Albanian: Imperfect / Past Tense


New Member

I've an upcoming exam in Albanian this week (written Albanian), but I still struggle with some things. Among them; separating the imperfect and the past tense (for example ishe vs. qeshë). I've learnt that in French, the imperfect is used to describe an action that is unfinished, or is taking place while something else occurs. I could guess its function differs from French to Albanian.
Could someone please explain the difference between both of the tenses? From what I've seen, it seems like they are used indifferently.

Any suggestions are well appreciated!
  • AgonSK

    New Member
    Italian and Albanian
    In Albanian are 4 verb tenses that express a past action, with each of them varying with regard to the duration of the action and its "location" in a particular point in time.
    Let's use the verb "këndoj" ("to sing", actually first person singular in the present tense) to see the differences between the four (note that the names I used for the four tenses may differ depending on the book/material you use, but that's not a problem once you learn their differences):

    - past tense: root of the verb, in this case "kënd" + "ova, ove, oi, uam, uat, uan". "Unë këndova për 10 minuta" ("I sang for ten minutes), "Ti këndove shumë mirë" ("You sang very well").
    --> finished action in the past
    --> it gives the idea of a recent action, not so far in the past, or that's just happened.

    - present imperfect tense: "kënd" + "oja, oje, onte, onim, onit, onin". "Kur isha fëmijë këndoja ne korin e shkollës time" ("As I child I sang in the choir of my school"), "Para disa viteve ai kendonte shumë mirë, por tani nuk këndon më." (Some years ago he sang very well, but now he doesn't sing anymore.")
    ---> past action that last for some time (idea of repetitiveness)
    ---> it generally gives the idea of an action that happened quite some time ago, although it can be used for actions that have just happened).

    - past perfect tense: present tense of verb "to have" + past participle, formed using the root of the verb, in this case "kënd" + "uar". "Kanë kënduar shumë mirë" ("They sang very well"), "Këngëtari ka kenduar të gjitha hitet e tij" ("The singer sang all of his hits")
    ---> this tense is virtually identital to the past tense in its usage and can be considered interchangeable. Differences are too subtle to point out and largely depend on very specific situations.

    - past plusperfect tense: past tense of the verb "to have" + past participle. "Pate kënduar shumë mirë para se të shinin ata" ("You sang/were singing very well before they saw you"), "Ndërkohë, ata i paten kënduar të gjitha këngët e tyre" ("In the meantime, they had sung all of their songs").
    ---> it expresses a fnished past action that happened before another finished past action.

    If you have other questions feel free to ask.