Slovene Modal Verbs

Modal verbs in Slovene are verbs used to express the ability, possibility or necessity of something, such as can, could, must or such. And like English, it is always the combination of two verbs.

Most of the Slovene modal verbs are used with an infinitive verbs, but some are also used with a conjugated verb.

Lahko and ne smeti, ne moči

(+) Lahko (to be able to) + conjugated verb
In Slovene, lahko means “can” or “could” and it remains the same.  It is usually used with the present tense. Also, it is always used with a conjugated verb | i.e. A lahko plavaš? → Are you able to swim?

(-) Ne smeti (to not be allowed) + infinitive verb
One opposite of lahko is ne smeti, which means”to not be allowed” or “to be forbidden“. It also has a suggestive notion such as “should not“. The verb ne smeti is conjugated and used with an infinitive verb | i.e. Ne smem jesti kruha2. → I am not allowed to eat bread ∴ I shouldn’t.

(-) Ne moči (to not be able) + infinitive verb
Another opposite of lahko is ne moči – “to not be able”, but it usually used to  indicate a physical incapacity. The verb ne moči is conjugated and used with an infinitive verb | i.e. Ne morem priti. → I (physically) cannot come.

Please note that the participle of ne moči. used in Past and Future Tense is mogel. For example: nisem mogel, ona ni mogla.

Želeti and ne želeti

(+) Želeti (to wish) + infinitive verb
In Slovene, “to wish” and “to want” are very similar and it is often expressed with the verb želeti | i.e. Želim imeti psa  → I wish/want to have a dog.

(-) Ne želiti (to not wish)+ infinitive verb
Nothing special, just the negative form of želeti.


Hoteti and ne hoteti

(+) Hoteti (to really want) + infinitive verb
The verb hoteti is used to express a very strong feeling of want. Its conjugation in the present tense is irregular | i.e. Hočem potovati na Japonsko → I really want to travel to Japan.

(-) Ne hoteti (to really not want)+ infinitive verb
The conjugation of the negative form of hoteti in the present tense is also irregular | i.e. Nočem iti na morje → I really don’t want to go to the sea.

Please note that the participle of ne hoteti. used in Past and Future Tense is also hotel. For example: nisem hotel, ona ni hotela.

Morati and ni mi treba

(+) Morati (to must, to have to) + infinitive verb
The verb morati is used to express a necessity | Vsak dan moram jesti  → Everyday I must / have to eat.

(-) Ni mi treba (It is not needed for me)+ infinitive verb
The opposite of morati is the phrase ni mijaz3 treba + infinitive verb | Ni mi treba vstati ob šestih vsak dan → It is not needed that I get up everyday at 6am.

Be careful with ni mi treba. If we analyse it a bit further:

  1. ni : negative form of biti
  2. mi : personal pronoun in Third Sklon for jaz
  3. treba : “need” and it always remains the same.

∴ the Past tense is ni mi bilo treba + infinitive verb and the Future Tense is ni bo mi treba + infinitive verb.


I hope I didn’t confused you too much with the modal verbs. As you can see, most of modal verbs are combined with an infinitive verb, except lahko. Don’t forget that ne hoteti becomes nočemAlso, do not confuse ne moči (negative form) and morati (positive form):

  • ne moči → ne morem → nisem mogel
  • morati → moram → sem moral.

If you manage to remember all those little tricks, you will be able to ace the modal verbs in no time, but of course, it takes lots of practice! If you have any questions, other tricks to share or comments, don’t hesitate 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.

Reflexive Verbs and Pronouns in Slovene

The general concept of reflexive verbs in grammar refers to a verb whose direct object is its subject. In Slovene, it is better to interpret it as a verb that “reflects” back to its subject (or part of its subject).

As we know, Slovene is a very precise language and skloni seems to be everywhere. with nouns, “direct object” is associated with the Fourth Sklon – Accusative, while “indirect object” is related to the Third Sklon – Dative. No need to say that reflexive pronouns are used with reflexive verbs. And reflexive pronouns are affected by skloni, but in a different way than with nouns.


Reflexive Pronouns: “Se” and “Si”

Reflexive verbs in Slovene can easily be recognized by the short word “se” or “si“, which are reflexive pronouns.

Seis in the fourth sklon.
Si is in the third sklon.

