There is a big conflict between what I was taught here in Japan and what is written in most Russian grammar sources, and I am very curious what the native speakers have to say about it. I am especially eager to hear responses to one very specific question, which I will ask at the end of this post.
Whilst most Russian grammar sources say that there are only three tenses in Russian (past, present, future), I was taught that there are more tenses, the exact number depending on how to count. The conception I was taught appears to be partially based on or partially concurrent with the book Российская Грамматика by М. Lomonosov, who wrote:
Времен имеют российские глаголы десять: осмь от простых да два от сложенных; от простых: 1) настоящее — трясу, глотаю, бросаю, плещу; 2) прошедшее неопределенное — трясъ, глоталъ, бросалъ, плескалъ; 3) прошедшее однократное — тряхнулъ, глотнулъ, бросилъ, плеснулъ; 4) давнопрошедшее первое — тряхивалъ, глатывалъ, брасывалъ, плескивалъ; 5) давнопрошедшее второе — бывало трясъ, бывало глоталъ, бросалъ, плескалъ; 6) давнопрошедшее третие — бывало трясывалъ, глатывалъ, брасывалъ, плескивалъ; 7) будущее неопределенное — буду трясти; стану глотать, бросать, плескать; 8) будущее однократное — тряхну, глотну, брошу, плесну. От сложенных: 9) прошедшее совершенное, напр.: написалъ от пишу; 10) будущее совершенное — напишу.
I would like to show you an example of how I was taught to use these forms. Let's suppose I need to translate the following sentence to Russian:
I was sitting at a goban whereon great masters had played.
If I use the Russian standard past tense for both verbs, I get this:
Я сидела за доской, на которой играли великие мастера.
This Russian translation is ambiguous because it can be interpreted in two different ways:
I was watching great masters playing.
I was sitting at a historic goban whereon a number of great masters had played before.
This ambiguity can be removed by using the distant past tense, called давнопрошедшее by Lomonosov and absent in most Russian grammar sources:
Я сидела за доской, за которой игрывали великие мастера.
I was taught that this variant absolutely excludes the first interpretation because игрывали is a kind of Russian Past Perfect. It is also possible to strengthen the idea by adding бывало before игрывали (давнопрошедшее третье in Lomonosov's classification).
So it works as follows:
Infinitive: Eсть. Играть.
Past: Он ел. Он играл.
Distant Past: Он едал. Он игрывал.
Most Russian grammar sources, however, consider the forms едал and игрывал as the standard past tense of the verbs едать and игрывать, and consider the latter verbs as normal verbs defined as to eat sometimes and to play sometimes. For example, here is how Wiktionary defines the word едать:
едать: разг. многокр. к есть
In this conception, едать and игрывать do not have the connotation of distant past, that is, the connotation that the action was performed before the events that are told about.
And this difference between the conceptions prompts an ultimate test to determine which conception is true: Can you use "едать" and "игрывать" in the present and future tenses?
Can you, for example, say this:
Я едаю в этом кафе.
На каком сайте он игрывает в рэндзю?
Столовая больше не будет работать, поэтому буду едать дома.
Когда стану сильным игроком, буду игрывать в международных турнирах.
My logic is this: If you can say like that, then едать and игрывать are absolutely normal verbs and do not have the connotation of distant past (and hence I was taught wrong things), and if you cannot, then they have such a connotation (and hence I was taught right and many Russian grammar sources teach wrong things).
I tried to find the answer by searching similar phrases in Google, and my little investigation suggests that you cannot say phrases like the examples above. I found really very few such results, whilst I found many results with phrases like я едал.
And this suggests that the true conception is the one proposed by Lomonosov and taught to me in Japan, not the one given in most Russian grammar sources.
I am not surprised to have reached this conclusion, because Lomonosov was a great man. Or wasn't he? The Lomonosov Moscow State University bears his name for a reason. It is hard to believe that he was mistaken. I find it much easier to believe that most Russian grammar sources are oversimplified.
So my question is: Can you use едать and игрывать in the present and future tenses, and, if not, do you agree with my conclusion about which conception is true? I am very curious what you, native speakers, have to say.