a once done action as well, but it also means to start pulling. Сходить can be the accomplished action for having gone somewhere and returned.
    – Elena
    Jan 19, 2019 at 19:26
  • Пойти, specifically, may also mean "to be used for something" (письма пошли на розжиг костра"), or even "to become useless" (мои усилия пошли прахом).
    – Eugene
    Jan 25, 2019 at 20:31

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