5.9. Как я уже говорил, я никогда не повторяюсь!

This module treats the next in our series of distinct communicative purpose of imperfective statements of fact. As in previous modules, no detailed comment is appropriate at this point, so proceed immediately to exercise A. 

Exercise A

Examine the dialogues, and after each dialogue choose the statement that most accurately characterizes the actions of the speaker. Then answer the question at the end of the exercise.


Now let’s move on to some contrasting perfective usage in exercise B. 

Exercise B

Examine the dialogues, and after each dialogue choose the statement that most accurately characterizes the actions of the speaker. Then answer the question at the end of the exercise.


Now see if you are able to make the choice in these kinds of contexts.

Exercise C

Choose the aspect that is most appropriate in the context. Pay attention to whether questions get real answers or not.


Final Thoughts

This module has focused on the use of imperfective verbs to refer to single completed actions in the past when the speaker is merely acknowledging that an act of communication took place when either stating the same information that was given in the original communication, repeating the same action, or doing something that is at odds with the outcome of that action. The imperfective is motivated by the fact that the original action is presented only in passing, in isolation from the particular temporal and causal sequence of its occurrence. The first dialogue from exercise A is representative:

Следующая книга – это «Набоков в Америке». Я уже рассказывала о ней в прошлом видео, но всё равно хочу ещё раз её упомянуть…
‘The next book is Nabokov in American. I talked about it already in the previous video, but nevertheless I want to mention it again…’

The blogger’s discussion of Nabokov in America occurred in specific circumstances, in a temporal and causal sequence with other actions by the blogger (and with particular consequences for the course of the previous blog); but none of that context is mentioned here. Rather, the fact that she talked about the book is only acknowledged as she proceeds in the current blog to take up some of her points about the book.

This speaker perspective seems to be fairly common in conversation, which is why we have singled it out for a separate module. Students could remember the following procedural rule: if your thought process is along the lines of I (already) did X (before), but now… (Я уже Х, но…), the imperfective past is a good choice, if not the only one.

The past-tense imperfective usage in the context of this kind of acknowledgment or disclaimer regarding the current consequences of a previous action overlaps with material from previous modules, especially 5.3, in which we focused on the use of the imperfective past with verbs of communication when the previous communication event did not have its intended outcome. An example from this module is from dialogue (4) in exercise C:

– Извини. В следующий раз… Знаю-знаю, я уже обещал, но в следующий раз точно схожу!
‘Excuse me. Next time…. I know, I know, I already promised, but next time I really will go!’

Here the husband acknowledges his previous promise in order to mitigate the annoyance his current plans have on his wife. Here we can likewise point out that обещал is also motivated because his change of plans means that his promise is null and void—it is not being acted on. But the lack of the intended outcome is not limited to the communication verbs treated in 5.3. Consider dialogue (3) from exercise A:

– Здравствуйте. Я задавала уже этот вопрос, но ответа не получила, поэтому, на всякий случай, повторяю.
‘Hello. I already asked this question, but I didn’t get an answer, and so I repeating it just in case.’

Here the asking of the question on the previous occasion did not have its intended outcome (the receipt of an answer). Dialogue (5) in exercise A contains спрашивала in the same context overlapping contexts of a disclaimer and the failure of a question to produce the intended outcome.

The contrasting perfective usage is relatively simple: the perfective occurs whether the temporal/causal sequence with the present speech situation is intact. The speaker is mentioning a recent action and acting in accordance with its outcome, or expects others to do so. A representative example is dialogue (1) from exercise B:

– Мама мне обо всём рассказала. Не расстраивайся, сынок. Как говорил Эйнштейн, «неудача – это успех в прогрессе».

Here Ilya’s father is acting on the outcome of action (i.e., the information he received from Ilya’s mother), which occurred very recently. Alternatively, the speaker asks about a recent action and is prepared to act on the answer to the question about whether the action occurred or not. Note that in dialogue (7) in exercise C the young actress uses the perfective when thanking the journalist for the invitation, because she has accepted the invitation and acted on her acceptance:

– Здравствуйте. Спасибо, что пригласили.

This usage follows the principles discussed in module 5.3.

In the exercises we did not include the possibility of the perfective counterpart to Как я уже говорила… in dialogue (2) of exercise A. The phrase как я уже сказал(а)… occurs occasionally, but ordinarily only in stretches of spoken remarks or text in which the speaker refers back to something s/he has just said, whereby there is no intervening time interval or interruption by another speaker. Such stretches of remarks or text are too long to include in the exercises. A representative example of this type of usage is given below.


Любимый салат мимоза без добавления лука. Вкусный и красивый, этот салат – частое украшение праздничного стола. Однако не все любят репчатый лук. Исключив этот ингредиент из салата, мы не сделаем его хуже.

[The recipe follows.]

Как я уже сказала, салат мимоза – один из самых популярных праздничных салатов. Салат готовится легко и быстро, получается сытным и ярким, его любят почти все, поэтому гости за столом, как правило, остаются довольны. Но, несмотря на это, салат мимоза может не нравиться из-за лука – не всем он по вкусу. Многие думают, что, если исключить этот ингредиент, блюдо можно испортить, но это не так. На самом деле, без лука салат станет только нежнее.

In this text, which accompanies a recipe, the speaker begins her commentary with the idea that этот салат – частое украшение праздничного стола. Her brief introduction is followed by her recipe for mimosa salad without onions. After the recipe, she picks back up on her previous comments, and indeed, returns to her first idea about the popularity of the salad, albeit in different words—салат мимоза – один из самых популярных праздничных салатов—which she prefaces with the perfective Как я уже сказала to point out that she’s repeated her previously-stated idea. The reason for the perfective is that the entire text is under her control, and her first statement about the popularity of mimosa salad is followed very quickly by the repetition. Thus, there is no disconnect in the form of an intervening time period or other kind of interruption, in contrast to dialogue (2) in exercise A. It is true that the recipe text and photos are positioned between her initial comments and their continuation. However, the recipe does not constitute a disruption, as it is part of the whole of her fairly short piece on mimosa salad, which she has organized herself. Other occurrences of perfective как я уже сказала… and similar phrases can be explained in similar fashion.

The next module focuses on some assorted remaining uses of imperfective statements of fact.


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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.