The interaction between negation and aspect in Old Russian

2020. № 1 (39), 109-135

Ekaterina A. Mishina
Vinogradov Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences
(Moscow, Russia)


The paper analyzes the interaction between negation and aspect in the Old Russian language.
Negation happens to be a factor that can influence the choice of a perfective vs. imperfective
form in a number of contexts. Such influence affects the present, imperfect, participles,
imperative, and some other verbal forms in Old Russian texts. In particular, negation is a
favorable condition for using the perfective aspect: in negative contexts, Old Russian texts
demonstrate a freer competition between perfective and imperfective compared to Modern
Russian, while the differences in the use of negative forms in both aspects are explained primarily
by aspectual semantics. In some cases, negation can neutralize the contradictions that
arise between the meaning of aspect and tense, which determines the non-standard use of
some aspectual tense forms, and can also cause the appearance of additional semantic nuances
in perfective forms under negation, which makes perfective forms more emphatic. On the
whole, the historical development of the opposition of the perfective vs. imperfective aspect
under negation has been moving in the direction of narrowing the set of contexts for perfective