In conversation, I just said:

Тебе наверняка попадется целая толпа мошенников, называющих себя инвесторами. Не верь.

Now I'm wondering how "Ты наткнешься на ..." would have compared to "Тебе попадется ..." in terms of nuance and usage? Does "попасться" carry a more passive connotation, indicating that such chance meetings will be caused by some outside force?

4 Answers 4


I'd say it's passive vs. active in a sense. Not quite directly grammatical, I guess, but in terms of meaning - who finds whom.

  • Мы играли в прятки, но я попался Васе. -- Vasya got me, I was caught by Vasya.
  • Мы играли в прятки, но Вася не наткнулся на меня. -- Vasya did not stumble upon me.

Applied to your example, in the first case (тебе попадется много мошенников) - you'd "catch" a lot of thieves. In the second case (ты наткнешься на) - you would stumble upon them. As the thieves are probably actively looking for the prey, it conveys (in a sense) a meaning that "you would be found".

  • Imho not the case here. That should be more like "ты попадешься мошенникам" rather that "мошенники попадутся тебе".
    – Alexander
    Feb 7, 2019 at 21:41

Попасться может рыба на крючок, в сеть.

Попааался! - can be said by somebody who catches you, e.g. police.

But, which is curious, it is a verb in the active voice. It implies some kind of activity of the subject one comes across or catches, though it may be not deliberate.

So, another person is catching, but it's the victim's responsibility.

Наткнуться можно на что-то самому.

The first meaning is наткнуться на что-то острое.

Наткнуться на нож, наткнуться на ветку дерева в лесу.

Я листала журнал и наткнулась на статью как раз на эту тему.

I came across the article suddenly, but it's me who did it.

So, yes, you are right, but in the meaning of coming across some information,finding something or somebody occasionally "попасться" is more neutral, and наткнуться is more colloquial. It is more polite to say in a formal conversation "если вам попадётся", than "если вы наткнётесь на".

I can guess, that it is so because of the embarassing and awkward situation in the first meaning of the second verb.


Попасться is to meet by chance, it's rather neutral

По дороге к реке мне попалось несколько человек.

Наткнуться is often negative and more unexpected.

Я наткнулся на лежащего на полу человека.


"Попасться" is the result of catching, even if trying to catch something entirely different. "Я собираю старые монеты, а недавно на распродаже мне попалась подделка." / "I collect old coins, and recently on a sale I found a fake one"

"Наткнуться" is the result of stumbling. Even if someone is searching/catching, the object that is stumbled upon cannot be mistaken for the object being searched. "Я собираю старые монеты, а недавно на распродаже я наткнулся на редкую книгу по нумизматике." / "I collect old coins, and and recently on a sale I found a rare numismatic book"

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