17 Aspect of Verbs

Aspect Introduced

Croatian (as all other Slavic languages do) utilizes the so-called 'aspect distinction'. By some accounts, this is the most difficult concept to grasp when learning Croatian. In my point of view, a similar distinction exists in English, so it should not be too hard!

Let's compare it with English; it has "continuous" and "non-continuous" tenses:

"I was eating pizza."
"I had eaten (up) a pizza."

The first sentence says what you have been doing, and emphasizes the duration of action. If you add time phrases to them, with the first one you can say how long it took ("for 15 minutes"), and with the second when you did it ("before lunch").

Croatian has roughly the same distinction, but uses two different verbs (the red diamond indicates 'now' on the time arrow):

Jeo säm pizzu. "I was eating pizza."
Pojeo säm pizzu. "I have/had eaten a pizza."

English also distinguishes between "I have eaten" and "I had eaten" — the former refers to something completed right now or very recently, and the latter to something completed in the past. Croatian has only one form: pojeo säm. Only the context (and additional words) gives information if it was 5 seconds or 5 years ago.

Let me emphasize the point here: these are two different verbs, each having its own entry in dictionaries!

Verb pojedem, pojeo refers to the "completing of action" and is as such not used in the present tense, except in conditional sentences, and that will be explained later. So, in the present tense you should normally just use:

Jedem pizzu. "I'm eating a pizza." / "I eat pizza."

The verb used to indicate completing an action — achievement — is called 'perfective', and the other one (continuous action) is called 'imperfective'. These names I will abbreviate as perf. and impf. This has nothing to do with "the perfect tense". In Croatian, there are past, present, and future tenses. Perfective/imperfective has nothing to do with the tenses except for the fact that the perfective verbs are normally not used in the present tense, but just in the future and past tenses.

Let me repeat: these are properties of verbs, not forms of a verb.

Actually, some English verbs have "built-in" aspect as well: the verb "have" refers to something that lasts, or lasted. There's no way to "complete" "having" something. But there's a way to complete eating — when you're done.

The main difference between the English system and the Croatian one is with states ("sit", "live") in English, states are usually expressed with simple tenses, unless one wants to emphasize interrupted action; similar for emotions. Croatian always uses impf. verbs for states and emotions, for anything that lasts.

Spavao säm. "I slept."/"I was sleeping"
Imao säm loptu. "I had a/the ball."
Volim sladoled. "I love/like ice-cream."
Volio säm sladoled. "I loved/liked ice-cream."

Another way that English uses to express aspect is by definiteness of object. This sounds complicated, but an example will clarify it:

EnglishaspectCroatian
"I built houses."impf.Gradio sam kuće.
"I built two houses."perf.Izgradio sam dvijë kuće.

The first sentence has emphasis on action: what was the result is not said, what was successfully built — if anything! Such a sentence will use an impf. verb in Croatian. But the second sentence tells exactly what was achieved, and such a sentence uses a perf. verb in Croatian. Since people talk about both — what they were doing and what they did — both aspects are really used in Croatian a lot!

Next, there are actions which come in "bits", like sneezing and blinking. Croatian has two verbs for each of them: one (impf.) stands for continuous sneezing, and the other one (perf.) means you sneezed only once:

Kihao si. "You were sneezing." (it was repeating)
Kihnuo si. "You sneezed." (it happened once)

To summarize what the aspect is and how to tell aspect from an English sentence:

Aspect
Croatian imperfective verbs (impf.)
are used for states, emotions, for actions where action itself is emphasized, or when the outcome is not clear and for actions happening right now. They can be used in all tenses.
Croatian perfective verbs (perf.)
are used for things happening in an instant, change of states, completion of actions, where a change or an instant action are emphasized. They cannot be used in the present tense in normal sentences.
How to tell aspect in English
Use of continuous tenses in English
(e.g. "I was writing a letter.")

Emotions, states
(e.g. "I loved it." "I had a car")

Not telling what was actually done
(e.g. "I wrote letters for hours.")

Talking about ongoing actions
(e.g. "I've worked here since June.")
Changes of state
(e.g. "I fell asleep." "I became father")

Things that happen almost in an instant
(e.g. "The window broke.")

