Why does the following sentence use
НСВ готовил instead of
Повар 3 часа готовил обед.
If I use
готовил doesn't that mean I regularly cooked for 3 hours?
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Strictly, "СВ" means truly finished action, "НСВ" doesn't. Let's replace "Повар" with "Рыбак" (fisherman) and "готовить" with "тащить рыбу" (land the fish? - action between fish is in water and fish is in corf). So, we can say either "Рыбак тащил рыбу 3 часа, но не вытащил" (He tried for 3 hours, but unsuccessfull), or "Рыбак тащил рыбу 3 часа и вытащил" (He tried for 3 hours, and successfull) (It is "НСВ"). Or, we can say ("Рыбак вытащил рыбу за 3 часа") (he is truly did it, "СВ"). In general, in many cases there is no difference between of "СВ" and "НСВ", if we're talking about of action with known result. "Повар 3 часа готовил обед" and "Повар приготовил обед за 3 часа" can be equal, if cooker was successfull. Sorry for my English.