The Ukrainian course on Duolingo just gave me this sentence to translate: "Я ходив у банк вчора". But my understanding so far has been that you use іти for one-time specific instances of going somewhere (on foot), and ходити for repeatedly going somewhere or for walking around in general -- so unless the sentence is trying to say I repeatedly walked to the bank and back, it seems like it should be using іти instead.

How would a native speaker interpret this sentence? What does it mean, and does it sound normal or off? Do I have the difference between those verbs right, and is there more to it?

(Additional question in case it's the exact same thing: how about the sentence "Вчора ми їздили у село"? Let me know if I should make that one a separate question, but it seems like an exactly analogous issue so maybe the answers will both be the same)

3 Answers 3


Both verbs have numerous meanings. I'm afraid you would need to memorize their usage instead of trying to dig for some solid rule or logic.

One more note. As an avid user of DuoLingo myself, let me say that their model is specifically oriented on reaching the practical result as soon as possible, even by the beginner learners. Therefore, sample sentences are chosen to be as simple as they possibly can be, at the cost of some ambiguity sometimes. Anyway, I believe that native speakers will understand you even despite possible minor ambiguities. The more you practice the better you intuitively feel what verb to use.

In this sentence, indeed, йти/іти can be used for general walking. For example, for stressing the moment/process of walking:

Коли я йшов у банк, почався дощ. — When I was going to the bank, the rain began.

Пішов is somewhere in between the Simple Past and Past Perfect tenses in English. It denotes the action that has occurred in the past, but not necessarily finished by now. So when you say я пішов у банк, it is perceived that you went out heading for bank, but it does not say anything about how your visit has ended:

Я пішов у банк, але почався дощ, і я повернувся — I went out to the bank, but the rain began and I returned.

Ходити has about 10 various meanings. Check the first two:

  1. Ступаючи ногами, переміщатися, змінювати місце в просторі […] протягом певного часу — Stepping, moving, changing physical place […] for a certain time

  2. Вирушати куди-небудь, до когось з певною метою. — Depart to somewhere, to someone for a purpose.

    Вчора увечері й я ходив послухати українських пісень (Михайло Коцюбинський, III, 1956, 193); — Last night I also went to listen to Ukrainian songs (Mykhailo Kotsyubynsky);

So, я ходив у банк merely conveys the message that you have actually visited the bank, and no rain has cancelled you plan.

And yes, for "I repeatedly walked to the bank and back" I would also use ходити:

Я ходив у банк щодня — I {repeatedly} visited the bank every day.

As per the additional question. It says that we visited the village yesterday. Likely, for a certain purpose (e.g., for a picnic). Likely, already returned back.

If you would say поїхали instead, that would infer nothing about whether you arrived there or returned back yet.


I like your understanding of word ходив. When you are saying ходив it could mean that you are emphasizing that you spent some time doing this. But yes, usually everybody understands it like one time action. If you want to mainly state the fact that you visited bank then you can say Я вчора сходив у банк.


  • Сходив до Якима і через хвильку вернувся, уже крутячи на ходу цигарку.
  • Тихін сходив ще до коня — вівса йому засипав.
  • Та Дорошеві ніяк не мовчалося; він щойно перед тим сходив до льоху разом з ключником у якійсь пильній справі і, ...
  • Я тобі казав, щоб ти сходив до Коваленка?

Adding an extra answer to my own question because I just ran into a linguistic concept that addresses my underlying confusion: abstract vs concrete verbs! From wictionary (abstract verbs):

In the Slavic languages, a verb of motion whose motion is multidirectional (as opposed to unidirectional) or indirect, or whose action is repeated or in a series (iterative). Also called an indeterminate verb. The opposite type of verb, which expresses a single, completed action, is termed a concrete verb (or a determinate verb). Motion verbs in the Slavic languages come in abstract/concrete lexical pairs, e.g. Russian ходи́ть (xodítʹ, “to go (abstract)”) vs. идти́ (idtí, “to go (concrete)”), бе́гать (bégatʹ, “to run (abstract)”) vs. бежа́ть (bežátʹ, “to run (concrete)”), носи́ть (nosítʹ, “to carry (abstract)”) vs. нести́ (nestí, “to carry (concrete)”). English does not make this distinction. For example, "I went to the post office" could be abstract (if I went there and came back, i.e. multidirectional) or concrete (if I am there now, i.e. unidirectional), and different Russian verbs would be used to translate "went" in these two circumstances. In Polish coming back does not cause abstract verbs to be used, only doing something many times (Chodzę do biura. 'I go to the office (every day).' vs. Idę do biura 'I am going to the office (now).') or moving without target (Chodzę po pokoju 'I am walking around the room.' vs. Idę przez pokój. 'I am walking across the room.') does. Abstract verbs are always imperfective in aspect, even with prefixes that are normally associated with the perfective aspect (e.g. Polish przybiegać).

In particular it explains that Polish abstract verbs work differently in the past tense than those in most other Slavic languages - that's why my intuition for іти/ходити in the past tense was off, because my native language does it differently but the difference is kind of subtle and confusing.

  • You're right, that's exactly it: ходити vs. іти (йти), бігати vs. бігти, носити vs. нести, etc.
    – Sasha
    Commented Sep 6, 2022 at 9:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.