Bonus: In Slovene, some pronouns have a “short” and a “long” version.

Sebe” is the longer version of “se“.
Sebi” is the longer version of “si“.

In Slovene, not all verbs are reflexive. Some are always non-reflexive, some are always reflexive and some can be either. For example:

  • ukvarjati se4 z risanjem6– to occupy yourself with drawing
  • zapomniti si3 sklone4– to memorize declensions
  • bati se4 pajkov2  – to be afraid of spiders
  • učiti se4 slovenščino– to learn Slovene
    učiti slovenščino– to teach Slovene
  • obleči se– to dress myself up
    obleči Anno4 – to dress up Anna

As you can see, the sklon used for the reflexive pronouns is not always the same as the sklon used for the noun. PLEASE, DO NOT PANIC!!! If you understand when to use a certain sklon, then you shouldn’t have too much trouble figuring it out.

For example, the verb umiti (to wash) has few versions:  umiti, ne umiti, umiti se4and umiti si3.

  • umiti koga4/kaj4 – to wash
    The direct object is who/what ∴ the noun is in fourth sklon.
  • ne umiti (kom2/čim2) – to not wash
    The direct object is who/what, even if it’s negative ∴ the noun is in second sklon.
  • umiti se4– to wash myself
    The direct object of the verb is directly the subject ∴ the reflexive pronoun is in fourth sklon.
  • umiti si3 lase4 – to wash my hair
    The direct object of the verb is not directly the subject ∴ the reflexive pronoun is in third sklon.

    The direct object is part of the subject ∴ the noun is in fourth sklon.

It might seems a lot at once, but do not be discourage as learning Slovene takes time and practice. Also, I believe that the best way to learn Slovene is not by memorizing everything by heart (because those you will usually forget), but to understand how to use the skloni, verbs, nouns… and how they “work” together.

I hope I didn’t confused you too much :). If you have any questions or comments, please leave me a message!


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

Let’s learn,
Anna.

Slovene Irregular Verbs in Present Tense

In general, the conjugation of regular verbs in Slovene is quite simple to remember and apply, especially in the Present Tense, as it follows a straight forward pattern.

Irregular verbs on the other hand are a little bit more tricky and it needs some practice and memorizing.

An easy way to remember verbs conjugation in Slovene is to memorize the “jazform and simply change the ending accordingly.

Regular verbs ending with -ti, such as kuhati (to cook), -ti becomes -m, ∴ jaz kuham.

Irregular verbs, such as bati se (to be afraid), the ending is same as with regular verbs, but the first part differs from its infinitive form, ∴ jaz se bojim.

Biti (sem) and Imeti (imam)

Two of the most basics verbs that we usually learnt during the early stage of learning Slovene is biti (to be) and imeti (to have). And they are irregular.

Verbs ending with –ovati or –evati

Verbs ending with -ovati, the “ova” always becomes “uje“.

  • potrebovati (potrebujem) – to need
  • potovati (potujem) – to travel
  • svetovati (svetujem) – to advise

And 95% of the verbs ending with –evati, the “eva” also becomes “uje“.

  • končevati (končujem) – to finish
  • vključevati (vključujem) – to include

Verbs ending with –či

A common ending for irregular verbs is –či. Most frequently, the “č” of the “či” is kept and, the “i” is replaced by “e“.

  • reči (rečem) – to say
  • teči (tečem) – to run
  • vleči (vlečem) – to pull
  • obleči se (oblečem se) – to get dressed
  • peči (pečem) – to bake

Another possible ending, but less frequent is the “č” of the “či” becomes “ž” but the “i” is also replaced by “e“.

  • vreči (vržem) – to throw
  • preseči (presežem) – to exceed
  • leči (ležem) – to lie down

Verbs ending with -sati

With some verbs ending with –sati, the “sa” becomes “še“. (Notice how the s changes into š.)

  • pisati (pišem) – to write
  • plesati (plešem) – to dance
  • risati (rišem) – to draw

Irregular verbs are used everyday

Some of verbs that we frequently use everyday are also irregular, but fortunately, most of you should already be familiar with them:

  • iti (grem) – to go,
  • jesti (jem) – to eat,
  • piti (pijem) – to drink,
  • brati (berem) – to read and
  • vedeti (vem) – to know.

