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I came across the phrase, "Passing yachtsmen raised the alarm after spotting him..." Could I say the following using the verb плавать with the prefix про to indicate passing in order to bypass using the participle.

Яхтсмены, которые проплавали, поднимали тревогу...

How would I say this properly using the a participle for "Passing yachtsmen?" I basically don't understand how to form a participle with a prefixed verb of motion or even how to form a regular participle. I can just recognize them in text.

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    ...кото́рые проплы̲ва́ли, not пропла́вали. Participle should be Проплыва́вшие яхтсме́ны (past tense) or Проплыва́ющие яхтсме́ны (present), both would be grammatically correct here. And, though I do not know the context of course, but most probably you want to say подня́ли трево́гу / по́дняли трево́гу (perfective) rather than поднима́ли (imperfective). – Dmitry Alexandrov Aug 18 '14 at 4:57
  • "Проплывавшие мимо яхтсмены подняли тревогу" – Vitaly Osipov Aug 19 '14 at 0:41
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...кото́рые проплыва́ли (from unidirectional motion verb плы́ть), not пропла́вали (from multidirectional / cyclical пла́вать), cf. unidirectional езжа́тьпроезжа́ющие. As for prefix, I doubt that it can ever affect the way how a participle is formed. So it may be Проплыва́вшие яхтсме́ны (past participle) or Проплыва́ющие яхтсме́ны (present participle), both would be grammatically correct here.

And, though I do not know the context of course, most probably you want to say подня́ли трево́гу / по́дняли трево́гу (perfective) rather than поднима́ли (imperfective).

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In addition to previous answers, considering nautical/sailor own professional language, probably проходившие яхтсмены could be better sounding than проплывавшие. My father was in Soviet Navy and he still hates saying or hearing something like "корабль плывёт", reasoning like "плавают люди, а корабли ходят", hence he argues "моряки ходят на кораблях", and "моряк плывёт" in his opinion explicitly means "a sailor swims", not "a seaman sails".

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Passing yachtsmen it's definitely проплывающие яхтсмены

adverbial participle of static actions usually don't have a prefix про, compare:

Читащий, решающий, говорящий

but some statically active (dynamic action in static position) can be with про

проигрывающий (сидит на месте, но проигывает) , проворачивающий (сидит на месте, но проворачивает),

adverbial participles of motion usually have, compare:

проходящий, проплывающий, пробегающий, пролетающий, проползающий

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  • Проплыва́вшие is no worse. – Dmitry Alexandrov Aug 18 '14 at 5:06
  • @DmitryAlexandrov you didn't make an answer, what do you mean by saying is no worse, you downvote me just because your comment is no worse than my answer? Well, it's just ridiculous then. I put right answer, what do you have? – Ruslan Gerasimov Aug 18 '14 at 5:10
  • By “Проплыва́вшие is no worse” I meant that it is no worse than Проплыва́ющие here, while your insist (“definitely”) on the latter. As for downvote, the only reason for downvoting may be that the answer is wrong or unrelated. I considered that partially wrong in the first sentence and mostly unrelated to question (Nikita did not asked about usage of про-) in the rest. That‘s all. But if you are susceptible to downvotes :-), I can withdraw it (done). – Dmitry Alexandrov Aug 18 '14 at 5:46
  • @DmitryAlexandrov Forget about votes, I'm here to help others with Russian learining, but Nikita asked How would I say this properly using the a participle for "Passing yachtsmen?" I basically don't understand how to form a participle with a prefixed verb of motion or even how to form a regular participle. So I first translated for him passing yachtsmen and then tried explaining for form a participle with a prefixed. I kept in mind that you previously tried to answer in the comment and that you covered the whole sentence with translation and probably you were going to commit an answer. – Ruslan Gerasimov Aug 18 '14 at 5:54

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