3.6. Всё равно, рано или поздно придётся расплачиваться…

This module follows the previous module 3.5 on надо; it is recommended that you complete that module before attempting this module. This module takes up aspectual usage with another predicator of necessity, приходиться/прийтись, which is more specific than надо in that it refers to a necessity that is outside the speaker’s control and imposed by the circumstances (Honselaar 1992)[1]. As приходиться/прийтись is more specific in its meaning than надо, it is less frequent than the latter. Before proceeding with exercise A, a brief comment on the difference between imperfective приходиться and perfective прийтись is in order.

As an imperfective verb, приходиться usually refers to some open-ended, ongoing necessity (an exception will be statements/questions of fact, such as Вам когда-нибудь приходилось вместе с автомобилем падать в реку? ‘Have you ever had to plunge into water in an automobile?’ (concerning which see module 5.1, but such statements of fact are relatively infrequent with this verb). In contrast, прийтись typically refers to some episode where a necessity ensues, e.g., when in the past there was a realization that something had to be done (yielding past-tense пришлось), or the anticipation that a necessity will come into effect now or soon (yielding future-tense придётся). This situation is reminiscent of the difference between мочь and смочь discussed in module 3.3. Accordingly, past-tense пришлось refers to some particular point of time in the past when something became necessary, and придётся anticipates a particular point in the future when something will have to be done.

Let us now turn to aspectual usage in infinitive complements with приходиться/прийтись.

Exercise A

Examine the following sentences with imperfective infinitives that express necessity with present-tense приходиться, and consider whether (a) they seem to be about open-ended situations or repetition and (b) whether repetition is expressed and if so how.

  1.  – Не приведи, Господь, жить в современных новостройках: выглядят как конфетка, а стены тонкие, слышимость ого-го! Приходится мириться с постоянным шумом соседей.
  2.  – Нам урезали суточные, теперь в командировках приходится есть не в ресторанах, а в обычных столовых.
  3.  Интервью с кинозвездой:
    – Что вам нравится в вашей профессии?
    – То, что мне постоянно приходится учиться. Я не сижу на месте.
  4.  – Господи, как мне надоела, эта бесконечная сибирская зима. Каждое утро приходится напяливать на себя шапку, шубу, шарф, и варежки эти и потом в этом скафандре еще куда-то бежать. Не жизнь – выживание!


With present-tense приходится, the perfective is less common; we turn to it in exercise B.

Exercise B

The dialogues below all involve single completable actions. Choose the statements that most accurately describe the situations.

Now we turn to the past tenses of приходиться and прийтись and the future tense of прийтись.

Exercise C

Examine the two following dialogues and determine whether the infinitives refer to open-ended processes or repeated actions.

Let us now turn to perfective прийтись in the past tense. Exercise D gives common examples of such usage, in which the infinitive complement is perfective.

Exercise D

Examine the following dialogues and choose the statements that most accurately describe the context.

While the infinitive complement of the past-tense of прийтись referring to a single completable action is commonly perfective, there are nevertheless times when the infinitive is imperfective. Such usage involves certain nuances, which we focus on in exercise E.

Exercise E

Examine the sentences and select the statements that seem to be true about each.

Finally, let us turn to the future of прийтись with perfectives and imperfectives referring to single completable actions. Exercise F focuses on the perfective.

Exercise F

Based on what you have learned so far, see if you can recognize what conditions the perfective in the following two dialogue situations. It will help to choose the statements that most accurately describe the situations.

As the final part of this material, let us turn to the imperfective referring to a single completable action in exercise G.

Exercise G

Examine the dialogic situations, and choose the statements that most accurately describe what is going on in them. See if you can connect them to what you have learned so far.

The relationship between forms of приходиться/прийтись and the aspect of infinitive complements is a complex and murky area. But the rules and tendencies described above are a solid start for the student of Russian. Now try to make the choice yourself in exercise H.

Exercise H

Choose the aspect of the infinitive that is most appropriate in the context.


The rules for приходиться/прийтись are very close to those for надо, with the difference that since приходиться/прийтись prototypically expresses a necessity completely beyond the control of the speaker, it combines with an imperfective infinitive relatively more frequently to reflect the lack of a plan for goal-attainment on the part of the subject. This is particularly true of present-tense приходится, when a necessity beyond the speaker’s control is expressed in real time, with the frequent additional uncertainty whether the action will be successful. Note that in rhetorical uses of приходится, in which the speaker has actually decided on a course of action, perfective verbs do pop up (frequently these are momentary verbs of communication such as сказать, заметить, etc., or figurative phrases such as сделать шаг ‘take a step’), as the speaker in fact sees the goal of the action in question.

If we recall the title for this module Всё равно, рано или поздно придётся расплачиваться ‘It doesn’t matter, sooner or later you will have to pay’, the idea is that sooner or later we all will have to pay for what we have done. Paying or settling accounts in this respect is never something we want to do with a goal to be attained, but something we end up doing whether we like it or not. Hence, imperfective раплачиваться is the natural choice. The predicator, however, is perfective придётся, as the statement asserts that for any person there will come a particular (single) occasion when he/she will have to pay up. Thus we get a perfetor predicator with an imperfective main verb, each referring to a single completable action.

With past tense пришлось, which usually occurs in some kind of narrative, the perfective is common due to the overall sequencing involved. Future придётся takes the perfective if the speaker is basically in control of the course of events, but when the action is very bothersome and there is less certainty about the outcome, the imperfective is again appropriate.

Part 4 moves on to the imperative.

  1. Honselaar, Wim. 1992. “Тhе Russian modals приходиться/прийтись, нужно and надо: semantics and pragmatics.” Studies in Slavic and General Linguistics 17: 125–49.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Russian Aspect in Conversation Copyright © 2023 by Stephen M. Dickey, Kamila Saifeeva and Anna Karpusheva is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.