Bosnian (BCS): perfective/imperfective verbs

musicalchef

Senior Member
English; USA
Hi,


I’m trying to learn the different verb tenses, and I keep coming across stuff about “perfective” and “imperfective” verbs. It seems that perfective verbs denote a finished action, while imperfectives denote a continuous one, but I don’t understand how they are used differently. On this site: home dot freeuk dot net slash iandart slash verbs dot htm, there is a list of verbs that are divided into “simple form” and “continuous.” Does this correspond with perfective and imperfective? It seems that they are completely separate verbs, and that there is no way to determine the other based on one of them, correct? Looks like some of them are formed by prefixes and some with infixes, or by changing one vowel. Is there any way to determine what the verb means based on what changes had taken place, or to guess whether the verb is perfective or imperfective based on its form?


Also, how are these verbs used? For example, can a verb tense be formed with only one of these? Which of them is more common? (examples please)


Thanks; I’ll probably have more questions about verb tenses later, but I’ll post them in other threads as they come up. This is a very confusing topic for me!
 
  • slavic_one

    Senior Member
    Croatian (štokavski, jekavski)
    Sorry I didn't quite get what you want to know please if you can give some examples that are not clear to you and than ask more specific question!
    But btw, I found a mistake on that site you gave (and next time please give it as a URL not with words):
    Ja se kupam/la I wash myself
    I don't know what that "la" doing here, "Ja se kupala" means nothing, and "Ja sam se kupala" is "I was bathing myself" but for female person only.
    Maybe there is some other mistakes on that site, I didn't checked it just this caught my eye!
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    I’m trying to learn the different verb tenses, and I keep coming across stuff about “perfective” and “imperfective” verbs. It seems that perfective verbs denote a finished action, while imperfectives denote a continuous one, but I don’t understand how they are used differently.

    The Slavic verb aspect has already been discussed on this forum, and you can find these discussions if you just search through the archives. However, I'm not sure how useful you'll find this information, since none of them, as far as I remember, specifically discussed the Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian verbs. The topic is very hard and complicated, and impossible to summarize in a reasonably long post (in fact, whole books could be, and probably have been written on the topic). Your description above is more or less correct, but in many cases, it can be very hard to determine what actions are perceived as "continuous" by native speakers. Your best course would probably be to try using the language actively, and look for corrections and advice in concrete situations, until you build your own intuition.

    On this site: home dot freeuk dot net slash iandart slash verbs dot htm, there is a list of verbs that are divided into “simple form” and “continuous.” Does this correspond with perfective and imperfective?
    Yes. However, I see quite a few errors on that page. For example, misliti is in fact an imperfective verb -- the perfective pair of razmišljati is razmisliti. There are also some bad typos in the tables, so don't rely on that page too much.

    It seems that they are completely separate verbs, and that there is no way to determine the other based on one of them, correct? Looks like some of them are formed by prefixes and some with infixes, or by changing one vowel. Is there any way to determine what the verb means based on what changes had taken place, or to guess whether the verb is perfective or imperfective based on its form?
    Unfortunately, there is no general rule. To make things even more complicated, these verbs often don't come in matching pairs. Sometimes a verb exists in only one form, and sometimes there exists a set of several perfective and imperfective verbs that have different "matches" depending on the context. Many verbs are also biaspectual, i.e. they can serve in both perfective and imperfective roles.

    As you already noted above, there are three ways in which imperfective verbs can be turned into perfective ones:

    (1) Changing the verb stem, e.g. kupovati/kupiti or zatvarati/zatvoriti.

    (2) Adding a prefix. You can find examples in this old post of mine (what I wrote about Croatian there holds for all BCS varieties).

    (3) Some verbs have totally irregular pairs, e.g. govoriti/reći.

    Also, how are these verbs used? For example, can a verb tense be formed with only one of these? Which of them is more common? (examples please)
    In BCS, both aspects can have all tenses (unlike in some other Slavic languages). Both aspects are used all the time, and in each situation, it's important to choose the correct one if you want to sound right.

    This is how I would formulate the simplest possible rule for choosing between aspects that will still be correct more often than not: ask yourself if the action is "stretching" through time for a continuous period or repeated regularly? If yes, use imperfective, and otherwise use perfective. Of course, there are exceptions, and it's hard to determine which actions are felt as "stretching" by native speakers, but you should be able to start with this and then work on refining your intuition by forming concrete examples and asking for corrections.

    This is a very confusing topic for me!
    You are not alone. :) This is possibly the hardest thing to learn in the grammar of any Slavic language.
     

    dudasd

    Senior Member
    Serbo-Croatian
    In BCS, both aspects can have all tenses (unlike in some other Slavic languages). Both aspects are used all the time, and in each situation, it's important to choose the correct one if you want to sound right.

    A small correction: from the middle of 20th century (actually much earlier, I am speaking just about time when the rule was formally established) aorist can be made only of perfective verbs, and imperfek(a)t can be made only of imperfective verbs. Perfective verbs in aorist and imperfective verbs in imperfek(a)t are considered to be "archaic" and "not regular anymore". (They were regular in Old Slavonic.)

    One more rule in addition: prilog vremena sadašnjeg (present participle) can be created from imperfective verbs only, and prilog vremena prošlog (past participle) can be created from perfective verbs only. Example:

    To rekavši - (after) saying that - from the perfective verb reći.
    To govoreći - (while) saying that - from the imperfective verb govoriti.
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    A small correction: from the middle of 20th century (actually much earlier, I am speaking just about time when the rule was formally established) aorist can be made only of perfective verbs, and imperfek(a)t can be made only of imperfective verbs. Perfective verbs in aorist and imperfective verbs in imperfek(a)t are considered to be "archaic" and "not regular anymore". (They were regular in Old Slavonic.)

    You're right, of course. I stand corrected. :)
     

    musicalchef

    Senior Member
    English; USA
    Thanks for all the information; I couldn't type the url since I'm new; I think I have to get 30 posts first.

