The Main Problems When Studying Russian Verbs Of Movement By Malagasy Students


In this article, we are interested in verbs, which indicate the movement of an entity in space in Russian language and the issues such as verbs confusion, meaning misallocation, the wrong use of the verbs and others, which are associated with studying them by Malagasy students. More precisely, we will look at the main features of the verbs of movement by means of the linguistic analysis and see their similarities and differences in both Russian and Malagasy languages. In addition, the observations that have been made over the past years of the most frequent mistakes made by Malagasy students in the final reports, coursework and everyday speech would be used to help us identify and formulate the main problems. And last but definitely not the least, with the identified problems we will be able to recommend the possible solutions needed in order for Malagasy students to overcome such difficulties when learning Russian as foreign language

Keywords: Feature, Malagasy, Russian language, Verbs of movement, way


The verbs that are commonly called "verbs of movement" and their number is relatively small such as идти/ходить “to go”, ехать/ездить “Go using a means of transport”, бежать / бегать “to run”, плыть / плавать “to swim” etc…, represent a special grammatical category in the verbal system of the Russian language (Babanskiy, 2007; Glazunova, 2003) in that they do not conform to the rules of aspectual opposition and their operation has a number of peculiarities. The morphological, syntactic and semantic specificities of these verbs are analyzed in some detail in grammars and in numerous studies (Adamets, 1966; Guan, 2012; Pehlivanova & Lebedeva, 1990; Yong Nin, 2015). In this article, we are interested in verbs which indicate the movement of an entity in space, but which do not fall under the category of "verbs of movement" as defined in the specialized literature. More precisely, we propose to delimit the class of verbs in order to move around by highlighting lexical features that activate the interpretation in such a way. In the first part of the article, we will review the semantic notions of displacement and manner.

The linguistic description of displacement

The displacement is considered as an event of a spatio-temporal nature that causes, at successive temporal instants, a change in the spatial relationship between a moving entity to be located, called Target, and another entity serving as a benchmark or reference element, called site. If the movement of the target remains limited to the same frame of reference, it is called a change of location.

Oн ходит / бродит по комнате.

“he walks around the room”

Вертолет летает / парит над полем.

The helicopter flies / hovers over the field.

Мы плавали/катались на лодке около берега.

We swam/rode a boat near the shore.

When the displacement entails, in addition to a change of location, a change in the spatial relationship between the target and the site, it is a question of changing in rental relationship accompanied by a change of reference.

Oн вошел в комнату.

he entered the room

Oн вышел из комнаты.

He left the room

Мы убежали из дома.

We left the room.The first case is called displacement in the weak sense of the term, the second, displacement in the strict sense

The way and its expression in the language

The way is generally defined as a particular embodiment of the process: this is what would oppose moving to moving quickly / in groups / backwards or running. We will rely here on the definition of the way proposed by Moline and Stosic (2011), who consider that the way is a complex semantic value consisting in the diversification of a process, state or property by a qualitative specificity. Thus, in looking with admiration, the phrase with admiration modifies and diversifies the conceptual content conveyed by looking, bringing a qualitative determination to it. From a linguistic point of view, this specification is achieved using different types of elements and mechanisms within several levels of linguistic analysis:

  • Syntactic, through the way complements :

Он медленно идет по улице.

he walks slowly in the street

  • Grammatical, type «как»

Она ходит, как слон

she walks like an elephant

  • Morphological, through different processes of word construction

Он расхаживал по саду, как у себя дома.

He was walking in the garden taking his time as if he were at home

  • Lexical, when coded in the sense of lexemes

Он плетется в школу

He goes to school dragging his feet

We will look at this last mode of construction of the meaning of way, in particular in the case of verbs which lexicalize the way of moving. Their relatively large number in Russian is explained by the fact that some fundamental semantic components of displacement, such as path and direction, are expressed by preverbs, for example: в(о)- « enter », вы- « go out », при- « arrive », про- « cross, browse », от- « move away », у- « go», .., which leaves the verbal base available for component support in such a way.

Problem Statement

Several observations are made upon Malagasy students, which are pursuing their studies in Russian language, and focusses on common errors in their final reports, coursework and in their everyday speech. Indeed, one can notice inappropriate use of Russian verbs of movement that violates semantics that lead the authors to following hypothesis on that phenomena, such as:

  • Confusing verbs of movement, i.e., not considering the direction (unidirectional or non-directional), the number of repetitions (multiple or non-multiple), and their dependency (dependent or independent)
  • Allocating one meaning to several verbs, as the verb “to go”, in Malagasy “mandeha”.
  • Using lexically and grammatically incompatible verbs of movement, driven often by constant necessity of translation.
  • Using verbs, whose meanings are allocated for speech use only.

Thus, one can notice a lack of methodology when teaching Russian as a foreign language, and Malagasy students are often misunderstanding lexical and grammatical requirements when applying Russian verbs of movements, that often create contradictions in their speech.

A comparative analysis method is considered in this paper and takes its application in foreigner’s training process to Russian verbs of movements.

