Perfect and Imperfect Verbs

Perfect and Imperfect Verbs

SlovenianSlovenian A1

Welcome to our Slovenian grammar course for beginners! Today we're going to talk about the Perfective and Imperfective verbs.

This category can be challenging for individuals who do not speak any Slavic language. We will attempt to explain it in a simpler manner.

In English, there are the Perfect Tenses which indicate actions that started or finished at a specific moment in time. These actions can be situated in the Past, the Future, or before now. However, Slavic languages lack an equivalent of the Perfect Tenses. On the other hand, there is a group of verbs that indicate not actions, but rather the results of various actions. These verbs are referred to as Perfect or Perfective verbs. Other verbs are Imperfect or Imperfective, and they are largely similar to English verbs.

The advantage of the modern Slovenian is only three tenses (Present, Past, Future). However, due to the presence of Perfect verbs, we wish to provide you with comprehensive explanations about them to prevent any misunderstandings when using Slovenian.

Imperfect verbs

So, Imperfective verbs (Nedovršni glagoli) in Slovenian emphasize ongoing, habitual, or repeated actions. They are used to describe actions in progress, actions that are ongoing, or actions without a definite endpoint. Imperfective verbs focus on the process of the action rather than its completion.

Imperfective verbs do not involve any specific additions or changes to the verb. The base form of the verb itself serves as the imperfective form.
iti (to go);
kuhati (to cook);
leteti (to fly);
vedeti (to know);
gledati (to watch)

Perfect verbs

Perfective verbs (Dovršni glagoli) in Slovenian describe actions that are seen as completed, whole, or one-time events. They focus on the result or outcome of the action. Perfective verbs are often used to express actions that happened in the Past or actions that will happen in the Future. You cannot use them to describe what is happening now, because that action does not have any result.

Perfective verbs are typically formed by adding prefixes or suffixes to the base form of an imperfective verb. Prefixes and suffixes can significantly alter the meaning of the verb and indicate completion or a specific type of action.

Some prefixes you can use to form Perfect verbs are next:

Prefixe pri-
iti (to go) - priti (to come, perfective);
leteti (to fly) - prileteti (to fly in, to arrive, perfective)

Prefixe na-
pisati (to write) - napisati (to have written, perfective);
leteti (to fly) - naleteti (to come across, perfective)

Prefixe s-
kuhati (to cook) - skuhati (to have cooked, perfective)

Prefixe o-
gledati (to watch) - ogledati (to watch, perfective)

There are also some suffixes that can be used with prefixes to form perfective verbs. z- plus -ova-
manjkati (to be missing) - zmanjkovati (to run out, perfective)

pre- plus -a-
nositi (to carry) - prenašati (to transmit, perfective)

These methods are not the only acceptable ways of forming various perfective verbs. Sometimes, pairs of verbs may appear quite distinct from one another, as in the following examples:
delati (to do) - narediti (to make, perfective)
jemati (to take) - vzeti (to choose, perfective).

In such instances, it is most effective to remember these verbs. For future reference, to ensure accurate usage, it is crucial to observe the context in which they are employed by native speakers.


To sum up, let's once again recall the differences between perfective and imperfective verbs, because this topic is very difficult to understand, and these verbs are an important part of the Slovenian language:

- Perfective verbs emphasize completed actions with distinct endpoints;
- Imperfective verbs emphasize ongoing, habitual, or repeated actions;
- Perfective verbs are often formed by adding prefixes or/and suffixes to imperfective verbs;
- Use perfective verbs for one-time events and completed actions;
- Use imperfective verbs for ongoing actions, habits, and routines.

We hope this article will help you to improve your Slovenian. Don't forget to practice and to use Perfect and Imperfect verbs.
We are waiting for you in the next lesson, where we will talk about the Past Tense in Slovenian. Good luck!