• Slovak grammar
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  • In Slovak language, many verbs have two forms: perfective and imperfective. Let's have a look at what it means and how we differentiate them!

    The difference between perfective and imperfective verbs

    • perfective verbs = the action ended or is complete
    • imperfective verbs = the action has not ended yet, or it is a repeated action. Even though Slovak language does not have continuous tense, the imperfective verbs can be used to express the continuous actions.

    Here are some examples:

    English Perfective Imperfective
    to read prečítať čítať
    to write napísať písať
    to wash umyť umývať
    put shoes on obuť sa obúvať sa

    enlightenedPerfective verbs do not exist in present tense. They have just future or past form. To express the present time, we use perfective verbs.

    For example the verb "I eat":

    najedol som sa (perfective, past tense) - jem (imperfective, present tense) - najem sa (perfective, future tense)

    enlightenedVery often the perfective verb is a finishing phase of imperfective verb.

    For example the verb "to put the clothes on":

    obliekať sa (imperfective) -> obliecť sa (perfective)

    "obliecť sa" is a finishing phase of "obliekať sa" and it is used when you finished eating. 

     

    As you can see, the perfective and imperfective verbs are similar. However, there is no exact rule on how to create these forms. Some are created by adding a prefix or a suffix (písať - napísať), some have an extra consonant (umývať -  umyť)and some completely change their word base (hľadať - nájsť).

     

    Perfective verbs

    We will show you how the perfective verbs work in practice.

    • Adam prišiel do školy. (Adam arrived to school.)
    • Adam sa obul. (Adam put his shoes on.)
    • Adam sa umyl. (Adam washed himself.)
    • Jana navrhla interér bytu. (Jana designed the interior.)

    All of the actions were finished.

     

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    Imperfective verbs

    Here are the examples of the same sentences, but with the actions that have not been finished yet, or we do not know when they will be finished.

    • Adam išiel do školy. (Adam was going to school.) = we do not know, if he arrived to school as well
    • Adam sa obúval. (Adam was putting his shoes on.) = we do not know if he put the shoes on, or if something else happened during this action
    • Adam sa umýval. (Adam was washing himself.) = we do not know if he also finished his washing
    • Jana navrhuje intériery bytov. (Jana is designing the interiors) = Jana is an interior designer, it is her job, she does it every day.

     

    Useful perfective and imperfective verbs

    And now, we will provide you with a list of vocabulary of some useful perfective and imperfective verbs. 

    English perfective imperfective
    to clean upratať upratovať
    to sell predať predávať
    to eat zjesť jesť
    to do urobiť robiť
    to pay zaplatiť platiť
    to find nájsť hľadať
    to give dať dávať
    to earn zarobiť zarábať
    to take zobrať brať
    to learn naučiť sa učiť sa


    Let´s practice the verbs in our exercises!