Past Tense

The past tense in Bosnian is based on the gender. Each verb used in past tense is made of two words: one is always the present tense of the verb “to be” (biti) and the other, which is called the past participle, is derived from whichever verb you want to use.

“To Be” in Past Tense:

Ja sam bio (Bila sam)/ Bio samMi smo bili or Bili smo
Ti si bio or Bio si
Vi ste bili or Bili ste
On, Ona, Ono je biloOni su bili or Bili su

Creation of the Past Tense:

For most verbs you can simply remove the suffix –ti from the infinitive form of the verb and add the gender-related suffix to create the past participle.

In Bosnian, adjectives always have to agree with the subject of the sentence in terms of gender. The past participle works the same way:

GenderMasculineFeminineNeuter
Nominative sing-o-la-lo
Nominative pl.-li-le-la

Examples:

  • Emina je spava+la (we add ‘la’ because noun Emina is feminine). / Emina was asleep.
  • Ajdin je putova+o ( we add ‘o’ because Ajdin is masculine). / Ajdin traveled.
  • Dijete je skaka+lo (we add ‘lo’ because dijete is neuter noun) / The child was jumping.

Exceptions:

Verbs which end with –jeti and – sti and -ći have a different ending for masculine form:

Examples

Željeti / To want. Conjugation:

Ja sam želio (I wanted m.), Ja sam željela (f.)
Mi smo željeli (we wanted)
Ti si želio (m), Ti si željela (f)
Vi ste željeli (you wanted)
On, Ona, Ono je željelo (he, she, it wanted)Oni su željeli (they wanted)

Ići / To go

Ja sam išao (m), Ja sam išla (f)Mi smo išli
Ti si išao (m), Ti si išla (f)Vi st išli
On, Ona, Ono je išlo (he, she, it went)Oni su išli

Omitting personal pronouns

In everyday speech, Bosnians often omit personal pronouns in the past tense. When doing so, it’s important to remember that the verb “to be” should always be in the second position.

This means that to say “you slept”  you can either say ti si spavao or spavao si. The second option generally sounds nicer and is used more commonly.

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