Some verbs you might not be as familiar with, but it would be a good idea to know about them:

  • najti (najdem) – to find
  • iskati (iščem) – to look for
  • živeti (živim) – to live
  • moči (morem) – to be able to
  • hoteti (hočem) – to want
  • pasti (padem) – to fall
  • spati (spim) – to sleep

The list of irregular verbs can go on for a while and it’s probably too much to learn everything at once. Although, with time, perseverance and practice, it will become easier.

As mentioned in previous post, one of my favorite reference for verbs is Slovenski Glagol by Rada Lečič and it also includes an nice list of irregular verbs in the Present Tense.


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

Let’s learn,
Anna.

Perfect and Imperfect Verbs Table

Here’s a list of

  • infinitive form of Imperfect verb – Nedovršni glagol
  • infinitive form of Perfect verb – Dovršni glagol

For easier learning, I’ve put the Imperfect on the left and the Perfect on the right with their respective translation.

IMPERFECT – Nedovršni glagol PERFECT – Dovršni glagol
brati (to read) prebrati (to read, to read through)
dajati (to give) dati (to give)
delati (to do, to work) narediti (to do, to make)
dobivati (to get many times) dobiti (to get)
gledati (to watch) videti / pogledati (to see / to look at)
govoriti (to speak) reči /povedati (to say / to tell)
hoditi (to walk) shoditi (to start to walk)
Iskati (to look for, to search) poiskati (to look up)
izgubljati (to lose) izgubiti (to lose)
jemati (to take) vzeti (to take)
jesti (to eat) pojesti (to eat up)
kupovati (to buy, to purchase) kupiti (to buy, to purchase)
metati (to throw) vreči (to throw)
obiskovati (to attend, to visit) obiskati (to visit)
odhajati (to be leaving) oditi (to do, to leave)
odpuščati (to forgive) odpustiti (to forgive)
opazovati (to observe) opaziti (to notice)
padati (to fall) pasti (to fall)
peči (to bake, to roast) speči (to bake)
pisati (to write) napisati (to write down)
plačovati (to be paying) plačati (to pay)
pogovarjati se (to talk) pogovoriti se (to talk)
prihajati (to arrive, to come) priti (to come)
pripravljati (to prepare) pripraviti (to prepare)
skakati (to jump) skočiti (to jump)
spati (to sleep) zaspati (to fall asleep)
ugašati (to turn off) ugasniti (to turn off)
vabiti (to invite) povabiti (to invite)
vstajati (to rise) vstati (to rise, to stand up)
zamujati (to be late) zamuditi (to miss, to be late)
zapirati (to close, to shut) zapreti (to close, to shut)
zbujati (to rouse, to wake) zbuditi (to wake)

This list is obviously not completed. If there are verbs you would want to inquiry about, leave me a comment or a message and I will try my best to add them.

Please note that some verbs are only perfect or imperfect, while others are perfect and imperfect.

Anna.

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.

The Future Tense in Slovene

Slovene Verbs are quite simple and you can get around with just three tenses: Sedanjik (the Present Tense), Preteklik (the Past Tense) and today, we will learn about Prihodnjik (the Future Tense).

Prihodnjik – the Future Tense

If you understand the Slovene Past Tense quite well, then the Slovene Future Tense will be a real piece of cake for you!

The formula is very simple:

Future Tense = To be (Future Tense)¹ + Participle² + L_³

¹To be (Future Tense)

Here’s some new stuff, the verb To Be – Biti, in the Future Tense.

Jaz

bom

ne bom

Ti

boš

ne boš

On, Ona

bo_

ne bo_

Midva, Medve

bova

ne bova

Vidva, Vedve

bosta

ne bosta

Onadva, Onidve

bosta

ne bosta

Mi, Me

bomo

ne bomo

Vi, Ve

boste

ne boste

Oni, One

bojo, bodo

ne bojo, ne bodo

The other two elements, ² Participle and ³ L_ is exactly the same as in the Slovene Past Tense, I have already explained in the previous lesson, so for those who missed it, please have a look here.


The concept of Slovene Verbs is not overly difficult, but what makes it a challenge is really all the exceptions that follows a “different set of rules”. So, in my opinion, the easiest way to remember the conjugation, is to know the singular masculine form and go from there.

Here’s an example of a regular verb ending with -ti like delati, to work/to do.

