The morphology of aspectual pairing in the finite active tenses in Polish and Greek






Dr Christopher Andrew Alexander






The University of Nicosia









(00357) 99094637















The morphology of aspectual pairing in the finite active tenses in Polish and Greek












Polish and Standard Modern Greek (SMG) both possess imperfective and perfective aspectual verb forms. Polish uses a system of prefixation and suffixation to create an aspectual partner, whereas Greek only uses suffixation. This paper provides a detailed account of the morphology of aspectual pairing in Polish and Greek in the finite active tenses and also presents an overview of this tense system in both languages. It will be argued that Polish prefixation is highly productive and appears to even allow certain verbs to be double prefixed. It will also be maintained that the aspectual systems of these two European Union languages may not correspond as ‘extensively’ as has been suggested (e.g. Lindvall 1997: 10), and that detailed analyses are required to elucidate how the aspectual system of these Indo-European languages operate.







Aspectual pairing, prefixation, suffixation, tenses, morphology

















1.         Introduction


The key aim of this paper is to describe the main morphological features of the aspectual verb system of Polish and Greek. I will firstly analyse the morphological modifications involved in suffixation and prefixation in Polish. The secondary imperfectivisation test and its mirror image test i.e. the secondary perfectivisation test will then be described. Młynarczyk’s (2004: 111) five-verb-class aspectual classification will be critically reviewed and the finite active tense system in Polish will be described.  


In the second part of the paper, the aspectual system of Standard Modern Greek[1] will be discussed and a working definition of the Greek infinitive will be presented (i.e. for the purposes of this paper). A detailed analysis of suffixal morphology in Greek aspectual pairing will be followed by an overview of the finite active tense system. It will be argued that there are reasons to question the extent of aspectual correspondence in Polish and Greek.


2.         Suffixation in Polish


Młynarczyk (2004: 3) holds that apart from a ‘handful’ of suppletive pairs[2], suffixation and prefixation are the two twinning mechanisms instinctively used by native speakers of Polish to reach the aspectual twin for the majority of verbs in Polish. Młynarczyk (2004: 4) states that suffixation is commonly held to be an ‘inflectional (or grammatical) process’; she maintains (2004: 6) that ‘a pair such as kupić/kupować (and indeed any pair in which an imperfective form is built from a basic perfective form by suffixisation) is a ‘true’ aspectual pair: they are grammatical variants of each other (as suffixisation is a grammatical operation)’.


The process of suffixation is indeed a complex process, as Młynarczyk (2004: 7) herself concedes, however it is questionable whether or how many apparently non-prefixed[3] aspectual pairs can be categorised as having undergone a suffixation in the way Młynarczyk propounds (2004: 3). This suggests that there is a need to assess how many aspectual verb modifications can be subsumed under the suffixation umbrella.  A further point to contend is whether the imperfective form is actually built from the perfective in suffixation as Młynarczyk asserts (ibid). 


With regard to the suffixation category, many aspectual twins have some recognisable common element (stem/root) that suggests a process of suffixation took place. In Table 2 the most common aspectual imperfective and perfective suffixes have been categorised according to the number of letters in the suffix. Table 2 identifies how suffixation could be a process that creates a separate perfective and imperfective verb from a suggested common root; this view is in contrast with Młynarczyk (2004: 137) who maintains that imperfective verbs are created from perfective ones using at times complex suffixation processes. With regard to this latter point, as exemplified in Table 1, Młynarczyk (2004: 137) groups morphological and phonological alterations between a central perfective and suffixed imperfective aspectual partner verb. Even though this approach gives a pivotal perfective anchor point and possibly helps to streamline the different kind of imperfective endings associated with a particular perfective verb ending, it does assume that suffixation is used to create imperfective verbs from perfective ones: this however may not be the case, or rather, I do not see why this should always be the case.


Table 1. Imperfective suffixal endings as cited in Młynarczyk (2004: 137)


Perfective ending

Imperfective ending


wać, ać


ać, ywać, iwać

ywać, iwać, awać, ewać


ywać, inać,  ynać, ymać

ać, ywać, ewać








ekać, egać






ać, wać, ywać, iwać, kiwać, tywać, tać, jać


Table 2[4] shows that there are far more two-to-four and four-to-six suffix letter-size permutations than one-to-two or one-to-three. It seems that large-letter aspectual suffix pairs are more complex morphologically and phonologically than small-letter suffix pairs. For instance, the aspectual pairs of the verb ‘to fill out’[5] are wypełniać (imperfective) and wypełnić (perfective); they have a common stem wypełni— and not too dissimilar suffixed endings of for the imperfective verb and –ć for the perfective verb. However some aspectual pairs have such dissimilar and long suffixed endings that it might be worth questioning whether these verbs have actually undergone a process of suffixation at all; maybe these aspectual pairs underwent a prefixation process or should be placed in the ‘handful’[6] of suppletive pairs’ group. An example in Table 2 that comes to mind is the aspectual verb twin ‘to die’  umierać (imperfective) and umrzeć (perfective) whose common stem is a frugal um— and whose suffixed endings are –ierać for the imperfective and –rzeć for the perfective. Another example could be the aspectual verb twin ‘to return’ wracać (imperfective) and wrócić (perfective) whose common stem is the economical wr—. Such cases may strangely make it easier to support the Młynarczyk (2004: 137) claim that an imperfective verb is created through its suffixed perfective twin, as such a viewpoint would provide a way of avoiding the case of verbs with a short common root and long suffixation (e.g. umierać/umrzeć or wracać/wrocić).  But I still see no fundamental reason to assert that all imperfective verbs are created from a suffixed perfective partner.  Some other such verb pairs in Table 2 seem to have a common prepositional base, for example the za— and do—  prepositional bases in the verb ‘to contain’ zawierać (imperfective) and zawrzeć (perfective) and the verb ‘to grow up’ dorastać (imperfective) and dorosnąć (perfective). Manifestly, one might argue that these aspectual twins have undergone a process of prefixation. Considering the example of dorastać and dorosnąć, one could argue that a possible Aktionsartal prepositional prefix of do— has been added to the imperfective base verb rosnąć and added to the possible suffixation —rastać to create the aspectual twins dorosnąć and dorastać. Hence there appears to be a prefixation on both rosnąć and –rastać, but it should be noted that        —rastać has no recognisable meaning on its own in Polish. The argument that many aspectual twins may have undergone such a process of prefixation is further strengthened when aspectual pairs of indeterminate/determinate verbs and non-prefixed aspectual twins with only a common prepositional stem are considered; however, this will be discussed in section 3


Table 2.   Aspectual twins that have undergone suffixation



Imperfective and perfective suffixes comprising one to two letters


Imperfective                Perfective                    Common      Imperfective     Perfective

Verb                            Verb                            Root                Suffix              Suffix

wypełniać                    wypełnić                      wypełni--         --ać                  --ć

powiększać                  powiększyć                  powiększ--       --ać                  --yć

rzucać                          rzucić                           rzuc--               --ać                  --ić


Imperfective and perfective suffixes comprising one to three letters


Imperfective                Perfective                    Common      Imperfective     Perfective

Verb                            Verb                            Root                Suffix              Suffix

uciekać                        uciec                            ucie--               --kać                --c 

przyzwyczajać             przyzwyczaić               przyzwycza--    --jać                 --ić

rozwijać                       rozwinąć                      rozwi--             --jać                 --nąć

posuwać                      posunąć                       posu--              --wać               --nąć

spostrzegać                  spostrzec                      spostrze--         --gać                --c

wybuchać                    wybuchnąć                  wybuch--         --ać                  --nąć