    You're right; I myself have found several typos on that page and I don't know much Bosnian! I should be getting a textbook soon, so that may help, and some of the other sites in the "stickies" are helpful, although I haven't found one that discusses perfective/imperfective that thoroughly. I'll check out that Croatian thread; thanks!
     

    MIODRAG

    Banned
    none -- all languages I use are equally "foreign" to me
    The difference between "govoriti" and "reći", as well as "kazati" (which all have perfective forms: "izgovoriti", "izreći", "iskazati", which in turn can further be imperfectivised to "izgovarati", "izricati", "iskazivati"), is semantic and lexematic and as such much more fundamental than plain "perfective/imperfective" dichotomy.

    That is exactly why most languages have at the very least two and at times many more, e.g. English: "say", "speak", "tell", "say", eventually also "utter", "pronounce" etc.

    Keep also in mind "zboriti", "bes(j)editi" etc.
     

    effeundici

    Senior Member
    Italian - Tuscany
    I started studying Serbian few days ago after one week spent in Uzice.

    I must say that this aspect of Serbian grammar drives me mad! I can't even imagine in my mind how a verb can contain in itself the notion of action in progress/repetitive or completed.

    As far as you know is there any example of verbs like that in romance languages or english? I know that Latin had one pair (ardo/ardesco) but unfortunately it is now lost in Italian.

    Hvala

    Edit: I've just had a flash of inspiration thinking about the sentence ==> Yesterday I read a book. Actually this sentence is ambiguous in English (and Italian too). Are we saying that we read some pages of the books and then we fell asleep or that we started and finished the book? I can perceive in my head the 2 different meanings but I can't say which is the right one simply by reading the sentence.

    So, if I've understood well, in Serbian you say:

    Јуче сам прочитао књигу ==> Yesterday I read a book (and finished it)
    Јуче сам читао књигу ==> Yesterday I read a book (some pages)

    I suspect that if someone says : Јуче сам прочитао "Рат и мир" you'll say : Штаaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?
     
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    phosphore

    Senior Member
    Serbian
    The principal difference between perfective and imperfective verbs is that perfective verbs can't be used with aspectual verbs, such as početi (to begin) or prestati (to stop) while imperfective verbs can. To take an example with the aspectual pair pisati and napisati (to write), you may say Počeo je da piše or Prestao je da piše but you can't say *Počeo je da napiše or *Prestao je da napiše. Perfective verbs present actions they denote as indivisible in time, while imperfective verbs present them as durative or repetitive. But that doesn't help much, does it?

    To my knowledge there is no exact parallel to this concept in English or Romance languages. You can maybe compare a perfective pair such as govoriti and reći with the French verbs parler and dire, but only in the passé composé or the futur simple and the correspondence will still not be perfect. Or you may try to learn different uses and meanings perfective and imperfective verbs take in their particular forms.

    For example, for the present tense with the present or the future meaning only imperfective verbs are used:
    Sedim i čitam (knjigu). "I'm sitting and (I'm) reading (a book)."
    Dolazim za pet minuta. "I'll be there in five minutes."
    In the present tense with the repetitive meaning, however strange it may seem, both perfective and imperfective verbs are used. Perfective verbs in this context may express that the action is not repeated regularly, that it is successfully achieved at each repetion, that it is repeated only once at each cycle or it may be stylistic:
    On nas (redovno) posećuje. "He visits us (regularly)."
    On nas ponekad poseti. "He visits us from time to time."
    In the perfect tense it's even more complicated. If there is a resultative meaning involved (as with the English present perfect), perfective verbs are used when the result is still current, while imperfective verbs are used when it's not.
    Otvorio smo prozor. "I (have) opened the window."
    Otvarao smo prozor. "I (had) opened the window."
    If there is no resultative meaning involved (as with the English past simple), perfective verbs are used for singular actions, while imperfective verbs are used for durative or repetitive actions.
    Videli smo se i (kratko) popričali. "We saw each other and we talked (a little)."
    Pričali smo pola sata. "We talked for half an hour."
    In the future tense it's quite simple though. Perfective verbs are used for actions that will occur once, while imperfective verbs are used for actions that will last or be repeated.
    Sigurno će doći. "I'm sure he/she/they'll come."
    Odsad ću svaki dan ovde dolaziti. "From now on I'll be coming here every day."
    I'll stop here because I'm not sure if this helps either. :rolleyes:
     

    phosphore

    Senior Member
    Serbian
    So, if I've understood well, in Serbian you say:

    Јуче сам прочитао књигу ==> Yesterday I read a book (and finished it)
    Јуче сам читао књигу ==> Yesterday I read a book (some pages)

    I suspect that if someone says : Јуче сам прочитао "Рат и мир" you'll say : Штаaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?

    Actually, your first example only means that you finished reading it yesterday, but not that you read it all in one day. Thus the reaction doesn't have to be "Штаaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?". :D

    If you would like to say that you read it all in one day you should say:
    Juče sam za dan pročitao "Rat i mir".
    (In that case you couldn't use the imperfective verb.) The reactions would probably be something like:
    Ne rise??
    But for the second example you are right, it means that you read some pages, but that you didn't finish the book.
     

    effeundici

    Senior Member
    Italian - Tuscany
    Mmmhh, very interesting...but it seems the matter is more complicated than I hoped it was.

    Anyway the most intriguing fact for me is that I spent the week in Uzice with 2 guys almost perfectly bilangual Italian-Serbian.

    I had noticed that in Serbian there are 2 verbs for each Italian verb. I asked them what was the difference between the 2 and the funny thing is that none of them was able to explain the difference.

