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Bulgarian grammar

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Bulgarian grammar

Bulgarian grammar is the body of rules that describe the structure of expressions in the Bulgarian language. The language is a South Slavic language that historically evolved from the Old Bulgarian language—also known as Old Slavonic language which was the written norm for the Slavic languages in the Middle ages—and before that from the Proto-Slavic language.

Bulgarian is also a part of the Balkan language area, which also includes Greek, Macedonian, Romanian, Albanian and the Torlakian dialect of the Serbian language. As such, it shares several grammatical innovations with the other southwest Balkan languages that set it apart from other Slavic languages. These include a sharp reduction in noun inflections; most Bulgarian nouns and adjectives are inflected for number and gender, but have lost noun cases. Bulgarian also has a suffixed definite article, while most other Slavic languages have no definite article at all. Bulgarian has also lost the verb infinitive, while otherwise preserving most of the complexities of the Old Bulgarian verb conjugation system, and has further developed the proto-Slavic verb system to add verb forms to express nonwitnessed, retold, and doubtful (irrealis) actions.


  • Nouns 1
    • Bulgarian case system 1.1
    • Remnant of the dual 1.2
  • Adjectives 2
  • Pronouns 3
  • Verbs 4
    • Voice 4.1
    • Mood 4.2
  • Word order 5
  • Other 6
    • Numbers 6.1
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Bulgarian nouns have the categories grammatical gender, number, case (only vocative) and definiteness. A noun has one of three specific grammatical genders (masculine, feminine, neuter) and two numbers (singular and plural). With cardinal numbers and some adverbs, masculine nouns use a separate count form(see below).

The plural is formed by adding to or replacing the singular ending, most commonly in the following ways:

sing. plur.
masc. -conson.

+ове (monosyl.)

fem. -а / -я


Definiteness is expressed by a definite article which is postfixed to the noun:

masc. fem. neut.
sing. -ът / -ят (subj.)

-a / -я (obj.)

-та -то
plur. -те -та

When the two are combined, the plural ending comes first: [1]

стол [stol]


столът [stolat]

(the chair)

столове [stolove]


столовете [stolovete]

(the chairs)

маса [masa]


масата [masata]

(the table)

маси [masi]


масите [masite]

(the tables)

копче [kopche]


копчето [kopcheto]

(the button)

копчета [kopcheta]


копчетата [kopchetata]

(the buttons)

Bulgarian case system

Bulgarian derives a system of six cases, but only three, the accusative, dative, and nominative, and only in personal and interrogative pronouns, remain intact from Old Bulgarian. While Bulgarian has lost most of its declensions, many remnants of the old more complex case system do still exist. These remnants make up the modern genitive, vocative, and instrumental cases. Owing to their rarity, however, they are no longer seen as case endings, but are rather considered to be part of some completely different phenomenon, such as being a subcategory of the definite article or of the plural, as with the genitive below.

  • apart from only appearing in pronouns, the accusative and the dative have mostly merged as an oblique case
    • The two cases are preserved in the personal pronouns, but only in their short forms - e.g. me (me), mi (to me); ya (her); i (to her). While the dative case has a long form, it is archaic and instead accusative constructions with the word na (to) are usually used.
    • Also, they appear in the masculine of some key words such as the interrogative pronoun кой (koy) "who" and its derivatives, and in some other related words, such as vseki (everyone), vsekigo (acc.), vsekimu (dat.). This usage is becoming ever rarer, especially in the spoken language.
  • the genitive is preserved in the masculine singular – however, it is not used exclusively in genitive constructions any more. Instead, it has become the incomplete definite article suffix (nepulen chlen), used with all definite masculine nouns which are the object of a sentence:
    • stol (a chair) → stolat (the chair, subject) → pod stola (under the chair - object). [2]
  • the vocative
    • for family members - e.g. майка → майко (maika → maiko - "mother")
    • for masculine names - e.g. Петър → Петре (Petar → Petre)
    • in social descriptors - e.g. priatelyu (friend), uchitelyu (teacher)
  • the instrumental
    • mostly for set phrases, such as noshtem ("during the night", from nosht); sbogom ("farewell" - lit. "with God", from s + bog); or begom ("while running" from byagam - to run)

Remnant of the dual

See also: Language and Nouns articles

In Bulgarian, the numerical plural form (broyna mnozhestvena forma) is a remnant of the grammatical dual number, which disappeared from the language in the Middle Ages. The modern numerical form is used in the masculine whenever there is a precise amount of something, regardless of the actual number, e.g. –

  • stol (chair) → mnogo stolove (many chairs - general plural) → dva stola/deset stola (two chairs/ten chairs - numerical plural). [2][3]


A Bulgarian adjective agrees in gender, number and definiteness with the noun it is appended to and is put usually before it. The comparative and the superlative form are formed analytically.


Bulgarian pronouns vary in gender, number, definiteness and case. The distinguishable types of pronouns include the following: personal, possessive, interrogative, demonstrative, reflexive, summative, negative, indefinite and relative.