Imperfective and perfective suffixes comprising two to four letters


Imperfective                Perfective                    Common      Imperfective     Perfective

Verb                            Verb                            Root                Suffix              Suffix

rozwiązywać                rozwiązać                    rozwiąz--         --ywać             --ać

nadgabywać                nadgabnąć                  nadgab--          --ywać             --nąć

przekonywać               przekonać                    przekon--         --ywać             --ać

kupować                      kupić                            kup--                --ować             --ić

brakować                    braknąć                       brak--              ---ować            --nąć

podsłuchiwać              podsłuchać                  podsłuch--       --iwać              --ać

wstrzykiwać                 wstrzyknąć                   wstrzyk--          --iwać              --nąć

dostawać                     dostać                          dost--               --awać             --ać

nadziewać                   nadziać                        nadzi--             --ewać             --ać

przejrzewać                 przejrzeć                      przejrz--           --ewać             --eć

spostrzegać                  spostrzec                      spostrz--           --egać              --ec

przysięgać                   przysiąć                       przysi--            --ęgać              --ąć

uspokajać                    uspokoić                      uspok- -           --ajać               --oić

zamykać                      zamknąć                      zam--               --ykać              --knąć

krzyczeć                       krzyknąć                      krzy--               --czeć               --knąć

pozwalać                     pozwolić                      pozw--             --alać               --olić

wracać                                    wrócić                         wr--                 --acać              --ócić

przecinać                     przeciąć                       przec--             --inać               --iąć

nadymać                      nadąć                          nad--                --ymać             --ąć

przemagać                   przemóc                       przem--            --agać              --óc


Imperfective and perfective suffixes comprising four to six letters


Imperfective                Perfective                    Common      Imperfective     Perfective

Verb                            Verb                            Root                Suffix              Suffix

znajdować                   znaleźć                         zna--                --jdować          --leźć

pozdrawiać                  pozdrowić                    pozdr--             --awiać            --owić

dowiadywać                dowiedzieć                   dowi--              --adywać         --edzieć

puszczać                      puśćić                          pu--                  --szczać            --śćić

powtarzać                    powtórzyć                    powt--              --arzać             --órzyć

zawierać                      zawrzeć                       zaw--               --ierać              --rzeć

skakać                         skoczyć                        sk--                  --akać              --oczyć

umierać                       umrzeć                         um--                 --ierać              --rzeć

rozpatrywać                rozpatrzyć                    rozpat--            --rywać            --rzyć

wskakiwać                   wskoczyć                     wsk--                --akiwać          --oczyć

wchłaniać                    wchłonąć                     wchł--              --aniać             --onąć

dorastać                      dorosnąć                     dor--                --astać             --osnąć[7]


The Table also shows that some perfective endings could be far longer than what is suggested in Młynarczyk (2004: 137). Even though there do not seem to be clear patterns regarding which endings are associated with perfective and imperfective verbs, imperfective endings appear to be longer on the whole. Moreover any suffix that contains an ą appears to be a perfective suffix. Examples of such suffixes include   ąć ,  –nąć , –knąć , –osnąć , –onąć,  

–iąć. In spite of the morphological and phonological non-uniformities of the suffixes above, native speakers of Polish should not experience any difficulties utilizing these forms and use them intuitively.   


There are numerous cases of aspectual twins that have not been prefixed by adding an empty prefix[8] to an imperfective verb to create a perfective one[9] or are not generally thought to be part of the ‘handful’ of suppletive pairs. Examples of such aspectual twins are presented in Table 3 The Table shows how verbs such as ‘to have a look at’ oglądać (imperfective) and obejrzeć (perfective) are not generally considered as suppletive as this could mean that the ‘very small’ suppletive group might have to become significantly larger i.e. it arguably could be bolstered by some of the many related forms of these verbs that are also morphologically dissimilar, examples of such related forms of oglądać and obejrzeć could be ‘to perceive’ uglądać[10]/ujrzeć; ‘to oversee’ doglądać/dojrzeć; glance spoglądać/spojrzeć. These derived forms seem to have been prefixed using an Aktionsartal prefix. Therefore some or all of the propositional meaning has been transferred to the aspectual pair via prefixation. Such forms seem to have been created through the process of prefixation as described above for the aspectual twins dorastać (imperfective) and dorosnąć (perfective). The aspectual pair oglądać and obejrzeć thus have very little in common morphologically apart from the initial letter stem of ‘o’, so the suffixes for these verbs are almost as long as the whole verb itself.  More examples appear in Table 2.


Table 3.  Aspectual twins with only a common prepositional stem


Imperfective                           Perfective                   Meaning

Verb                                       Verb

oglądać                                   obejrzeć                      to have a look at

doglądać                                 dojrzeć                         to oversee

podglądać                               poderzeć                      to spy

przeglądać                               przejrzeć                      to revise

rozglądać  się                          rozejrzeć się                 to look around

spoglądać                                spojrzeć                       to glance

uglądać (suggested form)        ujrzeć                           to perceive

wyglądać                                 wyjrzeć                        to look around

zaglądać                                  zajrzeć                         to look into

nalewać                                   nalać                           to fill

dolewać                                   dolać                           to add to

oblewać                                   oblać                           to to drench

odlewać                                   odlać                           pour off

podlewać                                 podlać                         pour on

polewać                                   polać                           to pour on

rozlewać                                  rozlewać                      to spill

wlewać                                                wlać                             to fill up

wylewac                                  wylać                           to pour out

zlewać                                     zlać                              to pour off


Other common aspectual pairs that are not generally thought to be suppletive are the aspectual twins ‘to get changed’ ubierać (imperfective) and ubrać (perfective) or the verb ‘to sit down’ siadać (imperfective) and (u)siąść (perfective). In the case of siadać and usiąść, if it were considered ‘suppletive’, some of its related forms e.g. wsiadać/wsiąść (get on), osiadać/osiąść (settle down), or zsiadać/zsiąść (sit on), might also justifiably seem more suppletive.  Furthermore, with regard to Młynarczyk’s (2004: 137) claim that imperfective verb twins are created from perfective ones using at times complex suffixation processes, the example of siadać (imperfective) and usiąść (a perfective form of siadać) would appear to be an exception as no ‘suffixation’ could account for the elision of the u— in usiąść to somehow become the imperfective siadać through suffixation. 


Another group of aspectual twins that in my opinion suggests that imperfective aspectual twins are not formed from perfective ones is the group that is formed from indeterminate and determinate verbs (called aspekt nieokreślony and aspect określony respectively in Polish). Table 4 provides examples of such verbs and draws on Janecki (2000). Janecki (2000: xliii) holds that simple unprefixed verbs of motion are classified in the imperfective aspect that subdivides into indeterminate (e.g. chodzić) and determinate (iść) forms. Janecki (2000: xliii) maintains that ‘the indeterminate verbs describe the repetition of a motion (back and forth), or habitual or frequent motion, whereas the determinate verbs describe a progressive action, that is a specific motion in progress that is unbroken and proceeding in one direction (one way)’.  Janicki (ibid) states that the indeterminate forms as a rule do not have a perfective and the determinate do. Table 4 shows how an imperfective verb can be created using prepositional prefix from an indeterminate verb, and its perfective aspectual partner is formed from the corresponding determinate form. For instance the indeterminate verb chodzić can become the imperfective uchodzic through the addition of the Aktionsartal prefix u—, whereas its perfective partner ujść has been created from the determinate iść through prefixation and substitution for phonological reasons of ‘i’ for ‘j’.  This group is particularly rich in Polish as there are many prepositions that can be used with indeterminate and determinate verbs.


