What's the semantic difference between verbs in column A and their counterparts in column B? Is there any term (in Russian) describing the verbs in A and the verbs in B?

А                B
пл'ыть       пл'авать
идт'и        xод'ить
беж'ать      б'егать
лет'еть      лет'ать
'еxать       'ездить
попл'ыл      запл'авал
пош'ёл       заxод'ил
побеж'ал     заб'егал
полет'ел     залет'ал
по'еxал      за'ездил
пропл'ыть    попл'авать
пройт'ись    поxод'ить
пробеж'аться поб'егать
пролет'еть   полет'ать
про'еxаться  по'ездить
нест'ись     нос'иться
пронест'ись  понос'иться
ползт'и      п'олзать
прополз'ти   поп'олзать
поползт'и    зап'олзать     

2 Answers 2


The verbs in column A are called моторно-некратные (progressive motion verbs), those in column B are called моторно-кратные (iterative motion verbs).

Normally, iterative verbs are constructed in Russian using the suffixes -ива- or -ыва-: читать/читывать, лежать/лёживать etc.

The verbs you mentioned retain traces of Indo-European ablaut, similar to those in irregular English verbs (sing / sang / sung etc.).

Идти / ходить is formed from two distinct PIE roots, the first is akin to English ion (from Greek), the second is akin to English sit (according to Vasmer).

In other Slavic languages and in Russian dialects, the second root can form a progressive/iterative pair too: ходить / хожать ("ходи сюда / хожай тихо")

  • Thanks for your answer! "... the second root can form a progressive/iterative pair in a regular way: ходить / хаживать ("ходи сюда / хожай тихо")" - I don't understand: How is ходить not iterative?
    – brilliant
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 15:16
  • @brilliant: ходить is a dialectal form of идти (in some dialects).
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 15:16
  • Which dialect do you mean? Would it still not serve as an iterative verb in that dialect anyway?
    – brilliant
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 15:17
  • @brilliant: lots of dialects, that of Kursk for instance. slovari.yandex.ru/~%D0%BA%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%B3%D0%B8/…
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 15:19
  • @brilliant: in some, probably. I don't know dialects well.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 15:23

The verbs in column A describe different types of motion that is performed only in one direction, while the verbs in column B describe same motions with constant, perhaps, sporadic change of direction. The B verbs may even have a meaning of back-and-forth type of motion. For example, Russian “идти” means simply “to go”, while “xодить” can mean “to walk around”, “to stroll about”, “to walk back and forth” or even “to make rounds or trips by walking”.

The best term that I can come up with for the first group verbs is “глаголы направленного действия” (“directed motion verbs”), and “глаголы разнонаправленного действия” for the second group (“multidirectional motion verbs”).

  • 2
    Rosenthal calls it моторно-кратные глаголы (плавать) and motorno-некратные глаголы (плыть)
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 14:32
  • Why wouldn't you make it as an answer?
    – brilliant
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 14:58

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