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Russian grammar - Introducing verb aspects: говорить / сказать

Introducing verb aspects: говорить / сказать

Russian verbs have two 'aspects'. Aspects are used to indicate if an action was completed or is ongoing.

The imperfective for incomplete or ongoing actions.

The perfective for completed actions.

The verbs говорить and сказать are an imperfective / perfective pair.

The verb говорить is imperfective: it is used for ongoing or incomplete speech ('speaking'/'talking', or 'was speaking'/'was talking')

The verb сказать is perfective: it is used for completed speech ('said/told')

There is no present tense form for perfective verbs.

Examples:
Я говорю громко.
I am speaking loudly.

говорить (я) говорю (present tense, imperfective - continuing action)

Я говорил громко.
I was speaking loudly.

говорить (я) говорил (past tense, imperfective - continuing action)

Я громко сказал «нет».
I said 'No' loudly.

сказать (я) сказал (past tense, perfective - completed action)

Он говорит о хорошей погоде.
He is talking about the fine weather.

говорить (он) говорит (present tense, imperfective - continuing action)

Он говорил о хорошей погоде.
He was talking about the fine weather.

говорить (он) говорил (past tense, imperfective - continuing action)

Он сказал, что погода хорошая.
He said that the weather is fine.

сказать (он) сказал (past tense, perfective - completed action)

О ком вы говорите?
About whom are you (formal) speaking?

говорить (вы) говорите (present tense, imperfective - continuing action)

О ком вы говорили?
About whom were you (formal) speaking?

говорить (вы) говорили (past tense, imperfective - continuing action)

Что он сказал?
What did he say?

сказать (он) сказал (past tense, perfective - completed action)

Он сказал, что Михаил нездоров.
He said that Mikhail is not well.

сказать (он) сказал (past tense, perfective - completed action)