Telling the outcome
(e.g. "I wrote two letters.")

Countable events
(e.g. "I sneezed twice.")

There are some situations when you can express the same thing using impf. and perf. verbs, and some other fine points — they will be explained later.

Perfective verbs don't stand for outcomes and achievements only, keep in mind they can mean "change of state"; you'll see why below.

Verb Pairs

Therefore, many verbs are organized into "pairs": one verb is impf. and another perf. where English and some other languages, like Spanish, would have only one verb. You will have to learn not just Croatian verbs, but verb pairs!

Of course, the pairs are not merely random. For some verb pairs, a perf. verb is formed just by adding a prefix, the verb has otherwise exactly the same forms (the dash is normally not written, of course; I just used it here to emphasize the prefix). For the following verbs, the perf. verb is made by prefixing na-:

impf.perf.meaning
pišem, pisaona-pišem, na-pisao"write"
učimna-učim"learn, teach" (used for both meanings!)
crtamna-crtam"draw an image"
punimna-punim"fill"

Instead of such a nice and large table, I will use shorthand notation like crtam ~ na- where the verb left of the tilde (~) is impf. and one right of the tilde is perf. If the perf. verb is obtained just by prefixing, I'll write down only the prefix. This is not standard notation (there's no standard notation) but rather something I've invented.

Another prefix is po-:

gledam ~ po- "watch"
jedem, jeo ~ po- "eat"    
kucam ~ po- "knock"
ljubim ~ po- "kiss"
pijem ~ po- "drink"
pušim ~ po- "smoke (cigarette)"
trošim ~ po- "spend (money)"
šaljem, slao ~ po- "send"
zovem, zvao "call" ~ po-
zvonim ~ po- "ring"

(I have listed here some verbs that belong to verb classes I haven't introduced yet, or verbs that are simply irregular, such as šaljem, slao; use them just as they are listed). Of course, there are verbs that use other prefixes to make perf. verbs:

brojim, brojao ~ iz- "count"    
čekam ~ do- "wait"
čitam ~ pro- "read"
gubim ~ iz- "lose"
gutam ~ pro- "swallow"    
koristim ~ is- "use"
kradem, krao ~ u- "steal"
kuham ~ s- "cook"
perem, prao ~ o- "wash"
sušim ~ o- "dry"

Unfortunately, verbs in most verb pairs don't differ only in a prefix: they have different verb classes, and often differ in some sounds! One common combination is that the impf. verb is an a-verb, and the perf. verb is an i-verb:

bacam ~ bacim "throw"
nastupam ~ nastupim "perform (in public)"    
pripremam ~ pripremim "prepare"    
primam ~ primim "receive"
snimam ~ snimim "record, make movie"
udaram ~ udarim "kick, bang"

The following verb pairs show sound differences, besides having different (a- vs. i-) verb classes (these are just examples, there are more verb pairs like that):

ispravljam ~ ispravim "correct"
izmišljam ~ izmislim "invent, make up"    
napuštam ~ napustim "abandon"
odgovaram ~ odgovorim "answer"    
osvajam ~ osvojim "conquer"
otvaram ~ otvorim "open"
plaćam ~ platim "pay"
ponavljam ~ ponovim "repeat"
popravljam ~ popravim "fix, repair"
prihvaćam ~ prihvatim "accept"
puštam ~ pustim "release, let go"
ram ~ rodim "give birth"
sastavljam ~ sastavim "assemble, put together"
shvaćam ~ shvatim "understand"
spajam ~ spojim "connect"
vraćam ~ vratim "return"
zaboravljam ~ zaboravim "forget"
zatvaram ~ zatvorim "close"

There is an underlying logic in sound differences, but I'll leave it to geeks (or language history enthusiasts) and advice you to simply learn both members! There's a variation of this combination, where -av- is appended to the impf. verb:

obećavam ~ obećam "promise"
objašnjavam ~ objasnim "explain"    
uništavam ~ uništim "destroy"
usporavam ~ usporim "slow down"