Table 4   Imperfective and perfective verbs that have been derived from                                            indeterminate and determinate verbs


Imperfective    Indeterminate  Determinate Perfective        Meaning

                        chodzić            iść                    pó-jść               go (on foot)

                        jeździć              jechać              po-jechać         go (by vehicle)

                        pływać             płynać              po-płynąć        swim

                        nosić                nieść                za-nieść           carry

                        wozić               wieźć               po-wieźć          carry (by vehicle)

do-chodzić                                                       do-jść               go as far as

do-jeżdżać                                                       do-jechać         arrive at

do-pływać                                                        do-płynąć        reach

nad-chodzić                                                     nad-e-jść          approach         

od-nosić                                                           od-nieść           take back

prze-nosić                                                        prze-niesć        carry across

s-chodzić                                                         z-e-jść              go down

u-chodzić                                                         u-jść                 escape

przy-wozić                                                       przy-wieść       bring (by vehicle)


I therefore would like to refine Młynarczyk’s (2004: 3) claim that apart from a ‘handful’ of suppletive pairs, suffixation and prefixation are the two ‘twinning mechanisms’ instinctively used by native speakers of Polish to reach the aspectual twin for the majority of verbs in Polish. Manifestly, I maintain that suffixation, and for that matter, prefixation, should not be described as separate twinning mechanisms (i.e. one or the other), and rather suffixation should be described as a potentially complex process that is used, sometimes in conjunction with prefixation, to create an individual aspectual pair.   


3.         Prefixation in Polish


Prefixation, in most cases, could be described as a highly productive derivational operation as the attachment of a non-empty prefix affects the lexical meaning; the attachment however of an empty prefix is not generally thought to affect lexical meaning (Młynarczyk 2004: 8). There do not seem to be any clear rules regarding why perfective verbs take particular empty prefixes. For examples, the imperfective verb ‘to cook’ gotować, can be prefixed in a number of ways. Its aspectual partner can only use the empty prefix u— in ugotować. However the following related perfective verbs which use different propositional prefixes have different lexical meanings:  rozgotować ‘boil till fall apart’, podgotować ‘cook for a while’, dogotować ‘cook some more’, zgotować ‘pre-cook’, przegotować ‘overboil’, przygotować ‘prepare’, wygotować ‘boil out’, zagotować ‘bring to a boil’. Most of these newly formed perfective non-empty prefixed verb forms (i.e. with different lexical values) also have corresponding imperfective forms. However, some do not, and this may be confusing even for native speakers of Polish who will instinctively only use the perfective form.


Table 5   Imperfective suffixing of prefixed verbs 


Perfective                   Imperfective

verb                            verb

podgotować                 podgotowywać

rozgotować                  rozgotowywać

dogotować                   dogotowywać

zgotować                     not thought to have

                                    an imperfective form

przegotować                przegotowywać

przygotować                przygotowywać

wygotować                  wygotowywać

zagotować                   zagotowywać



Some verbs in Polish have optional forms; they can use a perfectivising empty prefix and/or a suffixation. For instance the verb ‘to be lacking’ has an imperfective form of brakować and two optional perfective forms braknąć (i.e. this is a suffixation) and zabraknąć (prefix and suffix). The verb ‘wash’ has two optional empty prefixes i.e. prać (imperfective) and uprać and wyprać (perfective). The following commonly used verbs are only imperfective: ‘to judge’ sądzić, ‘to dream’, śnić or ‘to depend’ polegać. Polegać is an interesting example of prefixation; its possibly derived prefixed forms seem to have been placed on an elided root of —legać, which is not a recognisable word in Polish, whereas the derived forms of sądzić and śnić have been formed by prefixing onto the whole base verb. The result however is that the apparent prefixed derivations of polegać below are all imperfective, while the prefixed derived forms of sądzić and śnić are all perfective. Moreover all the prefixed-derived forms of śnić are only perfective, they have no imperfective partner. As exemplified in Table 6, the derivational prefixed forms sometimes do not have aspectual partners. This suggests that the way the lexical meaning of a verb is understood determines whether it can have an aspectual partner. 



Table 6.  Aspectual derivations of sądzić, śnić and polegać



Imperfective               Perfective                   Meaning



polegać                        no form                       (to depend)


dolegać                        no form                       (to ache)

nalegać                        no form                       (to insist)        

podlegać                      podlec                          (to be subject to)

ulegać                          ulec                              (to submit)

zalegać                        zalec/zalegnąć             (to cover)        


Imperfective               Perfective                   Meaning



sądzić                          no form                       to judge


osądzać                       osądzić                        to pass judgement

posądzać                     posądzić                      to suspect

przesądzać                   przesądzić                    to prejudice

przysądzać                   przysądzić                    to allocate

rozsądzać                    rozsądzić                     to  make a judgement

zasądzać                      zasądzić                       to sentence


śnić                              no form                       to dream


no form                       dośnić                          to complete a dream

no form                       prześnić                       to dream away

no form                       przyśnić się                  to appear in a dream

no form                       wyśnić                         to come true


It is highly likely that aspect is learned (instinctively) through the acquisition of whole chunks of lexis together in a concrete situation. The meaning of a whole phrase in context may necessitate the use of a particular aspect; so it may not be useful to talk of a change in aspect with no change in lexical meaning i.e. as in Młynarczyk (2004: 6). The idea of looking beyond the individual verb partly resonates with recent Western approaches (for example, by Verkuyl 1993 and Krifka 1989 who have generally viewed the level of verb phrase and the contribution made by direct objects).  Młynarczyk (2004: 70) maintains that the parallelism idea fundamentally relates the semantic contribution of the Slavic perfective aspect marker to the information expressed by the Germanic definite article. However Młynarczyk (2004: 68-107) provides sound argument that Polish does not support an application of the parallelism idea to the domain of perfective aspect.


4.         The secondary imperfectivisation test


Młynarczyk (2004: 116) holds that the test has a long history and was used by Forsyth (1970), and Czochralski (1975), however Młynarczyk (2004: 116) also states that some authors notably Bogusławski (1963: 107) have questioned the reliability of the secondary imperfectivisation test.


Młynarczyk (2004: 10) maintains that the secondary imperfectivisation test, which cannot be used on suppletives, has a mirror image test called the secondary perfectivisation test. In its basic form the test can show that a perfective verb (V2) can been formed from a basic imperfective verb through the use of one of four types of formants [i.e. empty prefix, (ep-) deliminative po-, semelfactive –ną, and morphological change (-mpc)] is an aspectual twin of V1 only if it is impossible to obtain another imperfective verb V3 by applying it to V2.  The example of the verb ‘to write’ is given, i.e. napisać (V2) is perfectivised using an empty prefix (na—) from the imperfective pisać (V1). Młynarczyk (2004: 10) asserts that napisać cannot be secondarily imperfectivised i.e. the imperfective verb napisywać (V3) is not thought to exist. Therefore napisać is held to be the aspectual twin of pisać. Podpisać ‘to sign’ however is not the aspectual twin of pisać, as the V3 form podpisywać exists. Some notable exceptions to this test are the verbs ‘to plan’ planować and ‘to mummify’ balsamować whose re-imperfectivised V3 forms are zabalsamowywać, and zaplanowywać.


5.         Classifying aspect in Polish and double prefixing


Młynarczyk (2004: 111) maintains that Polish verbs can be classified according to the following aspectual formational possibilities.


