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Russian Verbs of Motion: “To Go”

Russian verbs of motion are used to describe movement, or going from one place to another. These verbs are among the most frequently used in Russian. You’ll definitely need them when you go somewhere, when you want to take a bus, or if you want to rent a car. In this post we discuss verbs of motion related to “to go.” For a full explanation of this important topic, book a Russian lesson with one of our tutors.

Verbs of Motion in Russian: The Basics

Verbs of motion describe movement, and they are always presented in pairs. They describe not only direction but also means and frequency of travel.

Идти (Idti) / Ходить (Khodit’)

To walk

Both verbs can be translated into English as “to walk.” The difference between the two is that “идти” (idti) is related to moving in one direction, so the movement it defines is done in one direction.

  • Идти в школу (idti v shkolu) – to go to school

In this case, you say only that you are going to school. You don’t indicate that you come back or how you come back. The verb also means that you go on foot and that it is one-time action.

Ходить” (khodit’) is a multidirectional verb.

  • Ходить по комнате (khodit’ po komnate) – to walk through the room

Here you see that you can change direction: you can walk back and forth, cross the room, and so on. “Ходить” (khodit’) is further used to describe a habitual action.

Ездить (Ezdit’) / Ехать (Ekhat’)

To go by transportation

The verb “ездить” (ezdit’) means that you use some kind of transportation to go somewhere and you do it regularly.

  • Обычно я езжу на работу на автобусе. (Obychno ya ezzhu na rabotu na avtobuse.) – I usually go to work by bus.

Ехать” (ekhat’) describes an action that is done only once.

  • Сегодня я еду на работу на машине. (Segodnya ya edu na rabotu na mashine.) – Today I am going to work by car.

Other Russian Verbs of Motion

There are 17 pairs of verbs of motion. We’ll look at those that describe movement from one point to another. The first verb listed for each pair is a multidirectional verb or denotes a regular, habitual action. The second verb in each pair denotes a one-time action or an action that happens just once.

Бегать (Begat’) / Бежать (Bezhat’)

To run

Бегать” denotes an action that is done regularly, while “бежать” is used to describe a one-time action.

  • Обычно я бегаю по утрам. (Obychno ya begaiu po utram.) – I usually go for a run in the mornings.

  • Я бегу по лесу. (Ya begu po lesu.) – I’m running through a forest.

Лететь (Letet’) / Летать (Letat’)

To fly

The same principle applies to “лететь” (letet’) and “летать” (letat’). The verb “летать” (letat’) denotes an action that is done several times.

  • Осенью птицы улетают на юг. (Osen’iu ptitsy uletaiut na iug.) – Birds fly south in autumn.

  • The verb “лететь” (letet’) denotes an action that happens just once.

  • Я прилетел в Москву. (Ya priletel v Moskvu.) – I’ve come to Moscow.

Лазить (Lazit’) / Лезть (Lez’t’)

To climb

  • Животные лазают по деревьям. (Zhivotnye lazaiut po derev’yam.) – Animals climb trees.

  • Он лезет на дерево. (On lezet na derevo.) – He climbs the tree.

Плавать (Plavat’) / Плыть (Plyt’)

To swim

  • Я умею плавать. (Ya umeiu plavat’.) – I can swim.

  • Я плыву. (Ya plyvu.) – I’m swimming.

Ползать (Polzat’) / Ползти (Polzti)

To crawl

  • Ребенок научился ползать. (Rebyonok nauchilsya polzat’) – The baby has learned to crawl.

  • Паук ползёт по стене. (Pauk polzyot po stene.) – The spider is crawling on the wall.

Бродить (Brodit’) / Брести (Bresti)

To wander

  • Мы бродим по лесу в поисках еды. (My brodim po lesu v poiskakh edy.) – We wander around the forest trying to find something to eat.

  • Я бреду по бездорожью. (Ya bredu po bezdorozh’iu.) – I’m wandering off-road.

Practicing Russian Verbs of Motion

To master verbs of motion related to “to go,” commit the verb pairs listed to memory and then practice, practice, practice. To practice your Russian vocabulary, work with one of our Russian tutors. Book an online Russian lesson today.

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