Bulgarian verbs are the most complicated part of Bulgarian grammar. They are inflected for person, number and sometimes gender. They also have lexical aspect (perfective and imperfective), voice, nine tenses, five moods and six non-finite verbal forms. Bulgarian verbs are divided into three conjugations.


The voice in Bulgarian adjectives is presented by the ending on the past participle; the auxiliary remains съм ("to be"):

  • Active - ударил съм... - udaril sum... - I have hit...
  • Passive - ударен съм - udaren sum - I have been hit


Mood in Bulgarian is expressed not through verb endings, but through the auxiliary particles че (che) and да (da) (which both translate as the relative pronoun that). The verbs remain unchanged.[4] Thus:

  • Indicative - че -
    • e.g. знам, че си тук - znam, che si tuk - I know that you are here;
  • Subjunctive - да -
    • e.g. искам да си тук - iskam da si tuk - I want that you are here, I want you to be here

The inferential is formed in exactly the same way as the perfect, but with the omission of the auxiliary:

  • Perfect - той е бил - toy e bil - he has been
  • Inferential - той бил - toy bil - he (reportedly) was

The imperative has its own conjugation - usually by adding or -ай (-i or -ay) to the root of the verb:

  • e.g. sit - сядам → сядай (syadam → syadayimperfective), or седна → седни (sedna → sedniperfective).
    • Negative instructions - either ne syaday or nedey da syadash - "don't sit down". (See section on intentional particles.)

Word order

Although Bulgarian has almost no noun cases its word order is rather free. It is even freer than the word order of some languages that have cases, for example German. This is due to the agreement between the subject and the verb of a sentence. So in Bulgarian the sentence "I saw Lubomir" can be expressed thus:

Видях Любомир.
  saw-1pSg Lyubomir
Любомир (го) видях.
  Lyubomir (him) saw-1pSg

It is clear that the subject is "аз" ("I") (it has been dropped), because the verb "видях" is in the first person singular.

Other examples - Ivan greeted the girls:

Иван поздрави момичетата.
  Ivan greeted-3pSg girls-the.
Момичетата (ги) поздрави Иван.
  Girls-the (them) greeted-3pSg Ivan.
Иван момичетата поздрави.
  Ivan girls-the greeted-3pSg.
Момичетата Иван (ги) поздрави.
  Girls-the Ivan (them) greeted-3pSg.
Поздрави Иван момичетата.
  Greeted-3pSg Ivan girls-the.
Поздрави (ги) момичетата Иван.
  Greeted-3pSg (them) girls-the Ivan.

Theoretically all permutations are possible but the last one sounds rather odd.

The girls greeted Ivan:

Момичетата поздравиха Иван.
  Girls-the greeted-3pPl Ivan.
Иван (го) поздравиха момичетата.
  Ivan (him) greeted-3pPl girls-the.
Момичетата Иван поздравиха.
  Girls-the Ivan greeted-3pPl.
Иван момичетата (го) поздравиха.
  Ivan girls-the (him) greeted-3pPl.
Поздравиха момичетата Иван.
  Greeted-3pPl girls-the Ivan.
Поздравиха (го) Иван момичетата.
  Greeted-3pPl (him) Ivan girls-the.

The clitic doubling (го/ги) is obligatory only when the subject and the object are both in third person, and they are either both singular or both plural, but when the meaning is clear from the context it can be omitted. Examples:

Иван го поздрави Мария. 
  Ivan him greeted-3pSg Maria.
  Maria greeted Ivan.
Мария я поздрави Иван. 
  Maria her greeted-3pSg Ivan.
  Ivan greeted Maria.


Ролите озвучиха артистите... 
  Roles-the sound-screened-3pPl artists-the...
  The artists...(their names) sound-screened the roles. (They made the soundtrack for the film.)

In the compound tenses, when a participle is used, and when the subject and the object are of different gender or number, the clitic doubling can also be left out. So the first two of the above examples can be expressed in a compound tense thus:

Иван (го) е поздравила Мария.
  Ivan (him) has greeted-3pSgFem Maria.
  Maria has greeted Ivan.
Мария (я) е поздравил Иван.
  Maria (her) has greeted-3pSgMasc Ivan.
  Ivan has greeted Maria.

The above two examples sound a bit odd without the doubling, unless it is a case of topicalization and special stress is put on the first word.



In Bulgarian, the numbers 1 and 2 take gender.

Furthermore, numbers take special endings when:

  • referring to men (2-6 and 10, and 20-100) - add "-ma"
    • e.g. 2 chairs - dva stola; 2 brothers - dvama bratya
  • referring to a roundabout number (10-100 and, rarely, 5-9) - add "-ina"
    • e.g. dvadeset dushi - 20 people; dvadesetina dushi - about 20 people
  • they are used as common nouns - add the feminine "-ka/-tsa" [5]
    • sedem - "seven", but sedmitza - the number seven (as in "the seven" in a deck of cards, or "bus number seven", etc.).[6]
Cardinal Numbers numbers relating to men "roundabout" numbers ordinal numbers as a common noun notes / other
1 edìn (masc) - ednà (fem)

