Imperfect tense in Croatian

When to use the imperfect tense in Croatian?

The imperfect tense or simply imperfekt is a grammatical tense that we use to talk about:

1. Habits or repeated action in the past

Zvaše je često. - He used to call her very often. 

2. An action that took place simultaneously with another action

Orwell priopćavaše o španjolskom građanskom ratu iz prve ruke. - Orwell talked about the Spanish Civil War from the first hand. 

enlightenedThe imperfect tense sounds archaic and tends to be used only in litterature. In daily conversations we always use perfect tense!

Signal words

Here are some time markers that will help you to use it properly.

Croatian English
u međuvremenu meanwhile
dok while


Verb conjugation

The imperfect tense in Croatian is formed by adding corresponding endings to the verb's present base form. There are three groups of endings -ah, -jah, -ijah.

For ex. "biti"; bi (verb's base form in present) + jah  (ending) = bijah (1st person imperfect)

enlightenedIt's necessary to learn endings by heart!

Person 1st group in -ah / pisati (to write) 2nd group in -jah / čuti (to hear) 3rd group in -ijah / pecati (to fish)
Ja pisah čujah pecijah
Ti pisaše čujaše pecijaše
On / Ona pisaše čujaše pecijaše
Mi pisasmo čujasmo pecijasmo
Vi pisaste čujaste pecijaste
Oni pisahu čujahu pecijahu


Imperfect of auxiliary verbs 

In imperfect auxiliary verbs biti and htjeti have the endings of the 3rd group. In negation they are preceded by the word "ne", for ex. Ne bijah.

The verb "Biti"

Person Biti
Ja bijah
Ti bijaše
On/Ona  bijaše
Mi bijasmo
Vi bijaste
Oni/One bijahu


The verb "Htjeti"

Person Htjeti
Ja htijah
Ti htijaše
On/Ona htijaše
Mi htijasmo
Vi htijaste
Oni/One htijahu


Remember the tense formation and learn endings by heart!smiley