Prefixes for verbs like ‘раз- по- с-’

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What do prefixes for verbs like ‘раз- по- с-’ mean in Russian, and how are they used?

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agustin | 2 points - almost 4 years ago

There are much more verb prefixes in Russian, and they usually make a verb in its basic (imperfective) form into a perfective verb. 

As for a particular meaning of those prefixes, here is some info:


  • dividing, disconnection - making many small pieces from a big one, and also as a result of such a ‘multiplication’ - increasing of coverage:  рвать → разорвать / to tear/rip → to tear apart/into pieces

  • increase of intensity: петь → распеться / to sing → to sing away / to warm up to singing

  • annulling the result of the previous action: любить → разлюбить / to love → to fall out of love


  • completion with full or partial coverage of the action object: красить → покрасить / to paint → to have painted

  • an action for some time: говорить – поговорить – to talk for some time

  • beginning of a movement: ехать → поехать / to go → to depart



с- is usually same as the English “off”:

  • result of something: петь → спеть / to sing → to have sung

  • downward movement - off, down: прыгнуть → спрыгнуть / to jump → to jump off/down/from

  • removal, elimination - off: пилить → спилить / to saw → to saw off

  • copying - off: писать → списать / to write → to copy off / cheat off

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agustin | 0 points - almost 4 years ago

Those prefixes fully change the meaning. They are kinda like the German prefixes, and there are general rules (like the ones described above) but it’s difficult to comprehend from the rules only. I guess you start feeling the difference when you have already acquired some decent vocabulary and knowledge of the language. If you still at the first stages, use dictionaries when needed or check with these prefix rules every time you see such a word.

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kasi_kuhn | 0 points - almost 4 years ago

Prefixes in Russian language people use to change the meaning of the verb they precede like the post-positions in English

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