ednò (neut) - ednì (plur.) *

pruv / pùrvi (masc), purva (fem), etc. edinìtsa vednazh - once
2 dva (masc) - dve (fem/neut) dvama vtori dvòyka polovin(ka) - half
3 tri trima treti tròyka
4 chètiri chetirima chetvùrti chetvòrka chètvurt(in(k)a) - quarter
5 pet petíma péti petìtsa
6 shest shestima shesti shestìtsa
7 sèdem * sedmi sedmitsa
8 òsem osmi osmitsa
9 dèvet (devetina) deveti devyàtka (devètka)
10 dèset desetima desetina deseti desyàtka (desètka)
11 edinàdeset (edinàyset) (edinadesetìma / edinaysetima) edinadesetìna (edinaysetina) edinàdeseti (edinays(e)ti) edinàdesetka (edinàyska) / edinadesetìtsa (edinays(e)tìtsa) from "edin-na-deset" - "one-on-ten", etc.
12 dvanàdeset (dvanayset) (dvanadesetìma / dvanaysetima) dvanadesetìna (dvanaysetina) dvanàdeseti (dvanays(e)ti) dvanàdesetka (dvanàyska) / dvanadesetìtsa (dvanays(e)tìtsa)
20 dvàdeset (dvàyset) (dvadesetìma / dvaysetima) dvadesetìna (dvaysetina) dvàdeseti (dvaysetima) dvàdesetka (dvàyska) / dvadesetìtsa (dvays(e)tìtsa) "dva-deset" - "twice ten"
21 dvadeset i edno (dvayset i edno) dvadeset i purvi/-a/-o dvadeset (dvayset) i edinitsa
22 dvadeset i dve (dvayset i dve) dvadeset i vtori/-a/-o dvadeset (dvayset) i dvoyka / (dvàys-dvòyka) (...'23' - dvàys-tròyka, etc.)
30 trideset (triyset) trideseti/-a/-o (triys(e)ti/-a/-o) trìdesetka (trìyska) / tridesetitsa (triys(e)titsa)
100 sto stotíma stotína stótni stotìtsa nyàkolkostotin... - several hundred... *
200 dvèsta (okolo 200 - "around 200") (dvestni) - 300 - trìsta
400 chetiristòtin (chetiristòtni) - 500-900 - same pattern
1,000 hilyàda hìlyadni hilyadàrka 2,000 - dve hilyadi, etc.
0 nùla nulev nula nikolko - none


  • In Bulgarian, numbers can be used directly in front of uncountable nouns - e.g. vodа "water" → edna voda "a glass of water" (the quantifier 'glass of' is inferred from the context - comp. English 'a beer').
  • The word edni can be translated as "some" - e.g. edni tzigari "some cigarettes" (comp. Spanish unos/unas).
  • When counting, the neuter numbers are taken - edno, dve, tri....
  • Fractions are the same as the ordinal numbers, and are done in the feminine 1/5 - edna peta, 2/5 - dve peti, etc.
  • The words for men can be used by themselves, without a noun following - e.g. simply "vidyah dvama" - I saw two men, or even colloquially "edni dvama..." - these two men...
  • Irregularly, "sedmina" and "osmina" can be used (archaically, poetically) to also mean "7/8 men" rather than "around 7/8".
  • The smaller denomination of the Bulgarian currency - the stotìnka (pl. stotìnki) literally mean "hundredths" (diminutive); 100 stotinki = 1 lev.


  1. ^ When a noun is accompanied by one or more modifiers and/or determiners, only the first element of the noun phrase takes the definite article suffix - e.g. priyatelite (the friends) → dobrite priyateli (the good friends) → moite dobri priyateli (my good friends).
  2. ^ a b The forms the words take in the numerical plural and in the incomplete definite are often identical to each other – e.g. dva stola/pod stola, as above, or dva konya/na konya - "two horses/on the horse", but not always – e.g. grad (city) → dva gràda (two cities), but v gradà (in the city), or svyat (world) → dva svyàta (two worlds), but na svetà (in the world).
  3. ^ Several number-related words are also followed by the numerical plural, e.g. kolko stola? (how many chairs?); nyakolko stola (several chairs). An exception to this occurs in some exclamations following kolko, when the ordinary plural is used and the inferred meaning is "what a large amount of!": e.g. "kolko konya?" (how many horses? - numeric plural), but "kolko kone!" (ordinary plural - implying "look at all those horses!").
  4. ^ In ordinary sentences, the imperfective aspect is most often used for the indicative, and the perfective for the subjunctive, but any combination is possible, with the corresponding change in meaning.
    • e.g. iskam da stanesh (perfective) / iskam da stavash (imperfective) - i want you to get up.
    The latter is more insisting, since the imperfective is the more immediate construction.
  5. ^ Less commonly - "-orka" (e.g. shestorka, sedmorka); or else the masculine "-ak", but only to the numbers 6-8 and 10-100 - shestàk, stotàk, etc.
  6. ^ With adjectives or definite articles – hvani sedmitzata - "catch the (bus) number seven"; dai edna sedmitza "give me a (card number) seven"; novata sedmitza "the new (Audi Q-)7", etc.

External links

  • Bulgarian Wiktionary
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