Conjugation of verbs in the Present Tense

Conjugation of verbs in the Present Tense

SlovenianSlovenian A1

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

It's impossible to imagine communication without verbs. Verbs allow us to express actions and identify the doer of those actions. This concept applies to Slovene as well. In this article, we'll discuss the conjugation of Slovene verbs, which, like verbs in other Slavic languages, have their differences. Although the basic rules are similar in most cases.

In Slovene, verbs differ by gender, depending on the noun they accompany (masculine, feminine, and neuter), as well as by number (singular, plural, and dual - a unique feature of Slovene). Additionally, Slovene verbs can be of perfective or imperfective aspect (we'll discuss this later). In this article, we'll focus on how Slovene verbs are conjugated in the Present Tense.


First, let's talk about the infinitive form. In Slovene, the infinitive form ends in "-ti" in the most cases: (imeti - to have, hoditi - to walk, biti - to be). For reflexive verbs, the particle "se" is always written separately from the verb. Sometimes the infinitive forms have the ending "-či": reči (to say), teči (to run), moči (can).

The second point is the verb endings for persons and numbers. When conjugating, it's essential to consider the number (singular, plural, or dual) and the person (first - I, we, we both; second - you, you all, you both; third - he/she/it, they, they both). In the Present Tense, the verb forms don't consider grammatical gender (masculine - feminine), but we'll come back to this when discussing the Past and Future Slovenian Tense.

Now let's see how different verbs are conjugated in Slovenian. The verbs are grouped according to the Present Tense suffix. There are the five suffixes: -am, -im, -em, -jem and -m.

1. Let's look at the conjugation of the Slovene verb hoditi (to walk) that has -im suffix:
Jaz hodim - I walk
Ti hodiš - You walk (singular, informal)
On / Ona / Ono hodi - He / She / It walks
Midva / Midve / Medve* hodiva - We both walk (dual, informal)
Vidva / Vidve / Vedve* hodita - You both walk (dual, informal)
Onadva / Onidve / Onedve* hodita - They both walk (dual, informal)
Mi / Me** hodimo - We walk
Vi / Ve** hodite - You walk (plural, formal)
Oni / One**/ Ona** hodijo - They walk (plural)
* Forms in the dual number have no direct equivalent in the English language.
** Pronounses "me, ve, one" are used when referring to a group of women or entities of the feminine gender. The form "ona so" indicates a group of nouns of the neuter gender. Pay attention to these nuances, as they don't exist in English.

When conjugating a regular verb, the first step is to isolate the base by removing the "-ti" particle from the infinitive (hoditi - hodim). Next, we add the typical endings based on the person and number. Note: the third person singular is 100% the base of the verb (infinitive without "-ti" at the end), and the form of the first person plural is different from the singular by adding the letter "-o" to the ending:
Jaz hodim - Mi hodimo
In the third person, there's a rule that this form is obtained by adding the ending "-jo" to the base/form of the third person singular:
On/Ona/Ono hodi - Oni/One hodijo
Dual number, or "dvojina," is formed quite simply: in the first person, we add the ending "-va" to the base (midva/midve hodiva), and in the second and third persons, it's "-ta" (vidva/vidve hodita, onadva/onidve hodita).

This conjugation principle applies to about 90% of all Slovene verbs. Let's consider another verb, učiti se (to learn):
Jaz se učim - I learn
Ti se učiš - You learn (singular, informal)
On / Ona / Ono se uči - He / She / It learns
Midva / Midve / Medve se učiva - We both learn (dual, informal)
Vidva / Vidve / Vedve se učita - You both learn (dual, informal)
Onadva / Onidve / Onedve se učita - They both learn (dual, informal)
Mi / Me se učimo - We learn
Vi / Ve se učite - You learn (plural, formal)
Oni / One / Ona se učijo - They learn (plural)
As you can see, the same endings apply. The only thing that might be confusing is the particle "se" next to the verb, indicating that it's reflexive. In Slovene, the particle "se" is always separated from the verb and typically placed before it, although in some cases, it can come after (we'll discuss this in upcoming articles). It's a nominal function and remains unchanged based on person and number. In other words, the rules for identifying the base (dropping the "-ti" particle) and adding the endings are quite rigid, and most verbs follow them.

2. The next verb upati (to hope) has -am suffix:
Jaz upam - I hope
Ti upaš - You hope (singular, informal)
On / Ona / Ono upa - He / She / It hopes
Midva / Midve / Medve upava - We both hope (dual, informal)
Vidva / Vidve / Vedve upata - You both hope (dual, informal)
Onadva / Onidve / Onedve upata - They both hope (dual, informal)
Mi / Me upamo - We hope
Vi / Ve upate - You hope (plural, formal)
Oni / One / Ona upajo - They hope (plural)
You can see the same endings here as in the first example. This means that the base of the verb is the key to the correct conjugation (upati - upam).

3. The verbs from the first two examples are most often regular. The next three groups of verbs may seem more difficult because their bases are formed differently.
For example, the verb brati (to read) has -em suffix:
Jaz berem - I read
Ti bereš - You read (singular, informal)
On / Ona / Ono bere - He / She / It reads
Midva / Midve / Medve bereva - We both read (dual, informal)
Vidva / Vidve / Vedve bereta - You both read (dual, informal)
Onadva / Onidve / Onedve bereta - They both read (dual, informal)
Mi / Me beremo - We read
Vi / Ve berete - You read (plural, formal)
Oni / One / Ona berejo - They read (plural)
Despite the fact that you see the same endings in the example, it is more difficult to find the correct base of the verb here (brati - berem). Such verbs are called irregular and we will talk about them in a separate article.

4. The next verb peti (to sing) has -jem suffix:
Jaz pojem - I sing
Ti poješ - You sing (singular, informal)
On / Ona / Ono poje - He / She / It sings
Midva / Midve / Medve pojeva - We both sing (dual, informal)
Vidva / Vidve / Vedve pojeta - You both sing (dual, informal)
Onadva / Onidve / Onedve pojeta - They both sing (dual, informal)
Mi / Me se pojemo - We sing
Vi / Ve se pojete - You sing (plural, formal)
Oni / One / Ona se pojejo - They sing (plural)
Here the base of the verb is also very different from the infinitive (peti - pojem).

5. The next verb vedeti (to know) has -m suffix:
Jaz vem - I know
Ti veš - You know (singular, informal)
On / Ona / Ono ve - He / She / It knows
Midva / Midve / Medve veva - We both know (dual, informal)
Vidva / Vidve / Vedve vesta - You both know (dual, informal)
Onadva / Onidve / Onedve vesta - They both know (dual, informal)
Mi / Me vemo - We know
Vi / Ve veste - You know (plural, formal)
Oni / One / Ona vejo / vedo - They know (plural)
This verb loses part of the infinitive when forming the base (vedeti - vem). It means we need to remember this form. If you want you can read more about the Irregular Verbs in Slovenian here.


That's all. We hope the article is clear and informative. Thank you for your attention, and we look forward to seeing you in the next lesson of our Slovene language course for beginners, where we will talk about the verb biti (to be). Good luck!