Polish Language Blog

Adverbs and Aspect Posted by on Jan 16, 2009 in Grammar

When you read this post I’ll be most likely sitting on a ferry going from Antigua to Barbuda. Oh yeah!
But I couldn’t just go on vacation and leave you here with nothing to read, now could I?

So, I thought that in my absence we continue with the perfective-imperfective goodness and see where it takes us.

My very own Polish language test subject asked me if there was any way to magically divine whether a verb used in a sentence is perfective or imperfective. Well, I’m not so sure about magic – that stuff always eludes me, but there are some non- magical subtle clues sometimes. You just need to learn to look for them.

Adverbs are one of those clues. You see, some adverbs are more compatible with imperfective verbs, and some with perfective.

Here’s a handy list.

Adverbs compatible with imperfective verbs:

  • od czasu do czasu – from time to time
  • rzadko – seldom
  • wciąż – continually
  • ciągle – often
  • często – often
  • nigdy – never
  • zawsze – always
  • jeszcze – still
  • czasami, czasem – sometimes
  • zwykle – usually
  • długo – for a long time
  • regularnie – regularly

And adverbs compatible with perfective verbs:

  • za chwilę – in a moment
  • nagle – suddenly
  • właśnie – (only) just
  • dopiero co – only just
  • zaraz – right away
  • w końcu – in the end
  • wkrótce – shortly, soon
  • natychmiast – immediately
  • przed chwilą – a moment ago

For example:
Zawsze wracam późno z pracy. – I always return late from work.
Właśnie wróciłam z pracy. – I have just returned from work.

  • wracać – to return, to come back (imperfective)
  • wrócić – to return, to come back (perfective)
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