Table 7.    Młynarczyk’s (2004: 111) Table of aspectual classification         









Class 1





Class 2





Class 3





Class 4





Class 5







Młynarczyk (2004: 111) states that ‘ep’ stands for empty prefix, po- is the delimitative prefix, -- is the semelfactive suffix, and mpc stands for morphonological change (vowel change and/or suffixation of a perfective verb); Młynarczyk however does not provide sufficient explanation as to why the –ną is not under the mpc category or how she concluded that all –ną verbs are semelfactive.  The examples presented below of the above table categorisation are cited in Młynarczyk (2004: 113-114). Where minus (i.e.. –ep, –po, -ną, -mpc) signs appear this indicates the verb does not use this formant.



Formant (grubnąć, ep(z(a)), -po, -ną, -mpc).   to be growing fat        class 1

Formant (pracować, -ep, po, -ną, -mpc).        to be working              class 2

Formant (czytać, ep(prze), po, -ną, -mpc).      to be reading               class 3

Formant (gwizdać, ep(z(a)), po, ną, -mpc)      to be whistling                        class 4

Formant (dać, -ep, -po, -ną, mpc).                  to have given               class 5



Class 2, however in the above example (i.e. ‘to work’ pracować, -ep, po, -ną, -mpc) in my opinion and de facto Janicki’s (2000: 172), who holds that the perfective of pracować is popracować, may be unnecessary, as the perfectivising ‘po’ prefix in this example is or is extremely close to an empty prefix, (i.e. it may not be adding any, or very little, new meaning, it could therefore be classified an ‘ep’ prefix) and so justifiably could be placed in class 1.  Moreover, the above classification may not apply to certain double prefixed verbs e.g. the Wróbel et al. (1993: 51) monstrous verb which is approximately translated as ‘to be writing out something several times’, powypisywać. I however disagree with Wróbel et al. (1993: 51) that powypisywać is the perfective partner of pisywać (to write every now and again), or that the imperfective pisywać actually has a true perfective partner; the perfective partner of ‘to write out wypisywać is wypisać. The verb powypisywać therefore has a double prefix, an imperfective stem, and is claimed to be perfective by Wróbel et al. (1993: 51). Another such doubled ‘po’ prefixed perfective verb is powyłamywać[11] ‘to snap off several things’ (approximate translation), whose base form is the imperfective wyłamywać (to snap off) and its perfective partner wyłamać; The secondary prefix ‘po’ usually adds the following shade of meaning to the prefixed verb it precedes i.e. ‘many times’ or ‘many things’. The system of prefixation in Polish is therefore sufficiently productive that prefixed imperfective verbs can be optionally further prefixed with ‘po’ to add a further, usually, perfective shade of meaning if thought necessary. The diagram below suggests how this process appears to work for the verb ‘to write’, pisać.



Pisać (imperfective)                                                               Pisywać (imperfective)



(perfective partner of pisać)




(not used in Polish, Młynarczyk 2004: 51)


wypisać (perfective partner of wypisywać)                                        wypisywać (imperfective)



Powypisać (not used in Polish)                                                                               Powypisywać (perfective)                                    



Pisać creates its aspectual partner through prefixation and probably has created an optional imperfective form of pisywać, which takes on the meaning of ‘write now and then’; this occurs through suffixation on a common pis— root. Another such common verb in Polish which can create an optional suffixed imperfective with a similar nuance is czytać ‘to read’; this verb becomes czytywać (to read every now and again). The imperfective verb pisać has then been perfectivised through empty prefixation to create its aspectual partner napisać. A new related lexical item wypisać has been produced through the attachment of the prepositional prefix wy—. Its imperfective partner wypisywać appears either to have been created by suffixation on a common wypis— root or prefixed with wy— from pisywać; both ways are conceivable. However the perfective powypisywać has clearly been double prefixed. As many prefixes can be placed onto the base pisać or czytać forms, many double ‘po’ prefixed verbs are possible; examples are presented in Table 8.











Table 8.    Double ‘po’ prefixing


Basic aspectual pair and  derived imperfective form

Approximate meaning of verb

Imperfective verb       

Perfective verb

Perfective secondary ‘po’ prefixed form


pisać/napisać      ‘to write’         



To write at length




To list




To copy




To write down




To sign





To show off

popisywać się

popisać się

popopisywać się[12]

claimed imperfective meaning

czytać/przeczytać  ‘to read’       


To read to the end




To read in




To recite




To delight in reading





Młynarczyk (2004: 121) asserts that five classes have induced semantic distinctions that can be applied to any class 1 to 5 verbs. She holds (ibid) that: class 1 is state_or_gradual_transition; class 2 is process; class 3 is culminating_process; class 4 is unitisable_process; class 5 is culmination. Nonetheless this further classification, which draws on Moens and Steedman (1987, 1988), may not be that helpful as it assumes Polish verbs can be grouped in these five ways and that these five aspectual distinctions can be clearly conceptualized and applied to nearly all Polish verbs; moreover I hold Młynarczyk (2004: 121-139) does not provide sufficient quantitative evidence to back up her claim regarding induced semantic distinctions.

Czochralski (1975: 22-24) argues that Polish aspect can be analysed in terms of the three semantic distinctions (thought of as ‘features’): imperfective and perfective aspect can be: (1) durative or momentaneous/non-durative; (2) iterative or semelfactive/non-iterative; (3) pre-resultative or resultative. A more general definition of aspect cited by authors such as Stanisławski (1983) or Janicki (2000: xii-xiii) is: the perfective aspect (called dokonany in Polish) is generally used to allow the speaker to describe the action as finished. Whereas, the imperfective aspect (called niedokonany in Polish) will be defined as generally not presenting the action as finished, but rather as continuing or repeating. 


6.         Tenses in Polish


The verb declension below is based on Janecki (2000: 37). It presents ways in which the imperfective and perfective aspects, here of the verb ‘to give’, can be used in the finite active voice in Polish. This will provide a point of reference when compared to the declension of the equivalent verb in Greek in the Greek finite active tenses presented in section 9. Only tenses that are regularly used in modern-day Polish will be presented, therefore the past perfect (czas zaprzeszły)[13] and the conditional in the past, as described Bąk (1977: 316)[14] will not be described. The various participle forms (i.e. simultaneous adjectival/adverbial, anticipatory, passive (adjectival/adverbial) and past) and gerund forms will not be presented. Polish has different verb forms for a singular masculine, feminine, neuter nouns and plural male virile and non-virile feminine and neuter nouns. 


Imperfective dawać ‘to give’                                                 Perfective dać ‘to give’  

aspekt niedokonany                                                                 aspekt dokonany                     


Present (czas teraźniejszy)

ja[15]                   daję                                                                            

ty                     dajesz                                                                         

on/ona/ono      daje

my                   dajemy

wy                    dajecie

oni/one                        dają


Past (czas przeszły)


ja                     dawałem/dawałam                                          dałem/dałam  

ty                     dawałeś/dawałaś                                             dałeś/dałaś

on/ona/ono      dawał/dawała/dawało                                     dał/dała/dało

my                   dawaliśmy/dawałyśmy                                                daliśmy/dały

wy                    dawaliście/dawałyście                                     daliście/dałyście

oni/one                        dawali/dawały                                                 dali/dały


Future (czas przyszły)


ja                     będę dawał/dawała                                         dam    

ty                     będziesz dawał/dawała                                    dasz

on/ona/ono      będzie dawał/dawała/dawało                          da

my                   będziemy dawali/dawały                                 damy

wy                    będziecie dawali/dawały                                 dacie

oni/one                        będą dawali/dawały                                        dadzą


Conditional (tryb przypuszczający)


ja                     dawałbym/dawałabym                                                dałbym/dałabym

ty                     dawałbyś/dawałabyś                                       dałbyś/dałabyś

on/ona/ono      dawałby/dawałaby/dawałoby                          dałby/dałaby

my                   dawalibyśmy/dawałybyśmy                             dalibyśmy/dałybyśmy

wy                    dawalibyście/dawałybyście                             dalibyście/dałybyście

oni/one                        dawaliby/dawałyby                                         daliby/dałyby






Imperative (tryb rozkazujący)


Imperfective                                                                            Perfective


dawaj                                                                                      daj

dawajcie                                                                                  dajcie

niech daje/dają                                                                        niech da/dadzą                                                                                   


The future Simple (perfective) form and the Present Simple (imperfective) form are the only tenses not to mark gender or the virile/non-virile nature of a plural in Polish.



