Verb prefixes are a complex topic in the Russian language, something like phrasal verbs for those learning English. I have encountered a number of words recently with two prefixes and I was wondering what native speakers have to say about their formation. I heard the first example from the director of the кафедра at the university I work at. She was after someone for their paperwork and she said something like:

Я немножко понаеду на него.
Recently, reading through some of Bulat Okudzhava's poems/songs, I encountered the following verse in the poem Ах, Надя, Наденька
Ах, Надя, брось коней кнутом нащелкивать
попридержи-ка их, поговорим.
These two examples struck me for their interesting combination of two prefixes. At least in the Okudzhava verse, it seems like the combination of по and при is even somewhat redundant. I was hoping native speakers could comment on this observation, is it generally acceptable to attach по to prefixed verbs? If I had to attempt such a formation I might try the following:
Понакоплю денег, поеду в Китай.
Lastly, out of pure curiosity, are there any other prefixes which might work like this?


4 Answers 4


The first sentence doesn't sound Russian. The verb понаехать is about people (not a single person) who've come (приехали) to some place (e. g. to dwell there) in big numbers (наехали) while doing that gradually (понаехали - постепенно наехали в большом количестве). That sentence would only make sense with the single-prefixed verb наеду (на него) which informally (наехать на кого-л.) can have the meaning 'to confront someone (with something)'.

In the second example, the verb usage is correct. The при- prefix adds something like 'slightly' and the по- prefix adds something like 'for a while' to the sense of the verb (у)держать. However, it doesn't mean that those prefixes work exactly so or that you can use them to invent new verbs (it's not a good idea).

The third example sounds wrong: the verb should be поднакоплю. The subtle meaning of the под- prefix (literally, 'under') here can be thought of as reaching some amount of money while staying below/under the desired numbers in the process of reaching it.


In principle it can be added on top of any prefixed verb. But in practice it seems some specific prefixes are more likely to be augmented with it.

On the one hand it appears to be a feature of vernacular and language of commoners but on the other it's not to my observation very current in speech of urban residents. I guess it's a phenomenon which gradually obsolesces and nowadays could paradoxically enough be a marker of an educated person who's aware of semantic nuances such addition imparts a verb. Just like the case is with the almost completely obsolete verb model of habitual action сиживать, хаживать, едать, пивать, видывать, говаривать etc. or another soon-to-be obsolete model of intermittent/small scale action поделывать, пописывать, послушивать, посматривать, почитывать etc.

In Okudzhava's verse it's not redundant because it either imparts a connotation of the adverb 'a little' or, along with the particle -ка, softens the imperative придержи.

Your attempt is totally legit. I believe you understand the nuance in the meaning of the new verb.

Despite the answers of other contributors понакопить is attested in literature even though in written sources it generally occurs very seldom.

Ф.Ф. Вигель «Записки» (1830 г.) том 2

Когда он понакопил несколько денег, то взялся за ум, то есть принялся за торговлю.

В.Т. Нарежный «Российский Жилблаз, или Похождения князя Гаврилы Симоновича Чистякова» (1813 г.)

Проживши в Туле более десяти лет, я понакопил кое-чего, и решился провести остаток жизни с тобою и твоею дочерью.

Ник Перумов, Дарья Зарубина «Верное слово» (2016 г.)

За тот фронтовой должок Игорь так и не расчитался, - их развела война, его на Первый Украинский, её на Первый Белорусский - зато понакопил новых во время учёбы.

In quotations 2 and 3 понакопил cannot be replaced with поднакопил since in them the connotation of the verb in question is different.

поднакопить = to save a little, понакопить = to save little by little, in increments over time

  • 1
    Notice that for #3 it's also поднакопил in the different edition of the book. I agree with you that the authors probably mean "по" not "под" in this case, but their editor misunderstood them and changed it to a much more widely used form. Thus in the end the whole story seems to boil down to the usual "they speak like this/they do not". Feb 19, 2019 at 13:44
  • @seven-phases-max right, the под- prefix there is outright incorrect, because you can't say поднакопить долгов as debts are not something people save up on purpose Feb 19, 2019 at 14:24
  • нет такого, как понакопить, только второй вариант Feb 19, 2019 at 18:10
  • это мне напоминает высказывание Раневской про жопу, "Странно, слова нет, а жопа есть" Feb 19, 2019 at 18:27

"...is it generally acceptable to attach по to prefixed verbs?.."

The answer is it depends. попридержи sounds very natural to me (at least in the context of the cited poem). Here are more examples:

попридержи язык (hold your tongue), попридержи лошадей (hold your horses)

You can say придержи язык and придержи лошадей to mean the same thing. По makes it all sound more urgent, imperative, emphatic.

По is not a "universal" prefix. There is no such thing, I think. For example, I wouldn't say Понакоплю денег, поеду в Китай. I'd rather say поднакоплю денег, поеду в Китай.

"Я немножко понаеду на него." To be honest, I don't quite understand what she meant by this. There is the slang phrase наезжать на кого-то, but понаезжать на кого-то sounds awkward to me. But не наезжай на меня (lighten up on me, give me a break) is OK.

"...are there any other prefixes which might work like this?"

Here are a few examples:

  • недоперепил (crazy, I know)

  • что-то я сегодня наперепроверялся сочинений!

If you need help with any of the examples above, please let me know.

  • 2
    @БаянКупи-ка Thanks. But I've never heard anyone saying something like "я на него сегодня еще не наезжала, пойду понаеду." "Наеду" would be OK, at least to me. But if someone thinks it's fine, they are free to say whatever they want. We are talking about a very flexible thing here. If недоперепил is possible, anything is possible.
    – Enguroo
    Feb 19, 2019 at 11:46
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    @seven-phases-max I totally agree with you. You know, немножко понаезжаю seems to be fine... In case the OP is reading this, it's great that you pay attention to such nuances! Please do! Read, listen and ask questions. We are here to help!
    – Enguroo
    Feb 19, 2019 at 12:02
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    @Enguroo немножко понаезжаю seems to be fine - true! (though it's probably because unlike понаеду/наеду - понаезжаю/наезжаю change their time, i.e. "по" semantics is different? Tricky) Btw., thinking of it more - it's also probably fun to notice that out of clear context понаеду may be mixed up as a form of понаехать куда-либо :) Feb 19, 2019 at 12:24
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    not sure what poses so much problem, everything is pretty clear as far as i'm concerned, even without немножко as here it's indeed kind of tautological to the prefix по- Feb 19, 2019 at 12:25
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    @seven-phases-max I've been thinking about the same thing (понаехали!). So, to sum it up, I'd say the idiom наезжать на кого-то can be used like this: незжать, наехать, наеду, понаезжаю, наехал, понаезжал (на кого-то).
    – Enguroo
    Feb 19, 2019 at 12:42

Я немножко понаеду на него - people don't talk like that.

"Ах, Надя, брось коней кнутом нащелкивать попридержи-ка их, поговорим". Like a: - let's just slow down on the honesty part - ... to slow down a bit (not to stop completely) По - "on the honesty part" or "a bit"

"Понакоплю денег, поеду в Китай" - people don't talk like that. Maybe "ПоДнакоплю денег, поеду в Китай" - to save a little.

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