Можете нарезать хлеб и сыр? (perfective)
Ты хочешь нарезать лук? (imperfective) ... I think

It seems like for the verb нарезать the perfective and imperfect infinitive forms are


Which is essentially the same word but the stress is different. Is there anyway by reading to tell asides from context which aspect the нарезать is in?

My guess is that in the first sentence the important part is to finish slicing the bread & cheese where as in the second sentence the pith of the sentence is to question if they want to slice or not.

5 Answers 5


Either aspect is valid in both sentences.

Можете наре́зать хлеб и сыр?

It means "can you slice the bread and cheese?" (or, rather, "can you have the bread and cheese sliced?")

Можете нареза́ть хлеб и сыр?

It means "Can you be slicing bread and cheese?"

It's not a common way to put it, but I can imagine a situation where this would be a valid question.

Your wife was about to slice some bread and cheese, but something got in her way. Smoke from the roast turkey you had left in the oven for too long filled the kitchen, and your wife could not stand the stench.

You have since opened the window and let the smoke out, and now you're asking your wife if she can go back to her slicing.

You'd say something like this:

Дорогая, я проветрил кухню, и мне нужно делать бутерброды. В кухне почти не пахнет. Ты можешь нареза́ть хлеб и сыр? // Honey, I've let the smoke out, and I have to make the sandwiches. The smell is almost gone. Can you be slicing bread and cheese now?

The difference is that you're not asking about the result but rather the process in the latter question. You're not worrying about the bread and cheese. You're curious whether or not your wife can do the slicing comfortably.

Ты хочешь наре́зать лук?

It means "do you want to slice the onions" (or "do you want to have the onions sliced?").

Ты хочешь нареза́ть лук?

It means "do you want to be slicing onions"?

Again, this would be a valid question if it's about the process and not the result.

Зайка, ты хотела помочь мне приготовить ужин. Что именно ты хочешь делать? Ты хочешь нареза́ть лук? // Sweetheart, you wanted to help me cook the dinner. What exactly do you want to do? Do you want to be slicing onions?

  • Great answer! Here's a few other verbs whose aspect forms only differ by stress: насы́пать / насыпа́ть, оббе́гать / оббега́ть, накли́кать / наклика́ть. Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 11:46

It's indeed impossible to figure out which form is used without additional context. In phrase "я нарезал колбасу" both verbs are possible. Even in phrase "я в этот момент как раз нарезал колбасу" нареза́ть is most possible candidate but not the only one, since it can be something like "я в этот момент как раз нарезал колбасу и только-только сел смотреть телевизор".

As of your guess, well, imperfective form "нареза́ть" is close to the usage of gerund in English, so if you can imagine using "slicing" in the English sentence.


I personally would never say нареза́ть in any of your examples (when it is used in the questions). To me it doesn't sound natural. I'd use наре́зать in both questions and both of these questions sound like a polite request to me, rather than a question.

Actually, I just read the Quassnoi answer to the very end and example given at the end shows good use of нареза́ть form in questions. I just interpreted both of your questions as requests originally and didn't think about other possibilities.

I can say

Можете нареза́ть хлеб.

Note, that it is not a question, but a statement. In the sense of giving directions/permission: You are free to go and slice the bread.

Можете начинать нареза́ть хлеб.

You are free to go and start slicing the bread.

While it is not so clear with the нарезать form of the verb (present tense), there is a clear difference in the meaning that depends on the stress when this verb is used in the past tense. Russian language has just one past tense, unlike English, but you still can express subtleties.

Я наре́зал хлеб.

This position of the stress in this word means that the action has finished. Either just finished (present perfect (?)) or simple past tense. It can be translated as: I have sliced the bread. I have finished slicing the bread. I sliced the bread (yesterday).

Compare it with:

Я нареза́л хлеб, когда произошло что-то.

Past continuous (?). I was slicing the bread when something happened.

Я нареза́л хлеб в течении пяти лет (работая там).

Present perfect continuous (?). I have been slicing bread for five years (while working there).

So, the нареза́л form in some sense implies continuous tense.

Not sure if I labelled English tenses above correctly.

  • "Ты хочешь нареза́ть лук? Это более простая работа чем нареза́ть морковку." "Ты хочешь нареза́ть лук? Эа это в нашей столовой хорошо платят." What do you see unnatural here?
    – Anixx
    Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 20:30
  • @Anixx, yes, these questions, which are not requests sound perfectly fine. Quassnoi also gave good examples in his answer. I interpreted both original questions as requests and in that context it would sound unnatural. Again, here нареза́ть is in the sense of a job, sort of continuous/prolonged action. It kind of fits into the scheme I tried to put into my answer when the stress depends on whether the action was completed or not. Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 6:27


is a non-perfective verb, and


is a perfective verb.

That's all the difference between them, and that's what you should be guided by when using these verbs.

  • I believe the op is aware of that. Their question was how to tell the two aspects apart when reading texts which don't have the stress marked.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 11:41

"наре́зать" is the result of the action of slicing, while "нареза́ть" is the action itself.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.