Recently, I somewhat remade a sentence from Ночной Дозор, to practice my participles:

Де́мон откры́л пасть оска́ливая клыки́.

My friend, however, said that I should have used the past participle here – оскалив, because my way “режет ухо”.

Until this point I assumed that participles work in Russian as they do in Polish – present participle expresses simultaneity, while the past participle expresses a sequence in the past. This would mean that showing fangs preceeded opening the mouth.

So: can Russian past participle express simultaneity?

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    in principle you're correct, but there may be specific contexts where their use isn't so straightforward, in fact in this particular case оскалив would place the act of grinning after the chops opening, and does sound simply more idiomatic, оскаливая here would emphasize the process, if such emphasis isn't required, then past participle is a better choice Commented May 12, 2019 at 7:29

1 Answer 1


Your friend is wrong - you can use past participle, but nothing stops you from using its present counterpart. I'm not sure what are rigorously described rules for this however it definitely sound natural for Russian speaker. This kind of constructions by their very nature are stylistically more bookish (irregardless of whether one will use present or past tense), however you can find a lot of examples in existing literature.

Here are some real examples:

Все там же будем,-- сказал Герасим, оскаливая свои белые, сплошные мужицкие зубы. [Л.Н. Толстой, "Смерть Ивана Ильича"]


Один лишь тралмейстер вскочил на крышку люка и что-то кричал в рубку, показывая на спущенный трал. [Г.В. Кубанский - "Команда осталась на судне"]

The rule of thumb here will be that if, thinking of the phrase you'd rather use gerund in English - stick to present participle. Like: "She smiled widely and showed her teeth" (показав) and "she smiled widely thus showing her teeth" (показывая).

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    irregardless - Most dictionaries list it as non-standard or incorrect usage, and recommend that "regardless" should be used instead, which it is due to duplicate negation Commented May 12, 2019 at 7:36
  • Frankly I don’t really care, it’s the word I’ve heard a lot, it’s the word I’m using, but thank you for letting us know!
    – shabunc
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 7:41
  • 1
    fine, that creates about the same impression as the use of имеет место быть, which one may also hear a lot Commented May 12, 2019 at 7:45

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