Ходить, идти, ехать, ездить: simple explanation

Ходить, идти, ехать and ездить are one of the most tricky verbs of the Russian language. So, the following explanation will ease your understanding of the topic.

Don’t skip free quizlet flashcards and .pdf worksheets that I attach after each section. At the end of the post, you’ll also find some practical tips on how to learn these verbs properly.

From my first post about the verbs of motion, you know that the way of moving in space is different for the Russian language. And when it comes to a verb of motion, you have to choose between unidirectional and multidirectional.

However, some of the verbs need to be even more specific and take into account not only the way you move in space but also how exactly you move: by vehicle or on foot. These verbs are: ходить-идти and ехать-ездить.

The best way to represent this idea is to put them inside of the following chart:

I don’t recommend learning all of the verbs and their forms at once since it’s very easy to mix them up. There’re different ways to continue learning them: either by type of moving in space or by the presence of transportation.

On the first step, personally I prefer to teach multidirectional verbs apart from unidirectional (the first option).

This is the way I’m offering you to continue learning practicing following the couples: идти + ехать and then ходить + ездить.

For your convenience, I attach the chart in .pdf with all of the present tense forms here.

Идти and ехать

As you already know, we use идти and ехать to mark the motion in one direction. Where идти means to go on foot and ехать – to go by vehicle.

This is how we conjugate the verbs in the present tense.

For you to be able to learn them faster, I’ve also prepared a Quizlet that you can also use absolutely for free. Use the audio to memorize correct stresses!

Free Quizlet flashcards: идти + ехать

There are three important things that are often omitted in the studentbooks.

1. Present tense for future events

Another important thing to mention is that we often use идти and ехать in the present tense when we talk about our plans or the nearest future. So, don’t be surprised to see the sentences like:

  • Завтра мы идём в кино. (We’re going to the cinema tomorrow).
  • В следующем году мы едем в Испанию. (Next year we’re going to Spain).

2. Use идти with events that last in time

It’s interesting that in the Russian language some events that last in time also “walk”, so we use идёт with them. For example,

  • Сегодня идёт дождь. (It’s raining today).
  • Смотри! Снег идёт! (Look! It’s snowing!)
  • Время идёт очень быстро. (The time goes by very soon).
  • Скорее! Кино уже идёт. (Hurry up! The film is already on!)

In the following worksheet, you’ll find more examples of such events. The usage of the verb идти is logical since none of these events go back and forth in time or space. And, of course, neither snow nor a film uses transportation.

3. When the transportation isn’t important

Sometimes it’s not important how exactly we go somewhere: by transport or not. In this cases, we use идти for locations that are close to us, and ехать for those, that are far. For instance,

  • Сегодня мы идём в театр. (We’re going to the theatre today). Theatres are usually located within the city area, which means close to us, so we use идти. Though if you want to emphasize that you drive there or take a taxi, you can use ехать.
  • Мне нужно ехать в аэропорт. (I need to go to the airport). Usually, airports are quite distanced and we typically use transportation to get there, so we use ехать.

Time for practice! Upload and accomplish the following worksheet now.

Worksheet in .pdf: идти и ехать

Ходить and ездить

Okay, the verbs ходить and ездить are multidirectional, so use them every time when you mean any movement in more than one direction or a repeated action. Use ходить when you go on foot and ездить when you use transport.

These are the forms in the present tense.

Use the free Quizlet to memorize the forms faster. Make sure to use audio, because the stresses are cunning here.

1. Use ходить for hobbies

To sound natural in Russian change the beginners “Я изучаю русский язык” (I study Russian) to “Я хожу на русский”. The last would mean that you visit the Russian language club or classes.

In such sentences use НА + the accusative case.

Here are some more examples when we apply ходить to our hobbies.:

  • Я хожу на танцы. (I go dancing).
  • Я хожу на дзюдо. (I do judo).
  • Я хожу на скрипку. (I go to violin classes).
  • Я хожу на фитнес. (I go to fitness).

2. Use the past form as a synonym of был (was).

I’ll soon write a separate post about the past tense of the verbs of motion, but the following thing is so basic, that I can not help but share it here.

We often use the past forms of the verbs ходить and ехать as a synonym of the phrase “was somewhere”.

For instance:

  • Мы ездили в театр. = Мы были в театре.
    • We went to the theatre. = We were in the theatre.
  • Мы ходили в зоопарк. = Мы были в зоопарке.
    • We went to the zoo. = We were in the zoo.

To practice the forms of the verbs ходить and ехать, do the exercises from the worksheet below.

Worksheet in .pdf: ходить и ездить

How not to mix up the verbs of motion

Unlike the other verbs of motion, ходить, идти, ехать and ездить are pretty difficult not to mix up, so here several tips that will let you avoid making mistakes.

  1. Don’t study all at once. The pace of each student is different but generally, it’s a mistake to study all forms of verbs in the present together with past and future forms and with prefixed verbs. Learn one piece at a time. Once you’ve learned one type, move to another. Don’t hurry up. Otherwise, there’s a risk to make a nice Olivier salad in your head. 
  2. Please, pay attention to pronunciation and stress. Since, for example, in the fast spoken speech the form идёт (goes) it’s easy to pronounce like идиот (an idiot). And we don’t need that, right? You can control your pronunciation with quizlets that you can find above as I personally voiceover the phrases in the flashcards.
  3. Don’t rely on signal words. While learning verbs of motion you’ll often see some signal words like “by car”, or “usually” or “tomorrow”. They can give you a clue, but they can also be your false friend. So, rely on the overall meaning of the sentence rather than rely on separate words.

Conclusion

Russians think about moving in space differently and some of the verbs they use include the meaning of going by transport or on foot.

If you mix up some of the verbs, have a look on the following posts (coming soon):
ходить vs идти
ехать vs ездить

I hope the exercises above helped you memorise the forms and to understand the way the verbs of motion work in the Russian language.

This was the basic information every learner should know on the A2 level. If you want to see the article with prefixed forms, explanation of how the verbs look like in the past and future tense, let me know in the comments below!

Anastasia Korol

Anastasia Korol is an enthusiastic Russian language tutor. She gives effective, goal-oriented lessons to students all over the world. Thousands of people have already followed her Instagram.

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