Polish Language Blog

Even More Perfective and Imperfective Goodness Posted by on Jan 20, 2009 in Grammar

Yes, I am still enjoying myself in Antigua and Barbuda. But I couldn’t just go away and leave you without a new post.
So, I thought we might as well continue with the perfective and imperfective stuff. It’s always a pain to learn, and I’m pretty sure we could keep talking about for the next 10 weeks and not get bored.

Remember how I mentioned once before that some Polish verbs turn from imperfective into perfective through the use of prefixes? I read somewhere that there are about 18 of those prefixes, but fortunately for us, these eight are the most common:

  • na-
  • z-
  • za-
  • po-
  • u-
  • o-
  • prze-
  • wy-

And I know you’re just itching to see them in action. So, here they come, just a few examples:

  • czytać (imperfective) – przeczytać (perfective) – to read
  • golić (imperfective) – ogolić (perfective) – to shave
  • słyszeć (imperfective) – usłyszeć (perfective) – to hear
  • pisać (imperfective) – napisać (perfective) – to write
  • rozumieć (imperfective) – zrozumieć (perfective) – to understand
  • robić (imperfective) – zrobić (perfective) – to do
  • płacić (imperfective) – zapłacić (perfective) – to pay
  • pić (imperfective) – wypić (perfective) – to drink
  • jechać (imperfective) – pojechać (perfective) – to ride, to go (not no foot),
  • dziękować (imperfective) – podziękować (perfective) – to thank
  • gotować (imperfective) – ugotować (perfective) – to cook
  • prosić (imperfective) – poprosić (perfective) – to ask
  • myć (imperfective) – umyć (perfective) – to wash
  • dzwonić (imperfective) – zadzwonić (perfective) – to ring, to call on the phone

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to predict which prefix goes with which verb. Sometimes a prefix that makes one verb perfective can completely change the meaning of another verb. So, sadly, the only way to figure it out is to memorize the verbs and the prefixes as you go along.

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  1. Tom Simon:

    Hope you’re enjoying your visit to my old stomping grounds! Try to arrange a ride down Fig tree drive and cool off after at Turner’s beach…well..there’s just too much to recommend but I suppose you’re finding that out yourself!

    Love your posts and I DO try to get something from every one!

    Greetings from Gdansk! (yes – from Antigua to Gdansk! Imagine ;))

  2. Anna:

    Hi Tom!!!
    That is just too awesome! 🙂 Antigua was lovely! We drove all over the island, did the Fig Tree Drive too. My guy fell in love with Darkwood Beach. We are definitely going back, that much is certain. In the end we didn’t make it to Barbuda, wasted too much time at the High Court and MoFA 😉
    I’ll be in Gdańsk in a couple of weeks and I just HAVE to hear your story. From Antigua to Gdańsk! LOL! 🙂