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I know that the difference between бегать and побегать is that бегать is imperfective while побегать is perfective. However, my dictionary says that бежать is a facultative verb (i.e. it has both an imperfective and perfective meaning).

So I'm confused; if I want to use the perfective form, which should I choose?
I would appreciate it if someone could give some explicit examples.

2 Answers 2

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The difference between бе́гать and побе́гать isn't just aspectual. Побе́гать is in line with other similar verbs such as посиде́ть, постоя́ть, покури́ть all meaning 'to do something (сиде́ть, стоя́ть, кури́ть) for a while'. In other words, these verbs describe a continuous process with a distinct beginning and an end.

  • Я бе́гаю ка́ждый день. - I run every day.
  • Пойду́ побе́гаю. - I'm going for a run.

Бежа́ть is imperfective in all meanings but one, 'to escape': бежа́ть из тюрьмы́ (to escape from prison).

Побежа́ть is perfective:

  • Он побежа́л. - He started running.

Бежа́ть vs бе́гать: бежа́ть is continuous / unidirectional, бе́гать is intermittent / multidirectional:

  • (Бе́гать:) Я бе́гаю ка́ждый день. - I run every day.
  • (Бежа́ть:) Я бегу́ на встре́чу. - I'm running to the meeting.
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"Бежать" is an imperfective, unidirectional verb. "бегать" is in the imperfective aspect and multidirectional. If you add a prefix to a unidirectional verb, it will become perfective. If you use a multidirectional verb with a prefix, it will be imperfective.

  • Побежать - совершенный вид (means the beginning of the movement)

  • Побегать - несовершенный вид (means to run for a while, not too long)

Examples:

Каждый день я бегаю на стадионе, завтра я побегу в лес. я побегаю там 30-40 минут и вернусь домой.

Вчера мы играли в футбол, хорошо побегали.

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