Another common combination is that the impf. member is an a-verb (or 'j/a-verb) and the perf. member is an n-verb (sound changes are also possible):

guram ~ gurnem "push"
kišem, kihao ~ kihnem "sneeze"
padam ~ padnem, pao "fall"
pripadam ~ pripadnem, pripao "belong"    
skidam ~ skinem "take down"
udem, udisao ~ udahnem "inhale"
trepćem, treptao ~ trepnem "blink (eye)"
vičem, vikao ~ viknem "shout, yell"

A quite common combination is that impf. verb is a j/v-verb, and the perf. verb can be of any other class:

dajem, davao ~ dam "give"    
istražujem, istraživao ~ istražim "explore, research, investigate"    
kupujem, kupovao ~ kupim "buy"    
opisujem, opisivao ~ opišem, opisao "describe"    
pokazujem, pokazivao ~ pokažem, pokazao "show"
posuđujem, posuđivao ~ posudim "borrow"

Pairs where the impf. verb is of j/iv type are especially abundant. More combinations of verb classes exist.

Occasionally, there's a strange pair where sometimes completely unrelated verbs come together, or verbs that differ a lot. Frequently one of them a "weird" or "irregular" verb, and it's worth remembering it's always the perf. one:

dolazim ~ dođem, došäo, došla "arrive"
uzimam ~ uzmem, uzeo "take"

Some verbs can use more than one prefix to get two perf. verbs that mean more or less the same:

brišem, brisao ~ po-, o- "wipe, clear"
gradim ~ iz-, sa- "build"

Stative Verbs

Verbs above meant actions, where there a possibility of a result or an outcome. However, there are verbs for states (imam "have") and emotions (volim "love/like"): for them, there's really no sense in "successfully completing" the state or emotion. Verbs with the same meanings in English are often used only in simple tenses: you don't say "I'm loving ice-cream" even if you love it right now! Such verbs are sometimes called 'stative' verbs.

However, it turns out that weird minds who invented Croatian (actually, Slavic languages and some others) thought that it would be nice to have a verb that indicates "entering" the state. Therefore, in Croatian, there's a perf. verb zavolim, meaning "begin to love" (or "begin to like", since volim really can mean "like" as well). Such a verb is sometimes called "inchoative".

Not all stative verbs have an inchoative buddy. If they have, it's mostly obtained by prefixing za-. To distinguish true aspect pairs (explained above) from such pairs, I will use a double tilde (~~) to separate impf. and perf. verb. So, if you see a double tilde in this work, the verb after it means "begin to...". Such pairs are:

blistam ~~ za- "sparkle, shimmer"
mirišem, mirisao ~~ za- "smell, scent"    
mrzim ~~ za- "hate"
pamtim ~~ za- "remember"
spavam ~~ zaspim, zaspao "sleep"    
trëbam ~~ za- "need"
vjërujem, vjërovao ~~ po- "believe"
vladam ~~ za- "govern, rule"
volim, volio, voljëla ~~ za- "love"
želim, želio, željëla ~~ za- "desire, want"

For instance:

Zavolio säm čaj. "I started to like tea."

Of course, there are stative verbs that don't have a "begin-to" perf. verb:

dišem, disao "breathe"    
dugujem, dugovao "owe"    
imam "have"
mislim "think"
namjëravam "intend"
očekujem, očekivao "expect"    
ovisim "depend"    
znam "know"
živim, živio, živjëla "live"

It's interesting that there are some action verbs that have only "begin-to" perf. verb:

grlim ~~ za- "hug"    
plačem, plakao ~~ za- "cry"    
šutim, šutio, šutjëla ~~ za- "be silent"
tražim ~~ za- "seek, look for"    

Really, sometimes it's really ambigous what a perf. verb stands for, except that is somehow implies something that happened in a moment.

Aspect Triplets

Some impf. action verbs combine both possibilities: they have a normal "success" perf. verb, and a "begin-to" perf. verb! The first perf. verb is mostly formed by prefixing od- or ot- and the second one by za-. I will list them as impf. ~ success-perf. ~ begin-perf. Such pairs are:

igram ~ od- ~ za- "play (game)"    
pjëvam ~ ot- ~ za- "sing"    
plivam ~ ot- ~ za- "swim"    
pušem, puhao ~ puhnem ~ za- "blow"
sviram ~ od- ~ za- "play (instrument)"    
trčim ~ o- ~ po- "run"    

For example:

Zapuhao je vjëtar. "A wind began to blow."
Zapjëvala je. "She started to sing."

