Russian Language Blog

5 Verbs of Cause and Effect in Russian Posted by on Apr 12, 2018 in language

When you are trying to make an argument, it is important to talk about what caused a certain state of affairs. This post will list five ways to express cause and effect in Russian. All verbs will be given in pairs of imperfective/perfective.

increasingly higher stacks of coins

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Вести (“to lead/take someone somewhere”) is one of the verbs of motion in Russian. Приводить can mean “to lead to something” figuratively. It is followed by к + the dative case.

Очеви́дно, что бу́рный рост предложе́ния не мог не привести́ к усиле́нию конкуре́нции.
It is apparent that the explosive growth of supply has inevitably led to increased competition.
[Ольга Максимова. Регионы онлайн. Интернет-брокерам стало тесно в столице (2002) // «Известия», 2002.04.29]


Звать is the verb for calling someone, as in saying their name or inviting them to go somewhere. Вызывать means “to cause.” It is followed by the accusative case.

Корь мо́жет вы́звать энцефали́т и пневмони́ю.
Measles may cause encephalitis and pneumonia.
[В. В. Зверев, Н. В. Юминова. Проблемы кори, краснухи и эпидемического паротита в Российской Федерации (2004) // «Вопросы вирусологии», 2004.05.03]

teddy bear with a tissue and a thermometer

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The corresponding passive participle is вызванный; you may often see the short form вызван. This participle needs to agree with the noun it modifies in gender, number, and case (for full-form participles).

Чем бы́ли вы́званы взры́вы, пока́ неизве́стно.
It is not yet known what caused the explosions.
[Сейсмологи утверждают, что в КНДР произошло 2 взрыва (2004) // РБК, 2004.09.12]

Влечь/повлечь (за собой)

Волочить is the verb for “drag.” Влечь за собой, literally “to drag after itself,” is a more formal way of saying “to cause something, to have something as a consequence.”

Экономи́ческий рост после́дних лет повлёк за собо́й высо́кие зарпла́ты в ча́стном се́кторе, поэ́тому молодёжь идёт в нау́ку неохо́тно, осо́бенно в мегапо́лисах.
Recent economic growth has caused salaries in the private sector to rise, so young people are reluctant to go into research, especially in large cities.
[Программа развития РАН В. Е. Фортова. Основные элементы программы // «За науку», 2013]


Условие means “condition.” Consequently, обусловить means “to create the conditions for something,” as it were. This is a more formal way of saying “to cause.” Обусловить is followed by the accusative case.

Огро́мная террито́рия Казахста́на обусло́вливает большо́е разнообра́зие приро́дных ландша́фтов.
Kazakhstan’s vast territory of is the reason for the wide variety of its natural landscapes.
[Лесопирологическая характеристика Казахстана (2004) // «Лесное хозяйство», 2004.02.17]

Most often than the active verb, you will see the passive participle обусловлен(ный).

Тако́е положе́ние обусло́влено ни́зким у́ровнем коллекти́вного иммуните́та, пре́жде всего́ у де́тского населе́ния.
This state of affairs is caused by the low level of herd immunity, primarily among children.
[В. В. Зверев, Н. В. Юминова. Проблемы кори, краснухи и эпидемического паротита в Российской Федерации (2004) // «Вопросы вирусологии», 2004.05.03]

person's feet in front of a fireplace

Image via Pixabay


The primary sense of объяснять/объяснить is “to explain.” Объясняться means “to be explained by something.” You may have noticed I did not list a perfective form for this verb. This sense of the verb cannot refer to a one-time, discrete action, so it will always be imperfective.

Э́та любо́вь к теплу́ объясня́лась почте́нным во́зрастом Тара́са: ему́ бы́ло о́коло девяно́ста лет.
This love of warmth was due to Taras’s advanced age — he was around ninety.
[Д. Н. Мамин-Сибиряк. Приемыш (1893)]

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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available in English on her website and Twitter and in Russian on Telegram.


  1. Eloise Boyle:

    Hi! I love your posts and always look forward to reading them. Just one thing – in your introduction you say, “All verbs will be given in pairs of perfective/imperfective.” But the verbs are listed imperfective/perfective.


  2. David:

    What about the verbs причинять/причинить? My dictionary lists быть причиной first in its ways of rendering “to cause.” Is that a more common formulation than simply using the verb derived from the same word?

    • Maria:

      @David That’s an excellent question, David. Причинять does have that sense of causation, but it only collocates with certain nouns, mostly denoting unpleasant things: причинять боль (pain), страдания (suffering), неудобство (inconvenience), вред (harm). It is similar to the English “inflict.” Быть/являться причиной certainly works, although it is a bit more formal.
      So, we could say “Парниковые газы — причина глобального потепления” (Greenhouses gases are the cause of global warning) or “Парниковые газы вызывают глобальное потепление” (Greenhouse gases cause global warning) but not “Парниковые газы причиняют глобальное потепление“.
      I wouldn’t even use приводить in the example above; just because an object does not usually lead to anything but an action does. So if I wanted to use приводить, I’d say “Выброс парниковых газов приводит к глобальному потеплению” (Greenhouse gas emissions lead to global warming).
      I hope this clears things up a bit!