The Present Perfect in Russian

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Nov 5, 2019 19:08
One of my Russian mates has just published a small scientific paper in English. I went through the text out of curiosity and stumbled across dozens of obvious grammar mistakes. Shame on the head of the editor carelessly doing his job! However, there was one particular mistake characteristic to all Russians having the intermediate level of proficiency in English: the usage of the present perfect as a direct analog of the perfective aspect in Russian. As an example, let me take a verb “to measure” or “мерить” in Russian. In the method section of a scientific paper, authors should list actions they accomplished to get their results: sampling, experiments, measurements, etc. In my understanding, the correct choice is the past simple: “we measured the concentration of …..” On the flip side, a correct form in Russian would be “мы измерили концентрацию …..”. Guided by the wrong understanding of English tenses, Russian-speakers resort to the present perfect tense “we have measured”. Interestingly that a long time ago, Slavic language had a more complex system of tenses (similarly, English had a complex system of grammatical cases). However, according to one linguist I watched on YouTube, some vestiges of perfect tenses still linger in modern Russian. A perfect match with the English perfect tense is a phrase: “Он выпивши”. Here, the verb “пить” becomes a transgressive (деепричастие). The phrase means that “he” has drunk alcohol recently and its effects are obvious now because of “his” behavior, smell, etc.
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