7.         An overview of SMG and Polish



Papaloizos (2000) holds that the conjugation of the Greek verb is undoubtedly one of the most difficult aspects of Modern Greek; Greek aspectual verb morphology however appears less multifaceted than Polish aspectual verb morphology. The aspectual pairing of verbs in Polish for instance uses a complex system of aspectual prefixation. Polish active verbs also generally appear to be longer than Greek verbs (please refer to Tables 2, 5 and 8), this in part may be a consequence of the productive nature the ‘suffixing’ imperfectisation of prefixed perfective verbs (e.g. podgotować (prefixed perfective) / podgotowywać (prefixed imperfective that has been suffixed). Greek aspectual pairing however only uses suffixation; this will be discussed in detail in section 8. Verbs in Polish are gender-biased in the singular and have virile and non-virile markers in the plural. Greek verbs however do not have gender markers or a system to mark the virile/non-virile nature of a plural.  Finally there are more variant conjugation patterns for verbs in Polish than Greek[16].  Stanisławski (1983: 858) for instance holds that there are eighteen separate verb conjugation patterns for active finite verbs in the present tense in Polish that can be subsumed within eleven groups, or Wróbel et al. (1993: 48-143) identify forty-eight verb paradigms for twelve generic verb groups of finite active verbs.  Greek present tense active verbs on the other hand according to Papaloizos (2000: I) are classified according four stem groups. Holton et al. (1999: 119), however, in contrast to Papaloizos (2000: I), assert that all active and passive Greek verbs can even be grouped according to two major conjugation patterns, paroxytone[17] and oxytone[18], and a separate group of deviant patterns that apply to certain verbs only; this Holton et al. (ibid) resonates with Mackridge (1989: 163) who asserts with regard to active stems that ‘there appear’ to be two chief types of imperfective non-past, the first having penultimate stress in the second person singular (Class 1), the second having final stress (Class 2: this is divided into two subgroups according to whether the second person singular ends in ις or άς. Mackridge (1989: 163) however also holds there appear to be three types of perfective active stem depending on whether it ends in –s or not.  Κλαίρης and Μπαμπιώτης (2005) provide what probably is the most in-depth study of the grammar of Standard Modern Greek to date in Greek only; they hold (2005: 386) that there are three conjugation patterns for present tense active finite verbs. One of these patterns can be further divided into two subgroups.



8.         Suffixation in Greek



Papaloizos (2000: i) holds that for some years the spontaneous development of the spoken language, the demotiki has been suppressed in favour of the so-called ‘pure’ language, the katharevusa which tends to retain or revive archaic forms and orthography. In the demotiki, the infinitive is never used and has been replaced by the subjunctives. In this paper, the Papaloizos (2000: i) view regarding the infinitive in demotiki will be taken. I therefore will not become ‘embroiled’ in a philosophical discussion about what the infinitive is or what it might be in Greek. This approach is important as some confusion may arise with making analogy with the Polish infinitive, which is simply the imperfective and perfective root verb.


It seems therefore that the present subjunctive form with the omission of the subjunctive particle να or ας is in effect the imperfective verb and its perfective partner is the past simple tense subjunctive with an elided subjunctive particle να or ας. For all intents and purposes these forms will be assumed to be equivalent of the infinitive forms of an aspectual pair in Polish. However, they, in contrast to Polish, when used as an infinitive in functional constructions such as optative[19], obligation[20], possibility[21], usually decline according to the subject of the clause and are always preceded by the particle να. Such constructions therefore use two verbs in a clause in order to talk about two actions or states which are closely linked. Papaloizos (2000) in contrast to Janecki (2000), only uses the imperfective form of a verb to refer to lexical meaning e.g. the verb ‘to go’ is πηγαίνω, which is the imperfective form. The present subjunctive of the verb ‘to go’ is να πηγαίνω (I may be going-- Papaloizos 2000, IX) and the past subjunctive is να πάω (that I may go-Papaloizos 2000: IX). The imperfective form of this verb is therefore πηγαίνω and its perfective partner is πάω. An example of how the infinitive declines in Greek and how it is used in English and Polish is given below. Please note that in English and Polish the first verb used in the structure is finite and inflects for tense and agrees in number with the subject of the clause; the second verb is non-finite and does not change at all. In Greek however both verbs are finite, though the second one (i.e. the supposed infinitive) always declines in the present tense forms, regardless of the tense of the preceding verb[22]







Table 9.    An example of how the Greek infinitive can decline


Θέλω     να   πηγαίνω / πάω              I           want    to go               chcę      iść / pójść[23]

Θέλεις   να   πηγαίνεις/ πας                 you      want     to go               chcesz  iść / pójść

Θέλει     να   πηγαίνει  / πάει               he        wants   to go               chce     iść / pójść

Θέλομε να   πηγαίνομε /πάμε              we       want    to go               chcemy iść / pójść       

Θέλετε  να   πηγαίνετε / πάτε              you      want    to go               chcecie              iść / pójść

Θέλουν  να   πηγαίνουν / πάνε             they     want    to go               chcą       iść / pójść


Prefixation is not used in the formation of an aspectual twin in Greek; the process that is used to create an aspectual twin is suffixation on a common root. Prepositional prefixes that are used on nouns and verbs in Standard Modern Greek were derived from Ancient Greek prepositions (Holton et al. 1999: 161) or from certain words in Standard Modern Greek (Mackridge 1989: 323).  Mackridge (1989: 323-325) presents twenty-five such prepositions. For instance the preposition άνα (attached to a verb or noun takes a ‘re’ meaning). The verb ‘to make/grow old’ is παλαιώ-νω[24] (imperfective) and παλαιώ-σω (perfective) becomes the completely new verb ‘to restore (buildings)άνα-παλαιώ-νω (imperfective) and άνα-παλαιώ-σω (perfective). The same suffixation process on both verbs is used i.e. here an imperfective

νω suffix on the common and separate lexical roots of παλαιώand άναπαλαιώ is replaced with a perfective suffix of σω  However, it is important to note that the prefixation process described above produces new lexical items and is not used with regard to creating aspectual twins. This differs greatly from Polish which also possesses such a system for generating new lexical items (i.e. as described in section 3) and a complex system of prefixation or a combination of prefixation and suffixation to generate aspectual pairs.