    They said: "Well, uhm, jesti, pojesti, najesti....ehm...well , uhm, Serbian is a very difficult language!"
     

    phosphore

    Senior Member
    Serbian
    It sure is a foreign concept for speakers of Romance or Germanic languages, but if we all managed to master it perfectly by the age of five it can't be that difficult to learn. :p

    All you need to learn is to come to think about actions as being divisible or not on the timeline. Some actions are always indivisible, such as singular events in the past or in the future. Some other actions are always divisible, such as durative actions in the past or in the present or durative and repetitive in the future. Others may be divisible on indivisible, depending on your perspective. Easy, isn't it? :p
     

    effeundici

    Senior Member
    Italian - Tuscany
    Of course, but what strikes me is that 2 guys who have spoken excellent Serbian and Italian for more than 20 years have never got awareness of this important different approach of the 2 languages.

    One of them says that when he translates from Serbian to Italian feels that Serbian is more precise, but nothing more.

    I repeat, they were not able to explain the difference between the perfective verb and the imperfective one. I could perceive their brain was in a total confusion when trying to answer my question.

    And they are educated people. I found it quite interesting; they own and master perfectly 2 very different approaches but in 20 years of bilingual life have never been able to compare them.
     
    I assume the two were native Serbian speakers? In that case, they didn't really need to know the theory behind aspects to translate into Italian as Italian doesn't have them. And when translating into Serbian they probably just went into native-speaker mode.

    But I'll bet they did pay attention to articles, because they didn't learn them in their native Serbian and had to learn them to speak Italian properly.
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    I repeat, they were not able to explain the difference between the perfective verb and the imperfective one. I could perceive their brain was in a total confusion when trying to answer my question.
    It's strange that they can't explain the difference if they are, as you say, educated people - but it can happen.
    I guess those "born" with the difference of perfective/imperfective find it easier to adapt to languages which don't have it on an intuitive basis (without studying grammar closely), while the other way round it is definitely very difficult to understand, let alone use aspect correctly.
    (This still is a major difficulty for me too, I never managed to use aspect in speech fluently, and correctly for the most part, even though intellectually I think - I hope :) - to understand the basics, more or less.)

    There's a Wiki article about Aktionsart (only German, sorry) which is not the same thing as aspect but similar in some respects; the most important thing about comparing Aktionsart with aspect is never to forget that they're not identical (not even close!), and that comparison is only useful to help understanding aspect. :)

    It says there about Italian that the Italian verb form "eram" is durative, which would compare to imperfective aspect, while "fui" is ingressive, marking the beginning of an action, which in some cases is translated with perfective but in others with imperfective aspect.

    And there's even one parallel to Slavic verbs turned to iterative ("repetitive") ones with the infix "-ova-" (examples again from the German Wiki article): Italian "dormire" (simply durative, and translated with imperfective) vs. Italian "dormicchiare" - a 'weaker' form of "to sleep", that is "to nap/doze", which would correspond to Slavic imperfective-iterative verbs with "-ova-" infix.


    Some excellent explanations of aspects have been given above already; so I'll only one very short one which probably is easier to understand at the very beginning: :)

    - imperfective: this is unmarked and fitting in most positions;

    - perfective: this is usually the marked aspect and should be used with the utmost care in present tense (beginners can start with the assumption to better not use it in present tense); perfective verbs mark that either beginning and/or end of an action are precisely determined and known, as opposed to imperfective verbs where no such connotations exist (that is, they are "undetermined");

    - imperfective-iterative: for actions which are repeted.
     

    effeundici

    Senior Member
    Italian - Tuscany
    It says there about Italian that the Italian verb form "eram" is durative, which would compare to imperfective aspect,

    Of course, I knew that, no wonder that tense is called "imperfetto" in Italian. But that is a tense, not a verb; what my mind could not grasp is how a verb can have in itself the concept of duration.


    And there's even one parallel to Slavic verbs turned to iterative ("repetitive") ones with the infix "-ova-" (examples again from the German Wiki article): Italian "dormire" (simply durative, and translated with imperfective) vs. Italian "dormicchiare" - a 'weaker' form of "to sleep", that is "to nap/doze", which would correspond to Slavic imperfective-iterative verbs with "-ova-" infix.

    Yes! Exactly! That is indeed what I was looking for; an Italian pair of verbs whose different meanings lay on the ground of duration and repetition.

    Why this? Because I wanted to discover in a remote corner of my mind the sensations felt by slavonic native-speakers when they use perfective-imperfective verbs. I thought it was a good starting point to learn Serbian in a more effective way.

    And I found many actually. Do you think, for example, a good example could be the pair jump/hop in English?

    In Italian there are many others which can resemble a perfective/imperfective pair (not exactly the same of course but it seems to me that they touch the same keys of my brain keyboard) :

    baciare/sbaciucchiare - to kiss / to kiss repeatedly
    saltare/saltellare - to jump / to hop
    toccare / tocchicchiare - to touch / to touch repeatedly
    bere / sbevazzare - to drink / to drink a lot and often


    What do you think?
     

    Duya

    Senior Member
    Whatever
    I must say that this aspect of Serbian grammar drives me mad! I can't even imagine in my mind how a verb can contain in itself the notion of action in progress/repetitive or completed.

    As far as you know is there any example of verbs like that in romance languages or english? I know that Latin had one pair (ardo/ardesco) but unfortunately it is now lost in Italian.

    My pet remark here is that presence of aspect compensates for our relative lack of tenses (or vice versa, if you like), compared with Romance and Germanic languages. Basically, we do not have perfective and continuous tenses, as in English, and we do not really use more than one past tense, as in French (not to talk about subjunctive :) ): the notions of completeness or progressivity contained in those tenses are already contained in our (im)perfective verbs.
     

    effeundici

    Senior Member
    Italian - Tuscany
    All this is very interesting! A huge new perspective I did not imagine.

    Just to check and learn, how would you describe the difference between the verbs:

    ljubiti / poljubiti
     
    All this is very interesting! A huge new perspective I did not imagine.

    Just to check and learn, how would you describe the difference between the verbs:

    ljubiti / poljubiti

    Perhaps not really proper English, but:

    Ljubio sam je. - I've been kissing her.
    Poljubio sam je. - I kissed her.

