Non-Finite Verb Forms

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Lesson Notes

A non-finite verb form is a word that is derived from a verb, but that does not show tense, and that can't perform an action as the root of an independent clause. In Bulgarian, those forms include participles, verbal adverbs, and verbal nouns.


There are 4 participles in Bulgarian (plus the special case of the present passive participle).

We already covered one of them, the past active aorist participle, that is used to form various compound tenses (the conditional mood, the perfect, past perfect, future perfect and future perfect in the past tenses).

Present active participle

The present active participle (сегашно деятелно причастие) can be formed by replacing the final -х of the imperfect 1st person singular conjugation by -щ:


  • чета ➜ четях ➜ четящ - "reading"
  • гледам ➜ гледах ➜ гледащ - "looking"
  • живея ➜ живеех ➜ живеещ - "living"

Note that only imperfective verbs have a present active participle.

This participle is used like an adjective. Feminine, neuter and plural forms will take the typical -а, -о, and -и endings. Definite articles can also be added, the same way they would on an adjective.

In fact, you have already encountered some of those participles. For example, следващ (next) comes from the verb следвам (to follow, to come after/next). This is considered a standard adjective.

The present active participle is rare in the spoken language, and a finite verb form is usually prefered instead:

Коя е жената танцуваща с Борис? - Who's the woman dancing with Boris?
Коя е жената, която танцува с Борис? - Who's the woman who is dancing with Boris?

Има 3 деца играещи в градината - There are 3 children playing in the garden.
Има 3 деца, които играят в градината - There are 3 children, who are playing in the garden.

Present passive participle

The present passive participle (сегашно страдателно причастие) used to be a proper participle, but nowadays it is simply a regular adjective, and no longer considered to be a non-finite verb form. There are few of these words in use today, and they can simply be learned as adjectives. The masculine forms end in -м and will be inflected like a normal adjective.


  • видя ➜ видим - "visible" (being seen)
  • любя ➜ любим - "beloved" (being loved), also "favorite"

Those words frequently have meanings similar to adjectives ending in -able in English, indicating whether something is doable or not:

  • разбирам ➜ разбираем - "understandable"
  • използвам ➜ използваем - "usable"

Past passive participle

The past passive participle (минало страдателно причастие) can be formed from any transitive verb (one that takes a direct object), from both aspects, although perfective verbs are more common.

It is formed from the aorist stem. If the 1st person singular aorist ends in -ах or -ях, that termination is replaced with -ан or -ян, respectively. If it ends in -ох or -их, then that termination is replaced with -ен.

Verbs whose citation form ends in -на and monosyllabic verbs with roots ending with а vowel form this participle with -т instead. For some verbs ending in -ея, the participle can end in either -т or -н (both being valid).

  • Пиша ➜ писах ➜ писан - "written"
  • Видя ➜ видях ➜ видян - "seen"
  • Взема ➜ взех ➜ взет - "taken"
  • Затворя ➜ затворих ➜ затворен - "closed"

You may remember затворен from previous lessons.

Those will take the typical adjective endings to form the feminine, neuter, plural and definite variants. For verbs with an aorist in -ях, the "я" changes to an "е" in the plural form, which thus ends in -ени.

The past passive participle can be used as an adjective, or to form the passive voice:

Вратата е затворена - The door is closed
Колата беше намерена в езерото - The car was found in the lake
Те бяха видени в Берлин - They were seen in Berlin

Past active imperfect participle

The past active imperfect participle (минало несвършено деятелно причастие) is a participle used to form the indirect imperfect (this will be covered in a future lesson). It is formed by adding an -л to the imperfect stem:

  • чета ➜ четях ➜ четял - "read"

Verbal Adverb

Also known as "adverbial participle", the verbal adverb (деепричастие) is an indeclinable verbal form, that can only be formed from imperfective verbs.

It is formed from by adding -йки to the imperfect stem.


  • Чета ➜ четеше ➜ четейки - "reading"
  • Зная ➜ знаеше ➜ знаейки - "knowing"
  • Чакам ➜ чакаше ➜ чакайки - "waiting"

The verbal adverb can be used for actions that are simultaneous to that of the verb. It always relates to the subject of the verb.

Той прекарва времето си играейки на видео игри
He spends his time playing video games

Those forms aren't used that much, and a finite verb is often used instead.

Verbal Noun

Verbal nouns (отглаголни съществителни) are nouns formed from verbs. They end with the suffix -не or -ние.

Verbal nouns ending in -не are formed from the aorist stem of imperfective verbs only.

The final vowel of the 3rd person singular aorist is replaced with the verbal noun suffix. If the aorist stem ends in -а or -я, then that suffix is -ане or -яне, respectively. Otherwise, the suffix is -ене.

You have already seen a few of them:

  • танцувам ➜ танцува ➜ танцуване - "dancing"
  • бягам ➜ бяга ➜ бягане - "running"
  • плувам ➜ плува ➜ плуване - "swimming"
  • рисувам ➜ рисува ➜ рисуване ➜ "drawing"


Плуването е добро за гърба - Swimming is good for the back

Two common exceptions are the verbs пея (to sing) and живея (to live), which form the verbal noun from their present stem instead (пеене, живеене).

Verbal nouns ending in -ние aren't formed as regularly as those ending in -не. They can be formed from verbs of both aspects, and are usually formed from the aorist stem, although with many irregularities:

  • Наводнявам (to flood) ➜ наводнение (a flood)

In accordance with their endings, verbal nouns are always neuter, and their plurals end in -ия:

  • пътуване (a trip) ➜ пътувания (trips)
  • наводнение (a flood) ➜ наводнения (floods)

You will probably have noticed that several Bulgarian non-finite verb forms translate to English -ing forms. This may be confusing, as English uses the same -ing form for what can be a verb, an adjective or a noun, but Bulgarian uses different forms for them. When translating from English to Bulgarian, you will have to think about what part of speech the -ing form belongs to.

New vocabulary

In the exercise you will practice the following new vocabulary:

  • noisy: шумен (adjective)
  • to spend/pass (time): прекарвам imperf., прекарам perf.
  • body: тяло (noun, plural: тела)


Exercise 1

шумен, прекарвам, тяло, четене, гледане