In a charming old book "Russian Through Pictures" designed by Harvard University we have a picture of a mother and daughter preparing to enter a shop, and the text underneath says

Они войдут в магазин.

In the next picture we see them entering the shop and the text is

Они входят в магазин.

I thought I knew the difference between determinate/one direction ( Идти) and indeterminate/several directions (Ходить), but surely the determinacy of this action shouldn't change according to the tense?
So why the actual change here?
I suppose the preposition "в" explains the apparent paradox, but what is the exact rule?
In the books I consulted they explain at length the semantic differences between Идти and Ходить and conjugate them, but they don't conjugate these verbs with prepositions added.

  • Входить (and выходить) is a different verb than ходить.
    – mustaccio
    Commented May 21, 2022 at 12:42
  • @mustaccio: I know, that's why I talked of prefixes. Yet these verbs have the same root. Commented May 21, 2022 at 13:13
  • Ходить, входить, выходить, отходить, уходить/// Идти, войти, выйти, отойти, уйти /// I do not know what the rule sounds like, but I tried to analyze several verbs. It seems that the rule sounds like this: prefix + unidirectional verb = perfect verb. Prefix + multidirectional verb = imperfect verb. // Входить в магазин — to be in the process of entering the store. Войти в магазин — to be in the store due to the completion of the login process.
    – Elena
    Commented May 21, 2022 at 18:46
  • @Sergey Slepov: Thanks for adding in your edit the (for some reason) missing "н" in "магазин". Commented May 22, 2022 at 15:24

2 Answers 2


Just as @mustaccio mentioned, you should treat входить/войти separately from the ходить/идти even though they are related morphologically. It's just "enter" in imperfective/perfective aspect respectively. Therefore, it's simply "they will enter the store" and "they enter (are entering) the store"


Key phrase - In the next picture! This means that

'Они войдут в магазин' - this is their intention to enter the store / they are ready to do it / they will do it very soon.

In the second picture, 'Они входят в магазин', i.e. they are performing that action at that moment. This is what happened after the moment captured in the first picture.

In elementary school, we were taught to use questions:

Они что сделают? - Войдут (future tense).

Они что делают? - Входят (present tense).

  • Thank you @Dmitry. So this is not evident, even for a native Russian speaking child? Commented May 25, 2022 at 6:39
  • @GeorgesElencwajg I think so. For children 5 or 6 years old. Аthough it depends very much on the knowledge (or rather experience) of the child. The child may know when to use which word, but cannot explain why
    – Kurovsky
    Commented May 25, 2022 at 7:01

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