I don't understand the difference between perfective and imperfective verbs in Polish, please help!

Hello all. I’m learning Polish and so far I’ve found it fine, but now I don’t understand the difference between perfective and imperfective verbs! Please could someone clarify the difference for me, and also tell me which tenses I use which type of verb for.

So I need to know when to use the perfective and when to use the imperfective form of a verb… Here are a few questions I have:

  1. I read the Polish grammar guide on LingQ and it says that ‘in the present tense we use only imperfective verbs’. Ok. So if I want to say stuff like ‘I buy’/‘I am buying’, I would use kupić and not 'kupować?

  2. For the future tense, if I use ‘będę’, which type of verb do I use after it? For example, if I want to say ‘I will buy’, would it be 'będę kupić or 'będę kupować?. Is there any other future tense in Polish?

  3. For the past tense, which form of the verb do I use? English has a lot of different past tenses, i.e. perfect, simple, imperfect, etc. How many past tenses does Polish have?

  4. When we refer to an infinitive in Polish, would that be the perfective or imperfective form? And what type of verb should follow modal verbs, for example if I want to say ‘I can buy’ or ‘I want to speak’. After ‘I want’, ‘I can’, ‘I need’, ‘I would like’ etc, do we then use the perfective or imperfective form?

Thanks for your help!

  1. Perfective and imperfective verbs are VERY important. The best is to go consider from the point of view of the past tense. Perfective relates to actions COMPLETE in the past and Imperfective to those are are repetitive and likely inconclusive. For example: I worked yesterday…if I mean that I did and normally I do not knot repeat this action… i should use the PERFECTIVE… zrobiłem wczoraj. …If I mean that I worked often… I would say: Robiłem często.

I bought often… kupowałem często
I bought last week… kupiłem ostatnie tygodnie.

In the present tense we use only the IMPERFECTIVE… correct

  1. Three ways for the future tense.

będę kupować
będę kupował
kupię ----This is the perfective which it is conjugated as if it were the present tense of the IMPERFECTIVE!

You’d better check a grammar book on their differences.

  1. It depends of what you are trying to say… it is critical to learn both… Tenses are VERY easy… the problem is not that but all the dozen of modifications that any one might have. For example: stawiać, stawiać się, dostawić, nastawić, obstawiń, przestawić, etc. Each one has a different meaning and they could be overwhelming… a good book is 301 Polish Verbs by Klara Janecki.

Only 1 past tense for each verb pair… but they have to learn as masculine/feminine forms. For example: masculine, kupiłem and feminine form, kupiłam. Also, of course, kupowałem and kupowałam.

  1. It could be either perfective or imperfective Both are infinitive verbs. They are a pair and must be learned as such. Do not panic. it takes a while and you get there eventually.

Good luck

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