While English is ambiguous — "start to sing" cound mean "start the singing career" — Croatian zapjëvam means only opening mouth and starting a song!

Verb budem

There's a very interesting verb budem that has present forms only. It's a kind of perf. counterpart of säm, bio. It has rather special uses which will be introduced gradually. It's kind of similar to German werden.

Special Notation

Normally, I will list verb pairs by simply writing impf. forms on the left, perf. on the right, in order impf. ~ perf., separated with a tilde; if the difference is only a prefix, I will just list the prefix; if only one verb is listed, it's assumed to be impf., e.g.:

bacam ~ bacim "throw"
čitam ~ pro- "read"
imam "have"

If there's an inchoative ("begin-to") perf. verb, it comes after the second tilde; if there's no ordinary perf. verb, nothing separates two tildes:

mrzim ~~ za- "throw"
plivam ~ ot- ~ za- "swim"    

This notation is specific to this work, other books use other ways, and cheaper dictionaries unfortunately don't give information about aspect and aspect pairs at all!

Aspect pairs (in Basic Croatian)

Normal aspect pairs are listed in this work as (impf. verb) ~ (perf. verb)
e.g. primam ~ primim "receive, accept"

If the perf. verb is obtained by merely adding a prefix, only the prefix is shown
e.g. pišem, pisao ~ na- "receive, accept"

If only one verb is listed, without a tilde (~), it's impf.

If there's an inchoative perf. verb, it comes after the second tilde
e.g. plivam ~ ot- ~ za- "swim"

Perfective Verbs in the Present Tense

In the present tense, only impf. verbs are normally used:

Pišem pismo. "I'm writing a/the letter."

An exception is when you want to say that you do something "every day", "sometimes", and each time complete it. For example, every day you write a letter. Then you can use a perf. verbs in the present tense — it means that you complete it every time:

Svaki dan napišem pismo. "I write a letter every day."
(every day a new letter, you complete it every day)
Svaki dan pišem pismo. "I'm writing a/the letter every day."
(but probably don't complete it, you just "work on it")

However, in the past both verbs are used, depending what one wants to say. Maybe you were writing a letter, but then your pen broke, so it was never finished, never written as intended — you will say: pisao säm, ali... "I was writing, but..."

On the contrary, if you wrote a letter, but then lost it, you should say: napisao säm, ali... "I have written, but..."

There are some common perf. verbs that are used in normal present tense sentences, due to its nature. It's maybe best to treat them as "bi-aspectual", that is, getting their aspect from the context, like English verbs:

vidim, vidïo, vidjëla impf./perf. "see"
čujem, čuo impf./perf. "hear"

There are other verbs with similar meaning, but only impf., indicating not just that you took a notice, but you were paying attention:

gledam "watch"
slušam "listen"

For example:

Vidim Anu. "I (can) see Ana."
Gledam utakmicu. "I'm watching a/the match." (likely football, basketball, etc.)
Čujem zvono. "I (can) hear the bell."
Slušam radio. "I'm listening to the radio."

There is the verb viđam that looks like a impf. counterpart of vidim, but it has a slightly different meaning: "see frequently", "see from time to time", e.g. when you frequently see someone over a period of time. These are subtleties, we leave it for later...

Expressing Sequences of Events

Perf. verbs are often used to express a sequence of events that happen one after another, e.g. to describe what happened, tell a story, etc. The following adverbs are often used in such sequences:

adverbmeaning
odmah"immediately"
uskoro, ubrzo"soon", "after a short time"
odjednom, iznenada"suddenly"

For instance (both verbs are perfective):

Ivan je pokucao na vrata. Ana je odmah otvorila. "Ivan knocked on the door. Ana opened (it) immediately."

