The Past Tense in Slovene

Slovene might be a difficult language to learn, but thankfully, the pattern of Slovene verbs is much easier to understand. We’ve learnt about the Present Tense – Sedanjik, now we will learn about the Past Tense – Preteklik.

Preteklik, the Past Tense

The Slovene Past Tense is very simple. You just need to remember one formula and a bunch of exceptions:

Past Tense = To Be (Present Tense)¹ + Participle² + L_³

¹ To Be (Present Tense)
Here’s a reminder table of To Be – Biti, in Present Tense.

Jaz

sem

nisem

Ti

si

nisi

On, Ona, Omo

je

ni

Midva, Midve / Medve

sva

nisva

Vidva, Vidve / Vedve

sta

nista

Onadva, Onidve

sta

nista

Mi, Me

smo

nismo

Vi, Ve

ste

niste

Oni, One

so

niso

² Participle
The Participle, like in English, is the “root” of the verb that remains “unchanged”.
For example: to cook – I cook – I cooked.

To find the participle in Slovene is very simple.

  • IF the verb ending is -ti, you take it out then you have the participle. + L
    For example: kuhati (to cook) – sem kuhal (I cooked).
  • IF the verb ending is -či, it becomes a bit more complicated because it becomes ke + L_. For example: teči (to run) – sem tekel (I ran).
  • And… some verbs are exceptions, and you need to learn them by ♥.

³ L_
As we know, Slovene is a very precise language – it makes a difference between singular, dual and plural as well as  male, female and neutral (which less used) – so the L_ indicated that precision.

Male (STOL -chair)

Female (ŠOLA -school)

Neutral (LETALO -airplane)

Singular

STOL

ŠOLA

LETALO

Dual

STOLA

ŠOLI

LETALI

Plural

STOLI

ŠOLE

LETALA


My trick is to remember the singular masculine form and just change the ending according to the subject.

Here’s an example using a verb that ends with -ti like govoriti, to talk.

Male

Female

Singular

Jaz sem govoril

Jaz sem govorila

Dual

Onadva sta govorila

Onidve sta govorili

Plural

Oni so govorili

One so govorile

*For the curious, biti, to be is regular ∴  jaz sem bil. (Other verbs: pisati, to write; vedeti, to know; gledati, to watch; študirati, to study…)

With verbs ending with -či, like reči, to say: the -či becomes -ke+l_.

Male

Female

Singular

Jaz sem rekel

Jaz sem rekla

Dual

Onadva sta rekla

Onidve sta rekli

Plural

Oni so rekli

One so rekle

*Please notice how the e is underlined, it means that it will disappeared when conjugated. (Other verbs: vreči, to pull; peči, to bake, teči, to run; obleči, to get dressed…)

As I’ve mentioned before, some verbs fall into the “exceptions” box and you will just need to know them.

Some verbs fall into the “exception box”, like iti, to go and jesti, to eat – and you just have to know it by ♥.

Male

Female

Singular

Jaz sem šel / jedel

Jaz sem šla / jedla

Dual

Onadva sta šla / jedla

Onidve sta šli / jedli

Plural

Oni so šli / jedli

One so šle / jedle

Other exceptions are: priti, to come (prišel); oditi, to leave (odšel)najti, to find (našel)…


Just remember the formula: Past Tense = To Be (Present Tense) + Participle + L_ and that the L_ ‘s conjugation goes with the Subject. (For example, Marko je gledal televizijo in Anna je študirala slovenščino.)

For learning verbs, a learning tool that I absolutely recommend is Slovenski Glagol by Rada Lečič. I hope that didn’t confused you too much. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me via the comment box below.


Discover more Slovene “lessons” that might interest you: Slovene Numbers & Numerals, Slovene Nouns & Pronouns, Slovene Verbs, Slovene AdjectivesSlovene SyntaxSlovenian Idioms.

Let’s learn,
Anna.

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