Both "боля" and "болея" are listed in wiktionary as present adverbial imperfective participle of "болеть". Is there any reason you would use one of these instead of the other, or are they always interchangeable?


I stumbled upon "боля" and "болея" when querying imperfective adverbial participles in the OpenRussian DB, seen here.

Many of these entries have a position value of 2, and these entries seem to be marked as such due to them being the "second" word with a form of ru_verb_gerund_present for a given root word.

Consider this query, we see that the root word "болеть" has two entries marked as its imperfective adverbial participles. The purpose of this question was basically to understand why one entry is marked as position=2 while the other is position=1. ~99% of entries only have one imperfective adverbial participle, while others (like "болеть") have 2, with the second imperfective adverbial participle entry having a position of 2.

  • To keep things simple, there is no such thing as "боля". "Болея" means "being sick".
    – Slava
    Commented Jun 18 at 17:14
  • 2
    For the sake of completeness, "бля" should be on the list too.
    – Greendrake
    Commented Jun 19 at 0:38
  • @greendrake probably, this is just not one I had stumbled upon. I imagine their infinitive form is the same as well. Commented Jun 19 at 14:39
  • @slava any idea why "боля" has a wiktionary page then? Commented Jun 19 at 14:40
  • 2
    @DavidChopin Don't listen to the guy who wrote "бля". He was joking. "бля" is a curse word that literally means "fuck", has nothing to do with "болея". Welcome to Russian language 😂
    – Slava
    Commented Jun 19 at 22:00

1 Answer 1


The word болеть is the infinitive of two related, yet distinct verbs: болеет "(he) is sick, ill" and болит "(it) hurts, aches". They are different verbs with different meanings, and their finite forms differ. It just happens that their infinitives match.

They are both intransitive verbs, but the agent of the former is a person: я болею ветрянкой "I'm sick with chickenpox", and that of the latter is a body part: у меня болит нога "my leg hurts".

The form болея is the present adverbial participle from the former ("to be sick"); the form боля from the latter ("to hurt").

Since adverbial participles require an agent, and body parts are rarely semantic agents in sentences, the form боля is rarely, if at all, used in real speech. It can be formed and it does take its place in the conjugation table, but it makes little sense. I can probably come up with a contrived example like по-прежнему боля, нога начала ещё и опухать "while still hurting, my leg started to swell", but that's not how people really talk.

  • Thank you! this answer makes sense. I found this example when looking at imperfective gerunds in the Open Russian database. This query suggests that they have the same word_id, namely 1457 - "болеть". While their infinitive forms are the same syntactically, they come from separate verbs. I would think this points to this being bad data in the database? Commented Jun 17 at 1:40
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    @DavidChopin: I'm not sure how this particular database works. There exist many verbs whose infinitives are the same but which are not even related etymologically: жать "to reap" or "to press"; зреть "to ripen" or "to see"; искупать "to bathe" or "to redeem" and so on. I would expect them to have separate homonymic base forms. You can check if they indeed are in this database. If they are not, it might be just how this particular database is arranged.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jun 17 at 3:04
  • BTW, "зреть" as "to see" you may mostly find in old poetry or some epic texts. In essence it is outdated Commented Jun 18 at 12:22

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