In storytelling, poetry, it's possible to use a sequence of perf. verbs in the present:

Ivan pokuca na vrata. Ana odmah otvori. (the same meaning, but more expressive)

Accidental and Intended Events

Another set of four useful adverbs is used to express if the event has intended or accidental:

adverbmeaning
slučajno"accidentally"
namjërno"intentionally, deliberately"
nenamjërno
nehotice
"unintentionally"

For instance:

Ana je slučajno otvorila vrata. "Ana accidentally opened the door."

Perfective Verbs and Other Adverbs

The adverbs of repetition can of course be used with perf. verbs, e.g.:

Ivan je opet pokucao na vrata. "Ivan knocked on the door again."

The adverbs of indefinite frequency are used less often with perf. verbs; when they are used, they imply repeated events — then perf. verbs can be used in the present tense:

Ivan je ponekad napisao pismo. "Ivan wrote a letter sometimes."
Ivan ponekad napiše pismo. "Ivan writes a letter sometimes."

With adverbs of expectation, only već is often used with perf. verbs, to indicate that some event happened earlier than expected:

Ivan je već pokucao na vrata. "Ivan already knocked on the door."

Of course, You cannot use adverbs of relative duration (dugo, kratko) since the perf. verb stands for an event, but you can use the following adverbs to tell how quickly event took place:

adverbmeaning
brzo"quickly"
polako"slowly"

For example:

Ivan je brzo otvorio vrata. "Ivan quickly opened the door."

Negation of Perfective Verbs

There's something important: negative sentences with perf. verbs behave almost as impf. They mean that an event did not occur; we can then tell how long it did not occur, etc. — alike impf. verbs. We can use još to emphasize that something did not occur (but it was expected); we can use više to indicate that events stopped occurring; we can also use dugo (and sometimes even kratko):

Ivan još nije pokucao na vrata. "Ivan didn't knock on the door yet."
Ivan više nije pokucao na vrata. "Ivan didn't knock on the door anymore."
Ivan dugo nije pokucao na vrata. "Ivan didn't knock on the door for a long time."

If you try the same adverbs with positive sentences, they sound meaningless and even ungrammatical. You'll see later, negation of perf. verbs shows more strange features.

Exercise

JavaScript must be enabled. You don't have to use my special notation (e.g. ë) in answers, normal spelling will do as well.

These sentences are in the present tense, rewrite them to the past using the same (impf.) verb, and with the perfective verb (all the verbs are listed above):

Ivan piše pismo. "Ivan is writing a letter."
    Ivan je pismo. "Ivan was writing a letter." (impf.)
    Ivan je pismo. "Ivan wrote a letter." (perf.)
Ana broji noväc. "Ana is counting money."
    Ana je noväc. (impf.)
    Ana je noväc. (perf.)
Uzimamo loptu. "We're taking (the) ball."
    smo loptu. (impf.)
    smo loptu. (perf.)
Čitaš pismo. "You're reading a letter." (sg.)
    si pismo. (impf.)
    si pismo. (perf.)

In the following sentences, use perf. verbs for the start of action:

Goran spava. "Goran is sleeping."
    Goran je . "Goran slept." (impf.)
    Goran je . "Goran fell asleep." (perf.)
Ana plače. "Ana is crying."
    Ana je . (impf.)
    Ana je . (perf.)

 

Updated 2013-09-17 (v. 0.4)

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great chapter! It is really a difficult concept. I will try to find the equivalences with the french tenses... I am reading this chapter again as I want to be able to understand the one on "budem" (second big difficulty in croatian).
Thanks a lot,
Chrystel

Anonymous said...

This lesson is really a hard one... I have worked some hours on it, and it is still not clear to me.
Just tell me if I'm wrong :
I understand that aspects and tenses are not the same things, but the best way for me to remember about when to use perfective or imperfective verb is to compare with the french tenses :( (sorry)

I explain. When a pair of imperfective/perfective verbs exists, for example gledati/pogledati (to watch) :

- for the present (in english or french), we have to use the IMPERFECTIVE verb, so : gledam (croatian present) <--> action is during

- for the simple preterit (imparfait in french), we have to use the IMPERFECTIVE verb, so : gledala sam (croatian past) <--> action was during

