Perfective and imperfective aspect

In Polish language, as well as in all Slavic languages, there are two aspect of verbs – perfective and imperfective. Perfective verbs exist only in past and future tenses, and in infinitive form, but not in present tense! That’s why we will consider them in this lesson along with past tense, and in the next lesson – in future tense. By the way, if you ever learned Russian – it must be easy for you.

In the previous lesson – Present tense in Polish language, we considered only imperfective verbs, because as it was said above, they have form only in past and future.

Difference between Polish perfective and imperfective verbs:

Almost all verbs have a form in both aspects. They differ by a prefix or by ending, or by whole for of verb. For example: kupować(imperf.) and kupić(perf.), dawać(imperf.) and dać(perf.), rozumieć(imperf.) and zrozumieć(perf.) – It will be considered later.

Imperfective verbs describe process of an action;

Perfective verbs describe result of an action.

Now we will learn how to conjugate verbs in past and future tense and then will consider difference between perfective and imperfective aspect on practice.

Past tense

The rules of conjugation of Polish verbs in past tense are the same for perfective and imperfective verbs.

In order to conjugate a verb in past tense, cut off –Ć and add an appropriate ending, there is not difference between verb groups like in present tense.

Let’s conjugate the verb kupować/kupić.

Kupować (imperfective)Kupić (Perfective)
Ja kupowałem (a man says)

Ja kupowałam (a woman says)

Ja kupiłem

Ja kupiłam

I bought
Ty kupowałeś (said to a man)

Ty kupowałaś (said to a woman)

Ty kupiłeś

Ty kupił

You bought
On kupował

Ona kupowała

Ono kupowało

On kupił

Ona kupiła

Ono kupiło

He bought

She bought

It bought

My kupowaliśmy (m+w/m+m)

My kupowałyśmy(w+w)

My kupiliśmy

My kupiłyśmy

We bought
Wy kupowaliście (m+w/m+m)

Wy kupowałyście (w+w)

Wy kupiliście

Wy kupiłyście

You bought (plural)
Oni kupowali

One kupowały

Oni kupili

One kupiły

They bought

All verbs in past tense will have these endings.

Recommendation: When you learn new verbs, memorize both forms of a verb.

Now we’re going to consider examples and understand the difference between Polish verb aspects in practice.

On kupował książki w tym sklepie –  He was buying books in this store (Kupować(imp.) – process of the action)

On kupił książki w tym sklepie – He has bought books un that store (Kupić(perf.) – result of the action)

My patrzyliśmy na górę – We were looking at the mountain (Patrzyć(imp.) – to look at, process of the action)

My popatrzyliśmy na górę – We have looked at the mountain (Popatrzyć(perf.)  – to look at, result of the action)

Ja malowałem ścianę – I was painting the wall (Malować(imp.) – to paint, process of painting)

Ja pomalowałem ścianę – I have painted the wall (Pomalować(perf.) – to paint, result of painting)

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. PanRobak

    Let me correct some errors in the conjugation.
    “Ja kupiłam” instead of “Ja kupiła” – I bought (feminine)
    “Ona kupiła” instead of “On kupiła” – she bought
    “Ono kupiło” instead of “On kupiło” – it bought
    “My kupowałyśmy” instead of “My kupowałiśmy” – we bought or we were buying (feminine)
    “Wy kupowałyście” instead of “Wy kupowałiście” – you bought or you were buying (feminine, plural)
    Also, in my opinion, the Imperfect verbs can often be compared more accurately to the Past Continuous, while the Perfect forms to the Past Simple or Present Perfect, so the sentences “On kupował książki w tym sklepie”, “My patrzyliśmy na górę” and “Ja malowałem ścianę” would be closer to “I was buying books in this store”, “We were looking at the mountain” and “I was painting the wall”.

    1. Artemiy

      Thank you! Fixed.

Leave a Reply

I accept the Privacy Policy