Serbian verb aspect and reflexive verbs

In this lessons we will consider two aspects of Serbian verbs and Serbian reflexive verbs. This subject is very important because this is the very base of the language.

In the previous lessons of Serbian language we considered verbs without their aspect. This time is to consider what is the difference between imperfective verbs and perfective ones. I will try to give the simplest explanation of their difference.

Imperfective verbs describe a process of an action

Perfective verbs describe a result of an action

Imperfecive and perfective verbs differ either by different endings, or by prefixes. It is almost impossible to determine how a perfective/imperfective verb looks like not knowing one of its forms, so here is the recommendation: learning new verbs, learn their imperfective and perfective form at the same time.

Also, the perfective form is used only in past and future tense.

Let’s consider some verbs:

Imperfective formPerfective form 
ČuvatiSačuvatiTo save
PalitiSpalitiTo set on fire
RaditiUraditiTo do
KupitiKupovatiTo buy
ZvatiPozvatiTo call
PisatiNapisatiTo write
PitiPopitiTo drink
StavitiPostavitiTo put
IgratiOdigratiTo play

And let’s consider some sentences with explanations:

Šta oni su uradili juče? – What have they done yesterday? (juče – yesterday). Uraditi – to do, perfective form is used, because it describes the result of the action “to do”.

Šta oni su radili juče? – What did they do yesterday? Raditi – to do, imperfective form used, because it describes the process of the action “to do”.

Ćeš kupiti nešto u prodavnici? – Will you buy something in the store? Kupiti – to buy, perfective form is used, because it describes the result of the action “to buy”.

Ćeš kupovati nešto u prodavnici? – Will you buy something in the store? Kupovati – to buy, imperfective form is used, in this sentence it describes the process of the action “to buy”.

Ja sačuvao sam ovaj fajl – I have saved this file. Sačuvati – to save, perfective form is used because it describes the result.

Reflexive verbs

There are no reflexive verbs in English, but if your native language has them – it must be easy for you. The sense of reflexive verbs is that a performer and receiver of an action are the same: one performs an action on oneself. For example “I wash myself”, “He prepares himself” and so on.

Serbian reflexive verbs can be perfective and imperfective as well, the only difference is the particle “se” after infinitive form:

Vratiti – to return/to come back

Vratiti se – to return oneself

Čistiti – to clean

Čistiti se – to clean oneself

Zvati* – to call

Zvati se* – to call onseself

And this particle “se” in sentences with verbs not in infinitive form is placed before verb:

Ja se zovem – My name is (literally: I call myself)

*-Zvati – irregular verb, stem in present tense ZOV-

Examples

Ona se zove Mara – Her name is Mara (literally: She calls herself Mara)

Ja sam se probudio u šest sati – I woke up at 6 o’clock

Žašto se želiš? – Why do you complain?

Ću tuširati se sada – I will take a shower now

Nadam se da oni neće uznemiravati nam – I hope that they won’t disturb us)

Kada se vratićete kući? – When you come back home?

Moja sestra će venčati se sa mojim prijateljem – My sister will get married with my friend

Ko je stvorio ovu sistemu? – Who created this system?

Slikar je nacrtao lepu sliku – The artist has drawn a beautiful picture

Ja sam kupio mnogo hrane u prodavnici – I have bought much food in the store

Vešmašina će da se slomi uskoro – The washing machine will get broken soon

Vocabulary

žaliti se – to complain

probuditi se – to wake up

nadati se – to hope

venčati se – to get married

tuširati se(imp.)/istuširati se(perf) – to take a shower

stvarati(imp.)/stvoriti(perft.) – to create

uznemiravati(imp.)/uznemiriti(perf.) – to disturb

crtati(imp.)/nacrtati(perf.) – to draw

kupiti(imp.)/kupovati(perf.) – to buy

slomiti se – to get broken

šest – six

kuća – home

prodavnica – store

hrana – food

Exercises

Decide whether you have to use imperfective or perfective form and conjugate it appropriately

  1. Jabuka ______________ sa drva (PADATI(imp.)/UPASTI(perf.) – to fall) – An apple has fallen from the free
  2. Kada _______________ da sviraš gitaru? (početi/započeti – to start) – When did you start to play guitar?
  3. Koliko novca ćeš da _____________________ za te kursevi? (TROŠITI/POTROŠITI – to spend) – How much money will you spend for those courses?
  4. Nikada __________________________ za reklamu mojeg sajta (PLATITI/ZAPLATITI – to pay) – I never paid for advertisement of my website
  5. Možda _________________ novi film večeras? (GLEDATI/POGLEDATI – to watch) – Maybe we will watch the new film tonight?

Use appropriate form of reflexive verbs

  1. Ova reć ______________ ne tako kao _________________ – (ČITATI SE – to read oneself, PISATI SE– to write oneself) – This word is read not so as it is written
  2. Knige _________________ u tipografijah (ŠTAMPATI SE – to print oneself) – Books are printed in typographies
  3. Zašto ove vrata ne ___________________ (ZATVORITI SE – to close oneself) – Why this door doesn’t get closed?
  4. Kako to ___________________ na Ruskom jezike? (KAZATI SE – to be said) – How is it said in Rusian language?
  5. Viktor ___________________ brzo (OBLAČITI SE – to get dressed) – Viktor gets dressed quickly
  6. Mi odlucili smo da ______________________ (VENČATI SE – to get married) – We decided that we will get married

Answers

1: je upala; 2: započeo si; 3: potrošiš; 4: nisam platio; 5: pogledaćemo; 6: se čita, se piše, 7: se štampaju; 8: se zatvaraju; 9: se kaže; 10: se oblači, 11:  ćemo venčati se

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