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Lesson Notes

Bulgarian aspects are somewhat similar to the perfective and progressive aspects in English (perfect vs continuous tenses).

Bulgarian has 2 aspects: imperfective (несвършен вид) and perfective (свършен вид).

The imperfective aspect generally describes actions in progress (uncompleted) whereas the perfective aspect describes completed actions or actions that are defined in time (that have a beginning and an end).

Unlike English, the 2 aspects in Bulgarian aren't 2 different conjugations of the same verb: they come from 2 different verbs. Therefore, English verbs are usually translated as 2 different Bulgarian verbs - the imperfective form and the perfective form:

to go = отивам (imperfective) and отида (perfective)

The 2 forms often belong to 2 different conjugation groups, as in the example above: отивам belongs to the 3rd group (-а), and отида to the 1st one (-е).

You can conjugate отида like any other verb of the 1st group. It does not matter that it is a perfective verb:

  • аз да отида
  • ти да отидеш
  • той да отиде
  • ние да отидем
  • вие да отидете
  • те да отидат

The perfective aspect isn't used much in the present tense, since usually that tense is used to describe actions in progress, or a general truth (not defined in time). Therefore, all of the verbs that you've seen so far in the present tense are imperfective verbs.

However, the perfective aspect is often used for the second verb when combining verbs with "да". This is why we include "да" in the present tense conjugation above, as you will never say "аз отида". In particular, the perfective aspect is used in expressions such as "I want to", "I prefer to", "I have to", "I need to", "I can", etc.:

"Искам да отида в Лондон" - I want to go to London

You might be surprised that in the last lesson, we practiced a few of these constructions without mentioning the perfective aspect. There are two reasons for that:

  • There are quite a few verbs that do not have a perfective form. That's why we didn't have to worry about using the perfective aspect with the following verbs: чета, пиша, пия, живея, etc. Those are called simplex verbs.

  • It is also possible to use the imperfective aspect in the sentence above. In that case, it indicates that the action is not so certain, or that it is a more general statement, as opposed to something that applies to this particular moment. It is a rather subtle distinction and in spoken language, you will mostly hear the perfective aspect in those sentences.

As always, there will be some exceptions. For example, verbs like "to start", "to stop" and "to continue" are always followed by the imperfective form.

Now here are the verbs that you know that have a perfective form, as well as a couple of new ones:

to like: харесвам / харесам
to go: отивам / отида (-е)
to see: виждам / видя (-и)
to say, to tell: казвам / кажа (-е)
to hear: чувам / чуя (-е)
to call: обаждам се / обадя се (-и)
to return: връщам се / върна се (-е)
to enjoy: наслаждавам се / насладя се (-и)
to buy: купувам / купя (-и)
to help: помагам / помогна (-е)
to find: намирам / намеря (-и)
to pay: плащам / платя (-и)
to try: опитвам (се) / опитам (се) *
to prefer: предпочитам / предпочета (-е)
to relax: отпускам се / отпусна се (-е)

* Опитвам is used reflexively when it means to try to achieve something (to attempt, to make an effort), but not when it means trying something new for the experience (to taste, to sample).


Exercise 1

опитвам, отида, видя, купя, кажа


Exercise 2

предпочитам, харесам, платя, чуя, помагам, помогна, намирам, намеря