I find choosing the correct verb aspect the most difficult, especially if there are two verbs in the clause.
Yeah, choosing the correct aspect is one of the most inherently difficult tasks for English native speakers. Moreover, I have sometimes a hard time with the explanation of choosing the correct form: perfective or imperfective. It is obvious to me (as to a native Russian speaker) which aspect to use, but it is so difficult to explain... I am going to create a new topic devoted to the verb aspects. So, you will have an opportunity to post difficult sentences there, and I will try to help with the choosing the correct aspect.
I would like to see this as well. This would be extremely valuable for me.
The most difficult for me is keep the words in mind :( but I will work until I get the basic level :)
Well, practice makes perfect ;)
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I look forward to reading it :)
I don't get the perfective verb, it means that something has completed, so what is the difference between the past tense & the perfective verb?
It's all about the point of the action, not when it happened. What if you wanted to say something like "I was washing my car, when I saw a dog jump over a wall."? The two verbs here are "wash", "see" and "jump", but which aspect do you choose?
Here's the Russian (with the infinitive imperfective & perfective verb choices):
"Я (мыть/помыть) свою машину, когда я (видеть/увидеть) собаку, которая (перепрыгивать/перепрычнуть) через стену."
The first one is probably obvious, since "was washing" is a duration tense and that is always expressed with the imperfective aspect in Russian, therefore the verb мыл.
The second one is a little trickier. The emphasis is on the completion of the verb "to see", because you're talking about something that happened, not was happening, therefore the verb is увидел.
The last verb is imperfective, because the emphasis of the action "jump" is the jump itself, i.e. not the start of the jump, or the end of it - the hangtime, if you will. So the verb here is перепрыгивала.
Don't forget that a perfective verb shows the completion of an action that occured/will occur once, which means the past imperfective shows repetition or the failure to complete an action.
Because of the lack of verb tenses, time adverbials are used to give more depth to the meaning. For example, "every day" implies repetition, so the imperfective is always used, and any time adverbial that specifies an exact point in time will almost always use a perfective verb (it depends on any other time adverbials you use). For example "At 1 o'clock I ate my lunch" = perfective, but "Every day at 1 o'clock I ate my lunch" = imperfective. Can you see why?
I hope this helps!
Thanks very much for your post! I understand it a bit more now.
Thank you for the great explanation!
I would like to add some examples of future perfective as perfective aspect verb doesn't indicate past action. It can be used for past and future actions, but never in present time.
Я прочитаю книгу (perfective aspect future tense) --> this sentence means you are almost sure you will read this book till the end (expected result).
Я буду читать книгу (imperfective aspect future tense) --> this one means you will be reading this book, but it is not important if you will read it till end. You're focusing on the process of action.