Grammatical Aspect: Perfect vs Imperfect Verbs in Slovene

A very interesting part of the Slovene language is its grammatical aspect, glagolski vid, where a verb is used to express the position in time of an action, state or event. Those verbs are divided into two categories: perfect and imperfect verb – known respectively as dovršni glagol and nedovršni glagol.

Understanding the concept is easy, but knowing which Slovene verb is perfect or imperfect can be quite tricky.

Perfect vs Imperfect Verbs

The term “perfect” verbs usually brings confusion. You might think that because a verb is categorized as “perfect” that it would be something regular, simple and easy… but it is not the case.

I’ve noticed that sometimes, the perfect verbs in Slovene have some “add-on” on its imperfect version. For example:

  • to cook: kuhati (imp)  and skuhati(perf)
  • to read: brati(imp) and prebrati(perf)
  • to search: iskati(imp) and poiskati(perf)

Unfortunately, it is not foul-proof, and you will still have to learn the verbs, but it can help you at the start.


The Perfect Verbs, Dovršni Glagoli

In Slovene, a dovršni glagol is defined as:

  • a verb that gives a result at the end, like an achievement
    i.e. narediti (to do, to make), skuhati (to cook, to prepare food), naučiti se (to learn)
  • a verb that define an action that is done once
    i.e. plačati (to pay once), skočiti (to jump once)
  • a verb that express the beginning  of an ongoing action
    i.e. zaspati (to fall asleep), steči (to start run)

The Imperfect Verbs, Nedovršni Glagoli

Nedovršni glagol is always associated with a period of time and they are defined as:

  • a verb that is ongoing in time
    i.e. delati (to do), kuhati (to cook), učiti se (to learn)
  • a verb that is a repetitive action, done many time
    i.e.  plačovati (to pay many times), skakati (to jump many times)
  • a verb that describe a long action
    i.e. spati (to sleep), teči (to run)

Perfect and imperfect verbs can be quite confusing, as there is no absolute rule to help identify a verb as dovršni or nedovršni. Although, here’s a  little helper:

  • kaj naredim (what do I do) → Perfect
  • kaj delam (what am i doing) → Imperfect
Check my Perfect and Imperfect Verbs Table.

While learning verbs, one source that I use and totally recommend is Slovenski Glagol by Rada Lečič. Also, please note that some verbs are only perfect or imperfect, while others are perfect and imperfect.

Let’s learn,If you have any questions or suggestions for a better approach with the Slovene perfect and imperfect verbs, please contact me and let me know!


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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