Imperfectivability of Russian prefixal perfectives: Regularity and peculiarities

2021. №4, 91-130

Elena V. Gorbova a, @
Oksana Iu. Chuikova a
Sofia S. Sharygina b
a Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia, St. Petersburg, Russia; elena‑;
b Saint Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia


The article provides the results of the study of the imperfectivability (the possibility of suffixal imperfectivation) of Russian prefixed verbs listed according to the Dictionary of the Russian Language. Each monosemic lexeme from the sample was aligned with its imperfective correlate (IPFV2) according to three sources: Yevgenieva’s dictionary, Russian National Corpus (, Google and Yandex Search Engine Results pages (Runet). The results revealed that the average level of the imperfectivability of Russian prefixed verbs rounded to integers lies in the range of 77 % (according to the dictionary data) to 92 % (when taking into account unconventional IPFV2s encountered in RNC and the Russian-language Internet) according to maximal samples, while the minimal samples demonstrated a 80 % to 94 % average imperfectivability level. Thus, the suffixal imperfectivation meets the requirement of regularity of an inflectional category even on the level of a normative dictionary. Moreover, when the RNC and Runet data are also considered, the compliance with the regularity requirement becomes obvious. In addition to assessing the average level of imperfectivability, the paper describes suffixal imperfectivation of specialized subcategories of verbs within prefixal groups, such as denominatives, perfectives formed from perfective simplex stems, verbs ending in -i(zi)rovat’, morphologically marked Aktionsarten and verbs with the suffix -(a)nu-. The acquired results confirm descriptive adequacy of the two-component model of Russian aspect. According to this model, aspect is an inflectional category realized exclusively through suffixal imperfectivation and limited to prefixal verbs (the first component), while actionality is the foundation and explanation for imperfective (and, less frequently, perfective) functioning of simplex verbs (the second component).

For citation:

Gorbova E. V., Chuikova O. Iu., Sharygina S. S. Imperfectivability of Russian prefixal perfectives: regularity and peculiarities. Voprosy Jazykoznanija, 2021, 4: 91–130.


The study was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project No. 19-012-00143 “Suffixal imperfectivation of prefixal perfective verbs in modern Russian”.