In the past, when saying 'we played tennis for an hour' would you say мы играли целый час, OR мы по-/сы-грали целый час?

Similiarly in the future, would you translate 'We'll play tennis for an hour' using an imperfective (будем играть) form, or a perfective one (поиграем/сыграем)?

Thanks for any help -

PS - For the eagle-eyed, yes I have been posting a lot lately - I'm just using my summer break to really catch up on my Russian. :)

  • posting a lot is not a problem by the way ;)
    – shabunc
    Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 13:44

2 Answers 2


You can use either aspect, but the perfective requires a special verb.

You can say either мы играли целый час or мы проиграли целый час.

Проиграть here is used not in the meaning of "to lose" but in the meaning of "to spend the time playing".

The latter emphasizes the fact that you're talking more about the time spent and not about the game.

Same for the future tense. The imperfective requires analytical construct with будем играть.

Мы будем играть целый час would mean "we will play for an hour", мы проиграем целый час would mean "we'll spend a whole hour playing".


It would be incorrect to say Мы поиграли/сыграли целый час because the adverbial modifier целый час indicates some continuous period of time which in turn demands the use of an imperfective verb. Поиграли and сыграли are perfective and sound out of place here. The correct one will be - Мы играли целый час.

The imperfect should still be used in the future tense because again you have the same continuous adverbial modifier for an hour. - Мы будем играть в теннис целый час.

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