Binary Russian verbs of movement are characterized by a number of semantic features:

  • opposition unidirectional / non-directional movement: идти-the verb is unidirectional, ходить -non-directional;
  • the method of movement, which rely on environmental factors that define the nature of the movements (on the ground идти-ходить, in the water плыть-плавать, or in the air лететь-летать), and on availability of motion features during transportation (feet for walk-walk, car, airplane or ship for ride-ride);
  • the nature of the movement in terms of dependency: the verb идти-ходить describes independent movement of a subject, while the verb вести-возить also describes independent movement, but in this case the motion is influenced by other factors (e.g. a car as a mean of transport).)
  • the number of repetitions of the action or movement: the verb идти describes a single step action and is classified as a non-multiple verb, while the verb ходить describes several-step repetitive action and is classified as a multiple verb.
  • the semantic features are the same for both Russian and Malagasy languages in terms of verb of movement, but the oppositions and specifications are more accurate in Russian language.
  • directions are often neglected in Malagasy language as stated in this example. The following sentence mandeha any amin’ny dokotera izy in Malagasy may be translated into Russian as both он ходит к врачу and он идет к врачу.

In both Russian and Malagasy languages, the mean of motion (car, plane, ship, or feet) plays an important role for a better understanding of the movement in a sentence, but in Russian language, this opposition is reflected directly in the verb. For example, the verbs of movement идти – ехать and лететь are neutralized in the Malagasy language by the lexical meaning of the verb “mandeha”. In Malagasy, the mean of transport is represented separately as “mandeha tongotra” (to go by feet), “mandeha fiaramanidina” (to go by plane), “mandeha fiara” (to go by car).

In addition to mistakes related to the use of the type of prefixed verbs of movement, Malagasy students often have problems with selecting the right prefix. Vinogradov (1986) wrote that the prefix in Russian is considered as part of the verb, which is an important semantic component. The structure of the verb, including its flexibility and capacity of use are mostly driven by the various prefixes and their complex interaction with the words, that complete their meanings. Thus, prefixes are more important in the verb than suffixes according to.

The noticeable mistakes of Malagasy students in their speech in Russian language may be due to mistranslation of prefixes of Russian verbs of movement into Malagasy. Is is then necessary to consider the specifics of their mentality, when training Malagasy students, which in this case is guided by a subjective, rather than a spatial reference point. To eliminate such errors, we usually help by consciously learning excerpts from the text, in which the teacher focuses on the situation in which a particular prefixed verb of movement is used.

Research Questions

This raises the question: what should be the methodology for teaching Russian verbs of movement to malagasy students in order to help them overcome the interference of their native language?

Teaching Malagasy students Russian verbs of movement based on a comparative analysis of the lexical and grammatical semantics of the studied units will be effective if:

  • take into account the lexical, grammatical and functional properties of verbs of movement in the Russian and Malagasy languages;
  • consider verbs of movement through the prism of the Microsystem of the lexical level of the language (lexico-semantic group);
  • consider each verb of movement as an independent lexical and grammatical unit that has a complex of differentiating semantic features.

Purpose of the Study

This article aims to develop a teaching method of Russian verbs of movement to French-speaking students, based on experiments using comparative analysis on the considered subjects. To identify the most common mistakes that occur in Malagasy students when studying Russian verbs of movement, to determine their causes and to determine the best methodological solutions to eliminate these errors.

Research Methods

We used descriptive and comparative methods of linguistic research.

The methodological basis of the research is as follows:

- The idea of the interaction of languages and cultures,

- Philosophical understanding of the relationship between language and thought,

The following methods were also used: methods of general scientific research (analysis, generalization, systematization, classification, analogy, synthesis); empirical research methods: pedagogical observation, conversation, questionnaire, survey, pedagogical experience (observation, training, and control); quantitative and qualitative analysis of the results.


The main ways to eliminate errors in the use of Malagasy Russian verbs of unidirectional and non-directional movement, as well as species pairs and prefixes in prefixed verbs of movement are associated with the use of training exercises to overcome semantic interference of the native language. Foreign students should have developed knowledge about the specifics of paired verbs of movement, the ability to apply comparative analysis in practice, and build elementary phrases and sentences based on a given model. o form a solid knowledge and develop skills on this topic, a special methodology is needed, based on the native language of students, which is based on the principle of comparative analysis of facts and phenomena of the native and studied foreign (Russian) language.


In this article we have tried to show that the verbs of way of moving represent a particular class and that they are characterized by several common properties. Thus, in this article, we have tried to identify the main errors of Malagasy students in the study of verbs of movement and determine the causes of these errors. confusion in the use of Russian verbs of movement by Malagasy students is caused by the existing stereotype of perception of verbs of movement in their native language, which indicates the dominance of their focus on the subjective reference point and the action itself, the event, and not on objective movement in space and time. The main ways to eliminate errors are expressed in the use of training tasks to overcome semantic interference of the native language and develop the skill of using Russian verbs of movement in certain groups of situations.


This paper has been supported by the RUDN University Strategic Academic Leadership Program


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01 September 2021

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Cite this article as:

Vololonarimanga, A. (2021). The Main Problems When Studying Russian Verbs Of Movement By Malagasy Students. In V. M. Shaklein (Ed.), The Russian Language in Modern Scientific and Educational Environment, vol 115. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 177-182). European Publisher.