Male

Female

Singular

Jaz bom delal

Jaz bom delala

Dual

Onadva bosta delala

Onidve bosta delali

Plural

Oni bodo delali

One bodo delale

*Please note that biti, to be, in the Future Tense doesn’t have a participle ∴ “jaz bom” and not “jaz bom bil” versus biti in the Past Tense, that is “jaz sem bil“.


One of my favorite reference for Slovene verbs, especially while learning the exceptions, is Slovenski Glagol by Rada Lečič. If you have any questions or other tools, let me know 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.

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.

The Present Tense in Slovene

After learning the Pronouns, we’re ready to attack on the tenses, which luckily are quite simple. In Slovene, verbs are mainly used in 3 tenses: Sedanjik (present tense), Preteklik (past tense) and Prihodnjik (future tense) – and it’s all about endings. Let’s start with the Present Tense.

Sedanjik – Present Tense

In the present tense, focus on the ending marked in red, because that’s the only thing that changes according to the subject.

Below are the verbs govoriti (to talk), reči (to say) and jesti (to eat).

GOVORITI

REČI

JESTI

Jaz

govorim

rečem

jem

Ti

govoriš

rečeš

ješ

On, Ona, Ono

govori_

reče_

je_

Midva, Midve / Medve

govoriva

rečeva

jeva

Vidva, Vidve / Vedve

govorita

rečeta

jesta

Onadva, Onidve

govorita

rečeta

jesta

Mi, Me

govorimo

rečemo

jemo

Vi, Ve

govorite

rečete

jeste

Oni, One

govorijo

rečejo

jejo / jedo

As you can see,

  • Jaz → M
  • Ti → Š
  • On → Ø (nothing)
  • Midva → VA
  • Vidva → TA
  • Onadva → –TA
  • Mi → –MO
  • Vi → –TE
  • Oni → – JO

They have the same same endings, but they are from 3 different categories of verbs.

The easiest way to nail it is to remember the “Jaz” form and simply change the ending.

  1. Govoriti is a regular verb, which follow the normal conjugation. The endings are in red. My trick is to take out the -TI from the infinitive form and simply add the ending to it.
    For example: KUHATI: KUHATIKUHAM (jaz kuham – I cook)
  2. Reči ends in -ČI, therefore it doesn’t have the typical ending. We simply change the -I to -E and add the same ending.
    For example: TEČI: TEČE → TEČEM (jaz tečem – I run)
  3. Jesti is an irregular verb and falls into a category along with 3 others verbs. The ending is normal, except for 3 pronouns: Midva, Vidva and Vi, that we add a -S before the ending. Also with those verbs, the “Oni” form has two forms.
    For example: ITI (to go) – Jaz grem – Vi gresteOni grejo/gredoVEDETI (to know) – Jaz vem – Vi veste – Oni vejo/vedoDATI (to give) – Jaz dam – Vi daste – Oni dajo/dado.

The Negative form is simple, you just add “ne” infront of the verb.
For example: ne govorim, ne rečem, ne jem

To Be and To Have

Two important and basic verbs in every language is biti, to be and imeti, to have… and they are irregular, so you will have to memorize them. They also have their own negative form, not very difficult, but still – you have to remember than they are in one word and not two, as the others verbs

BITI

 Negative

IMETI

 Negative

Jaz

sem

nisem

imam

nimam

Ti

si

nisi

imaš

nimaš

On, Ona, Ono

je

ni

ima_

nima_

Midva, Midve / Medve

sva

nisva

imava

nimava

Vidva, Vidve / Vedve

sta

nista

imata

nimata

Onadva, Onidve

sta

nista

imata

nimata

Mi, Me

smo

nismo

imamo

nimamo

Vi, Ve

ste

niste

imate

nimate

Oni, One

so

niso

imajo

nimajo

What to be careful with biti, is in the singular third person (On, Ona, Ono) the negative form is ni and not ni je, which is not Slovene.

With imeti, the ending is normal, but the e in the infinitive changes into a. Imeti jaz imam, ti imaš…


Learning any new language is not easy and you will need some solid tools that you can refer to. One tool I really like to use, which was introduced to be during my Slovene Course, is the Slovenski Glagol by Rada Lečič, which is available in many languages: English, German, Italian, Spanish and Polish.

If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate and leave them in 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.