Intermediate Low Verbs of motion

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Grammar Notes

1) There are fourteen pairs of imperfective verbs of motion which give particular difficulty to the foreign student. The term multidirectional is applied to the category including ходить, while the term unidirectional is applied to the category which includes идти. As far as translation is concerned, these two verbs differ. ‘Я хожу‘ and ‘Я иду‘are translated respectively by ‘I go‘and ‘I am going’.

2) Verbs of motion do not form a traditional aspect pair. The perfective aspect of the verbs of motion is derived from unidirectional unprefixed imperfective by adding a prefix . In many respects по-forms of verbs of motion function much like perfectives and по- often indicates the beginning of an action, however frequently the beginning of the action is only more or less implied as in the phrase ‘Мы пойдем c конем по полю вдвоем’ We will walk with my steed. По- can also be prefixed to the multidirectional verbs, producing different perfective forms like in ‘Мы походили немного по городу’ We walked around for a while in the town.

3) Russians always distinguish between going on foot: идти, ходить and not on foot: ехать, ездить, which is also found in English (to go versus to ride). Only the motion of the passenger/horseback rider is described with ездить-ехать-поехать. The motion of any type of the vehicles is normally described with ходить-идти-пойти, like in -- Скажите, этот автобус идет в центр?

4) When prefixes indicating direction are added to unprefixed motion verbs, the new pairs that are formed are normal perfective/imperfective pairs, for example выходить-выйти. When prefixes are added, the following stem changes take place: идти→йти, ездить →езжать. Cf.: Выйду ночью в поле с конем I’ll go to the field with my steed. Note: the prefix вы- is stressed in perfective verbs; the basic meaning of this prefix is ‘motion out of an enclosed space, crossing the threshold’. In this example is used for ‘leaving with a specific time of departure’ – in the dark night.

5) The primary function of unidirectional verbs is to denote motion in progress between two points, in this sense they represent a ‘snapshot’ of an action. Cf.: 'Только мы с конем по полю идем' Only we together walking through the field -- in this song the historical present is used instead of future, the English equivalent to unidirectional context requires progressive form with –ing. The prepositional phrases with по + Dative are often used, as in по улице, по коридору, по мосту to mean along the street, down a hall, across the bridge.

A Stallion With my stallion at night, I shall leave for the fields By the night so dark and silent we will go, we shall walk together by the fields, my steed and I, we shall walk together by the fields, my steed and I

In the fields the stars are shinning, no one can be seen around. Only my stallion and I, walking by the fields at night, only my stallion and I, walking by the fields at night

Let me mount my stallion, take me across the fields, away! By the endless fields of mine, by the endless fields of mine

Let me glance at the sky to see where the fields give birth to dawn, oh that cowberry color, scarlet sunrise! Is that place real, or is it not

My little fields, my streams, lights of villages afar, golden rye and curly flax. I'm in love with Russia, I'm in love

The year will be good and the harvest heavy. We've been through much, we'll make it through once more. Sing now, golden rye, sing now curly flax, sing about Russia, about my love!