ел / съел

Lill099

Member
Italian
Hello everyone

I’ve just come across this mini-dialogue in my grammar book. It says:
- Будешь есть?
- Нет, спасибо, не буду. Я уже ел.

I don’t understand why they used ел and not съел considering I’m not focusing on the process, but on the result: I ate and therefore I am not hungry.

Thanks in advance!
 
  • Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    Съел is mostly used for some definite meal: Я уже съел кашу и теперь пью чай.
    But: я уже ел (что-то) and therefore I'm full now and not hungry.
    However you can also say Я уже поел meaning the same (but the light sense stress on the result).
     

    nizzebro

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I don’t understand why they used ел and not съел considering I’m not focusing on the process, but on the result: I ate and therefore I am not hungry.considering I’m not focusing on the process
    That is because Russian teachers and tutors, both foreign and native speakers, often stick to naive, superficial explanation of aspects as a 'process/result' opposition. The key idea is, however, that the imperfective is basically a cycle, loop, and the perfective is a certain single session. Thus the opposition rather looks as "infinite/finite".

    There's no Perfect tense in Russian, and, in many cases, especially in cases where words like 'never/ever' are applicable, the imperfective is used in its function, - because the point of interest is not a certain session but any possible involvement into that process in the past.
    'Я уже ел' means that you have eaten yet but, potentially, you could have it done twice, multiple times, and even could have been eating all day long and stopped right before that question. We are like unable to count that eating and position it in time, and we actually do not care about that. Thus, a form that denotes infinite process is used.

    'Я уже поел' is, on the other hand, the perfective, and often used intransitively (with no object) for a certain session - but without specifying the final state, the result - it is just a definite portion of the process 'есть'. This is the feature of 'по-'. Speaking of the notion of result in the perfective as is, it is only an additional thing implemented by different prefixes. The basic thing is that 'поел' implies a single session.

    'Съел', as Maroseika noted, is not only perfective but also transitive, it implies an object that has been eaten completely.
     
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    nizzebro

    Senior Member
    Russian
    So, your friend might ask you 'Ты уже ел?' before meeting, just to ensure that you are not hungry, or, planning a restaurant and taking your wishes into account. He is not interested how many times you did it and when.
    But, 'Ты уже поел?' might be asked if he is waiting you and knows that you wanted to have your breakfast or lunch before the meeting: a certain session of eating is meant.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    That is because Russian teachers and tutors, both foreign and native speakers, often stick to naive, superficial explanation of aspects as a 'process/result' opposition.
    Sure. Perfective actions aren't necessarily resultative, it depends on the semantics of the particular verb. But it doesn't seem relevant for the particular case; surely съесть is resultative - it just isn't the result we need.
    I don’t understand why they used ел and not съел considering I’m not focusing on the process, but on the result
    Because of the particular meanings (and the related government models) of these verbs. :)
    Съесть requires a direct object (i.e. you can only съесть something specific: a dinner, a piece of cake etc.).
    Есть may take an object or may not.
    If есть doesn't take an object, then its perfective counterpart is поесть ("to eat for a while/a bit" >> "to have a meal" if there is no object).
     

    nizzebro

    Senior Member
    Russian
    But it doesn't seem relevant for the particular case; surely съесть is resultative - it just isn't the result we need.
    I actually mentioned the notion of result further in my post.
    Still, you are right, my explanation potentially could be misunderstood as 'result does not matter at all'.
    It matters, and is a feature of perfectives, but, this meaning depends on lexis and prefixes, and this semantics itself is a secondary natural consequence of finiteness (in common sense).
    Similarly, motion verbs' pairs are only explained via the notion of direction, which helps pragmatically, but leads to misconceptions - because actually this is a purely aspectual distinction, related to temporal composition of activity.
     
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    Şafak

    Senior Member
    I don’t understand why they used ел and not съел considering I’m not focusing on the process, but on the result: I ate and therefore I am not hungry.
    My first question with "съел" would be "ты съел what?"? I assume the verb must be followed by the name of something edible.
     

    Ruukr

    Senior Member
    Odessa, Russian - Ukrainian
    Hello everyone

    I’ve just come across this mini-dialogue in my grammar book. It says:
    - Будешь есть?
    - Нет, спасибо, не буду. Я уже ел.

    I don’t understand why they used ел and not съел considering I’m not focusing on the process, but on the result: I ate and therefore I am not hungry.

    Thanks in advance!
    Look:
    - Do you like to eat?
    - No, thanks, don't. I did.

    Capisci ? ))) Не I done, но I did. Если done, то вопрос что конкретно ты съел. А если -ел, то просто ел, не важно что, главное сыт.
     

    Ruukr

    Senior Member
    Odessa, Russian - Ukrainian
    What do you mean? There's no imperative in the sentence (let alone the dialogue makes no sense, alas).
    Да не важно что там увидели в неправильной моей грамматике Вы.
    Главное - это что ТС понял что говорю я. )))))))))
    (не парьтесь, короче говоря).
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    Look:
    - Do you like to eat?
    - No, thanks, don't. I did.

    Capisci ? )))
    I'm afraid this exchange is not possible in English and nobody can capire it:

    -No, thanks, don't, I did = "Нет, спасибо, не делай, я (с)делал."​
    -Do you like to eat? = "Тебе нравится есть?"​
    -I did = "Раньше нравилось."​
    Лучше пишите по-русски и попросите других перевести, или воспользуйтесь гуголпереводчиком.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    To give my own summary: the impf. is about expressing an unbounded process, the perf. a bounded, punctual event. The imperfective is unmarked in this situation because it expresses the fact that some action or process has already taken place in the past, and so there's no longer a need to do it again. Using the correct perfective - поел - is marked and signifies that the event of eating has already occurred at an earlier point in time, you can mark it off your to-do list. The difference can be captured as [UK] "I've already eaten"/[US] "I already ate (today)" vs. "I've already had my lunch/dinner etc."

    In another situation, e.g. at the table, the perfective поел can mean "I've already finished eating", which is again about marking the temporal boundary of a process. Using the imperfective would make no sense here unless the question is "Did you touch the food at all?", "Did you perform the action of eating for any amount of time?".
     
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