Table 10 presents the morphology of suffixes for all major imperfective and perfective aspectual pairs in Greek. Some authors claim that Greek has many irregular verbs e.g. Καμπουρέλα and Καμπουρέλης (2004: 680-682), Χιωτοπούλου-Μαυρουλία and Ραφτοπούλου-Γεωργάντζη (1979), or Τριανταφυλλίδη (1995: 234-243). However, in contrast to such authors, I hold that many of the verbs claimed to be irregular could be classified as suffixed i.e. the aspectual pair share a common root which is suffixed in two separate ways. For instance, the following verbs which appear below are claimed to be irregular by Τριανταφυλλίδη (1995: 234-243), however the formation of aspectual pairs is clearly conceivable through a suffixation on a common root. For instance the common root in ‘to put’ βάζω (imperfective) / βάλω (perfective) is βά; the common root in ‘to do’ kάνω (imperfective) / κάμω (perfective) is kά; the common root in ‘to feel’ aισθάνομαι (imperfective) / αισθανθώ (perfective) is aισθάν. This would suggest that, as is the case with Polish, there are fewer true suppletives of the following type ‘to see’ βλέπω (imperfective) / δω (perfective), ‘to say’ λέγω (imperfective) / πω (perfective) or ‘to eat’ τρώγω (imperfective) / φάγω (perfective). In the Table, the verbs that Τριανταφυλλίδη (1995: 234-243) claims are irregular verbs are asterisked; however any morphological irregularity claimed to be attributable to these verbs, in my opinion, should not apply to aspectual pairing, which in the case of these verbs is arguably formed through a coherent process of suffixation. In the Table below the imperfective and perfective root of a given aspectual pair are always the same. The process of sharing a common root but different suffixes was discussed in section 2 for Polish; the two languages therefore arguably could have a commonality with regard to suffixation on a common root.


Table 10.    Suffixal endings for imperfective and perfective verbs in Greek




Imperfective root/base stem



Imperfective suffix



Perfective root/base stem



Perfective suffix






* = verb claimed to be irregular by Τριανταφυλλίδη (1995, 234-243).






To love





- ύσω

To get drunk






Το hear






To form






To laugh           






To throw away






To pull






To touch






To buy






To put






To spread






To do





To swallow





to be hungry






To recognise






To breathe






To open






To endure






To copy






To shine






To feel






To undertake






To be left






To wash






To lessen






To die






To learn






To overtake






To show






To be doubtful






To discover






To suffer






To fall






To mix





- άψω

To cease






To avoid



- αίω


- άψω

To cry



- ησα


- ώ

To speak



- ώ


- έσω  

To be able






To find






To teach






To become






To feel






To sit






To beat






To remember






To strive







To visit






To applaude






To order






To take






To  go



The above method of presenting a common base stem for both perfective and imperfective verbs appears to be in contrast with Holton et al. (1999: 109-110) who, using the word ‘stem’ to refer to the base stem (i.e. as above) + suffix, maintain that most Greek verbs have both imperfective and perfective stems which are then used to form one set of imperfective and perfective forms (in different tenses). However, I hold the Table above helps to emphasise the nature of Greek aspectual suffix morphology, and also facilitates comparison with Polish suffixation as presented in Table 2  


Greek suffixation appears irregular and so difficult to categorize; this feature it shares with Polish. The Table above however suggests that certain sounds are found in perfective verbs; for instance the ξ consonant cluster, which is a voiceless velar plosive, and the ψ consonant cluster, which is voiceless bilabial plosive. Moreover the mid-front vowel in the imperfective ένω suffix usually becomes a high front vowel in the perfective είνω / ύνω aspectual partner suffix. On the whole, imperfective suffixes seem to be longer than perfective suffixes, but there are many perfective suffixes that are longer than imperfective i.e. mainly when the imperfective suffix contains a single ω e.g. ‘to laugh’ γελώ (imperfective) γελάσω (perfective). This is contrast to Polish suffixation that very rarely has longer perfective suffixes than imperfective suffixes.


Holton et al. (1999: 119) however hold that some verbs do not have a complete set of aspectual forms, such verbs are generically referred to as deficient. Defective verbs have no perfective aspect and only exist in the imperfective e.g. ασθμαίνω ‘I pant’, βρίθω, ‘I am full of’ or μάχομαι I fight. Impersonal verbs have only a third-person singular form e.g. πρέπει ‘it is necessary’, or πρόκειται ‘be about to’.


9.         Tenses in Greek


Holton et al. (1999: 217-219) state that the imperfective aspect in Greek presents the action or state expressed by the verb either as a single but continuous event (progressively) or as a repeated one. Holton et al. (1999: 220-221) hold that the perfective aspect in Greek expresses an action (less so a state) which is viewed in its totality as a single complete event. Lindvall (1997: 10) maintains that ‘the general impression is an extensive correspondence between the Greek and Polish forms. Imperfective in Greek is Imperfective in Polish, and Perfective in Greek is Perfective in Polish’. However I hold that one should not rely on ‘general impressions’ to compare the aspectual systems of these two EU languages and that detailed analyses are required to elucidate how the aspectual system of these Indo-European languages operate. Even though it is not the aim of this paper to provide such analyses a few examples are provided that suggest some striking differences exist:


The first example, which is cited in Holton et al. (1999: 225) in Greek and English, uses the perfective verb in the simple past, whereas I maintain the imperfective verb is more prototypical in Polish.




Είδα το Γιώργο και του μίλησα για σένα                                            perfective aspects

I saw George and I spoke to him about you

Widziałem Γιώργοσa/Georgea i rozmawiałem z nim o Tobie            imperfective aspects



The second example as cited in Holton et al. (1999: 228) in Greek and English is an example (in Greek) of a combination of the particle θα with the imperfective past (conditional); here Greek uses the imperfective πήγαινα aspect however prototypical Polish would use the perfective pojechałbym conditional aspect.




Θα πήγαινα κι εγώ στο Παρίσι αλλά δεν είχα λεφτά                             imperfective aspect

I would have gone to Paris too but I did not have the money

Też bym pojechał do Paryża, ale pieniędzy nie miałem                        perfective aspect



The third example as cited in Holton et al. (1999: 221) in Greek and English is an example (in Greek) of the perfective present subjunctive; it uses the particle να with the perfective form of the verb (μιλήσω). An equivalent Polish translation however would probably use the imperfective aspect (rozmawiać).




Αν (θα) τον δεις να μην του μιλήσεις                          perfective (μιλήσω)

If you see him do not talk to him

Jeśli go zobaczysz, nie rozmawiaj z nim                     imperfective(rozmawiać)



A presentation of the Greek finite active tense system is presented below for an example aspectual pair i.e. ‘to give’ δίνω (imperfective) and δώσω (perfective). This Table of tenses draws on Holton et al. (1999), Papaloizos (2000), Farmakides (1983), Stavropoulos (2005) and Κλαίρης and Μπαμπιώτης (2005: 316). It is therefore held to be representative for Greek and could be used to make comparison to the presentation of the Polish tense system described earlier for the equivalent Polish aspectual pair (dawać and dać).