    Ljubiću je. - I'll be kissing her.
    Poljubiću je. - I'll kiss her.

    It seems to me that if in English you can express the action with be + -ing construct, imperfect verb is often the one that you would use in BCS. Or am I wrong?
     
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    effeundici

    Senior Member
    Italian - Tuscany
    Perhaps not really proper English, but:

    Ljubio sam je. - I've been kissing her.
    Poljubio sam je. - I kissed her.

    Wow; that's good. In Italian too I could use two different verbs in the same tense to express (more or less) those different situations :)

    I'll try to build a natural knowledge of Serbian verbs upon these foundations.

    Hvala everybody.
     
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    effeundici

    Senior Member
    Italian - Tuscany
    Perhaps not really proper English, but:

    Ljubio sam je. - I've been kissing her.
    Poljubio sam je. - I kissed her.

    Ljubiću je. - I'll be kissing her.
    Poljubiću je. - I'll kiss her.

    It seems to me that if in English you can express the action with be + -ing construct, imperfect verb is often the one that you would use in BCS. Or am I wrong?

    In my opinion I'll be kissing her can only be imperfective, whereas I'll kiss her is grammatically ambiguous in English and can be perfective or imperfective depending on the context.

    I'm so excited, tomorrow I'll kiss her for the first time! (Perfective)
    Tomorrow I'll be home and will kiss you all day long! (Imperfective)

    Well, actually, this is only a brave try. I'm elaborating a complicated theory comparing two languages which are not mine!! :D
     
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    Duya

    Senior Member
    Whatever
    All this is very interesting! A huge new perspective I did not imagine.

    Just to check and learn, how would you describe the difference between the verbs:

    ljubiti / poljubiti

    poljubiti = to kiss once; to have kissed
    ljubiti = to kiss continuously/many times; to be kissing

    Caveat: Note that English continuous/perfect tenses do not work universally as equivalents to imperfective/perfective verbs; they should be taken just as a rough approximation or a similar concept; see Sokol's post above.
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Perhaps not really proper English, but:

    Ljubio sam je. - I've been kissing her.
    Poljubio sam je. - I kissed her.

    Ljubiću je. - I'll be kissing her.
    Poljubiću je. - I'll kiss her.

    It seems to me that if in English you can express the action with be + -ing construct, imperfect verb is often the one that you would use in BCS. Or am I wrong?

    I'm not sure myself if meaning is really translated correctly to English but it is at least a good approximation one can work on.

    effeundici: The perfective verb, so "poljubiti", means a single action - you met her at the party and then you kissed her (probably the kiss lasted half an hour, that's not the point - the point is that it was a "single" action in the past). Same thing in perfective future - you're stating that you will give her a kiss (be it a short one or a longer one, but a "single" action).

    It is different with the imperfective one - here the time span is not defined, the kissing thus is to be thought of either "repeatedly" (she's my girlfriend and I will kiss her now and then or all the time - the repetition of the action does not say anything about frequency of repetition :)), which is the case here, or of being "durative", that is lasting for an undetermined timespan (hard to imagine with kissing of course, but this meaning would be present with "to love", "voliti").

    And if you want to look for a parallel in English it is better to take verbs like "to eat" = eating in general, without saying anything about the timespan, versus "to eat up" = to eat and finish, that is completing the action (which of course is perfective Aktionsart - which is, again, as this is important, not the same thing as aspect, but similar nevertheless ;-).
     

    Daniel.N

    Member
    Croatian
    Good. Would you write a longer sentence to provide more context? It would be helpful to better understand the possible usage.

    Hvala unapred

    You should use imperfective verbs if you emphasize action, for instance, to say that you were doing it, to say how long you are doing something, to say that something lasted longer.

    Ljubio sam je deset minuta. I was kissing her for ten minutes. (impf.)

    Poljubio sam je dvaput. I kissed her twice. (perf.)

    In the second example, you did it twice, but you are not interested how long it took, just that you did that. The emphasize is on results.

    The best example I can think is:

    Pisao sam pismo. I was writing a letter.

    Emphasizes that you were doing it, but does not say ANYTHING about letter being finished.

    Napisao sam pismo
    . I wrote a letter.

    Just says that you are completed with writing the letter.

    There are some verbs where perfective version says that you started doing something. This is mostly with body states:

    Spavao sam
    . I was sleeping. (impf.)
    Zaspao sam. I fell asleep. (perf.)

    Sjedio sam. I was sitting. (impf.)
    Sjeo sam. I sat down. (perf.)

    In such instances, English has no single verb to translate to.
     

    phosphore

    Senior Member
    Serbian
    There are some verbs where perfective version says that you started doing something. This is mostly with body states:

    Spavao sam. I was sleeping. (impf.)
    Zaspao sam. I fell asleep. (perf.)

    Sjedio sam. I was sitting. (impf.)
    Sjeo sam. I sat down. (perf.)

    In such instances, English has no single verb to translate to.

    These are not aspectual pairs though. The aspectual counterpart of sesti iz sedati, not sedeti.
     

    Daniel.N

    Member
    Croatian
    These are not aspectual pairs though. The aspectual counterpart of sesti iz sedati, not sedeti.

    I was just making a point, I think that this relation holds

    spavati: zaspati ~ sedeti: sesti

    Other way would be to say that sedeti has no aspect pair.

    The similar thing is with stojim - stanem - stajem and with ležim - legnem - ležem.
     
    Interesting. It seems (to me) that in all three cases listed above we have

    perfective - imperfective (continuous) - imperfective (habitual, repetitive)

    sjȅsti - sjèditi - sjȅdati
    stȁti - stàjati - stȁjati
    lȅći - lèžati - lijégati
     
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    Daniel.N

    Member
    Croatian
    Interesting. It seems (to me) that in all three cases listed above we have

    perfective - imperfective (continuous) - imperfective (habitual, repetitive)

    sjȅsti - sjèditi - sjȅdati
    stȁti - stàjati - stȁjati
    lȅći - lèžati - lijégati

    True, and all three are "body position" state verbs.

