Conjugation of verbs in the Present tense

SlovenianSlovenian A1

Welcome to our Slovenian grammar course for beginners! Today we`re going to talk about verbs.

In spoken language, it`s challenging to imagine communication without verbs. Verbs allow us to express actions and identify the doer of those actions. This concept applies to Slovene as well. In this article, we`ll discuss the conjugation of Slovene verbs, which, like verbs in other Slavic languages, have their peculiarities, although in most cases, the basic rules are similar.

In Slovene, verbs differ by gender, depending on the noun they accompany (masculine, feminine, and neuter), as well as by number (singular, plural, and dual - a unique feature of Slovene). Additionally, Slovene verbs can be of perfective or imperfective aspect (we`ll discuss this later). In this article, we`ll focus on how Slovene verbs are conjugated in the present tense.


First, let`s talk about the infinitive form. In Slovene, the infinitive form ends in "-ti" in the most cases: (imeti - to have, hoditi - to walk, biti - to be). For reflexive verbs, the particle "se" is always written separately from the verb. Sometimes the infinitive forms have the ending "-či": reči (to say), teči (to run), moči (can).

The second point is the verb endings for persons and numbers. When conjugating, it`s essential to consider the number (singular, plural, or dual) and the person (first - I, we, we both; second - you, you all, you both; third - he/she/it, they, they both). In the present tense, we don`t consider gender (masculine - feminine), but we`ll come back to this when discussing past and future tenses.
Now let`s see how different verbs are conjugated in Slovenian. The verbs are grouped according to the Present Tense suffix. There are the five suffixes: -am, -im, -em, -jem and -m.

1. Let`s look at the conjugation of the Slovene verb "hoditi" (to walk) that has -im suffix:
Jaz hodim - I walk
Ti hodiš - You walk (singular, informal)
On / Ona / Ono hodi - He / She / It walks
Midva / Midve* hodiva - We both walk (dual, informal)
Vidva / Vidve* hodita - You both walk (dual, informal)
Onadva / Onidve* hodita - They both walk (dual, informal)
Mi / Me** hodimo - We walk
Vi / Ve** hodite - You walk (plural, formal)
Oni / One**/ Ona** hodijo - They walk (plural)
* Forms in the dual number (midva/midve, vidva/vidve, onadva/onidve) have no direct equivalent in the English language.
** Forms "me smo, ve ste, one so" are used when referring to a group of women or entities of the feminine gender. The form "ona so" indicates a group of nouns of the neuter gender. Pay attention to these nuances, as they don`t exist in English.

When conjugating a regular verb, the first step is to isolate the base by removing the "-ti" particle from the infinitive (hoditi - hodim). Next, we add the typical endings based on the person and number. Note: the third person singular is 100% the base of the verb (infinitive without "-ti" at the end), and the form of the first person plural is different from the singular by adding the letter "-o" to the ending:
Jaz hodim - Mi hodimo
In the third person, there`s a rule that this form is obtained by adding the ending "-jo" to the base/form of the third person singular:
On/Ona/Ono hodi - Oni/One hodijo
Dual number, or "dvojina," is formed quite simply: in the first person, we add the ending "-va" to the base (midva/midve hodiva), and in the second and third persons, it`s "-ta" (vidva/vidve hodita, onadva/onidve hodita).

This conjugation principle applies to about 90% of all Slovene verbs. Let`s consider another verb, "učiti se" (to learn):
Jaz se učim - I learn
Ti se učiš - You learn (singular, informal)
On / Ona / Ono se uči - He / She / It learns
Midva / Midve se učiva - We both learn (dual, informal)
Vidva / Vidve se učita - You both learn (dual, informal)
Onadva / Onidve se učita - They both learn (dual, informal)
Mi / Me se učimo - We learn
Vi / Ve se učite - You learn (plural, formal)
Oni / One / Ona se učijo - They learn (plural)
As you can see, the same endings apply. The only thing that might be confusing is the particle "se" next to the verb, indicating that it`s reflexive. In Slovene, the particle "se" is always separated from the verb and typically placed before it, although in some cases, it can come after (we`ll discuss this in upcoming articles). It`s a nominal function and remains unchanged based on person and number. In other words, the rules for identifying the base (dropping the "-ti" particle) and adding the endings are quite rigid, and most verbs follow them.

2. The next verb "upati" (to hope) has -am suffix:
Jaz upam - I hope
Ti upaš - You hope (singular, informal)
On / Ona / Ono upa - He / She / It hopes
Midva / Midve upava - We both hope (dual, informal)
Vidva / Vidve upata - You both hope (dual, informal)
Onadva / Onidve upata - They both hope (dual, informal)
Mi / Me se upamo - We hope
Vi / Ve se upate - You hope (plural, formal)
Oni / One / Ona se upajo - They hope (plural)
You can see the same endings here as in the first example. This means that the base of the verb is the key to the correct conjugation (upati - upam).

3. The verbs from the first two examples are most often regular. The next three groups of verbs may seem more difficult because their bases are formed differently.
For example, the verb "brati" (to read) has -em suffix:
Jaz berem - I read
Ti bereš - You read (singular, informal)
On / Ona / Ono bere - He / She / It reads
Midva / Midve bereva - We both read (dual, informal)
Vidva / Vidve bereta - You both read (dual, informal)
Onadva / Onidve bereta - They both read (dual, informal)
Mi / Me se beremo - We read
Vi / Ve se berete - You read (plural, formal)
Oni / One / Ona se berejo - They read (plural)
Despite the fact that you see the same endings in the example, it is more difficult to find the correct base of the verb here (brati - berem). Such verbs are called irregular and we are going to talk about them in a separate article.

4. The next verb "peti" (to sing) has -jem suffix:
Jaz pojem - I sing
Ti poješ - You sing (singular, informal)
On / Ona / Ono poje - He / She / It sings
Midva / Midve pojeva - We both sing (dual, informal)
Vidva / Vidve pojeta - You both sing (dual, informal)
Onadva / Onidve pojeta - They both sing (dual, informal)
Mi / Me se pojemo - We sing
Vi / Ve se pojete - You sing (plural, formal)
Oni / One / Ona se pojejo - They sing (plural)
Here the base of the verb is also very different from the infinitive (peti - pojem).

5. The next verb "vedeti" (to know) has -m suffix:
Jaz vem - I know
Ti veš - You know (singular, informal)
On / Ona / Ono ve - He / She / It knows
Midva / Midve veva - We both know (dual, informal)
Vidva / Vidve veta - You both know (dual, informal)
Onadva / Onidve veta - They both know (dual, informal)
Mi / Me se vemo - We know
Vi / Ve se vete - You know (plural, formal)
Oni / One / Ona se vejo / vedo - They know (plural)
This verb loses part of the infinitive when forming the base (vedeti - vem). It means that we need to remember this form.

That`s all. We hope the article is clear and informative. Thank you for your attention, and we look forward to seeing you in the next lesson of our Slovene language course for beginners. Good luck!