- for the present perfect or past perfect (passé composé or plus-que-parfait in french), we have to use the PERFECTIVE verb, so : pogledala sam (croatian past) <--> action was finished

- for the futur (in english or french), we have to use the IMPERFECTIVE verb, so : gledaću (croatian future?) <--> action will be during

- for the future perfect (or futur antérieur in french), we have to use the PERFECTIVE verb, so : pogledaću (croatian future?) <--> action will be finished


If this way of thinking is not too bad (I hope so), I still have a problem with pairs of verbs with different significations...
For example : sjedati/sjesti, which is a very good example, which means "être assis"/"s'assoir" (in french), so I think it could mean "to be sitting"/"to sit down" in english (?)

It's a good example to understand the difference between an imperfective verb and a perfective one :
When I am sitting, I can still be sitting just after I have said that. So it is imperfective.
But when I sit down, I can't sit down again, just after that (I have to wake up before). So it is perfective.

But in french and in english you CAN say : I sit down or I am sitting down (je m'assois or je suis en train de m'assoir).

If I have clearly understood the use of a perfective verb in croatian, we CAN'T use it for the present tense... so I am lost!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I forgot to write my name...

It's Chrystel again!

Anonymous said...

Forget about sjesti/sjediti/sjedati (I will think about it in the next days...)

Take the pair putovati/otputovati, which means : to travel/to go off on a trip (voyager/partir en voyage in french).
In english or in french, you can use the present for the translation of otputovati :
"I go off on a trip" or "Je pars en voyage".
How could I translate those sentences in croatian, if I can't use the present for otputovati? I do not want to use "putujem", as it has not the same signification when I translate it.
"I travel" is different from "I go off on a trip".
That's the way I'm lost... (hope you understand it, because it's not easy to explain)

Anonymous said...

Hi Daniel!

Thank you for beeing so patient.

I have been thinking about this difficulty (for me) for few days, trying to find some other examples in books or on the web. I am not really sure, but I think that I "got it"...

It seems that in croatian there are much more verbs than in english or french. Where we use adverbs or conjugation to express imperfective or perfective aspect, in croatian, we have to choose the right verb. My problem was about the verbs pairs who have different significations. And I have found an example which explain the process when you want to tell something in the present tense with the signification of a perfective verb (my "I go off for a trip") :

"The imperfective verb ići means 'go'. Perfective verbs are made from it by adding prefixes, for example doći ' come'. Imperfective verbs are then made from each of these perfectives by adding the same prefix to the relatively rare verb laziti; thus dolaziti is the imperfective verb meaning 'come'."

[from Bosnian Croatian Serbian - A textbook with exercises and basic grammar, Ronelle Alexander / Ellen Elias-Bursać]


So :

- if the pair of imperfective/perfective verbs have exactly the same meaning : no problem for the present tense, we use the imperfective verb

- if the pair have different meanings (for exemple : go/come) : we have to find another imperfective verb related to the perfective one for which we want to use the present tense


What is also difficult is that in all my dictionaries, they never mention if the verb is imperfective or perfective, and what is the related verb.

So your lists are very useful!


Am I right this time? And do you understand what my problem was?

Chrystel

Anonymous said...

So sorry, Daniel,

I don't read the chapters in the right order, as I am not a complete beginner, so I pick up some informations, here and there. I know it's not the best way to learn something ;)

I will try to go back to the first chapters in the next weeks...

Have a nice week-end!

Chrystel

Duja said...

Serbian grammars treat the verbs like znati, čuti, vidjeti as bi-aspectual, i.e. being both perf. and imperf. simultaneously/from context. That also explains that they have both useful present and aorist. I think that's a practical approach.

By the way, I like your thinking out of the box, Daniel. For example, that merging of Loc. and Dat. may be seen as heretical. Unfortunately, both modern Serbian and Croatian mainstream linguists seem to be rooted in 1800s. :(

Daniel N. said...

You are right, I should probably explain it differently. Aorist is out of question here, nobody uses it in Croatia in daily communication (SMS aside).

I decided NOT to use approach of standard grammars. First, they are written for people who already know the language. Second, they completely skip some hard concepts like word order, ako/da constructs etc. because they does not seem important.

