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у- (u-) +‎ спеть (spetʹ), from Proto-Indo-European *spewd- (press, hurry), whence English speed.


  • IPA(key): [ʊˈspʲetʲ]
  • (file)


успе́ть (uspétʹpf (imperfective успева́ть)

  1. to have time, to find time
  2. to manage (to do something), to succeed
  3. to arrive in time (for), to be in time (for)
  4. to catch (a train, bus)

Usage notes[edit]

One of the notable ways to use the verb успеть is to indicate two events happening subsequently in a sudden way. The main clause includes не успел/успела/успело/успели and the subordinate clause starts with как. For example:

Не успе́л он заверши́ть свою́ рабо́ту на компью́тере, как случи́лась ава́рия в энергосисте́ме зда́ния.
Ne uspél on zaveršítʹ svojú rabótu na kompʹjútɛre, kak slučílasʹ avárija v enɛrgosistéme zdánija.
Just as he (almost) finished his work on a computer, a blackout occurred in the building.

The main clause has an additional perfective infinitive verb due to the finite verb, успел, also being perfective. Thus, the main clause evokes an action that intends to reach completion, but is suddenly interrupted with another event (as described by the main clause). Thus, the two subsequent events may be slightly overlapped with each other or lack any interval.


Related terms[edit]