Imperfect

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Lesson Notes

Introduction

The imperfect, sometimes called past imperfect or, in Bulgarian, минало несвършено време, is a past tense that is used alongside the past aorist to express actions that, unlike the aorist, do not have a definite beginning and end. Broadly speaking, the aorist is the equivalent of the English preterite, and the imperfect is the equivalent of the past progressive tense.

Conjugation

The first thing you should know is that the imperfective tense is used with imperfective verbs. The conjugations can be formed from these by adding the following personal endings:

Group 1 (-e) Group 2 (-и) Group 3 (-а)
пиша уча имам
Азпишехучехимах
Типишешеучешеимаше
Тойпишешеучешеимаше
Ниепишехмеучехмеимахме
Виепишехтеучехтеимахте
Тепишехаучехаимаха

There is a variation of this conjugation for verbs of the 1st and 2nd groups with the accent on the final syllable in their 1st person singular present form. In the 1st group, all of those verbs also end in "а" (like четá) and in the 2nd group, all end in "я" (like спя́). Those verbs will have a "я" instead of an "е" in all of their imperfect endings, except for the 2nd and 3rd persons singular.

Also, verbs in the 3rd group ending in -ям will have a "я" instead of an "а" in their endings:

Group 1 (-e) Group 2 (-и) Group 3 (-я)
чета спя отварям
Азчетяхспяхотварях
Тичетешеспешеотваряше
Тойчетешеспешеотваряше
Ниечетяхмеспяхмеотваряхме
Виечетяхтеспяхтеотваряхте
Течетяхаспяхаотваряха

Examples

The imperfect is typically used:

1. Alongside the aorist for actions that happened in the background of other actions:

"Той спеше (imperfect), когато му се обадих (aorist)" - He was sleeping when I called him

2. For things that were always true, habits, or actions that happened many times in the past:

"Тя обичаше да чете" - She loved to read
"Когато бях млад, четях много" - When I was young, I read a lot
"Често играехме заедно" - We often played together

3. You may remember from the aorist lesson that the following verbs aren't used in the aorist tense: имам, искам, знам, трябвам. Therefore, you should translate sentences that use those verbs in the preterite tense in English with the imperfect tense in Bulgarian:

"Искаше да знае" - He wanted to know
"Нямаше пари" - We didn't have money
"трябваше да тръгвам" - I had to leave

Exercises

Exercise 1

искам, имам, нямам, тръгвам, играя, гледам, валя, нося, говоря, спя, правя, вървя...

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Exercise 2

трябвам, чакам, чета, грея, мога, пиша, търся, опитвам, работя...

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2019-05-02T10:41:45.0308835Z