Why this sentence says:

Я не могу больше вытерпеть.

and didn't say :

Я не могу больше потерпеть.

What's the difference between "потерпеть" and "вытерпеть"?

5 Answers 5


In Russian prefixes in verbs act more or less like adverbs and prepositions in English phrasal verbs. Many of such prefixes have standard functions, for instance, the "по-" prefix, among other things, indicates an action that happens in some short period of time.

Consider following sentences:

  • Я читаю книгу - I'm reading a book.
  • Я почитаю книгу и пойду спать. - I'm going to spend some time reading book before going to sleep.
  • Я играю на гитаре - I play guitar.
  • Утром перед работой я поиграл на гитаре. - This morning before going to work I've played guitar.

The same happens with "потерпеть" which basically means "терпеть" for a while, like we know that this won't last forever. Say, dentist can say "надо потерпеть" - and it will mean that, yeah, I know it's painful, but it will pass.

Now with the "вы-" prefix. It can give to an action described an additional connotation of completeness, like in "выговориться". Also, it can make the action it's applied to more intensive and/or thoroughly performed, like in "вырисовывать".

So, you can think of "вытерпеть" like of an act of tolerating something which is complete and intensive.

Even more, the "вытерпеть" acts in Russian as a perfective form of "терпеть". Consider following pair:

  • Было очень больно, но я терпел.
  • Было очень больно, но я вытерпел.

In first sentence one is describing how they behaved during the moment they were in pain. In the second sentence, one is describing the outcome of that event.

All that said, strictly speaking your question "Why this sentence says..." is incorrect - sentences "Я не могу больше терпеть" and "я не могу ещё потерпеть" are completely grammatical and make sense. It all depends on context.


Потерпеть is a more neutral word, that connotates with being patient, waiting something out.

In contrast, вытерпеть is more loaded and implies suffering connected with the process of tolerating something. So its translation is closer to endure or bear out.

  • thanks alot 🌹 isn't потерпеть perfective verb ? терпеть ( несов ) , потерпеть ( сов )
    – Heba
    May 9, 2021 at 17:40
  • It's tricky because потерпеть has two separate meanings - as a derivative of терпеть, it's usually used as an imperfective verb, an analog of терпеть as @shabunc describes below. There is also another meaning of потерпеть in expressions like потерпеть поражение (suffer a defeat), потерпеть крушение (crash) etc. - in this case, it's a perfective verb.
    – Venomouse
    May 9, 2021 at 18:22
  • 1
    Потерпеть is never imperfective. Any imperfective verb must have present tense. How would it be - "потерпляю"?
    – Mike Has
    May 10, 2021 at 5:02
  • Good point! I removed this part from the answer as it's not accurate.
    – Venomouse
    May 11, 2021 at 0:30

"вытерпеть" is usually associated with suffering.


  • Ты понятия не имеешь, сколько боли я могу вытерпеть. You have no idea how much pain I can take.
  • Ему придется много вытерпеть, прежде чем он расскажет то, что вам нужно. He may take a lot of punishment before he tells them our plan!

"потерпеть" is more like "be patient".


  • Не хочешь потерпеть, пока у нас появятся доказательства? Don't you want to wait until you have some proof?
  • Как думаешь, сможешь потерпеть день или два? Do you think you could possibly hold off for a day or two?

Actually both sound wierd and ungrammatic. You either say

Я не могу больше терпеть.


Я не cмогу вытерпеть больше (чем уже вытерпел).


The second phrase is actually ungrammatical.

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