    And they have similar forms in present:

    sjed-im - sjed-nem - sjedam
    stoj-im - sta-nem - stajem
    lež-im - leg-nem - liježem

    But that DOES not hold for some derived verbs:

    nastojati - nastati - nastajati
    <no verb> - pristati - pristajati

    The pattern is as with many other verbs:

    1. basic impf. verb: pisati, mazati, gurati
    2. derived perf. verb with a shift in meaning: upisati, premazati, ugurati
    3. secondary impf. verb: upisivati, premazivati, uguravati

    Here aspectual pairs are actually 2-3.
     

    LilithE

    Member
    Croatian
    I might just add that the verb ljubiti is also used as a poetic substitute for voljeti = to love. Like in a song Ljubi sam, ljubi vašu kći ...
    So Ljubio sam je also means I loved her

    And yes I agree with you Denis, there is a context of duration like in continuous forms:

    In this particular case poljubiti vs ljubiti
    -Poljubio sam je - I kissed her ( or I have kissed her ) - in the context I kissed her once ( or even several times - Poljubio sam je nekoliko puta- but still there is no duration present )
    -Ljubio sam je cijelu noć - I have been kissing her whole night - but you can't say Poljubio sam je cijelu noć
     

    Daniel.N

    Member
    Croatian
    -Ljubio sam je cijelu noć - I have been kissing her whole night - but you can't say Poljubio sam je cijelu noć

    Typically, duration and perfective verbs do not mix. But number of repetitions and when it happened do:

    Poljubio sam je dvaput.
    Poljubio sam je jučer.


    You can say:

    Poljubio sam je brzo. Ljubio sam je brzo.

    But only:

    Ljubio sam je dugo.

    Interesting, isn't it?
     
    I'm curious whether the accentual pattern can tell us something about the origin of these three-way correspondences. With the exception of lijégati, we seem to have kratkosilazni (sjȅsti - sjȅdati) in two sets and kratkouzlazni (sjèditi) in the third.
     

    phosphore

    Senior Member
    Serbian
    I'm curious whether the accentual pattern can tell us something about the origin of these three-way correspondences. With the exception of lijégati, we seem to have kratkosilazni (sjȅsti - sjȅdati) in two sets and kratkouzlazni (sjèditi) in the third.

    In my dialect the verb sédati carries a long rising accent. Also, the verbs stȁjati and stàjati got confused in the infinitive.

    But anyway, the verbs sedeti - sedati - sesti, ležati - legati - leći do form a system, just of another type. In there, sedati and sesti, legati and leći are aspectual pairs (these are verbs of action), sedeti and ležati are only imperfective, with no aspectual counterpart (these are verbs of state).
     
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    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    The best example I can think is:

    Pisao sam pismo. I was writing a letter.

    Emphasizes that you were doing it, but does not say ANYTHING about letter being finished.

    Napisao sam pismo
    . I wrote a letter.

    Just says that you are completed with writing the letter.

    There are some verbs where perfective version says that you started doing something. This is mostly with body states:

    Spavao sam
    . I was sleeping. (impf.)
    Zaspao sam. I fell asleep. (perf.)

    Sjedio sam. I was sitting. (impf.)
    Sjeo sam. I sat down. (perf.)

    In such instances, English has no single verb to translate to.
    Excellent examples (even thought the they're not aspectual pairs as phosphore pointed out, but they're good examples to explain aspect). :)

    But it would be good to add for a learner who isn't familiar with the concept; I know for sure that I never would have understood the concept of accent with those English translations given only (as the English translations obviously do not express the same concept of aspect ;-):

    Pisao sam pismo. I was writing a letter.
    The result is unclear: I wrote a letter, and I probably never finished - but probably I did: the statement is not clear in this respect, the only thing which is of interest in this statement is that I was writing a letter at the time to which this statement is referring.
    So as Daniel said, emphasis only on what you were actually doing.

    Napisao sam pismo. I wrote a letter.
    This is completely different, you need to use a different verb in English, this statement rather should be translated as "I sent a letter" (more precisely: "I wrote AND sent a letter").
    So here, emphasis is on action completed - you were writing a letter and sent it.

    Spavao sam. I was sleeping. (impf.)
    Meaning, you were sleeping while something else happened - it marks that two things are happening at the same time, and the action of "sleeping" is here the one which is not defined in length, while the action happening at the same time might be (and then would be given in perfective).

    Zaspao sam. I fell asleep. (perf.)
    This again focusses on result, and here again a different verb is needed: not "to sleep" but "to fall asleep".

    Sjedio sam. I was sitting. (impf.)
    Same thing again: I was sitting while something else happened (which would be given in perfective), or else also I was sitting while I was watching that girl over there (which then would be imperfective even though happening at the same time - or so I think, I might be wrong here ;-).

    Sjeo sam. I sat down. (perf.)
    Completely different again: focus again is on action and result - action being the process of sitting down, result being that you're sat in a chair.
     

    LilithE

    Member
    Croatian
    Napisao sam pismo. I wrote a letter.
    This is completely different, you need to use a different verb in English, this statement rather should be translated as "I sent a letter" (more precisely: "I wrote AND sent a letter").
    So here, emphasis is on action completed - you were writing a letter and sent it.

    Actually, not really. I would still use the same verb.
    You can also say: Jučer sam napisao pismo, ali ga nisam poslao. Još je na mom stolu. - I wrote a letter yesterday but I haven't sent/mailed it yet. It is still on my desk.
    You can even change your mind and throw that letter and never send it at all. The only thing that is expressed is that the action of writing a letter is completed. The destiny of that letter is unknown. :) Možda ćeš ga poslati, a možda i ne. Perhaps you'll send/mail it and perhaps not.
     
