Bosnian (BCS): Equivalent of English present perfect tense

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musicalchef

Senior Member
English; USA
Selam/Zdravo,

I was wondering if there is a grammatical equivalent to the English present perfect tense in Bosnian. For example:

Simple past: I saw "Scooby Doo."
Present Perfect: I have seen "Scooby Doo."

In present perfect, the time the event happened, and the number of times it happened, are not specified. They do not have to be specified in simple past either, but if someone said the first sentence to me I would assume that it had happened just once, and very recently.

The construction of Bosnian simple past obviously sounds more like English present perfect, but seems to be used the way English simple past is.

So what I was wondering is, if we translated the above two sentences into Bosnian, would there be a difference? If so, would the difference be grammatical, or would we have to differentiate by adding other words (eg, specify a time for the first sentence, and say something like "before" for the second)?
 
  • phosphore

    Senior Member
    Serbian
    Usually there is no some systematic difference; however, you could maybe somehow differentiate these two in the situation you mentioned ("I've seen that film" and "I saw that film") by changing the verbal aspect: "gledao sam taj film" would be "I've seen that film" while "pogledao sam taj film" would be "I saw it".
     

    WannaBeMe

    Senior Member
    Serbian (ijekavian)
    There is no real equivalent , you have to learn to think on the language you learn.
    This tense is called PRESENT PERFECT so equivalents are PREZENT and PERFEKT.

    I have lived in London - Živim u Londonu (prezent).
    I have seen her this month.- Video sam je ovoga meseca (perfekt perfective verb).
    I have been seeing her this month. - Viđao sam je ovog meseca (perfect imperfective verb).
     

    Diaspora

    Senior Member
    USA
    Serbocroatian, English
    That is a very tricky question. There no present perfect per se in BCS, instead it is made by aspects (complete vs. incomplete, repetitive, momentary, progressive). A 1000 years ago, the "aorist" was the present simple, but today it has restricted use. The "Perfect Tense" in Slavic used to be just like in English, that is the reason why it is made as an auxillary. But over the centuries it became a regular simple past tense!

    Vidio sam majku. (Perfect tense, perfective aspect)-I saw mother.
    Vidjao sam majku.(Perfect tense, imperfective aspect)-I have seen my mother/I was seeing my mother.

    Vidjeh majku. (Aorist, Perfective aspect)- I saw mother. It means one has seen their mother but the focus is on that very moment, usually after some other action.

    Vidjah majku. (Imperefect, Imperfective aspect)-"continiously seeing your mother as a progressive action" *used only in literature
     

    Duya

    Senior Member
    Whatever
    So what I was wondering is, if we translated the above two sentences into Bosnian, would there be a difference? If so, would the difference be grammatical, or would we have to differentiate by adding other words (eg, specify a time for the first sentence, and say something like "before" for the second)?
    Tentatively, no difference. In order to differentiate them, you would indeed need to use other words (e.g. "već"=already for Present Perfect semantics). I think that's the case with all Slavic languages, with possible exception of Bulgarian and Macedonian, which have quite different tense system.

    However, I don't feel that the language is lacking any expressivity because of that. I've never felt the need to distinguish the two, because normally you know the time frame of the event from the context. Indeed, it was difficult to me, like I suppose 99% of Slavic learners of English, to learn when to use one and when the other tense.
     

    phosphore

    Senior Member
    Serbian
    However, I don't feel that the language is lacking any expressivity because of that. I've never felt the need to distinguish the two, because normally you know the time frame of the event from the context.
    Exactly.

    Indeed, it was difficult to me, like I suppose 99% of Slavic learners of English, to learn when to use one and when the other tense.
    I have not learnt it yet. :D
     

    musicalchef

    Senior Member
    English; USA
    Hvala!

    I had to teach present perfect last year (to Arabic speakers). It's not at difficult as the seven ways of expressing the future in English!

    So is there a work that is used like English "before" (I've eaten sushi before), or do you have to say "once" or "a few times" to get your meaning across?

    In this case, present perfect is used to denote an experience one has had, probably not recently, at an undefined time.
     

    Duya

    Senior Member
    Whatever
    So is there a workd (?) that is used like English "before" (I've eaten sushi before), or do you have to say "once" or "a few times" to get your meaning across?
    If it's not obvious from the context, you need to use an adverb to clarify the time frame:

    Već sam jeo suši. (I've already eaten sushi.)
    Jeo sam suši prije/ranije. (I've eaten sushi before.)
    Jeo sam suši već nekoliko puta. (I've eaten sushi few times already.)
    Juče sam jeo suši (I ate sushi yesterday.)

    Note, however, the existence of perfective aspect, which also compensates for relative lack of tenses in BCS. That is also not always easily translatable into English tense system:

    Pojeo sam suši. (I have eaten [the] sushi/I ate [the] sushi).
    Već sam pojeo suši. (I've already eaten [the] sushi.)
    Juče sam pojeo suši (I ate [the] sushi yesterday. [and I haven't left anything])

    In the examples above, the perfective aspect indicates that I completed the act of eating; that means that I ate a particular portion of sushi (not just tasted any kind of it), thus the implied "the". But the nuances are fine.
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    If it's not obvious from the context, you need to use an adverb to clarify the time frame:

    Već sam jeo suši. (I've already eaten sushi.)
    Jeo sam suši prije/ranije. (I've eaten sushi before.)
    Jeo sam suši već nekoliko puta. (I've eaten sushi few times already.)
    Juče sam jeo suši (I ate sushi yesterday.)

    Note, however, the existence of perfective aspect, which also compensates for relative lack of tenses in BCS. That is also not always easily translatable into English tense system:

    Pojeo sam suši. (I have eaten [the] sushi/I ate [the] sushi).
    Već sam pojeo suši. (I've already eaten [the] sushi.)
    Juče sam pojeo suši (I ate [the] sushi yesterday. [and I haven't left anything])

    In the examples above, the perfective aspect indicates that I completed the act of eating; that means that I ate a particular portion of sushi (not just tasted any kind of it), thus the implied "the". But the nuances are fine.
    To make things even more complicated, word order and pronoun dropping/non-dropping can also be used to add additional subtleties in sentences of this sort. This is often a matter of peculiar local speech or even the speaker's individual style. Still, in actual everyday speech, you'll usually hear sentences somewhat different from the basic examples listed above. From Shtokavians who speak something close to standard BCS, you might hear something like e.g. "jeo sam ja to već" or "to sam ja jeo već mnogo puta".
     
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