Using examples of perfect-like forms in Bulgarian, this paper probes the linguistic potential of the notion of ‘distance’. It is shown how this conceptual metaphor can be semantically grounded and contribute to a systematic analysis of the semantics and interpretational range of the forms in question. By the contextual specification of their semantic components, the possible interpretations of the respective forms can be derived in a straightforward way. This provides evidence for a polysemy-based approach instead of a paradigm- or homonymy-based analysis, which has been the favoured approach for these forms in the previous literature. Moreover, based on the notion of distance, text-level usage patterns can be accounted for.