Imperfective δίνω / ‘to give’                          Perfective δώσω / ‘to give’

Ατελές                                                              `Τέλειο


Present Tense (Ενεστώτας)                             Dependent[25]    (for reference only, not a tense)                                                                         (no equivalent in English, Holton et al. 1999, 121)


δίνω[26]                                                              δώσω

δίνεις                                                               δώσεις

δίνει                                                                 δώσει

δίνομε                                                              δώσομε

δίνετε                                                               δώσετε

δίνουν                                                              δώσουν


Past Continuous (Παρατατικός)                      Past Simple (Αόριστος)


έδινα                                                                έδωσα                                                 

έδινες                                                               έδωσες

έδινε                                                                 έδωσε

δίναμε                                                              δώσαμε

δίνατε                                                               δώσατε 

έδιναν                                                              έδωσαν   


Future Continuous                                           Future Simple            

(Εξακολουθητικός Μέλλοντας)                       (Στιγμιαίος Μέλλοντας)


θα δίνω                                                            θα δώσω

θα δίνεις                                                          θα δώσεις

θα δίνει                                                            θα δώσει

θα δίνομε                                                         θα δώσομε

θα δίνετε                                                          θα δώσετε

θα δίνουν                                                         θα δώσουν 











Present conditional     Past Conditional[27]       Present Conditional      Past Conditional

(imperfective)              (imperfective)              (perfective)                      (perfective)

Δυνητικός ατελής                                             Δυνητικός τέλειος


αν[28]δίνω                       αν έδινα[29]                     αν δώσω                      αν έδωσα                    

αν   δίνεις                     αν έδινες                      αν δώσεις                     αν έδωσες

αν   δίνει                      αν έδινε                        αν δώσει                      αν έδωσε

αν   δίνομε                   αν δίναμε                     αν δώσομε                   αν δώσαμε

αν   δίνετε                    αν δίνατε                      αν δώσετε                    αν δώσατε 

αν   δίνουν                   αν έδιναν                      αν δώσουν                   αν έδωσαν   



Imperfective                                                    Perfective

Present Subjunctive   Past Subjunctive             Present Subjunctive     Past subjunctive 

Υποτακτικός ατελής      Απορηματικός ατελής                  Υποτακτικός τέλειος        Απορηματικός τέλειος



να δίνω                        να έδινα                       να δώσω                      να έδωσα 

να δίνεις                       να έδινες                      να δώσεις                     να έδωσες

να δίνει                        να έδινε                        να δώσει                      να έδωσε

να δίνομε                     να δίναμε                     να δώσομε                   να δώσαμε

να δίνετε                      να δίνατε                      να δώσετε                    να δώσατε 

να δίνουν                     να έδιναν                      να δώσουν                   να έδωσαν




                                                                   Derived from the perfective verb


Stand outside the aspectual system of imperfective vs               Present Perfect (παρακείμενος)

perfective Holton (1999, 112) συντελεσμένος

έχω      δώσει

                                                                               έχεις     δώσει

                                                                                    έχει      δώσει

                                                                                    έχομε   δώσει

                                                                                    έχετε    δώσει

                                                                                    έχουν   δώσει









Stand outside the aspectual system of imperfective vs                   Past Perfect (Υπερσυντέλικος)                perfective Holton (1999: 112) συντελεσμένος

                                                                                    είχα      δώσει

                                                                                    είχες     δώσει

                                                                                    είχε      δώσει

                                                                                    είχαμε δώσει

                                                                                    είχατε   δώσει

                                                                                    είχαν    δώσει


Stand outside the aspectual system of imperfective vs                   Future Perfect

perfective Holton (1999: 112) συντελεσμένος                 (Συντελεσμενος Μέλλοντας)


                                                                                    θα        έχω      δώσει

                                                                                    θα        έχεις     δώσει

                                                                                    θα        έχει      δώσει

                                                                                    θα        έχομε   δώσει

                                                                                    θα        έχετε    δώσει

                                                                                    θα        έχουν   δώσει


Stand outside the aspectual system of imperfective vs                   Conditional Perfect

perfective Holton (1999: 112) συντελεσμένος                    Δυνητική / Οριστική

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   θα        είχα      δώσει

                                                                                    θα        είχες     δώσει

                                                                                    θα        είχε      δώσει

                                                                                    θα        είχαμε δώσει

                                                                                    θα        είχατε   δώσει

                                                                                    θα        είχαν    δώσει


Imperative (Προστατική)                                            Imperative (Προστατική)

Imperfective                                                                Perfective


δίνε                                                                              δώσε

δίνετε                                                                           δώστε 


Polish does not possess perfective forms. The perfect verb form in Greek, which uses the auxiliary verb ‘to have’ έχω, according to Holton et al. (2000: 229) is both a tense and an aspect (however it stands outside the imperfective vs perfective aspectual system). It is an aspect (Holton et al. ibid) because it describes an action or state as completed, and it is a tense because it places the action in time. More precisely the perfect describes an action that is anterior to the time of the utterance but whose consequences are relevant to the present. However Κλαίρης and Μπαμπιώτης (2005: 452) hold that the perfect also gives emphasis to something that happened in the past; this is in contrast with the present perfect in English. The following example is from Holton et al. (2000: 229):








Έχω γράψει δέκα σελίδες μέχρι τώρα

I have written ten pages up to now

Do tej pory, napisałem dziesięć stron


The pluperfect form describes an action or state as having been completed in the past with consequences relevant to another subsequent point in time, also in the past, which is either explicitly specified or implied (Holton et al. 2000: 231) e.g.




Είχα δει τον αδερφό σου πολλές φορές στο Λονδίνο              [δει was derived from the perfective verb]

I had seen your brother many times in London [by the time I left London] 

Widziałem Twojego brata wiele razy [zanim wyjechałem z Londynu] [widziałem is imperfective]


The future perfect describes an action or state which will have been completed at some future time which is either explicitly stated or implied (Holton et al. 2000: 232) e.g.




Μέχρι την άλλη Δευτέρα θα έχω γράψει το πρώτο κεφάλαιο  

By next Monday I shall have written the first chapter

Do następnego poniedziałku, będę miał napisany/napiszę pierwszy rozdział 


The perfect conditional describes an action or state which would have been completed at some point in the past but failed to do so (Holton et al. 2000: 232)




Αν με είχες ρωτήσει θα σου το έλεγα                                        (έλεγα  is imperfective)

If you had asked me I would have told you

Gdybyś mnie zapytał, powiedziałbym Ci/Tobie                       (powiedziałbym is perfective)


As Polish does not possess perfect tenses, the sentences above provide examples of usage; some of the sentences also present examples that do not resonate with Lindvall’s view of the ‘general impression’ (1997: 10) regarding the extensive correspondence between the Greek and Polish aspectual forms discussed earlier.


With regard to the aspectual subjunctive constructions, which the Polish tense system also does not possess, the prototypical characteristic function is not to describe situations but to present them as wished for, desired, requested, ordered etc (Holton et al. 2000: 205). The subjunctive is formally expressed by the use of the particles να or ας, and by the choice of the negative particle μη(ν). The following four examples cited in Holton et al. 2000: 205 provide examples of usage in all tense and aspectual subjunctive forms in Greek; the nearest Polish translation equivalent suggests that subjunctive aspectual forms coincide with Greek forms in Polish.   






Present imperfective subjunctive in Greek


Να (μη) γράφει στη μητέρα του για τα προβλήματά του           γράφει = imperfective aspect

He should (not) write to his mother about his problems

(Nie) powinien pisać swojej matce o swoich problemach       pisać = imperfective aspect





Present perfective subjunctive in Greek


Να μη γράψω το γράμμα απόψε;                                             γράψω = perfective aspect

Shouldn’t I write the letter tonight?

Czy nie powinienem napisać ten list wieczorem?                    napisać = perfective aspect





Past imperfective subjunctive in Greek


Να/ας (μην) τον το έλεγες                                                        έλεγες = imperfective aspect

You should (not) have told him that

(Nie) powinieneś był mu o tym mówić                                    mówić = imperfective aspect




Past perfective subjunctive in Greek


Ελπίζω να μην έδωσα κακές εντυπώσεις                                 έδωσα = perfective aspect

I hope that I had not given you the wrong impression

Mam nadzieję, że mnie źle nie odebrałeś                                odebrałeś = perfective aspect



10.       Conclusion



In this paper I have described to morphology of suffixation and prefixation in Polish, and suffixation in Greek. The finite active tense system of both languages was also presented and may provide a useful reference source for researchers or grammarians. I held that Polish aspectual pairing morphology appears to be more intricate than Greek as Polish uses prefixation, whereas Greek does not. I also maintained that in light of some apparent non-correspondence in aspectual use, a detailed study is needed to assess how Polish and Greek aspects operate.








