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Questions about the Ukrainian Past Tense/verbal aspects...

I've only just passed the second checkpoint, so I don't know if any of these questions will be answered later on in the course. I looked around on the Duolingo forums, and didn't find exactly what I was looking for, so... Here we are.

I was wondering about the aspects of the past tense in Ukrainian (having studied French in school for several years, I know how big a deal it can be confusing the imparfait vs the passé composé), so just for personal interest, I Googled around.

On ukrainianlanguage.org, I looked at the Past Tense unit, and found out that the past tense that is taught first here on Duolingo is the past imperfective. Now I'm confused, since sentences like "Вона сказала так!" are translated here on Duolingo as "She said yes!", which I would have guessed was perfective (feels very passé composé to me), but сказала is conjugated in the past imperfective (i.e, "She was saying yes!" in English).

So, finally, on to the question. I understand the difference between perfective and imperfective in general (I think), so why are sentences like "Моя мати готувала обід" translated into an English perfective, "My mother cooked lunch" instead of "My mother was cooking lunch"? Is the difference less important in Ukrainian? Is the past imperfective just the go-to past tense for Ukrainian? Do I have some fundamental misunderstanding of what's going on here?

...whew. That's quite the wall of text, but hopefully someone has an answer. Дякую!

July 27, 2015


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