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    phosphore

    Senior Member
    Serbian
    Pisao sam pismo. I was writing a letter.
    The result is unclear: I wrote a letter, and I probably never finished - but probably I did: the statement is not clear in this respect, the only thing which is of interest in this statement is that I was writing a letter at the time to which this statement is referring.
    So as Daniel said, emphasis only on what you were actually doing.

    Napisao sam pismo. I wrote a letter.
    This is completely different, you need to use a different verb in English, this statement rather should be translated as "I sent a letter" (more precisely: "I wrote AND sent a letter").
    So here, emphasis is on action completed - you were writing a letter and sent it.

    Hold on. To say that Napisao sam pismo means I sent a letter isn't quite correct. Lilith was right when she said that Napisao sam pismo means I finished writing the letter, while Pisao sam pismo is neutral as to the fact whether I finished writing it or not. But I think this can't be properly explained without some context.

    For instance, when would we say Pisao sam pismo? Hardly ever. But we would say Ceo dan sam (juče) pisao (neko) pismo or Već dva puta sam im pisao pismo. If not expressed explicitly, such adverbial expression (durative or iterative) should be understood from the context.

    And anyway, I think that the aspect might more easily be acquired through learning of different meanings perfective and imperfective verbs take in different tenses and of different adverbial expressions that go with them. That is how we learn to use the pretérito perfecto (with esta mañana, este mes, este año...) and the pretérito indefinido (with ayer por la mañana, el mes pasado, el año pasado...), the past simple (with this morning, yesterday morning, last month, last year...) and the present perfect (with always, never, just, already, yet...). Trying to develop an understanding of the concept of aspect won't really work. We never really develop an understanding of the concept of perfect tenses. We learn the typical cases and for the rest, it gets better through practice.

    After all, there are few tenses to be learnt: the present, the perfect and the future. The imperfect is not used, the aorist is used with perfective verbs only and the pluperfect follows the same logic as the perfect. The future is really simple. The present and the perfect have a few meanings each with perfective and imperfective verbs taken separately, but it's not something that can't be learnt in a reasonable amount of time.
     
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    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Thanks for the corrections, so I did get something wrong about aspect - which, honestly, I almost expected. :)

    Aspect after all is still the one thing about Slavic languages with which I'm still struggling. :)
    (And while it might be the case for most people that learning use tenses with certain adverbial expressions works pretty well, as you suggest, phosphore, for me this never did work - not even in Spanish when I tried to grasp the concept of the different past tenses: I'm one of those who find that they either have to understand the concept in a way or else will have to accept that they'll never really learn how to use it. So my tries in trying to understand the thing itself. ;) Which indeed might not be the ideal way to try and learn the use of aspect for other learners who might find other methods more useful.)
     

    phosphore

    Senior Member
    Serbian
    And while it might be the case for most people that learning use tenses with certain adverbial expressions works pretty well, as you suggest, phosphore, for me this never did work - not even in Spanish when I tried to grasp the concept of the different past tenses: I'm one of those who find that they either have to understand the concept in a way or else will have to accept that they'll never really learn how to use it. So my tries in trying to understand the thing itself.

    Oh, me too, but the thing is, after having had to learn for an exam the different meanings perfective and imperfective verbs carry in different tenses, even though, as a native speaker, I don't need that knowledge to be capable to express myself correctly, I realised all the main uses are listed in a few pages, and that's all a beginner to intermediate speaker needs to know.
     
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    phosphore

    Senior Member
    Serbian
    I don't know if this can help anyone understand the concept, but try to think of all actions and their representations on a timeline.

    1a) for punctual events at a given moment perfective verbs are used: such events are represented as a single dot on the timeline
    Profesor je (juče) došao na vreme na čas. "The professor came to class in time (yesterday)."
    Napisao sam (sinoć) pismo Ministarstvu. "I wrote a letter to the Ministry (yesterday evening).
    Profesor će (sutra) doći na čas. "The professor is coming to class (tomorrow)."
    Napisaću im (večeras) jedno pismo. "I am writing them a letter (this evening)."
    1b) for punctual events at an indeterminate moment imperfective verbs are used: such events are represented as a single dot in a period of time
    Profesor je (juče u toku dana) dolazio na fakultet. "The professor came to the faculty (at some time yesterday)."
    Pisao sam (prošle godine) pismo Ministarstvu. "I wrote a letter to the Ministry (at some time last year)."

    Note: Napisao sam prošle godine pismo Ministarstvu is also possible, but there is a difference in meaning. Pisao sam says that I wrote it sometimes last year, but I don't remember when exactly; Napisao sam pismo says that I wrote it last year and I know exactly when, I just don't think the exact date is important.

    Profesor će (sutra u toku dana) dolaziti na fakultet. "The professor will come to class (sometime tomorrow)."
    Pisaću im (sledeće godine). "I will write to them (sometime next year)."

    Note: Pisaću im indicates that I'm determined to write them a letter (or a complaint) sometimes next year, but also indicates that I'm not only uncertain as to the time when I'll write the letter, but also to its content. That is why Pisaću im pismo sounds only half right, because indicating that it will be a letter (and not a complaint) it somehow indicates that I know also what I'll write in it.
    2) for durative events imperfective verbs are used: such events are represented as a period of time
    Tri sata sam (juče) pisao neko pismo. "I was writing a letter for three hours (yesteday)."
    Pisaću (sutra) ceo dan to pismo. "I will be writing that letter for the whole day (tomorrow)."
    3a) for events repeated at a regular basis imperfective verbs are used: such events are represented and regarded as a series of dots
    Dolazio je kad god je bio na raspustu. "He came in whenever he was on vacation."
    Pisala nam je sa svakog letovanja. "She wrote to us from every summer vacation."
    Dolazi svakog vikenda. "He comes every week-end."
    Pišemo im redovno. "We write to them regularly."
    Dolaziće dok mu ne kažete da više ne dolazi. "He'll be coming until you tell him not to."
    Pisaću ti svakog dana. "I'll write to you every day."
    3b) for events repeated at an irregular basis perfective verbs are used: such events are represented as a series dots but regarded as a single dot each
    Došao je nekoliko puta. "He came in a few times."
    Napisala nam je razglednicu sa svakog letovanja. "She wrote us a postcard from every summer vacation."
    Dođe s vremena na vreme. "He comes from time to time."
    Napišemo im ponekad neko pismo. "We write them a letter now and then."
    Doći ću svaki put kad me pozovete. "I'll come every time you call me."
    Od sad ću ti svakog meseca napisati po dva pisma. "I'll write you two letters each month from now on."

