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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.

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  • Входить (and выходить) is a different verb than ходить.
    – mustaccio
    May 21 at 12:42
  • @mustaccio: I know, that's why I talked of prefixes. Yet these verbs have the same root. May 21 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
    May 21 at 18:46
  • @Sergey Slepov: Thanks for adding in your edit the (for some reason) missing "н" in "магазин". May 22 at 15:24

2 Answers 2

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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"

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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).

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  • Thank you @Dmitry. So this is not evident, even for a native Russian speaking child? May 25 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 May 25 at 7:01

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