Conjugation of verbs in the Past tense

SlovenianSlovenian A1

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

When we communicate to people, we need to be able to discuss events that happened in the Past. In this lesson, we will talk about the past tense in the Slovene language.

The Past Tense

To make forms of the past tense in Slovene we need to use the next rule:
the verb "biti" (to be) in the present tense + the participle of the required verb.

Let`s explain the details. We wrote about the forms of the verb "biti" in previous lessons. So, the participle is the past participle of the required verb. It is formed by removing the "-ti" suffix from the infinitive and adding the following suffixes:
"-l" for the masculine and neuter in singular;
"-la" for the feminine in singular;
"-lo" for the neuter in the third person in singular;

"-la" for the masculine or a combination of masculine + any other in dual;
"-li" for only feminine or only neuter in dual;

"-li" for the masculine in plural (at least one masculine object);
"-le" for the feminine in plural (all objects are feminine );
"-la" for the neuter in plural (all objects are neuter );

In order to ensure clarity, let`s examine examples with the verb "imeti" (to have), which we`ve already seen in our previous lessons.
Let`s start with the singular:
Jaz sem imel / imela (I had)
Ti si imel / imela (You had)
On je imel / Ona je imela / Ono je imelo (He had / She had / It had)

Please note: in the singular, only the verb "biti" changes, specifically its forms depending on the person. The participle remains unchanged. Additionally, don`t forget about genders: imel (had, masculine), imela (had, feminine), imelo (had, neuter).

Next, the dual number of the same verb "imeti" (to have):
Midva sva imela / Midve sva imeli (We two had)
Vidva sta imela / Vidve sta imeli (You two had)
Onadva sta imela / Onidve sta imeli (They two had)

The same principle applies to the dual number: only the form of the verb "biti" changes. Please note that the participle for the feminine and neuter genders is the same in the dual number.

Finally, the plural of the verb "imeti" (to have):
Mi smo imeli / Me smo imele (We had)
Vi ste imeli / Ve ste imele (You had)
Oni so imeli / One so imele / Ona so imela (They had)

In addition to the changes in the verb "biti," there`s another significant nuance: if we refer to a group of objects of only feminine or neuter gender, such participle forms will have their specific ending in both feminine and neuter genders. Let`s repeat one more time - this rule applies only when the group consists solely of feminine or neuter gender objects. Any mixture of such objects (feminine + neuter, feminine + masculine, masculine + neuter) is designated by the masculine gender form with the corresponding ending.

To better remember, let`s take another verb with all its forms in the past tense: "vedeti" (to know):
Jaz sem vedel / vedela (I knew)
Ti si vedel / vedela (You knew)
On je vedel / Ona je vedela / Ono je vedelo (He knew / She knew / It knew)
Midva sva vedela / Midve sva vedeli (We two knew)
Vidva sta vedela / Vidve sta vedeli (You two knew)
Onadva sta vedela / Onidve sta vedeli (They two knew)
Mi smo vedeli / Me smo vedele (We knew)
Vi ste vedeli / Ve ste vedele (You knew)
Oni so vedeli / One so vedele / Ona so vedela (They knew)

We remind you that we obtained the participle by removing "-ti" from the infinitive and adding the necessary endings depending on gender and number. We then inserted the appropriate forms of the verb "biti" in the present tense and acquired the true past tense.

Regarding negative forms, they are formed using the negative form of the verb "biti" (which is created by adding the prefix "ni-" to each form of this verb, as mentioned earlier). In order to ensure clarity, here`s an example with the verb "iti" (to go):
Jaz nisem šel / šla (I didn`t go)
Ti nisi šel / šla (You didn`t go)
On ni šel/ Ona ni šla / Ono ni šlo (He didn`t go / She didn`t go / It didn`t go)
Midva nisva šla / Midve nisva šli (We two didn`t go)
Vidva nista šla / Vidve nista šli (You two didn`t go)
Onadva nista šla / Onidve nista šli (They two didn`t go)
Mi nismo šli / Me nismo šle (We didn`t go)
Vi niste šli / Ve niste šle (You didn`t go)
Oni niso šli / One niso šle / Ona niso šla (They didn`t go)

We added the necessary negative forms of the verb "biti", depending on gender and number, in the present tense, resulting in the negation of the past in this example.

The only aspect that may perplex the reader is the peculiar form of the participle "šel" for the verb "iti," which clearly doesn`t appear according to the rules.
Indeed, there`s a set of verbs that form atypical participle forms in Slovene. These need to be memorized. Luckily, they are not numerous. Just remember to add the form of the verb "biti," and you`ll be able to express your thoughts in the past tense in Slovene without difficulty.

This lesson is over. Practice, enhance your knowledge, and look forward to our upcoming lessons. That`s all for now. Good luck!