    Note: in all cases above the choice of perfective verb is a matter of stylistic preference. Rare are the cases of events that are repeated that have to be expressed with a perfective verb.
     
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    WannaBeMe

    Senior Member
    Serbian (ijekavian)
    Hello everybody, it is long time since I have been here. But I am back again.
    I am working with Jan Van Steenbergen on the Slovianski project for a while now and there we had a long discussion about the slavic verbal aspect.

    Actually I have more or less cast off the existing theories about the slavic verbal aspect because it only has lecks on explainations and it says you have got to learn every verb in pares.
    I have made some researches for myself with some texts and find out a little bit new way of seeing and interpreting the verbal aspect in slavic languages, special for BCS now.

    There are also some aberrations in some other slavic languages but I wont be mentioning them now, expect you want me to do so.

    I will try to be short.

    The curent state how linguists interpet the slavic aspect is:
    1) there are imperfective and perfective aspects.
    2) Imperfective aspect cares the meaning of incompleteness
    3) Perfective aspect denotes completeness of the action
    4) Perfective aspect is recognized after prefixes such as, s-, iz-, od-, na- etc. like
    učiti vs naučiti, raditi vs uraditi etc.
    5) You have to learn every pair by rote because they are irregular.

    Well my system is a bit more schematic and kind of regular, so I say, there is no need to learn every pair by rote. Instead you only need to understand my system and than you will be able to predict perfective vs imperfective.

    Now I am going to bag to forget all you have learned about the slavic verbal aspect.
    One wise man said "Empty your cup before you take some new tee". Otherwise the tee wont get into you cup but only flow out.
    So dont allow yourself to be limited in your thoughts. Try to understand.

    First of all, I will try to be as short as possible alhtough it is going to look very amply.

    1) I say, we shouldnt make thoughts if the verb is completed (perfective) or incompleted (imperfective). Rather we should care if it is progressive (continuous) or not.

    2) I would not say that a pair is učiti naučiti because the semantical meaning is different. Similar but still different.

    3) Now watch carefuly.

    We have one normal aspect. It doesnt indicate if the actian is pregressive or not. It just cars normal, generall meaning of the action. I would like to call it general aspect.

    4) Almost all verbs can be prefixed. Those prefixes are affecting the meaning of the verb slightly or heavely so we can easely say it is another verb. When those verbs are prefixed we must care about the progressiveness of the action. So now we have got imperfect or perfect aspect. But I would rather call them progressive and improgressive.
    There is one more criterion, beside progressiveness, and that is frequency but I will take a bit later about that because it is less important.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    So my system is:

    Improgressive vs progressive
    1) First indicates a period or a point of the action (like frozen water, ice)
    2) Second is indicating fluentness of the action (like flow of water)

    One example:

    general : kupiti collect

    Now, I wanna ask you who still believe in the old system, is kupiti perfective or imperfective, thus, does it shows any completeness or incompleteness, perfectiveness or imperfectiveness? I tell you NO. It shows and indicates only a general meaning of the verb to collect.

    Now you would say for shure: "No, no, wait a sec amigo! Kupiti is imperfective aspect and the perfective would be skupiti."

    Are you shure? Let me ask you, what would be than skupljati. Where does it fit in the present system of all linguists of slavic languages? skupljati has no place in that system. But in my yes.

    Namely, the general meaning is kupiti. And we have an prefixed improgressive vs progressive pair. skupiti vs skupljati.

    And if you still say skupiti is a pair of kupiti, what is then with nakupiti, okupiti, iskupiti? Do they take any place in the present system? I doubt. But in mine, yes.

    Do you notice how prefixes affect the menaing of the verb?

    kupiti collect

    skupiti vs skupljati aggregate, lit. collect together
    nakupiti vs nakupoljati collect enough
    iskupiti vs iskupljati callect from somewhere, collect all
    okupiti vs okupljati lit. collect around

    Now notice well:

    a) prefixes are enhancing the general meaning of the verb with details, mostely direction (with verbs of motion), completeness (all, little bit, enough), position (here, there, over, against, near, far etc.)

    b) the verbal class, thus the last vowel of the stem, or some people recognize it as the interfix between the stem and the ending such es skup-i-ti vs skup-ja-ti. Is giving you the infirmation about progressiveness of the action. Thus if the verb is progressive like " I am collecting together" or improgressive like " I collect together".

    You must ask yourself, how you are going to know which interfixes denote improgressiveness and which progressiveness. Dont worry, I will explain. Besides I made a table which showes you fonetic changes :)
    I put the link down, you cant miss it.

    For understanding slavic verbs you need to know the classification of verbs.
    Which is made after the interfix that I mentioned above.

    We have five classes of verbs generally.

    consonant class: Infinitive ending in -sti and -ći. Those verbs have no interfix so they had to change the stem and the ending little bit.
    pasti came from pad-ti and plesti came form pletti
    d and t changed to s, this is a very old change, exists even in lithuanian and latvian, present is pad-am and plet-em. So only stems ending in d and t belong to -sti verbs. You will notice in the table


    peći, moći came from pekti and mogti the little bit newer change, only slavic, Ukrainian and Belorussian still keep pekti and mogti. The present is peč-em and mož-em. You will notice that only stems ending in k and g have -ći infinitives and that they make palatalization k, g to č,ž in present.

