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I have the following doubt: Is there a difference in these phrases below?

Я видел его, когда он выходил из магазина.

Я увидел его, когда он выходил из магазина.

Does the first one mean "I was seeing him when he was leaving the store" and the second one mean "I saw him when he was leaving the store" ?

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    Your intuition hasn't betrayed you ) – shabunc Nov 20 at 0:51
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Both sentences describe a one-time event (me seeing him once). There is hardly any difference between them. The second sentence might imply that the speaker was looking for 'him' before he saw him while the first is likely saying that they simply bumped into each other on the way to the shop.

The Russian imperfective aspect is not equivalent to the English Continuous group of tenses. Imperfective verbs can denote continuous actions (сидел и читал) as well as complete actions: Я читал эту книгу. (I've read this book.)

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    Interestingly, 4 answers were given so far. Yours, in my opinion, is the best. Despite the fact that it doesn't really answer the question. And yet yours was downvoted. :) To the OP: English tense/aspect does not map directly to their Russian counterparts. Lots of nuances depend on the context. – tum_ Nov 20 at 23:13
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You are right.

Я видел его, когда он выходил из магазина.

This видел means a process of watching somebody leaving the shop.

Я увидел его, когда он выходил из магазина.

The perfective version just mentions the fact. I saw him.

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"Was seeing" vs "saw" captures the difference in grammar correctly, but not the nuances in the meaning.

"видел" implies a one-time event. "I saw him" ("Or was seeing him"), end of story.

"увидел" implies some form of a context - either narrative or contemporary linked. "When did you see him?" - "I saw him when he was leaving the store" (exactly when it happened). Or, "I saw him when he was leaving the store, so I caught up with him to say 'Hi!'"

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Lucas, to understand aspect of a Russian verb (PFV (perfective), that all Slavonic languages share) may be difficult for a speaker of a Western European language. I am not sure what is your language background and if there are any similarities in the languages you may know. Understanding this grammatical category may be especially difficult for a speaker of English, because this category originates in Greek language. There is an English idiom that goes: This is Greek to me. So I think it may be better to go for theory right away instead of trying to figure it out one case after another.

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