Going through some review on verbs of motion in Поехали II, page 40, was the following exercise.

Я не умею водить машину и не могу ______ из гаража.

So noting that it seemed a one-time, completed action (that could not be done), I thought determinate/concrete imperfective. Assuming (из) the car was in the garage, the completed unidirectional action would have been to remove it, so the prefix was вы. Therefore I chose the perfectivized indeterminate perfective: выехать

I was discussing this with a Russian who gave the following example,

Нельзя въезжать на территорию завода.

But it wasn't clear why, in this quite similar situation of not being able to enter (not exit) a space (garage [small tangible], factory area [large abstract] - I mean here the distinction between, say, в комнате vs. на арене), the prefixed verb chosen was from the imperfective ездить. (I understand aspect pretty well I think haha, but verified my beliefs using Aspect vs. direction of verbs of motion )

Is this one of those 'it just is' things?

  • 3
    In the first situation one can’t drive out if a garage this very time (when someone asks to do so). In the second it’s forbidden to enter the territory always, now and in the future. It’s possible to use "выезжать" in the first situation though, with a slightly different meaning.
    – Abakan
    Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 17:54
  • Hhmmmm I know these very short textbook questions are open to context & interpretation, but I viewed them both as not being able to 'always, now and in the future'... So you interpret the 1st as someone asking another who cannot drive, at this moment?
    – nate
    Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 17:58
  • 3
    Yes, you can think of it as an/the occasion. Выехать meaning I can't leave on the day/occasion, выезжать meaning on any day/occasion - the meaning is far more broad. У меня не получилось выехать means I couldn't manage to drive out (this/that time). У меня не получалось выезжать means I've tried (repeatedly, perhaps regularly), but couldn't manage to drive out multiple times or even every single time.
    – AR.
    Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 19:55
  • Okay, well those distinctions seem to me to correspond with my ideas of imperfective & perfective, the latter always seeming to be more narrowed use...
    – nate
    Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 20:21
  • 2
    и не могу выехать из гаража. is perfectly fine, it means "now", и не могу выезжать из гаража. is also fine, means "always" and that you're yet to learn how to do it Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 9:08

2 Answers 2

  • Я не могу выехать из гаража - "I can't drive out of the garage" (Right now, for any reason).
  • Я не могу выезжать из гаража - same "I can't drive out of the garage" (But generally, either because driving ability is a little limited, or this is not allowed).

  • Нельзя въехать на территорию завода - "Can't drive into the plant territory" (Right now, likely because the road is blocked for some reason).

  • Нельзя въезжать на территорию завода - "Driving into the plant territory is not allowed".

To complement the aforesaid I would proffer some more readings of your initial pattern.

  1. "Я не умею водить машину и не могу выехать из гаража" can be interpreted both in the perfect and imperfect aspect, i.e.:

1.1. "Я не умею водить машину и (up to now/so far-до сих пор/по сей день) не могу выехать из гаража" - recurrent actions in the past.

1.2. "Я не умею водить машину и (always-всегда) не могу выехать из гаража", i.e. "I've always been unable to do it by myself (without someone to help me").

1.3. "Я не умею водить машину и (right now-прямо сейчас) не могу выехать из гаража" ("Is there anyone to stretch out a helping hand to me?" or "That is why, you see, I may have to go on a bus").

  1. "Я не умею водить машину и не могу выезжать из гаража", i.e. "in general". Here we can have either lack of the ability/possibility or prohibition.

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.