Perfective and imperfective verbs

In Montenegrin language the perfective aspect is used to convey the notion that something has happened (the activity is completed), while the imperfective is used for activities that are continous or repeated.

Imperfective is generally used in reference to activities occuring in the present, as well as in generalizations, while the perfective is used to refer to the actions that are plannated for the future or have been completed in the past.

  1. Vowel/consonant changes

A large group of aspectual pair share the same stem (root), but differ in the final vowel preceding the infinitive ending  -ti.

Perfective                                             Imperfective

Primiti                                                    primati

Baciti                                                      bacati

Odgovoriti                                            odgovarati


There are varations and exceptions to these rules, but verbs from the –iti group tend to be perfective, and those belonging to the –ati group tend to be imperfective. Sometimes the vowel change triggers a consonant change, and this may also occur in the stem:

Perfective                                             Imperfective

Platiti                                                      plaćati

Zaboraviti                                               Zaboravljati

Staviti                                                     stavljati

Desiti se                                                 dešavati se

Oprostiti                                                opraštati


  1. Forming the imperfective through infixes

A large group of verbs inserts a whole syllable (-iva, -ova, -ava) right after the stem to form the imperfective.

Perfective                                             Imperfective

Završiti                                                  završavati

Potpisati                                                potpisivati

Dati                                                        davati

Prodati                                                  prodavati

Kupiti                                                    kupovati

Although there are several other infixes, the group above is by far the largest.

Perfective                                             Imperfective

Sresti                                                     sretati

Stati                                                        stajati

Pomoći                                                   pomagati


The infix –nu usually indicates a momentary one-time action and is therefore associated with the perfective:

Perfective                                             Imperfective

Krenuti                                                  kretati

Maknuti                                                micati


Forming the perfective through prefixes

The group of verbs that is easiesto to identify is the one that forms perfective through  a prefix. The most common prefixes are listed below. Many of these prefixes have the same meaning as the preposition whose meaning they share.

Do  uo to, as far as

Iz/is   from, out of, all over

Na  bringing an action to completion

Nad/nat   above

o/ob around

od/ot away from, reversed action

po   comprehensive completion of an action

pod/pot  under

pre   over

pred/pret   before

pri to join to

pro  through, past

raz/ras  in various directions

s put together

u into

za to start the action


Imperfective                                             perfective

Žuriti                                                           požuriti

Čitati                                                           pročitati

Kuvati                                                         skuvati

Kasniti                                                        zakasniti

Puniti                                                          napuniti

Učiti                                                            naučiti

Veseliti se                                                  razveseliti se

Putovati                                                     otputovati


Most verbs take only one prefix, but some may take several. Since each prefix has a specific meaning, the meaning of the verb itself also changes.

However, the imperfective pisati does not form an aspectual pair with potpisati or prepisati, since these verbs mean to sign and to copy, respectively. These prefixed verbs therefore have their own derived imperfectives, typically formed by inserting – iva, -ova and –ava infixes.

Imperfective                                             perfective

Potpisivati                                                  potpisati                   to sign

Zapisivati                                                    zapisati                        to note down

Upisivati                                                    upisati                         to enroll, to enter data

Popisivati                                                  popisati                          to make a list

Dopisivati se                                              _____                           to correspond

Dopisivati                                                  dopisati                         to add to written text

Otpisivati                                                  otpisati                           to write off

Ispisivati                                                  ispisati                              to write all over

Prepisivati                                               prepisati                          to copy

Pripisivati                                               pripisati                             to attribute

Raspisivati                                               raspisati                          to announce a competition

Opisivati                                                  opisati                              to describe

Propisivati                                              propisati                           to regulate



Verbs of motion

A particularly important group in this category is the one formed around the verb ići to go, encompassing the majority od the so called motion verbs. You will notice that the second group of imperfectives listed below all have laz, which follows the prefix to form a new verb. This characteristic only of the group of verbs.

Imperfective                   imperfective          perfective

Ići                                      dolaziti                     doći                             to come, to arrive

Ulaziti                       ući                               to enter

Izlaziti                     izaći                               to exit

Odlaziti                  otići                                to leave

Prilaziti                  prići                                  to approach

Obilaziti                 obići                                  to circle

Prolaziti                 proći                                  to pass

Polaziti                  poći                                   to set off

Prelaziti               preći                                   to cross

Silaziti                  sići                                       to step down

Nalaziti                naći                                     to find


Verbs of transportation

In the following table, there are three groups of transporation verbs formed around the imperfective verbs nositi (to carry), voditi (to lead) and voziti (to drive).

Imperfective                  perfective

Donositi                           donijeti                          to bring

Prenositi                           prenijeti                        to carry over, to transmit

Prevoditi                           prevesti                          to translate, to lead over

Dovoditi                            dovesti                            to bring someone

Odvoditi                            odvesti                             to take someone somewhere

Provoditi                          provesti                            to lead through, to spend time, to implement

Prevoziti                           prevesti                             to drive/transport over

Dovoziti                            dovesti                              to drive/transport to

Odvoziti                           odvesti                               to drive/transport away


Verbs of perception and expression

Several frequent used verbs have two pairs: one pair in which both verbs have the same stem, and a second pair with a verb that differs from the stem.

Imperfective                                perfective

Govoriti – to say                             progovoriti    to begin to speak (same stem)

Reći                  to tell  (different stem)

Kazati               to tell   (different stem)


Slušati    to listen                        poslušati            to listen for a while (same stem)

Čuti                     to hear  (different stem)


Gledati     to look                        pogledati          to have a look, to see (same stem)

Vidjeti               to see (different stem)




I Choose the appropriate verbs and in cases where more than on eoption is possible, explain how the meaning differs.

Example: Idem piti/ popiti kafu.

Both: piti – stress on the process of driniking a cup of coffee

Popiti – stress on the accomplishment of the action


  1. Ja sam pisao / napisao knjigu prošle godine.________________________________________
  2. Da li ste sigurni da ga nijeste nigdje drugdje stavile/stavljale?______________________________________________________________
  3. Pogledao / Gledao / Vidio sam film juče i mislim da je odličan. ____________________________________________________________________________
  4. Kupila/ Kupovala sam hljeb jutros, ali opet ću da idem u prodavnicu. ____________________________________________________________________________
  5. Hoćeš li nastaviti/ nastavljati da voziš moj auto? ____________________________________________________________________________


II Define the verb below, determine wheter it is perfective or imperfective and provide the other verb form in the verbal pair.

  1. Čekati ________________________________________
  2. Putovati ______________________________________
  3. Ući ______________________________________
  4. Voziti ______________________________________
  5. Platiti ______________________________________
  6. Naći ______________________________________
  7. Gubiti ______________________________________













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