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Lesson Notes

The first past tense that we will see is called "past aorist", or just "aorist", sometimes "simple past" or "минало свършено време". It is close to the preterite tense (simple past, like "I cooked", "I walked") in English.

This aorist is used for actions that happened once at a specific time in the past. This tense is typically used with the perfective aspect. That is, if an imperfective verb has a perfective counterpart, you should use it.

The aorist stem

To conjugate verbs in the aorist tense, you need the aorist stem, to which you will append the proper terminations. For verbs of the 3rd conjugation group (ending in -ам, with a stem in -а), the aorist stem is the same as the present tense stem. Unfortunately, for the 1st and 2nd conjugation groups, the aorist stem cannot be determined from the citation form or the present tense conjugation.

The aorist stem is what is left after you remove the -х ending from the 1st person singular aorist conjugation. From now on we will give you that conjugation with each new verb so that you can infer the stem. Most Bulgarian dictionaries also give that information.

Here are the aorist conjugations for all of the verbs that you've seen before (we omitted some verbs of the 3rd group since the aorist stem is the same as the present stem):

  • to be able to: мога, можах
  • to be proud: гордея се, гордях се
  • to buy: купя, купих
  • to call: обадя се, обадих се
  • to cook: готвя, готвих
  • to do, to make: правя, правих
  • to drink: пия, пих
  • to eat: ям, ядох
  • to enjoy: насладя се, насладих се
  • to find: намеря, намерих
  • to give: дам, дадох
  • to go: отида, отидох
  • to go: ходя, ходих
  • to hear: чуя, чух
  • to help: помогна, помогнах
  • to hope: надяна се, надянах се
  • to laugh: смея се, смях се
  • to like: харесам, харесах
  • to live: живея, живях
  • to move: местя, местих
  • to pay: платя, платих
  • to prefer: предпочета, предпочетох
  • to read: чета, четох
  • to return: върна се, върнах се
  • to say, to tell: кажа, казах
  • to see: видя, видях
  • to sleep: спя, спах
  • to speak, to talk: говоря, говорих
  • to learn: уча, учих
  • to try: опитам, опитах
  • to wear: нося, носих
  • to work: работя, работих
  • to worry: безпокоя се, безпокоих се
  • to worry: тревожа се, тревожих се
  • to write: пиша, писах

A note about aspectual pairs

As we've seen before, some verbs have both an imperfective form and a perfective form (like отивам and отида), and other verbs, like чета, only have an imperfective form (those are called simplex verbs). However, there are cases when a perfective verb is formed by adding a prefix to a simplex verb.

For example, прочета is a perfective verb derived from чета. But if you look up чета in a dictionary, it won't point you to прочета as the perfective pair of чета, because technically, it is not. It is a completely different verb, and it even has its own imperfective form, прочитам (which is called a secondary imperfective verb).

In practice, the usage of прочета is close to that of a hypothetical perfective form of чета, with the following nuance: прочета describes a whole, completed action, whereas чета describes an uncompleted action:

"Вчера четох книга" - Yesterday, I read a book (part of the book, an uncompleted action)

"Вчера прочетох книга" - Yesterday, I read a book (the whole book, a completed action)

Here are a few of those verbs (they're all perfective!):

  • to cook: сготвя, сготвих
  • to do, to make: направя, направих
  • to eat: изям, изядох
  • to move: преместя, преместих
  • to read: прочета, прочетох
  • to study, to learn: науча, научих
  • to write: напиша, написах

The aorist conjugation

To conjugate a verb in the aorist tense, it does not matter which group it belongs to. All that matters is the ending of the stem:

Stems in
-а, -я, -и, -е, -у
Stems in

Note that the 2nd and 3rd person singular conjugations are the same. If you're talking directly to someone (2nd person), it is ok to omit the subject pronoun, but if the context is not clear, it is better to have an explicit subject.

To be

You probably won't be surprised that the verb съм has a specific conjugation for the aorist tense:

Тибеше / бе
Тойбеше / бе

"бе" can be used in place of "беше" but "беше" is much more common in everyday speech, while "бе" sounds more formal/litterary.

A few more exceptions

The aorist tense is not used with the following verbs: имам, нямам, искам, знам, трябвам. The imperfect tense (that will be seen in a future lesson) is used instead.


Here are a few expressions that will come in handy with the past tense:

  • Вчера: yesterday
  • Завчера: the day before yesterday
  • Преди три дни: three days ago
  • Миналата година: last year
  • Снощи: last night
  • Преди малко: a moment ago

Преди alone means "before", and минал is an adjective meaning "past".


"Аз те чух" - I heard you
"Те готвиха паста" - They cooked pasta
"Тя пристигна вчера" - She arrived yesterday
"Ти къде беше снощи?" - Where were you last night?


Exercise 1

бях, беше, бяхме, бяхте, бяха


Exercise 2

върнах, видях, гледах, помогнах, отидох, купих, спах, намерих, пих


Exercise 3

слушах, ядох, изядох, платих, работих, дадох, чух, обадих, казах, говорих