Are there any general rules or common patterns as to what prefix an imperfective verb will take when changed to the perfective? I know that it's usually either з-, про-, по-, or на- but I never can correctly guess, which one to use.

Additionally, are their meanings slightly different? The main answer to this question notes that по- and попо- differ this way: one refers to a repeated action and the other does not.

Чи існують які-небудь правила або загальні зразки для префіксів дієслів доконаного виду? Я знаю, що це, як правило, або з-, про-, по- або на-, але зазвичай я не можу правильно вгадати, які використовувати.

Чи вони мають трохи різні значення, чи ні? Це питання каже, що по- і попо- відрізняється тим, що одне відноситься до багаторазового дії, а інші ні.

(Sorry for the bad google translate)

  • You mean, choosing one for an arbitrary root, right? Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 4:08
  • @bytebuster I'm don't know any of the terminology here, but I think that's what I mean maybe. Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 5:02
  • I know that in Russian finding perfective pair for imperfective or vice versa has no "rule" and the only way is to learn the pairs of such verbs by heart (and that this is the hardest topic for foreigners). I think this is also true for Ukrainian language.
    – Artemix
    Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 15:07
  • 2
    @FracturedRetina, I should say that your questions about the fundamental rules of the Ukrainian language are really good. Don't be upset that they don't receive quick answers like the questions about the word usage do. In fact, I've attempted to start writing an answer here and I suddenly realized that I can't formulate my thoughts in a straightforward way. Hopefully, someone writes/refers a solid research on this matter, like this work (sorry for a .ru link, but this site only has a direct download). Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 18:57
  • 3
    For those who will be answering, this answer seems to be a good start, and its linked article at Wikipedia also has some nice list of prefixes and their functions. Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 5:22

1 Answer 1


There's no simple rule of which prefix to use. Actually most of the time you can use most of the prefixes and each one will give slightly different meaning, e.g.: нести (carry) ->

  • нанести (~ to carry in, heap up, accumulate)
  • знести (~ to bring down)
  • пронести (~ to carry along...)
  • понести (~ to start carrying...)

Actually famous linguist Synavskyi (Олекса Синявський) in his book «Норми української мови» mentioned there could be up to 10 grades of continuation, most prominent ones with verb нести.

Also note: although prefixes are very common way to do it, there are four ways to convert imperfect verb to perfect:

  1. vowel change in the root (лежати — лягти)
  2. prefixes (нести — пронести)
  3. suffixes (купую — куплю)
  4. stress change (розкида́ти — розки́дати)
  • What meaning is associated with each? Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 2:51
  • There's no fixed meaning for the prefixes, there's somewhat loose 'direction' where each leaning towards, e.g. з- might lead towards 'down', на- might mean 'on' etc. But verbs with those prefixes will have many other meanings so you'd need to check dictionary to see all meanings: e.g. sum.in.ua
    – Andriy
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 11:55

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