For sure the aspect is one of the hardest things to learn about the Russian language, especially for those (as me) whose first language does not have that concept.

However, every week or every other week someone asks a question about differences between two words where one is perfective and the other is imperfective. This is the latest question and here and here are two examples from two weeks ago. Both have some points in common: The OP seems not to be aware of the concept aspect and the question's tag are edited, i.e. the aspect tag was added. Next, the answers are quite similar, pointing out the same fact and then adding related examples.

At that point I should say that even I asked a similar question, but I also have to justify myself that I created the question being aware of the principal difference between perfective and imperfective and just needed some advice to a concrete context.

Said that, I'm not sure if we really want to have - at some time in future - hundreds of related/similar questions, with only one difference: The verb in question.

One idea that come to my mind is creating a basic question which is similar to the ones that asks for concrete verbs but more general so that we can close questions as duplicate in future and link them to the general question.

What do you think?

Edit: Regarding Alenanno's answer:

The most important point I see, and what I also mentioned above, is that the answer is always the same. It doesn't matter which word you type-in into the question, it's always: One is perfective, one is imperfective, i.e. one is finished, the other isn't (of course not as short as I did now). So, in my book this is kind of low-level question, since the (general) answer can be found a hundred times on the Internet, and now several times on RLU.

If someone has the question regarding the words X and X' and give him an answer with the words Y and Y' he is still able to understand the difference between X and X'. And if anything is unclear in a concrete context, you can still ask here and then - imho - the question is absolutely justified.

  • Answer will not always be the same, see my answer.
    – Olga
    Aug 2, 2012 at 12:07

2 Answers 2


One of the problems with aspect is that its meaning changes depending on the exact context and the type of the verb's meaning. For example, the difference between "открывать" and "открыть" is not the same as the difference between "приходить" and "прийти". "Кто-нибудь открывал окно вчера?" and "Он открывал окно каждое утро." are different meanings. A basic answer would result in a book.

Another problem is that the majority of people who ask this question don't know yet about aspect in Russian. They even don't tag their questions as "aspect", they tag is as "word-choice", which shows that they actually think that the two verbs they are asking about are different words.

That's why I suggest:

  • allow answers like "What is the difference between X.perfective and X.imperfective".
  • If the answers to questions "What is the difference between verbs X and X'" and "What is the difference between verbs Y and Y'" differ only in the meaning of the verb, but the range of possible aspectual meanings is the same, close the latest question as the duplicate giving the link to the first question or, if there are already good answers, merge the questions.
  • As a non-native I'm not aware of the subtle distinctions, but at least the answers to the existing questions do not point out any specifics. I feel ambivalent about that. - And yeah, I know that they aren't aware of aspect, otherwise they had tagged them. But this can't be a reason. E.g. on GLU we don't allow separate question for every single article (oh, luckily we have just a few) - Maybe that's not the best comparison. But I guess you know what I meant to say.
    – Em1
    Aug 2, 2012 at 12:14
  • Yes, I know. I've been thinking myself about the creation of one general answer, but then I've realized that it is something above my ability. I've decided to wait and see if this basic answer will be easier to create when there are already several questions about verbs of different categories (e.g. processes, actions, states, achievements, etc).
    – Olga
    Aug 2, 2012 at 12:18
  • Well, I guess there are a handful of these categories? So, it might be possible to create questions to the several categories, containing two or three typical verb pairs, and creating answers which point out the specific distinctions. Personally I think that's a lot more helpful. Till now I wasn't aware of that these subtle distinctions do exist. And maybe on top one question which do not point out the specifics of all categories but give an overview about which categories exists and why they are different.
    – Em1
    Aug 2, 2012 at 12:27
  • I don't see why we should create this single question? Or even a handful? It's just going to reduce the chances of new (perfectly valid) questions. If those questions you listed have a problem, I don't see why the others should have. It's better to educate users than do this kind of stuff that is just going to hurt the site. I fail to see any compelling arguments for this, I'm going to tag it status-declined for now.
    – Alenanno
    Aug 2, 2012 at 12:29
  • @Em1 let's go to chat and then I'll post the result of our discussion here, what do you say?
    – Olga
    Aug 2, 2012 at 12:40

Good catch, but I don't think there is an issue here. I'll try to explain it...

If the question is asking about the Perfective/Imperfective aspect difference, in general then yes, that's too much.

But if someone wants to know the difference about a certain verb, they can ask. After all they're still asking for certain words, not for a single concept. I'm not sure I was clear but in case, let me know!

Edit: I don't think the answer is always like "One is perfective, one is imperfective, i.e. one is finished, the other isn't", because the answer will also say what meanings that verb acquires in the two aspects and that's peculiar of the verb being asked. That's the difference that make them not duplicates.

  • Well, I do understand what you mean, but I disagree with you.
    – Em1
    Aug 2, 2012 at 10:29
  • @Em1 And why do you disagree? I don't feel that you're right about this. If a user asks for a X/Y aspect difference and another user asks for a A/B aspect difference, they're asking both for aspect difference, but not for the same verb. That's not a duplicate.
    – Alenanno
    Aug 2, 2012 at 10:31
  • See also my edit.
    – Alenanno
    Aug 2, 2012 at 10:33
  • 1
    Well, for all practical questions we do have right now, my statement is true. The answers do not point out any specifics that only belong to that concrete pair. - Furthermore, but that's just a personal opinion and may not be a constructive argument, they looked up a word in a dictionary and wonder about two (similar) results and without any research they just ask. For beginner that's somehow fine (I am myself at a very beginner level), but I don't see any profit for this page if we have a lot of almost identical question. However, let's wait for some more opinions.
    – Em1
    Aug 2, 2012 at 12:00

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