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I would like to know if it is acceptable to use вести/водить as follows, when emphasising who is/was driving :

  1. На прошлой неделе мы ездили в Москву, и я водил туда и обратно.

  2. На прошлой неделе мы ездили в Москву. Я вёл туда и моя подруга вела обратно.

Alternatively, would it be better to use за рулём?

  • you can not and in English-speaking countries that is the reason why native Russian speakers introduced a separate verb - драйвать. It does not substitute "водить", it's used exactly for saying something - "я драйвал и туда, и обратно". – shabunc Jul 15 at 10:21
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    Lol, @shabunc is totally wrong. "водить автомобиль" is for to describe your ability to drive (умение водить) or regular driving. And "вести автомобиль" for a specific situation or some case as an example or a singular case. – boldnik Jul 15 at 18:53
  • @boldnik what is exactly wrong - that nobody uses verb драйвать? – shabunc Jul 15 at 20:44
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    @shabunc I've never heard that. It's a very strange word. – artptr Jul 15 at 21:04
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    @shabunc is a bilingual expat - now we know his secret! :) Yes, it's difficult to separate languages once you fluently speak more than one (and I'm in the same boat). – DK. Jul 16 at 5:49
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Here's how you might say it:

Я вёл [машину] туда, а моя подруга - обратно.

Я был за рулём по пути туда, а моя подруга - обратно.

Things to note:

  • 'Водил' would be incorrect in this case as it's a multidirectional verb. A delivery man might say to his partner: Вчера водил я, а сегодня будешь ты. ('I drove yesterday, and today you will drive.') 'Водил' would be correct here as they drove in different directions.
  • Best to use the conjunction is 'а' (not 'и') since you are comparing two things.
  • No need to say 'вела' - it is more natural to skip it and write a dash instead. This is called ellipsis.
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    Я вёл машину туда, моя подруга - обратно. Is how I'd put it myself. Alternatively, I could say До Москвы вёл я, обратно - моя подруга. – DK. Jul 16 at 5:53
  • Also don't forget about option "рулить" which is more or less a short version of "быть за рулем". "Туда рулил я, а обратно — моя подруга" – Alissa Jul 19 at 1:14
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1.На прошлой неделе мы ездили в Москву, и я водил туда и обратно. The sentence is incorrect. That was not a repeated action, so водил cannot be used. It was one completed trip and the movement is not multidirectional, not туда-сюда, first туда, then обратно. На прошлой неделе мы ездили в Москву, и я вёл машину и туда, и обратно.

2.На прошлой неделе мы ездили в Москву. Я вёл туда и моя подруга вела обратно. This sentence is grammatically correct. I would just insert the object машину and avoid repetition. Я вел машину туда, а моя подруга обратно.

Alternatively, would it be better to use за рулём? You cannot say вести за рулем, Only быть за рулём. По дороге туда за рулем был я, а обратно — моя подруга. Those are just possible alternatives.

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  • As a basic level student, I have seen several websites where it is stated that; indeterminate verbs of motion should be used for completed round trips, including single journeys. You indicate that водить cannot be used as the sentence describes only one trip. Am I missing something please? – Adam Jul 16 at 0:19
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    @Adam, as a basic level student, don't worry. I disagree with VV that the first sentence is "incorrect". It is not as correct as "вёл туда и обратно" would be, but people say that way all over the place, and it's perfectly understandable. – Zeus Jul 16 at 2:25
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    @Adam - "Водить" and "вести" are not verbs of motions when referring to a car. While in English "to drive" is a verb of motion ('He drove to work'), in Russian "водить" means "to operate a car, to be at the car's steering wheel", but not "to go somewhere while operating a car". When describing road trips, the verbs "водить" and "вести" are used only to say who drives, how good the person drives, how long, etc., these verbs are used to describe the actions of the driver, otherwise the real verbs of motion like "ехать / ездить" are used. – Yellow Sky Jul 16 at 5:41

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