Consider the verb to send, which my dictionary translates as *посылать (imp.), слать (imp.), послать (perf.). My question is about those cases in which there are two imperfective forms, like in this one. Is there a general rule about the difference, if there are two?

  • 2
    This is called "secondary imperfective". See Terrence Wade's "Comprehensive Russian Grammar" (§ 248).
    – NuncTorUs
    Commented Apr 23, 2020 at 10:03

1 Answer 1


This is quite a common case:

  • слать - посла́ть - посыла́ть
  • есть - съесть - съеда́ть
  • жечь - сжечь - сжига́ть, etc

The prefixed imperfective verb normally denotes a periodic action while the unprefixed verb describes a continuous action:

  • Он ка́ждую неде́лю посыла́ет ей пода́рок. - He sends her a gift every week.
  • Он постоя́нно шлёт ей пода́рки. - He sends her gifts all the time.

  • Он всё вре́мя ест. - He eats all the time / He can't stop eating.

  • Он съеда́ет таре́лку ка́ши ка́ждый день. - He eats one plate of porridge every day.

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.