In real life there's absolutely NO difference Dat/Loc. There is of course a difference in quotes in northern Čakavian in newspapers, such as when Novi List quotes "Niki nas neće zet va teh letah" or articles like this, and of course on the internet where people use it. And of course there are subtle differences in accent of some words, that's why I introduce it later.

A woman asked me over the internet how she could learn language of her grandparents (a dialect from western Međimurje). It's not easy to help her. I don't really know it, I know only some basic Kajkavian, but that's not it. Another one asks why his parents always spoke lipi, dite while in books such forms are not found. Croatia is linguistically very diverse. Putting everything in one framework is not easy. I don't have any formal linguistic training.

Therefore, any comments or other help will be GREATLY appreciated.

lp Daniel

Daniel N. said...

I forgot to add the link for the example: link

Grytolle said...

https://coral.uchicago.edu/display/aspectualpairs/Home
When I compile my own wordlists I use this to find the pairs, and then I look through the grammatical information at http://hjp.novi-liber.hr/ to find out the accent/stress plus (hopefully) all potentially irregular forms.

Daniel, thanks for your blog! I am not following "the course" or anything, but more often than not when I google something related to grammar I end up here and learn a thing or two

narukio2000 said...

How can you tell which prefix to use?

Daniel N. said...

It's verb-specific, must be learned. Common verbs are described later.

narukio2000 said...

Is there an online dictionary that give both Perfective and Imperfective aspects or verbs?

Daniel N. said...

Not really. I have listed here some common verbs, but there's no exhaustive list online at all :(

http://croatian-verbs.blogspot.com

br Daniel

narukio2000 said...

What about a physical hard copy of a dictionary? like from Barnes and Noble or from Amazon

Daniel N. said...

Better dictionaries should contain aspect pairs, however I own ones made for Croats and of course they don't contain aspect pairs but details on English pronunciation etc:) I will investigate a bit... br Daniel

narukio2000 said...

I don't know why they don't just use the past tense of verbs instead of having Perfect and Imperfect verbs. Why not just use one verb to show a certain action and just modify that verb without having to know 2 forms of the verb?

Daniel N. said...

Because they really have different meanings. Croatian (and all Slavic languages) have lot of verbs. Not all verbs come in imperfect-perfect pairs, there are hundreds and thousands verbs that don't have pairs.

For instance, from pijem "drink" Croatian derives (by prefixing) following verbs (all perfective):

po-pijem "finish, complete drinking" (perfective pair)
is-pijem "drink everything, to the bottom"
u-pijem "absorb"
na-pijem "get drunk, satisfy oneself with drinking"
etc.

Why is it so? Nobody knows, really, why Slavic languages use such a complex scheme...

Libby Bradshaw said...

I just stumbled across this page while trying to find a verb table. I've now downloaded the PDF and although I've only read as far as page 6, I'm already a big fan.
>> " I begun writing my Croatian language blog because I thought there's not enough information on the
Internet about the Croatian language basics. " <<
EXACTLY!
I've been getting really frustrated. My language guides all teach travel vocab but not really how to build the language. The stuff I've been watching on You Tube (clips of my favourite films etc) are all adamant about the difference between Serbian and Croatian which I always thought was like English and American, and I watch American stuff all the time. The i-pad apps teach dictionary loads of nouns but not how to build sentences and any courses that might be more in depth are far too expensive with no "try before you buy". I learnt German from a CD course, internet sites, TV shows and by switching DVDs onto German. We have dosens of DVDs dubbed into German but I've only found 2 in Croatian.
So I am really pleased to find a website written by a fellow linguist that makes sense (so far). I'm looking forward to reading more.
Thanks a lot!

Daniel N. said...

Hi Libby, this blog is currently not maintained, I have switched to another blog, http://easy-croatian.blogspot.com - it's done better, with sound clips, associated Facebook page, two PDF versions that can be downloaded, a version for Amazon Kindle etc. Please check it.

Also, some things are less formal and explained better there, which makes it likely easier to use. By following the Facebook page, you'll see a lot if music videos with lyrics explained, street signs, etc.

Hvala, lp
Daniel

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