Bulgarian grammar

Bulgarian grammar is the grammar of the Bulgarian language. Bulgarian is a South Slavic language that evolved from Old Church Slavonic—the written norm for the Slavic languages in the Middle Ages which derived from Proto-Slavic. Bulgarian is also a part of the Balkan language area, which also includes Greek, Macedonian, Romanian, Albanian and the Torlakian dialect of Serbian. It shares with them several grammatical innovations that set it apart from most other Slavic languages. Among these are a sharp reduction in noun inflections—Bulgarian has lost the noun cases but has developed a definite article, which is suffixed at the end of words. In its verbal system, Bulgarian is set apart from most Slavic languages by the loss of the infinitive, the preservation of most of the complexities of the older conjugation system (including the opposition between aorist and imperfect) and the development of a complex evidential system to distinguish between witnessed and several kinds of non-witnessed information.


Main article: Bulgarian nouns

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). 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


With cardinal numbers and some adverbs, masculine nouns use a separate numerical plural form бройна множествена форма (broyna mnozhestvena forma). It is a remnant of the grammatical dual number, which disappeared from the language in the Middle Ages. The numerical form is used in the masculine whenever there is a precise amount of something, regardless of the actual number, e.g. –

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: [2]

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)

Case system

Old Bulgarian had a system of six cases, but only three remain intact: the accusative, dative, and nominative; and only in personal and some other pronouns.

Though Bulgarian has lost most of its declensions, it retains many remnants of the old, more complex case system. These make up the modern genitive, vocative, and instrumental cases. Being rare, 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.


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.


Main article: Bulgarian pronouns

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"):


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:

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

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

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 numerals 1 and 2 are inflected for gender.

Furthermore, cardinal numerals take special endings when:

Cardinal numerals 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



  1. See Bulgarian nouns#Count form for more details.
  2. See Bulgarian pronouns#Personal pronouns for more details.
  3. All of these are becoming ever rarer in modern Bulgarian, especially кому and its derivatives. Instead of this, people often say на кого /nɐ koˈɡɔ/ or even на кой /nɐ kɔj/; the latter even beginning to replace the former, although this usage is currently frowned upon.
  4. See Bulgarian nouns#Usage for more usage notes


  1. 1 2 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).
  2. 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).
  3. 1 2 Кръстев, Боримир, 1992. Граматика за всички. Стр.61.
  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.

External links

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