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Verbal aspect


In the Serbian language, verbs do not only indicate the TIME WHEN THE ACTION OR PROCESS TAKES PLACE, but also show whether the action or the process is complete (perfective aspect) or incomplete (imperfective aspect). Many verbs have a separate form for the perfective and imperfective aspect. However, there are verbs that have only one form. For example: stanovati (to live, to dwell), morati (must).

The imperfective aspect expresses an action or process of unlimited duration or a habitual activity.
  • Ja (sada) čitam knjigu. (unlimited duration)
  • Ja (obično) čitam knjigu pre spavanja. (habitual)
The perfective aspect expresses an action or process of limited duration, (usually one single moment), and indicates the beginning or completion of the action or process.
  • Ja moram da pročitam knjigu. (the completion of an action - "to finish reading")
  • Kad sve uradim, ja sednem da se odmorim. (one single moment - "to sit down")
  • Čim sam ga ugledala, ja sam ga zavolela. (beginning of an action)
How can you recognize verbal aspect? It is quite difficult.

But some distinguishing marks do exist:
The imperfective aspect of verbs can be recognized:
  • By the presence of the infix: - OVA - (kupovati), - AVA - (predavati), - iva - (iznajmljivati)
  • By the absence of a prefix. (čitati, pisati, gledati, sedeti)
The perfective aspect of verbs can be recognized:
  • According to the infix - NU - (viknuti, pipnuti, dirnuti...)
  • According to the prefix: (pročitati, napisati, uraditi...)
A semantical factor can be also of use in recognizing verbal aspect:
  • dugo can be combined only with imperfective verbs.
  • u trenutku can be combined only with perfective verbs.
The use of aspect in tenses

  The past tense The present tense The future tense
impf. Ja sam plela džemper. Ja pletem džemper. Ja ću plesti džemper.
pf. Ja sam isplela džemper. Ja hoću da ispletem džemper.
Ako ispletem džemper do sutra vratiću ti igle.
Kad ispletem džemper pokloniću ti ga.
Ja ću isplesti džemper.

1) Perfective verbs cannot be used as an answer to the question "Šta radiš sada?" (What are you doing now?). This means that the present tense of perfective verbs may not be used in a main clause to refer to an action which is "present", but rather in situations as described above (as a complement of modal verbs, or as a part of subordinated clauses introduced by the conjunctions ako, kad) as they refer to some future action.
2) If used in the present tense, however, the perfective verbs denote habitual action. E.g. Ja pročitam novine kad legnem.
You can try below what you have just lernt. Write your answer and press Enter
Fill in the gaps with the appropriate perfective forms of the verbs used in the preceding.
Jovana se svako jutro češlja. Ovog jutra ona nema vremena da .
Igor se svaki dan brije. Danas je nedelja i Igor ne želi da .
Ja se obično oblačim dugo. Danas moram da brzo jer žurim.
Kaća se svako jutro umiva sama. Ovog jutra Kaća ne želi da .
Jelena svaki dan izlazi napolje. Danas pada kiša pa neće da .
Jovan svako jutro pije kafu. Danas nema vremena da je .

Fill in the gaps with the perfective aspect of the verbs used in the preceding.
Marija čita knjigu. Marija želi da knjigu danas.
Vera se oblači. Kad se izaći će.
Vlada se kupa. Danas je nedelja pa Vlada neće da .
Branka piše poslednji mejl. Kad ga ići će kući.
Aca svakog jutra šalje poštu. Danas je neradni dan pa ne može da je pošalje.

Fill in the gaps with the imperfective aspect of the marked verbs.
Maja obično crne haljine. Sada, Maja želi da kupi crvenu.
Jovan se obično elegantno. Sada Jovan ne želi da se obuče tako.
Marina obično domaće zadatke. Sada Marina ne želi da uradi domaći za školu.
Petar obično jednu čašu vina. Danas želi da popije više.
Jovan obično ne bez pozdrava. Sada Jovan želi da izađe tajno.

Fill in the gaps with the appropriate forms of the verbs given in brackets.
a) Obično ovaj jogurt u beloj flaši,
ali sada nemam dovoljno novca i moram da ovaj u žutoj flaši. (KUPITI - KUPOVATI)
b) Nikad ne knjigu brzo.
Ipak, ovaj put sam je za samo dva dana. (ČITATI - PROČITATI)
v) On domaći zadatak popodne.
Danas je domaći zadatak ujutro jer popodne mora u posetu. (RADITI - URADITI)
g) sam u školu 5 godina.
On je na fudbalsku utakmicu pre pet minuta. (IĆI - OTIĆI)
d) smo celu noć. Bilo je fantastično. (IGRATI - ODIGRATI)

Fill in the gaps with the appropriate forms of the verbs given in brackets.
Mi svaki dan jedan hleb i jedan jogurt. (KUPITI - KUPOVATI)
Na moru je sunčano i toplo. Moji prijatelji i ja često. (KUPATI SE - OKUPATI SE)
Kad želiš da se našminkaš, moraš prvo da . (UMITI SE - UMIVATI SE)
Jovan je na aerodrom da sačeka Luku. (OTIĆI - ODLAZITI)
Ona srpski već tri meseca. (UČITI - NAUČITI)
Vi ste na avion u 12 sati. (KASNITI - ZAKASNITI)