One of the uses of the l-form you've been learning about is the l-past. This tense can be made from both imperfective and perfective verbs by taking the present tense of the verb сум (to be) for first and second person only and then following it with the l-form of the main verb, which denotes the action being described. For example:
- јас сум одел (if јас is masculine) and јас сум одела (if јас is feminine) "I have walked"
- ти си одел (if ти is masculine) ти си одела (if ти is feminine) "you (singular) ha've walked"
- тој одел "he has walked"
- таа одела "she has walked"
- тоа одело "it has walked"
- ние сме оделе "we have walked"
- вие сте оделе "you (plural) have walked"
- тие оделе "they have walked"
Again, note that the helping verb сум (to be) is only used in the first and second person (singular and plural) and it is left out of the third person (singular and plural). You have already encountered the third person use of the l-past in the practices from learning about the l-form.
The l-past has three main uses:
- As a perfect tense, similar to English "Have you ever been to Macedonia?" or "I've never done that before!" Note that in the answer, the speaker may use the l-past (which is obligatory if the answer is negative, i.e. that the action has never been done) or use aorist or imperfect (especially in situations where the speaker wants to elaborate about what happened). So for example, an exchange might include:
- A: Си билa ли некогаш во Македонија?
- Б: Не, никогаш не сум билa. "No, I've never been." (l-past) OR
Да, сум била. "Yes, I've been." (l- past) OR
Да, бев лани и супер си поминав. "Yes, I went last year and had a great time." (imperfect and aorist)
- To express that the speaker did not witness the action expressed with the main verb, i.e. that the speaker is not reporting a first-hand account of the action. Instead, the speaker may have heard it, read it, or be narrating a folk story, fairy tale, or myth. This includes events that happened where the speaker was present but too young to remember it himself/herself. In English, this distinction is not made with the form of the verb itself - the translation of the main verb into English will be using one of the English past tenses. To capture that the speaker is not relaying first-hand information in English, the speaker has to use an additional sentence such as "I've heard that..." or "They said that..." You can also use these types of constructions in Macedonian, but the verb that describes the action that is being reported as hear-say has to be in the l-past. Compare:
- А: Што сакал да стане? "What did he want to become?" (l-past, the speaker was not present to witness the wanting)
- Б: Сакал да стане адвокат. "He wanted to become a lawyer." (l-past, this speaker is expressing he or she was not there to witness the desire either but this is not captured in the English translation). OR
Таа рече дека сакал да стане адвокат. "She said that he wanted to become a lawyer." (l-past, similar to English, the lack of presence at the event is expressed with "she said...")
- To express disbelief or surprise, such as "You won first prize?!" Note that, similar to the second use of this tense in Macedonian, in English, the speaker uses one of the other past tenses to express this sentiment but makes the sentiment clear through intonation. This is another situation where the question or statement expressing disbelief will reflect the l-past, but the person responding to the statement may not. For example:
- А: Сте го положиле испитот?! "You (plural) passed the exam?!" (l-past, the speaker is in disbelief or surprise)
- Б: Да, неверојатно, но сме го положиле! "Yes, incredible, but we passed it!" (l-past, this speaker is in disbelief too) OR
Да, го положивме! "Yes, we passed it!" (aorist, this speaker is not in disbelief or suprised by it)
A note about how the short forms of the indirect and direct object pronouns fit in with the word order of the l-past sentence, question, and negation. In all three sentence structures, the short forms go in between the form of the helping verb сум (if it is used) and the main verb (which denotes the action). The order of the forms is always indirect (if any) then direct (if any). For example:
- Вие сте му ја дале книгата?! "It was you who gave him the book?!"
- Таа му ја дала книгата?! "It was her that gave him the book?!"
- Сте му ја дале ли книгата? "Have you given the book to him?"
- Му ја дала ли книгата? "Has she given the book to him?"
- Не, ние не сме му ја дале книгата. "No, we haven't given him the book."
- Не, таа не му ја дала книгата. "No, (she said or I heard that) it wasn't her who gave him the book/she hasn't given him the book."