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I have to admit I haven't been wildly successful in bouncing between Wiktionary, Yandex, and ChatGPT in my attempt to nail down certain words. Wiktionary lists these two terms with nearly identical definitions, and ChatGPT had some opinions that ran contrary to those of the few natives I asked. They weren't able to explain it well either, so I am now here, asking if someone can explain the exact usage of each of these words in the sense of "to happen" and in what way they differ.

приводитьсядоводиться

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    Первый пример от Пушкина, второй от Тургенева, оба обозначали родственные отношения, сейчас так не говорят, а употребляют "приходиться" вариант от Толстого и Достоевского: Она мне приходится теткой. Commented Mar 13, 2023 at 2:11
  • Are you asking about their historical or modern usage? I can't imagine "приводиться" ever used in the sense "to happen" in modern Russian; it belongs to 1700-1800s.
    – Igor G
    Commented Mar 13, 2023 at 8:53
  • @IgorG I wasn't aware of such a distinction, if you could elaborate I'd be willing to accept it as an answer Commented Mar 14, 2023 at 5:37

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I am now here, asking if someone can explain the exact usage of each of these words in the sense of "to happen" and in what way they differ.

Unfortunately, I can't explain this difference very well for quite a simple reason; I've never encountered "приводилось" in actual, everyday conversation, or in newscasts or movies, or in popular/scientific literature, so I have neither personal experience nor intuition for that word. (Of course, that may only go to show my insufficient literacy, but still...)

Searching for "приводилось" in the Russian Corpus does reveal some examples in books, and looking at those example, I (just like Quassnoi) can't sense any semantic difference. But still, let me repeat that I have no personal experience and may well be missing certain connotations or nuances.

Google NGrams confirms that "приводилось" isn't frequently used, and even sheds some light on the history of its usage:

Strictly speaking, Google NGrams shows those words used in all their senses, not only in the sense of "to happen". But the collocations used in the comparisons above are unlikely to be used in any sense other than "I happened to ...", so I'm inclined to trust those results. And they agree with my personal experience, too.

So since this question is tagged "выбор-слова", I would suggest not using "приводиться" in the sense "to happen" at all. It's mostly used in other senses in impersonal sentences: to make an argument, to quote some text.


And it'd be unfair not to mention the top contender: приходиться.

As for "приходиться" vs. "доводиться", they are interchangeable, for the most part. I wouldn't say that either of them necessarily carries any specific connotation. However, when choosing between these two words, there might be some preference based on the context:

I would likely prefer "доводиться" if I wanted to convey a positive attitude towards the event. Like "I was lucky to ... (meet, visit, listen to)", "I had the privilege of ... (meeting, visiting, listening to)".

  • "Мне доводилось встречаться со знаменитыми писателями" = "I happened to meet famous writers", if such events are considered lucky/desirable.
  • "Мне довелось реставрировать картины в Лувре" = "I happen to restore paintings in the Louvre" — assuming I'm proud of that job and of having been chosen for it.

I would prefer "приходиться" if I wanted to convey a sense of duty (obligation, coercion), some problem, or a somewhat negative attitude.

  • "Мне приходилось встречаться со знаменитыми писателями" = "I happened to meet famous writers", if the overall context implies, for example, a down-the-nose attitude towards those writers.
  • "Мне приходилось проектировать системы охлаждения" = "I happened to design cooling systems before" - a matter-of-fact statement of previous experience, fit for a job interview.
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In the sense of "to happen to, to have the occasion", I can't think of the slightest difference between these words.

In this sense, they are complete synonyms.

Доводиться is used more frequently, but приводиться has its share of usage, too.

  • И вот теперь мне привелось встретиться с этим известным режиссером в работе. [И. К. Архипова. Музыка жизни (1996)]

  • На берегу реки мне привелось наблюдать за вороной-калекой. [Василий Вишневский. Непростая птичья жизнь // «Наука и жизнь», 2007]

  • Я там был, и то, что мне довелось увидеть, иначе, как настоящим разбоем и вандализмом, не назовешь. [Дмитрий Литовкин, Александр Братерский. Безальтернативный Байконур. Казахстан хочет стать космической державой (2002) // «Известия», 19.12.2002]

  • Недавно мне довелось побывать в Яньани, городе, сыгравшем важную роль в истории Китая новейшего времени. [Памятные места Китая. Яньань (2002) // «Проблемы Дальнего Востока», 30.12.2002]

In all the excerpts above, довестить and привестись are completely interchangeable.

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