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Aorist

In the spoken language, this tense is generally replaced by the perfect tense (the past tense). It is still, however, in use in the written form of the language, mainly for stylistic reasons.

Formation of the aorist tense and its use

The aorist tense is used in the following instances :

1. To indicate an action or situation which was carried out or completed immediately prior to this moment in which it is described.
e.g. Evo ga, stiže. - Here he is, he has arrived.
Samo što se vratismo. - We’ve only just got back.

2. To indicate an action or situation which occurred in the past. Though not necessarily completed, this action was terminated at a specific time in the past. It is often used in a narrative sense.
e.g. Htedoh da mu platim ali mi nije dao. - I wanted to pay him but he didn't let me.
Konačno napisah pismo bratu. - I’ve finally written a letter to my brother.

3. To indicate an action or situation which will be carried out in the immediate future.
e.g. Sačekaj nas, odosmo po ključeve. - Wait for us, we're off to get the keys.

As the aorist is used to express terminated and/or completed actions, it is generally formed from perfective verbs by the addition of the following endings, indicating person and number.

  (a) -ti infinitives (b) -sti or -ći infinitives
1st p. sg. -h -oh
2nd p. sg. - -e
3rd p. sg. - -e
1st p. pl. -smo -osmo
2nd p. pl. -ste -oste
3rd p. pl. -še -oše

Endings in (a) replace the -ti endings of the infinitives and follow the vowel :

  To take - uzeti To return - vratiti To write - napisati
1st p. sg. (ja) uzeh vratih napisah
2nd p. sg. (ti) uze vrati napisa
3rd p. sg. (on,ona,ono) uze vrati napisa
1st p. pl. (mi) uzesmo vratismo napisasmo
2nd p. pl. (vi) uzeste vratiste napisaste
3rd p. pl. (oni,one,ona) uzeše vratiše napisaše

Endings in (b) are added to the original stem of the infinitive (before assimilation occurred from -ti to -ći as well as to -sti endings). These endings follow the consonant :

  To be able to - moći To say/tell - reći To leave - poći To scratch - zagrepsti
1st p. sg. (ja) mogoh rekoh pođoh zagrebah
2nd p. sg. (ti) može reče pođe zagreba
3rd p. sg. (on,ona,ono) može reče pođe zagreba
1st p. pl. (mi) mogosmo rekosmo pođosmo zagrebasmo
2nd p. pl. (vi) mogoste rekoste pođoste zagrebaste
3rd p. pl. (oni,one,ona) mogoše rekoše pođoše zagrebaše

In the 2nd and 3rd person singular, sound changes occur in some of the verbs before the ending -e:

-k changes to
-g changes to
-h changes to

The negative aorist

The negative particle ne is placed before the verb in the aorist.
e.g. Ja ne odoh u London ove godine. - I have not gone to London this year.
Ti ne reče kad se vraćaš. - You have not said when you will be back.
Mi ne mogosmo da im pomognemo. - We were not able to help them.

The interrogative aorist

The interrogative aorist expressed in an affirmative meaning can be formed in two ways.

1. With the use of conjunction da followed by the interrogative enclitic li and the verb in the aorist tense :
e.g. Da li htedoste da ostanete na večeri? - Did you want to stay for dinner?
Da li poljubi ti onu devojku? - Did you kiss that girl?

2. With the interrogative enclitic li preceded by the verb in the aorist tense :
e.g. Htedoste li da ostanete na večeri? - Did you want to stay for dinner?
Poljubi li ti onu devojku? - Did you kiss that girl?

The negative interrogative aorist

The negative interrogative can also be formed in two ways.

1. With the use of zar followed by the the negative particle and the verb in the aorist tense :
e.g. Zar ne htedoste da ostanete na večeri? - Did you not want to stay for dinner?
Zar ne poljubi ti onu devojku? - Did you not kiss that girl?

2. With the use of the interrogative enclitic li preceded by the negative particle and the verb in the aorist tense :
e.g. Ne htedoste li da ostanete na večeri? - Did you not want to stay for dinner?
Ne poljubi li ti onu devojku? - Did you not kiss that girl?

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