    All -sti and -ći verbs build progressive aspect with last vowel of the stam + ati. So it can be -dati, -tati and -kati, -gati.
    ispasti - ispadati, zaplesti - zaplitati
    ispeći - ispecati, pomoći - pomagati

    i - class:
    verbs like kupiti in the improgressive they get -ja instead of -i- and this -ja- is palatalizing always. For that you must know the rule of palatalizations k,g,h --> č,ž,š
    s,z-->š,ž
    t,d-->ć,đ
    l,r,n--->lj, rj, nj
    p,b,v,m,f - plj, blj, vlj, mlj, flj

    So skup-i-ti is going to be skup-ja-ti but since p+ja are giving plja its goint to be skupljati. The same way in present da skupim vs da skupljam

    Now I wont be describing all classes. Instead of that I am going to upload the table here for the rest of the classes but it is important to me that you got the point of how the system is working. You will notice that it has a logic and analogy.

    http://www3.pic-upload.de/13.08.10/8lx9mm2x3g4s.jpg

    One thing more I must warn you!
    Actually the general aspect verb can be progressive or not progressive, depending on the nature of the action the verb is describing. But the most of verbs apears only in one of the aspects, and most of time improgressive with the goal to perscribe only general meaning of the verb. And some but rare verbs can have both progressive and improgressive aspect alse when not prefixed but those are mostely verbs of motion like past vs padati fall.

    And there is one more thing. I mentioned it above. Besides of the criterion of progressiveness after that we aspects progressive and improgressive we also have the criterion of frequency of the action. As such we have semelfactive aspect and iterative aspect.

    Semelfactive aspect denote a short and punctiliar action which hapened only one time. Such actian are denoting all -nuti verbs.
    And when such an action is repeating than we have iterative aspect which is mostely equal to the progressive aspect. Those two, semelfactive and iterative aspects are used only casually and seldom.
    skočiti - improgressive
    skakati - progressive
    skoknuti - semelfactive
    skakivati - iterative

    So the resume:

    Instead of completeness we should pay care about progressiveness.

    We have two main aspects improgressive and progressive, which you can call how do you want, I pickt up these two names only to denote the importance of the criterion we pay attention on.
    Only prefixed verbs has both of the aspects. Verbs withou a prefix which I call general verbs can have both of the apscts but in 90% of cases they have only one form which is again in most of cases improgressive. The other progressive part is simply not used.
    So we would have:

    --------------improgressive vs progressive

    general verbs -tonuti--- vs --- tanjati (but it is not used, actually use only for derivation of prefixed progressive verbs)
    prefixed verbs-potonuti--vs--potanjati

    And the whole the whole use of the apects depends on the natural meaning of the action. If something is impossible to do in the nature as progressive, then there wont be progressive aspect for that verb.

    Sorry if everything has not been clear. I just have had a thought about a new more systematic system (at least there is a system now) for slavic verbal aspect. The idea is still new so I would appriciate any kind of critics so I can develop the system farther.
    Thanks for you patience!

    PS: Use the table so:
    1) Pick up any verb you want.
    2) Look at its interfix between the stem and the -ti infinitive ending. On this way you can determine the row.
    3) Look at its last consonant of the stem. On this way you can determine the right column.
     

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    phosphore

    Senior Member
    Serbian
    Interesting theory, but why verbs that don't exist? For example *ispecati, *skakivati, *tanjati, *potanjati.

    And when you mention kȕpiti, what about kúpiti? I don't see it fitting in the theory.

    Anyway, if you want to take it further, you should see what, for example, Milka Ivić has already done in the area.
     

    Daniel.N

    Member
    Croatian
    Napisao sam pismo. I wrote a letter.
    This is completely different, you need to use a different verb in English, this statement rather should be translated as "I sent a letter" (more precisely: "I wrote AND sent a letter").
    So here, emphasis is on action completed - you were writing a letter and sent it.

    No, you just wrote it. Nothing is said about sending. You have finished writing it, that's the precise meaning. But maybe you won't send it, ever.

    You WOULD say "pisao sam pismo" if it took a while. If you were writing a letter for two hours, you would say:

    Pisao sam pismo dva sata.

    That's the only way. If there is any duration expressed, you must use impf. verbs.

    The other frequent use is telling that you were doing something, but did not finish:

    Pisao sam pismo, ali ga još nisam dovršio.

    You cannot say (it's meaningless and paradoxical):

    *Napisao sam pismo, ali ga još nisam dovršio.

    Since napisao implies dovršio.
     

    Daniel.N

    Member
    Croatian
    Hello everybody, it is long time since I have been here. But I am back again.
    I am working with Jan Van Steenbergen on the Slovianski project for a while now and there we had a long discussion about the slavic verbal aspect.

    Actually I have more or less cast off the existing theories about the slavic verbal aspect because it only has lecks on explainations and it says you have got to learn every verb in pares.
    I have made some researches for myself with some texts and find out a little bit new way of seeing and interpreting the verbal aspect in slavic languages, special for BCS now.

    There are also some aberrations in some other slavic languages but I wont be mentioning them now, expect you want me to do so.

    I am interested in your theory. However, where are Class II verbs (-nu-?) like tonem/tonuti, ginem/ginuti?

    What about verbs like sjednem/sjesti?

    There are basically two patterns, the first one:

    1. you start with an impf. verb = jedem/jesti
    2. you add a prefix and get a perf. verb = izjedem/izjesti
    3. you can make another ("secondary") impf. verb by change of verb class = izjedam/izjedati

    Another one:

    1. you have impf./perf. pair that differs in verb ending (class) = skačem/skakati vs. skočim/skočiti
    2. you can add prefixes but that does not affect aspect: od-skačem/od-skakati vs. od-skočim/odskočiti

    Then you have weird examples like:

    stvaram/stvarati vs. stvorim/stvoriti
    povlačim/povlačiti vs. povučem / povući

    Things are not simple, really.
     
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