Upper Sorbian Grammar

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Imperfective and perfective verbs

Almost every Upper Sorbian verb is inherently eather imperfective (impf.) or perfective (perf.) (there are few verbs that are ambiguous in this respect, ie. may be both impf. and perf.). The verbs' quality of being perfective or imperfective is called verb aspect and is alaways shown in dictionary entries.

Perfective and imperfective verbs referring to the same kind of action are not two different forms of the same word. They are two different words. For instance, both impf. brać and perf. wzać translate to English as to take but it is clearly visible they are not the same verb. However, most of the impf.–perf. verb pairs share the same root modified with different additional morphemes, ex. impf. pisać vs. perf. napisać to write, impf. zapaleć vs. perf. zapalić to set on fire.

Imperfective verbs

An imperfective verb describes an ongoing, incomplete action that lasted, lasts or will last for some period or an action that recured, recures or will recure (a habitual action). It puts focus on the process itself rather than its result.

Imperfective verbs are used to describe past, present and future actions.

Perfective verbs

A perfective verb describes an accomplished action that doesn't recure. It puts focus on the result of a process.

Perfective verbs are used to describe past and future actions only but not the present ones.



Wčera sym čitała knihu.
impf. past.part. sing.fem.
A sing.
adverbcompound verbdirect object
Yesterday, I read (some part of) a/the book. /
Yesterday, I read a/the book (for a while).


Wčera sym přečitała knihu.
perf. past.part. sing.fem.
A sing.
adverbcompound verbdirect object
Yesterday, I read a/the book (till the end). /
Yesterday, I finished reading a/the book.

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