I'm fairly sure that бути doesn't, but are there any others? For example, I can't say I've ever seen знати with prefix.

Spanish also has two past tenses. In Spanish all verbs can be conjugated in either, but sometimes it changes their meaning either because the word's meaning isn't consistent with the tense or because the tense has certain implications on the meaning of the word.

For example "saber"(to know, знати) means "knew" in the imperfect, but "found out" in the preterite(similar to past perfect).

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    узнати? In this form it means something close to perfect tense. Although you cannot attribute it the same meaning as in English: I had known that... cannot be expressed; it will sound the same as I knew that.... It would help if you could put context around the words - examples of statements you'd like to express.
    – Sassa NF
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 23:20
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    Yes, please add some context. The tenses of English do not match one-to-one with Ukrainian. We have past/present/future, and for the rest we simply use affixes. Compare бути/був with бувати/бував. The latter sounds much more "imperfect" than the former. But then, yet another affix, and… побував, which is clearly perfect "have been". Commented Feb 10, 2017 at 1:29
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    @bytebuster I'm thinking more in terms of Spanish, which also has two past tenses Commented Feb 10, 2017 at 1:33

2 Answers 2


The first point is that verb ‘знати’ does have forms with prefixes: ‘ви-’, ‘у/в-’, ‘за-’ etc. So does almost any verb. Prefixes may change the lexical meaning of verbs and you should refer to a dictionary for a verb with prefix that you don't know yet.

It's true that with help of prefixes you generally turn imperfective verbs (дієслова недоконаного виду) into perfectives (доконаного). In your example: ‘знати → взнати’. And not only prefixes take part in this. You may also switch aspect (вид) of verbs by applying suffixes, shifting stress, altering sounds and replacing one root with another: ‘зна́ти (imp.) → взна́ти (p.) → взнава́ти (imp.)

Important question is whether both verbs make a pair (видова пара) in which they describe the same action, except that one expresses imperfective aspect and the other expresses perfective aspect.
So back to your question there are so called ‘single aspect’ verbs (одновидові дієслова.) They do not have their match of other aspect.
‘Знати’ is an imperfective verb that is not intended to get a result and adding any prefix to it changes its meaning (взнати – to learn to know, to find out) so it belongs to that group too.

There are quite a lot of such verbs. Some of them are:
Only imperfective: володіти, ворогувати, зимувати, зорити, марити, мислити, намагатися, потребувати, поважати, прагнути, сподіватися.
Only perfective: заплакати, наговоритися, надивитися, натерпітися, пропрацювати, стрепенутися, схаменутися, розгніватися, розговоритися.


I just want to share some sense of Ukrainian verb aspects with you

According to wikipedia few ukrainian verbs do not have explicit aspect properties: розслідувати, мовити, веліти, женити, абсорбувати, атакувати

Some of these can be converted to not-so-grammatically-correct versions which contrast in terms of aspect with the correct version.

The 'spoilable' verbs are:

  • розслідувати (sounds usual, more imperfect) - розслідити (sounds unusual/dumb, more perfect) comparable with наслідити(p) - наслідувати(imp)

  • мовити (sounds usual, more perfect) - мовляти (sounds unusual/poetic, more imperfect). similiar to промовити(p) - промовляти(imp)

  • веліти (sounds usual, more perfect) - велювати (sounds unusual/poetic, more imperfect) similiar to повеліти(p) - повелювати(imp)

  • абсорбувати (sounds usual, more perfect) - абсорбовувати (sounds unusual/faux-arrogant, more inperfect, pages 69, 70 - usage in scientific publication(!))

  • атакувати (sounds usual, more perfect) - атаковувати (sounds unusual/dumb, more imperfect)

The unspoilable one is женити. And I can't spoil it because there's an obvious verb pair with a different root and represents the same idea.

Past form of одружити is used when it's needed to express completeness.

The imperfect form - одружувати - is used in reflexive and direct forms for both genders, while женити is used only for masculine gender in reflexive form. вийти\виходити заміж is the feminine equivalent. Neutral gender usages are either abstract or ironic with a taste of grim for both женити or одружити-одружувати pair

The 'spoilable' verbs are used as perfect or imperfect without change and their aspect relies on context

Those are all dumplings, folks

UPD: but here's one more:

There's an informal parenthesis мовляв which sounds like мовити 'spoiled' to more imperfect form (мовляти) in past in 3rd person singular. Unfortunately, I can't find any references to its etymology, but мовляв is used to emphasize accessory of idea being expressed to other person, or in meaning 'as it were'

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