KEY WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS
Вчера я смотрела хороший русский фильм Yesterday I watched a good Russian movie
Последний раз я видела этот фильм 10 лет назад The last time I’ve seen this film ten years ago
Каждый раз, когда я смотрю этот фильм, я плачу I cry like a little schoolgirl every time I watch this film
Watch the episode and pay attention to the use of imperfective and perfective verbs. In addition to tenses, Russian verbs have two aspects: imperfective and perfective. The major function of the aspect is to show the speaker’s attitude toward action in time. Russian uses the imperfective aspect to describe actions in process and the perfective aspect to express actions that have been accomplished. Be patient and listen to the segments a few times. Actions repeated habitually as in ‘Я смотрела этот фильм три раза’ or an action in process as in ‘Каждый раз, когда я смотрю этот фильм, я плачу как маленькая девочка’ are imperfectives. Russians use perfective for completed single events as in ‘Вчера я посмотрела хороший русский фильм’. Certain adverbs or adverbial expressions encourage the use of one aspect or the other. ‘Каждый раз’, ‘три раза’ are those to dictate use of the imperfective.
Look at the following examples which contrast imperfective and perfective aspect. You use imperfective when ask a question of completed action which do not emphasize a result as in ‘Что ты делала вчера?’ (e.g. ‘what activity took place’) (What did you do yesterday?). Answering this question you can use imperfective: ‘Вчера я смотрела хороший русский фильм‘ (Yesterday I watched a good Russian film) -- the fact of the action is stated, but there is no indication of the result; or perfective ‘Вчера я посмотрела хороший русский фильм’(Yesterday I watched a good Russian film) if you want to focus on and emphasize the completion of the action. As you see, the simple past tense (I watched) may be translated into Russian using an imperfective aspect verb or a perfective aspect verb. From the perspective of Russian, the imperfective and perfective aspects are not interchangeable, as their meanings are very different. It is context and your attitude which determine the choice of aspect. Aspectual usage gives particular difficulty to English-speakers, because aspectual distinctions cut across the distinctions of tense in English. After you have learned a good deal of verbs, you will develop a better sense of the language (similar to that of a native speaker), which will help you make appropriate grammatical choices.