In Croatian, there are seven grammatical tenses. They can be divided in two ways. By the time they take place in and by their complexity. Simple tenses consist of only 1 word (simple tenses are aorist, imperfect, present) while complex tenses consist of 2 or even 3 words (complex tenses are pluperfect, perfect, first future, second future) because they also consist of auxiliary verbs. Also, some grammatical tenses cannot be formed with both grammatical aspects, they work with only 1.

PAST

TenseDescriptionExample
Pluskvamperfekt (Pluperfect)An action that has happened before another action (same as English past perfect).Mladen je bio ručao. (Mladen had had lunch.)
Imperfekt (Imperfect)Past tense that is formed only by imperfective verbs. An unfinished past tense.Mladen trčaše. (Mladen was running.)
AoristPast tense (not used much nowadays). It is the same as Perfekt. Can be formed only with verbs in perfective states.Mladen odtrčaše. (Mladen was running but he finished sometime in the past.)
Perfekt (Perfect)Main past tense. Can be formed by both imperfective and perfective verbs.Mladen je trčao. (Mladen was running).

PRESENT

TenseDescriptionExample
Prezent (Present)Present tense.Mladen ruča. (Mladen is having lunch.)

FUTURE

TenseDescriptionExample
Futur prvi (First future)Future tense.Mladen će ručati. (Mladen will have lunch.)
Futur drugi (Second future)Before-future tense. Used in expresing a future action that will happen before another future action.Ako bude kiša uskoro pala, suša će prestati. (If rain soon falls, the drought will end.)

exercise – key

Determine the tenses of the underlined verbs:

  1. Jučer sam bio na poslu. (I was at work yesterday.)
  2. Rekla je da ga bude nazvala prije nego što će otići kući. (She said she would call him before she goes home.)
  3. Večeram. (I am having dinner.)
  4. Rekoh mu. (I told him.)
  5. Jučer cijeli dan pecijah peciva. (I was baking rolls the whole day yesterday.)
  6. Bio sam kupio novi auto ali mislim da nisam trebao. (I had bought a new car but I think I shouldn’t have bought it.)