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Anna Kibort

Screeve has been given a separate entry in this Inventory because the term is widely accepted and, in this way, it is easier to find it in the Inventory. However, this entry can be thought of as an extension to the entries on 'Tense', 'Aspect' and 'Mood'.

The notion of 'screeve' originates from Georgian linguistics, where it is used to refer to a combination of tense, aspect and mood when describing a verbal paradigm. It is found mostly in descriptions of Kartvelian languages (e.g. Georgian, Svan, Laz), and occasionally elsewhere - for example, to describe paradigmatic tense/aspect sets of verb forms in Bulgarian.

The screeve system of Georgian consists of ten or eleven screeves (one of the screeves is rare in Modern Georgian) grouped into three series. The screeves, and sometimes also the series, are referred to by labels corresponding to one or more of their component categories (tense, aspect, or mood). The classification given below (Harris 1981:47; Hillery 2006) draws from traditional descriptions of Georgian verb morphology:

  • Series I, known as the 'present series' - has two subseries (the 'present' and the 'future'), each with three screeves.
  • Series II, known as the 'aorist series' - has two screeves.
  • Series III, known as the 'perfect series' - has three screeves (N.B. Perfect Subjunctive is rare in Modern Georgian).

The following table lists all the eleven screeves:

Present Present Present
Present Subjunctive
Future Future
Future Subjunctive
Aorist Aorist
Optative (Second Subjunctive)
Perfect Perfect (First Evidential)
Pluperfect (Second Evidential)
Perfect Subjunctive (Third Subjunctive/Third Evidential)

The Georgian screeves express combinations of the following tense, aspect and mood values (based on Hillery 2006):

(Present) Present non-past indicative imperfective
Imperfect past indicative
Present Subjunctive non-past subjunctive
(Future) Future future indicative perfective
Conditional past indicative
Future Subjunctive future subjunctive
Aorist Aorist past indicative perfective (or, less commonly, imperfective)
Optative present or future subjunctive
Perfect Perfect past indicative
Pluperfect past indicative
Perfect Subjunctive past or future subjunctive

For comparison with Georgian, Bulgarian has a grammatical opposition of perfective versus derived imperfective that is superimposed on the tense(-aspect) system in this language. Bulgarian screeves are paradigmatic tense-aspect sets of verb forms which inflect for person and number, or person, number and gender. Similar paradigms are found in other Slavic languages that have lexicalised the perfective/imperfective opposition in the verbal system - though there has been no tradition of referring to these paradigms as screeves.

To sum up, screeve as a grammatical category is most similar to grammaticalised tense, aspect or mood. A screeve corresponds to a particular tense-aspect-mood paradigm within which the verb forms vary according to the inflectional categories they express. Screeve itself is not a morphosyntactic feature, since its values are not determined through agreement or government. Like tense, aspect and mood, it is a morphosemantic feature. (For a discussion of Georgian series as a morphological feature, see the entry on 'Inflectional class'.)


  • Harris, Alice C. 1981. Georgian Syntax. A Study in Relational Grammar. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Hillery, P.J. 1996-2006 (Rev. 3.1). The Georgian language. An outline grammatical summary. Available at:

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How to cite this entry:

Kibort, Anna. "Screeve." Grammatical Features. 7 January 2008.

Content last updated 7 January 2008
Page last modified 11 January 2008
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