How foreigners learn Russian verbs of motion

There is a whole group of words, denoting movement in the Russian language. Its studying requires a certain effort for foreigners to learn the words.




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 The point is not even that the English word “to go” corresponds with different Russian verbs: “идти” or “ехать”.

The problem is the verb “to go” (идти) is not always correct to use. If I go (иду) today and go (иду) tomorrow as well as the day after tomorrow, it means I do it on the regular basis (хожу).

As Russian people, of course, we don't think about when to say "to go" (идти) and "to go on a regular basis" (ходить) or "to fly" (лететь) or "to fly on a regular basis" (летать). We can say without any problems that the plane is flying from Sochi to Moscow now, and it regularly flies on this route.

A foreigner has to divide the verbs of motion into 2 groups and learn the characteristics of each ones. In order to choose the right one, whether the car is driving (едет) or drives (ездит), you need to understand how it does it (now or regularly), how it moves (directly, forwards or backwards, or maybe circle-wise).

It is not surprising that we need several lessons or minimum 3 days to learn 5 pairs of motion verbs such as “move” (идти) or “move on a regular basis” (ходить), “to go by vehicle” (ехать) or “to go by vehicle on a regular basis” (ездить), “to run (бежать) or “to run on a regular basis” (бегать), “to fly” (лететь) or “to fly on a regular basis” (летать) and “to swim (плыть) or “to swim on a regular basis” (плавать) by listening to songs, using gags and giggles as well as games. Otherwise it would be boring and complicated.

As soon as foreigners begin to easily recognize when Mahmoud is running to the stadium, and when he is running there, the next test for them is to understand the difference between pairs such as “to carry” (нести) – “to carry on a regular basis” (носить), “to tote” (везти) – “to tote on a regular basis” (возить) and “to drive” (вести) – “to drive on a regular basis” (водить).

Not only do the last two pairs sound very similar, but they also annoy the foreigner with shades of meaning.

In the end, foreigners receive instructions with all sorts of "cross the road" (перейдите через дорогу), "walk past the park (пройдите мимо парка) (or through the park (или через парк))" and walk (идут) (if it's cold, then virtually walk, along the map) to the final destination.

If they come right, they know the verbs of movement (or have responsive Russian friends). If they don’t… Well, not everyone is able to understand the verbs of movement the first time. It is okey, we'll come back to them later. And very soon.




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