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Perfective v/s Imperfective

I'm having a hard time conceptualizing this.  Any pointers?


  • edited May 2018
    Here's how I think of it:

    Perfective is perfect, so it's complete. In English, it would resemble the regular past (went, took, bought) or -ed form of the verb. 

    *Im*perfective is *in*complete and *in*terrupted. So it is something that was still happening when something else happened. In English, it would be closer to the past progressive -ing form of the verb:

    Perfective: Last night I went to the store.
    Imperfective: Last night I was going (imperfective) to the store when I saw (perfective) the most beautiful sunset.

    Perfective: We took a picture of the sunset.
    Imprefective: We were taking (imperfective) a picture of the sunset when the camera stopped working (perfective).

    Perfective: We bought some fruit from the vendor.
    Imperfective: We were buying (imperfective) some fruit from the vendor when a man asked (perfective) us for the time.

    Does that help?
  • Also it doesn't have to be interrupted, but it's something ongoing, and two things can be ongoing: 

    We were eating lunch while you were shopping. (both here are imperfective, ongoing events...)
    We ate lunch while you shopped. (both here are perfective)
    We were eating lunch while you shopped. (first is imprefective, second is perfective)
    We ate lunch while you were shopping. (first is perfective - we completed our lunch while the second is imperfective - the shopping was ongoing)

    This might actually make it more complicated, but if you think in terms of the -ing endings in English, it helps, I find!
  • Thanks Suzanne.  Anything that helps wrap my head around it.  French and Koine Greek both have imperfect verb conjugation, which seems closer to the concept here.  But at least in translating, I tend to just mash them into past tense in English.  Speaking French (which I RARELY do) I just avoid it.  So maybe my sloppy habits are maybe coming back to haunt me now.
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