11.              References


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Bogusławski, Andrzej. 1963. Prefiksacja czasownikowa we współczesnym je¸zyku

            rosyjskim. Wrocław, Warszawa, Kraków: Zakład Narodowy imienia Ossolińskich

            Wydawnictwo Polskiej Akademii Nauk.


Czochralski, Jan. 1975. Verbalaspekt und Tempussystem im Deutschen und Polnischen.

            Eine konfrontative Darstellung. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.


Farmakides, A. 1983. Advanced Modern Greek. New Haven: Yale University Press


Forsyth, James. 1970. A grammar of aspect: usage and meaning in the Russian verb.

            Studies in the modern Russian language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press


Holton, D., P. Mackeridge and I, Philippaki-Warburton. 1999. Greek: A comprehensive    grammar of the modern language. London: Routledge.


Janecki, K. 2000. 301 Polish Verbs. Ontario: Baron’s Education Series.


Καμπουρέλα, Τ and ΑΘ. Καμπουρέλης. 2004. ΕΛΛΗΝΟ ΠΟΛΩΝΙΚΙΟ ΕΥΧΡΗΣΤΟ ΛΕΞΙΚΟ    Podręczny Słownik Grecko Polski. Athens: ΕΚΔΟΣΕΙΣ ΠΑΤΑΚΗ.


Κλαίρης, Χπ. and Γ. Μπαμπιώτης. 2005. ΓΡΑΜΜΑΤΙΚΗ ΤΗΣ ΝΕΑΣ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΗΣ         Δομολειτουργικί-Επικοινωνιακή. Athens: ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΙ ΓΡΑΜΜΑΤΑ


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[1] Referred to henceforth mainly as ‘Greek’.

[2] e.g. brać/wziąć ‘to take’ or  widzieć/zobaczyć ‘to see’, składać/złożyć ‘to submit’. Suppletion here will mean the use of non-cognates in aspectual pairing.

[3] By non-prefixed I mean not through the process of prefixation that creates a perfective verb from an imperfective as in e.g. ‘to think’ pomyśleć/myśleć or ‘to observe’ zaobserwować/obserwować. Empty prefixes will be discussed in section 3.

[4]  It was not possible for space reasons to include English translations in this Table.

[5]  In this paper only the basic translations into English are given of Polish and Greek verbs; a full explanation of the semantics of example verbs should be sought in good monolingual Polish or Greek dictionaries.   

[6] Młynarczyk (2004: 3).

[7] It is also conceivable that just suffixation is used in aspectual pairing i.e. earlier it was stated that prefixation and suffixation might be used in aspectual pairing of dorastać and dorosnąć.

[8] The prefix used to form the aspectual twin of an imperfective verb e.g. ‘to propose’ proponować, za-proponować; the ‘empty prefix’ changes the aspectual value of the basic imperfective verb and is generally thought not to change its lexical meaning (Młynarczyk 2004: 8).

[9] e.g .the verb to hide, kryć (imperfective) is perfectivised using the empty prefix stem s— to become ‘skryć’; this kind of prefixation will be discussed in section 3.

[10] This suggested imperfective form which is sometimes used by native speakers may not be correct i.e. there may not be an imperfective form of ujrzeć.

[11] i.e. used in the famous Polish tough twister Drabina z powyłamywanymi szczeblami.

[12]  Here popopisywać się appears to have an imperfective meaning.  Popopisywać się is an acceptable verb in Polish e.g. in nie odczuwałeś czasem pokusy, by trochę się popopisywać swoimi umiejętnościami?, ‘have you never felt tempted to show off  (for a while) your skills?’.

[13] e.g. używałeś był, (imperfective) ‘you had been using’ and użyłeś był (perfective) ‘you had used’

[14] i.e. tryb przypuszczający nierzeczywisty:  byłby pisał (imperfective),I would have been writing’ - byłby napisał (perfective) ‘I would have written’.

[15] Subject markers are optional in Polish.

[16] Some Greek verbs have optional spelling patterns e.g. μιλ(ά)ω (to speak).

[17] Holton et al. (1999: 119) hold that first conjugation verbs or parosytone verbs are by far the most numerous in Greek; they include all verbs stressed on the last syllable of their stem in the present tense. Such verbs have active verbs ending in  -´ω   and passive or deponent verbs ending -´ομαι.

[18] Holton et al. (1999: 127) second conjugation verbs or oxytone verbs are defined as those verbs which have an active present 1st person singular stressed on the final syllable. There are two types: (1) Type A, with (usually) an alternative 1st person singular in –áω and characterized by the α vowel in the active present tense endings; (2) Type B, with no alternative 1st person singular, and with the  vowels ει or ου in the remaining personal endings of the active present tense.

[19] Holton et al. (1999: 208) maintain that the optative is a term given to the modality of sentences expressing a wish for something to come about e.g. ‘Come tomorrow to have a chat’ έλα αύριο να τα πούμε.

[20] Holton et al. (1999: 208) maintain that obligation is expressed by the impersonal main verb πρέπει ‘it is  necessary/must’ e.g. as in ‘we must leave’—πρέπει να φύγουμε.

[21] Holton et al. (1999: 208) maintain that possibility is expressed by the impersonal pronoun μπορεί –it is possible e.g. μπορεί να βρέξει –‘it might rain’.

[22] The ‘so-called’ infinitive may sometimes not decline according to the subject of the clause e.g. θέλω να φύγουν; here the sentence means ‘I want them to leave’. This construction in Polish uses ‘żeby’ i.e. chcę, żeby odeszli.

[23] For the sake of clarity, this Table presents the imperfective and perfective aspects in Greek and Polish as being equivalent; however this paper does not suggest that this generally is the case.

[24] This verb also has an alternative spelling i.e. παλιώνω (imperfective) and παλιώσω (perfective).

[25] Holton et al. (2000: 220-221) hold that the dependent is the verb which combines the properties perfective (as indicated by its perfective stem) and non-past (as indicated by its inflectional endings). Examples of the dependent are the perfective verbs γράψω (to write), διαβάσω (to read), αγαπήσω (to love). This form does not constitute an independent tense or an independent mood but normally appears in constructions where it is preceded by one of the particles θα, μη(ν), να or ας. With the future particle θα, it forms the perfective future e.g. θα γράψω (I will write). With particles να or ας it forms the perfective subjunctive, referring to again to a complete action.

[26] The emphatic forms of personal pronouns function as the subject, complement or object of a verb when emphasis of distinction is required (Holton et al. 2000: 95) εγώ/I, εσύ/you, αυτί/she αυτός/he, εμείς/we, εσάς/you (plural), αυτόν/they.

[27] Polish also has a rarely used past conditional form i.etryb przypuszczający nierzeczywistybyłby pisał (imperfective),I would have been writing’ - byłby napisał (perfective) ‘I would have written’.

[28] Holton et al. (2000: 207) holds that conditional constructions in Greek consist of two clauses i.e. the ‘if’ clause, also known as protasis and the apodosis (the ‘then’ clause). 

[29] The imperfective past conditional can be formed with θα e.g. Θα πήγαινα κι εγώ στο Παρίσι αλλά δεν είχα λεφτά= I would have gone to Paris too but I did not have the money or δε θα το πίστευες --you would not believe it.