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Thread: Not sure whether should be perfective or imperfective here. . .

  1. #1
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    Not sure whether should be perfective or imperfective here. . .

    If I were to translate the sentence "He was busy on Friday night, that's why he didn't read the article."

    Would I still translate the verb "to read" as perfective, even though the action wasn't completed in the past because technically the action never actually took place?

    Also, can I use the short form adjective занят in the past tense and if not how do you say "he was busy"

    So to attempt to translate. . .

    В пятницу вечером он занят, поэтому не прочитал статью.

    There may be other solecisms present in my translation. Feel free to comment on those as well but I'm mainly concerned with the verb читать here. Thanks to anyone who helps out.

  2. #2
    Почтенный гражданин Soft sign's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lenssideways8 View Post
    Also, can I use the short form adjective занят in the past tense and if not how do you say "he was busy"
    You can.

    m. sg. f. sg. n. sg. pl.
    past был за́нят была́ занята́ бы́ло за́нято бы́ли за́няты
    present за́нят занята́ за́нято за́няты
    future бу́дет за́нят бу́дет занята́ бу́дет за́нято бу́дут за́няты

    Quote Originally Posted by lenssideways8 View Post
    Would I still translate the verb "to read" as perfective, even though the action wasn't completed in the past because technically the action never actually took place?
    Both perfective and imperfective can be used with little or no difference in meaning.

    В пя́тницу ве́чером он был за́нят, поэ́тому не прочита́л статью́.
    or
    В пя́тницу ве́чером он был за́нят, поэ́тому не чита́л статью́.
    fortheether and lenssideways8 like this.
    Please correct my English

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    Властелин iCake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lenssideways8 View Post
    ...Would I still translate the verb "to read" as perfective, even though the action wasn't completed in the past because technically the action never actually took place?...
    You might be overthinking it here. Sure, the logic looks sound when it comes to choosing perfective over imperfective. The thing is the logic behind that sentence is not to question perfective or imperfective aspect of the action, but to show if the action was or was not taken. In other words the speaker does not care if the article was read fully or not, they only care if it was read at all at any capacity.

    That's probably why, as noted by @Soft sign, you can use either aspect of the verb with little to no difference in meaning there.

    Quote Originally Posted by lenssideways8 View Post
    ...So to attempt to translate. . .

    В пятницу вечером он занят, поэтому не прочитал статью.
    Looks alright but you forgot to put занят in the past there. It should be "был занят", without был that part of the sentence refers to the future (even though it's technically in the present tense) and the clause is in the past. I'm sure you now see why it looks funny the way it is.
    fortheether and lenssideways8 like this.
    I do not claim that my opinion is absolutely true.
    If you've spotted any mistake in my English, please, correct it. I want to be aware of any mistakes to efficiently eliminate them before they become a habit.

  4. #4
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    Actually, when you say ‘не прочитал’, it remains undefined if he started reading the article and just couldn’t finish it, or if he didn’t even start. So, technically, if you are trying to say that
    Quote Originally Posted by lenssideways8 View Post
    the action wasn't completed in the past because technically the action never actually took place
    then you must use ‘не читал’.

    The reason why even the native speakers struggle to see the difference between 2 variants is because ‘статья’ is considered to be something pretty short, so the possibility that someone couldn’t read it up to the end once started is rather small, thus the difference between ‘прочитал’ and ‘читал’ is also small.

    For example there is merely no difference between ‘Я читал это стихотворение’ and ‘Я прочитал это стихотворение’.

    But

    If you changed ‘статья’ to ‘книга’, the difference would become more obvious.
    Actually ‘Он вчера был занят, поэтому не прочитал эту книгу’ sounds like he really did read this book yesterday, but just didn’t finish it. So if you want to say that he didn't do any reading, then you must say ‘Он вчера был занят, поэтому не читал эту книгу
    Soft sign and lenssideways8 like this.

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    Почтенный гражданин Soft sign's Avatar
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    There’s also the word дочита́ть ‘read to the end’ (perfective).

    «Он не дочита́л статью́» implies that he definitely started but hasn’t finished reading, while
    «Он не прочита́л статью́» says nothing about whether he started.
    Please correct my English

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