Apparently one thing which makes it difficult to deal with verbs of motion is the additional distinction into two groups, beside the given division into verbs of imperfective and perfective aspect.

                     направленного действия  разнонаправленного действия

несовершенный вид    идти                    ходить

совершенный вид      зайти                   заходить

Assuming that the table is correct, I'd say that the prefix (за-) turns the verb into one with perfective aspect. However, how about сходить then? Corresponding to gramota.ru its a imperfect verb so basically the same aspect as ходить.

  • Is this an exception or does that rule not apply at all?
  • Any (other) way to determine the aspect of a verb of motion?

2 Answers 2


If the verbs of motions don't have a prefix, that means that they are both Imperfective.

If they have a prefix, one of them is Imperfective and the other one is Perfective. The verb that witout a prefix means "go and return" forms the Imperfective verb with a prefix, ans the verb that without a prefix means "go" (one direction) forms the Perfective verb with a prefix.

For example,





The prefixed verbs formed from the verb "ходить" are Imperfective and the prefixed verbs formed from the verb "идти" are Perfective.

Be careful when you form the prefixed verbs from "плавать" and "ездить" because they are transformed:

плавать-плыть, but переплывать-переплыть

ездить-ехать, but приезжать-приехать

The case of the verb "сходить" is quite difficult and confusing. There two verbs with two different meanings:

  1. сходить-сойти: go down, the first one is Imperfective and the second one, Perfective

    Сойти с горы: to go down a mountain.

  2. cходить as one of the Perfective verbs formed from "ходить" that means a single quick comleted action to and from somewhere, there and back, often used in everyday speech.

    Сходи в аптеку!
    Go to the pharmacy!

  • I'm stuck at the second stanza. "The prefixed verbs formed from the verb "ходить" are Imperfective". Wouldn't that apply to заходить?! Yet gramota.ru says it is a perfective verb.
    – user3538
    May 9, 2014 at 11:48
  • Заходить is an imperfective verb, зайти is a perfective one. May 9, 2014 at 13:25
  • @embert заходить, like сходить, has two meanings.
    – jwalker
    May 9, 2014 at 18:50
  • @jwalker so заходить and сходить are actually two verbs each one imperfective and one perfective?! Well that makes things obscure. Is there any clear online resource which takes care of both: directionality and aspects? This one (taken from another answer) looks okay, but seems to lack perfective multidirectional verbs and its more explanation and less giving verbs, aspects and meanings.
    – user3538
    May 10, 2014 at 6:04
  • @embert Just don't go into those additional meanings for now. The page you refer to looks pretty good, but I'd make unidirectional #2 ездили, ехали is #1.
    – jwalker
    May 10, 2014 at 11:16

So you are trying to deduct the aspect (perfective/imperfective) from the word form?

As you see there are many exceptions. Even your example сходить depending on the meaning can be both. сходить с горы/поезда - imperfective and сходить в кино - perfective.

So yes, there are rules and your conclusions are correct: prefixes usually turn the verb into perfective aspect. But there are exceptions.

Any (other) way to determine the aspect of a verb of motion?

Contextually and semantically? That's how native speakers do it.

  • Yeah, any prefix in verb (except не-) is a good sign of perfective aspect. But then you can create an imperfect verb from prefixed perfect one using suffix -ыва- for example. May 21, 2014 at 13:55

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