Vocabulary 14--Verb Prefixes

Russians put prefixes on their verbs in order to create new meanings or shades of meaning. If you learn the meanings of the most common prefixes, you will often be able to guess what a familiar verb means with a different prefix. In the table below we show some common prefixes and how they alter the meanings of verbs.


The use of prefixes is so popular that some verbs are seldom or never used without them. Where this is the case in standard modern Russian, we note it below.


The verb prefixes can also sometimes be used with nouns and adjectives, especially if these are derived from verbs.


PrefixNew Meaning ImpartedExamples
в-/во-entry into an enclosed space

идти--to walk in a certain direction

войти--to enter an enclosed space

душа--soul

воодушевить--to inspire, to enthuse

вос-a rising up, an ascending

стать--to stand

восстать--to rise up (in the sense of rebel)

питать--to nourish

воспитать--to rear (a child for example)

становиться--to become

восстановить--to restore, rebuild

вы-an emergence from an enclosed space

идти--to walk in a certain direction

выйти--to exit an enclosed space

лезть--to crawl

вылезть--to crawl out

копать--to dig

выкопать--to dig out

за-a moving off to one side

идти--to walk in a certain direction

зайти--to turn aside, to make a stop during a journey

ложить--to lay (use without a prefix is non-standard)

заложить--to set aside, to pile up, to pawn

заложник--a hostage

менять--to change

заменить--to replace

из-/ис-an exhausting

черпать--to dip in a container and draw out liquid

исчерпывать--to get out everything possible

полный--round, fat, full

исполнить--to fulfill

тербить--to require (archaic without prefix)

истребить--to annihilate

следовать--to follow

исследовать--to study thoroughly, to investigate

носить--to care, to wear

износиться--to become worn out

вращать--to rotate

извращать--to subvert

извращение--a perversion

на-a falling or placement upon something

идти--to walk in a certain direction

найти--to find

пасть--to fall

напасть--to attack

строить--to build, to set in order

настроить--to prepare for use, adjust, configure

стоять--to stand

настоящий--actual

сорить--to toss litter

насори́ть--to cover in litter

о-/об-a going around, a visiting of all sides

идти--to walk in a certain direction

обойти--to bypass, to walk around

жигать--to burn something (archaic without prefix)

обжигать--to scorch, to singe

круг--a circle

окружной--encircling

нять--to take (dialectal without any prefix)

обнять--to embrace

от-/ото-a moving back

идти--to walk in a certain direction

отойти--to step back

печать--a seal, a stamp

отпечатать--to print

слать--to send

отослать--to send away

пере-a moving through

брать--to pick up

перебрать--to sort out

пугать--to try to frighten, to threaten

перепугать--to thoroughly frighten

править--to lead, to rule

переправа--a river ford

по-to some extent

кушать--to eat

покушать--to have something to eat

бегать--to run

побег--an escape

низкий--low

понизиться--to debase oneself

под-a placing under something

строить--to build, to set up

подстроить--to arrange for something to happen

нять--to take (dialectal without any prefix)

поднять--to raise

рыть--to burrow

дрыть--to undermine

при-a bringing or coming near, an attaching

близить--to bring near (rare without prefix)

приблизить--to bring near

идти--to walk in a certain direction

прийти--to arrive

нять--to take (dialectal without any prefix)

принять--accept, adopt

пре-a going too far

дать--to give

предать--to betray

ступить--to step

преступить--to violate

преступление--a crime

действовать--to act

прелюбодействовать--to commit adultery

деяние--an act

прелюбодеяние--adultery

про-a passing along or through

водить--to lead

проводить--to conduct along a course

провод--an electrical conductor

расти--to grow

произрастать--to raise (a plant for instance)

раз-/рас-a distribution or scattering

носить--to carry

разносить--to deliver to multiple locations

бросать--to throw

разбросать--to scatter

водить--to lead

разводиться--to divorce

глас--voice

разгласить--to announce to a wide audience

точить--to wear down

расточительство--profligacy

кладывать--to lay (archaic without prefix)

раскладывать--to set up, to spread out

c-/со-a descent or a coming together

ехать--to travel by vehicle

съехать--to leave a road

идти--to walk in a certain direction

сойти--to go down (such as to the town)

ставить--to place something in an upright position

составить--to compose, to assemble

кладывать--to lay (rare without prefix)

складывать--to fold

близить--to bring near (archaic without prefix)

сблизить--to bring together

у-a departing or putting away

идти--to walk in a certain direction

уйти--to depart on foot

кладывать--to lay (rare without prefix)

укладывать--to put into storage

становиться--to become

установить--to set up, to establish