11.2 - The infinitive

Dictionaries normally list verbs in the infinitive.

Ukrainian dictionaries vary in their approach to presenting imperfective or perfective infinitives. Bilingual dictionaries tend to have separate entries for both aspectual forms, highlighting the specific uses of each aspect in context. Monolingual dictionaries tend to list the imperfective as the basic form and, if you look up the perfective, you are referred to the imperfective entry with the abbreviation див., short for дивись (see).

Finding or checking the correct form of the infinitive in the dictionary is important, as, once you know the form of the imperfective and perfective infinitive, most tenses and other forms can be predicted from these. Here is a simplified chart of how the system works:

Aspects

The perfective of many verbs in Ukrainian is formed in a fairly straightforward way, by adding a prefix to the imperfective form. The most frequently used prefixes are з‑, по‑, на‑, про‑ and за‑, for example:

  imperfective perfective
do робити зробити
eat їсти з'їсти
wash мити помити
see бачити побачити
write писати написати
sharpen гострити нагострити
read читати прочитати
sing співати заспівати

Others, used in a smaller number of cases, include ви-, с-, від- and при-:

  imperfective perfective
ask питати(ся) спитати(ся)
drink пити випити
greet вітати  привітати 
celebrate святкувати відсвяткувати

Once you know what prefix is needed, you can use the verb in most of its forms. The following is given as an example:

Читати

To practise recognising aspects of verbs, go to Exercise 11.2A.

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© 2007 Marta Jenkala