Imperfective and Perfective Verbs in Polish Legal Texts


  • Marek Lazinski University of Warsaw,
  • Karolina Jóźwiak
  • Grzegorz Krajewski University of Warsaw, Poland



The article presents factors influencing the choice of verbal aspects in Polish legal texts. Polish legal norm generally uses imperfective verbs (hereinafter: ipf) in the present tense. The reason is not only the universal directival function of the present tense but also a specific function of the imperfective aspect in Polish, i.e. its definitional meaning. Other Slavic languages use perfective verbs (hereinafter referred to as: pf)  as a standard legal norm in codes. The first part of the text, based on Łaziński, Jóźwiak 2017 and Łaziński 2020, is a theoretical analysis with the use of linguistic and legal background.

In the second part of the article, the authors present the results of a survey using a fictional statute where respondents had to choose an appropriate verbal aspect. Applying such a strategy, it is possible to evaluate the significance of different factors influencing the aspect choice described in the first part of the texts and other factors considered in the survey. In the authors’ opinion, the conclusions of the survey and theoretical discussion have important consequences for both linguistics and law, especially for the grammatical interpretation of the law.