Verbal Aspect: Perfective vs. Imperfective

Imperfective Aspect: Denotes action or state without specifying anything concerning its completion (In progress, Repetition, Unfinished, Habitual, Incomplete, and without limitation. It could be used both in past and future. Perfective aspect: denotes action or state that is complete. Used both in past and future tense.

Indicators that you should use imperfective verb in a sentence are:

  • Uvijek / Always, Every time, All the time..
  • Nikad / Never
  • Svake sedmice, godine, mjeseca / Every week, every year, every month
  • Svaki dan / Every day
  • Često / Often
  • Ponekad / Sometimes

Indicators that you should use Perfective verb in a sentence are:

  • Ako / If
  • Kad / When
  • Čim / As soon as
  • Dok / Until
  • Jednom / Once

Example of Perfective and Imperfective Verbs:

ImperfectivePerfectiveMeaning
JestiPojestiEat
ŽeljetiPoželjetiTo want
Sjećati seSjetiti seTo remember
VraćatiVratitiTo return
PoklanjatiPoklonitiTo gift
KupovatiKupitiTo buy
ČitatiPročitatiTo read
PitiPopitiTo drink

Example of sentences using both Imperfective and Perfective verbs:

  • Uvijek čistim (čistiti to clean, imp.) kuću ujutro ali danas je nisam očistila (očistiti perf.).
  • Dok sam ja stigla kući on je već pojeo (pojesti past tense, perf.) sve kolače.
  • Ne mogu se sjetiti (perfective, one time thing) tog filma.
  • Na posao uvijek idem (ići imp.) pješice ali danas sam otišla (otići perfective ) autobusom.

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