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Apparently, there is a number of verbs that may require either an accusative or genitive object, depending on their nature.

  1. If it's a specific, concrete object, the accusative would apply: I wait for the bus = Я жду автобус (accusative masculine inanimate, as I'm waiting for a specific bus);
  2. I wait for peace = Я жду мира (genitive masculine, as it is more conceptual, less defined). Other verbs with the same behaviour include:
  • бояться (to fear, to be afraid of – for this verb, we would only use the accusative when we are afraid of a given person);
  • добиваться (to reach);
  • достигать (to achieve);
  • ждать (to wait);
  • желать (rather in the sense of “to desire”, than “to wish”);
  • искать (to look for);
  • ожидать (to expect);
  • просить (to ask, to request);
  • требовать (to demand);
  • хотеть (to want).

My question is twofold:

a) Am I forgetting some other verbs with the same behaviour or is the above list exhaustive?

b) Would this rule also apply to the imperfective/perfective pair of each of the above verbs?

What about, for example, the following pairs:

  • спрашивать/спросить (to ask, to inquire);
  • требоваться/потребоваться (to be required);
  • хотеться/захотеться (to feel like).

Would they also follow the same pattern?

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  • Thank you @CocoPop for the corrections.
    – Xavier
    Apr 12, 2022 at 16:04
  • You're very welcome, Xavier. Very little to correct))
    – CocoPop
    Apr 14, 2022 at 23:01

1 Answer 1

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I would maybe add "понимать" = to understand.

Я не понимаю вопрос. (I don't understand the question) — accusative

You could also say:

Я не понимаю вопроса. It would mean the same thing as "Я не понимаю, в чём состоит вопрос" (I don't understand what the question is. To me, it's all very obvious) — genitive

Same as in:

Я не понимаю проблемы. (I don't see a problem here) — genitive

The same goes for "видеть" = to see

When you use the accusative, it literally means "to see" (when something is visible, and you're able to see with your eyes)

Я вижу кота. / Я не вижу кота. (I see a cat / I don't see a cat) — accusative

When you use the genitive (usually with negation), it takes on a more figurative meaning, like you don't see something (a problem, an issue) because in your opinion, it doesn't exist.

Я не вижу проблемы. (I don't see a problem = there's no problem) — genitive

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