I was reading my copy of The New Penguin Russian Course and I read about the verb идти (to go by foot); I was excited because I finally knew the meaning behind a song that I sometimes listen to (а снег идёт). But the following does not make sense:

а снег идёт -> and the snow goes by foot (lit.)

Why not use the verb падать (to fall) in this case? Are there multiple meanings of the verb идти?

  • 2
    the verb идти (to go by foot) - you should be careful about interpreting such statements (translations) in such a course too literally. I'm sure the course is for beginners, so it's extremely oversimplified (for your own good). Of course, идти is one of the basic verbs in Russian and it has lots and lots of meanings and usage patterns. Just like the verb go in English.
    – tum_
    Mar 27, 2020 at 15:08
  • идти means to go, not necessarily by foot.
    – Anixx
    Mar 28, 2020 at 11:51

1 Answer 1


Well, идти has a lot of different use cases in Russian, such as (in no particular order):

  • functioning (usually about watches) - "часы идут"
  • run through - "дорога идёт через лес"
  • broadcasted by TV, like in "этот сериал идёт по НТВ"
  • used for, applied, like in "эти доски идут на забор"
  • to suit, like in "эта шляпа ей очень идёт"
  • about rain and snow or related atmospheric events - this is the case you've discovered
  • to take intentional actions in particular direction, like in "мы идём на эти непопулярные меры"

and even more.

You actually can say "падает снег" but it's more literal - it's about the actual fact that snow is, well, falling, while "снег идёт" or "дождь идёт" are exact Russian counterparts of English "it's snowing" or "it's raining".

Also, there's a verb "дождить" and I must say that the phrase quoted in the wiktionary "На земле дождила пасмурная хмарь" is extremely, outrageously bookish and honestly nobody talks like this in real life, but don't be put off by this, this verb is no stranger to casual conversation. One can look outside the window and say: "Дождит".

There's no similar verb like "снежить" or something though :) UPD: As @Quassnoi correctly pointed out, "снежить" is something that actually exist (though de-facto used more rare rather than "дождить")

  • снежить is definitely a thing, if not more so than дождить, both in the literal sense and as a metonymy (телевизор снежит)
    – Quassnoi
    Mar 27, 2020 at 15:12
  • 2
    In the fifth bullet, you should have идёт instead of к лицу Mar 28, 2020 at 8:16
  • The perfective participle form of снежить - "заснеженный" - is quite common. Apr 3, 2020 at 14:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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