Serbo-Croatian grammar

Serbo-Croatian grammar

Serbo-Croatian is a South Slavic language with moderately complex verbal and nominal systems. This article deals exclusively with the Neo-Shtokavian dialect, the basis for the official standard of Yugoslavia and its present-day forms of Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian.

All Serbo-Croatian lexemes in this article are spelled in accented form in both scripts (Gaj's Latin and Vuk's Cyrillic), as well as in both accents (Ijekavian and Ekavian, with Ijekavian bracketed) where these differ. (See Serbo-Croatian phonology.) Translations are given as tooltips, and can be seen by hovering the cursor over a marked entry.



Serbo-Croatian makes a distinction among three genders (masculine, feminine and neuter) seven cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, vocative, locative, instrumental) and two numbers (singular and plural).

The category of animacy is important for the choosing of accusative singular of o-stems, and of pronouns. Animate nouns have the accusative case like the genitive, and inanimate nouns have the accusative case like the nominative. This is also important for adjectives and numerals which agree with masculine nouns in case.


Serbo-Croatian has three main declensional types, traditionally called a-type, e-type and i-type respectively, according to their genitive singular ending.

a-type nouns

This type reflects Proto-Slavic o-stems, and is characterized by the endings (-o • -о), (-e • -е), or zero (-Ø) in the nominative singular, and (-a • -а) in genitive singular. It includes most of the masculine and all of the neuter nouns.

This type has two sets of case endings: one for masculine, and the other for neuter gender:

Case Singular Plural
masculine neuter masculine neuter
Nominative (N) -Ø, (-o • -о), (-e • -е) (-o • -о), (-e • -е), -Ø (-i • -и) (-a • -а)
Genitive (G) (-a • -а) (-a • -а) (-ā • -а̄), (-ī • -ӣ) (-ā • -а̄)}
Dative (D) (-u • -у) (-u • -у) (-ima • -има) (-ima • -има)
Accusative (A) =N or G =N (-e • -е) =N
Vocative (V) (-e • -е), (-u • -у), or =N =N =N =N
Locative (L) =D =D =D =D
Instrumental (I) (-om • -ом), (-em • -ем) (-om • -ом), (-em • -ем) =D =D

The zero ending -Ø is for masculine nouns which end in consonant in nominative singular, and also for neuter nouns that end in -e • -е which is a part of the word stem.

Alternative endings in NVI singular are governed by the stem-final consonant: if it is a palatal consonant, the former endings are used, and if it is a non-palatal consonant, the latter endings are used.

Masculine nouns

Masculine nouns belonging to this declensional class are those that are not hypocorisms, and do not end in -a • -а, which undergo e-type declension.

According to the nominative singular forms they are divided in 2 classes:

  1. nouns having the zero ending -Ø in nominative singular (12 declensional patterns)
  2. nouns having the ending -o • -о or -e • -е in nominative singular (2 declensional patterns)
Pattern 1 - Nouns without "fleeting a"
Case Singular Plural
N ìzvor ѝзвор ìzvor-i ѝзвор-и
G ìzvor-a ѝзвор-а ȉzvōr-a и̏зво̄р-а
D ìzvor-u ѝзвор-у ìzvor-ima ѝзвор-има
A ìzvor ѝзвор ìzvor-e ѝзвор-е
V ìzvor-e ѝзвор-е ìzvor-i ѝзвор-и
L ìzvor-u ѝзвор-у ìzvor-ima ѝзвор-има
I ìzvor-om ѝзвор-ом ìzvor-ima ѝзвор-има
Pattern 2 - Nouns with "fleeting a"
Case Singular Plural
N nȍk-a-t • но̏к-а-т nȍkt-i • но̏кт-и
G nȍkt-a • но̏кт-а nȍk-ā-t-ā • но̏к-а̄-т-а̄
D nȍkt-u • но̏кт-у nȍkt-ima • но̏кт-има
A nȍk-a-t • но̏к-а-т nȍkt-e • но̏кт-е
V nȍkt-e • но̏кт-е nȍkt-i • но̏кт-и
L nòkt-u • но̀кт-у nȍkt-ima • но̏кт-има
I nȍkt-om • но̏кт-ом nȍkt-ima • но̏кт-има
Pattern 3 - Nouns ending in -in • -ин
Case Singular Plural
N grȁđan-in • гра̏ђан-ин grȁđan-i • гра̏ђан-и
G grȁđan-in-a • гра̏ђан-ин-а grȁđān-ā • гра̏ђа̄н-а̄
D grȁđan-in-u • гра̏ђан-ин-у grȁđan-ima • гра̏ђан-има
A grȁđan-in-a • гра̏ђан-ин-а grȁđan-e • гра̏ђан-е
V grȁđan-in-e • гра̏ђан-ин-е grȁđan-i • гра̏ђан-и
L grȁđan-in-u • гра̏ђан-ин-у grȁđan-ima • гра̏ђан-има
I grȁđan-in-om • гра̏ђан-ин-ом grȁđan-ima • гра̏ђан-има
Pattern 4 Nouns ending in -k • -к Nouns ending in -g • -г Nouns ending in -h • -х
Case Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
N vòjnīk • во̀јнӣк vojníc-i • војни́ц-и bùbreg • бу̀брег bùbrez-i • бу̀брез-и tr̀buh • тр̀бух tr̀bus-i • тр̀бус-и
G vojník-a • војни́к-а vojník-ā • војни́к-а̄ bùbreg-a • бу̀брег-а bȕbrēg-ā • бу̏бре̄г-а̄ tr̀buh-a • тр̀бух-а tȑbūh-ā • тр̏бӯх-а̄
D vojník-u • војни́к-у vojníc-ima • војни́ц-има bùbreg-u • бу̀брег-у bùbrez-ima • бу̀брез-има tr̀buh-u • тр̀бух-у tr̀bus-ima • тр̀бус-има
A vojník-a • војни́к-а vojník-e • војни́к-е bùbreg-a • бу̀брег-а bùbreg-e • бу̀брег-е tr̀buh-a • тр̀бух-а tr̀buh-e • тр̀бух-е
V vȍjnīč-e • во̏јнӣч-е vojníc-i • војни́ц-и bùbrež-e • бу̀бреж-е bùbrez-i • бу̀брез-и tr̀buš-e • тр̀буш-е tr̀bus-i • тр̀бус-и
L vojník-u • војни́к-у vojníc-ima • војни́ц-има bùbreg-u • бу̀брег-у bùbrez-ima • бу̀брез-има tr̀buh-u • тр̀бух-у tr̀bus-ima • тр̀бус-има
I vojník-om • војни́к-ом vojníc-ima • војни́ц-има bùbreg-om • бу̀брег-ом bùbrez-ima • бу̀брез-има tr̀buh-om • тр̀бух-ом tr̀bus-ima • тр̀бус-имa
Pattern 5 - Nouns ending in -(a)k • -(а)к
Case Singular Plural
N čvór-a-k • чво́р-а-к čvórc-i • чво́рц-и
G čvórk-a • чво́рк-а čvȏr-ā-k-ā • чво̑р-а̄-к-а̄
D čvórk-u • чво́рк-у čvórc-ima • чво́рц-има
A čvórk-a • чво́рк-а čvórk-e • чво́рк-е
V čvȏrč-e • чво̑рч-е čvórc-i • чво́рц-и
L čvórk-u • чво́рк-у čvórc-ima • чво́рц-има
I čvórk-om • чво́рк-ом čvórc-ima • чво́рц-има
Pattern 6 - Nouns ending in a palatal
Case Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
N pȃnj • па̑њ pánj-ev-i • па́њ-ев-и ráž-a-nj • ра́ж-а-њ rážnj-i • ра́жњ-и prȋšt • при̑шт príšt-ev-i • при́шт-ев-и
G pánj-a • па́њ-а pánj-ēv-ā • па́њ-е̄в-а̄ rážnj-a • ра́жњ-а ráž-ā-nj-ā • ра́ж-а̄-њ-а̄ príšt-a • при́шт-а príšt-ēv-ā • при́шт-е̄в-а̄
D pánj-u • па́њ-у pánj-ev-ima • па́њ-ев-има rážnj-u • ра́жњ-у rážnj-ima • ра́жњ-има príšt-u • при́шт-у príšt-ev-ima • при́шт-ев-има
A pȃnj • па̑њ pánj-ev-e • па́њ-ев-е ráž-a-nj • ра́ж-а-њ rážnj-e • ра́жњ-е prȋšt • при̑шт príšt-ev-e • при́шт-ев-е
V pȃnj-u • па̑њ-у pánj-ev-i • па́њ-ев-и rážnj-u • ра́жњ-у rážnj-i • ра́жњ-и prȋšt-u • при̑шт-у príšt-ev-i • при́шт-ев-и
L pánj-u • па́њ-у pánj-ev-ima • па́њ-ев-има rážnj-u • ра́жњ-у rážnj-ima • ра́жњ-има príšt-u • при́шт-у príšt-ev-ima • при́шт-ев-има
I pánj-em • па́њ-ем pánj-ev-ima • па́њ-ев-има rážnj-em • ра́жњ-ем rážnj-ima • ра́жњ-има príšt-em • при́шт-ем príšt-ev-ima • при́шт-ев-има
Pattern 7 - Nouns ending in -c • -ц
Case Singular Plural Singular Plural
N strȋc • стри̑ц stríč-ev-i • стри́ч-ев-и klȉn-a-c • кли̏н-а-ц klȋnc-i • кли̑нц-и
G stríc-a • стри́ц-а stríč-ēv-ā • стри́ч-е̄в-а̄ klȋnc-a • кли̑нц-а klȉn-ā-c-ā • кли̏н-а̄-ц-а̄
D stríc-u • стри́ц-у stríč-ev-ima • стри́ч-ев-има klȋnc-u • кли̑нц-у klȋnc-ima • кли̑нц-има
A stríc-a • стри́ц-а stríč-ev-e • стри́ч-ев-е klȉn-a-c • кли̏н-а-ц klȋnc-e • кли̑нц-е
V strȋč-e • стри̑ч-е stríč-ev-i • стри́ч-ев-и klȋnč-e • кли̑нч-е klȋnc-i • кли̑нц-и
L stríc-u • стри́ц-у stríč-ev-ima • стри́ч-ев-има klȋnc-u • кли̑нц-у klȋnc-ima • кли̑нц-има
I stríc-em • стри́ц-ем stríč-ev-ima • стри́ч-ев-има klȋnc-em • кли̑нц-ем klȋnc-ima • кли̑нц-има
Pattern 8 - Nouns ending in -lac • -лац
Case Singular Plural
N posjètil-a-c • посјѐтил-а-ц posjètioc-i • посјѐтиоц-и
G posjètioc-a • посјѐтиоц-а posjètil-ā-c-ā • посјѐтил-а̄-ц-а̄
D posjètioc-u • посјѐтиоц-у posjètioc-ima • посјѐтиоц-има
A posjètioc-a • посјѐтиоц-а posjètioc-e • посјѐтиоц-е
V posjètioč-e • посјѐтиоч-е posjètioc-i • посјѐтиоц-и
L posjètioc-u • посјѐтиоц-у posjètioc-ima • посјѐтиоц-има
I posjètioc-em • посјѐтиоц-ем posjètioc-ima • посјѐтиоц-има
Pattern 9 - Nouns ending in -o • -о
Case Singular Plural
N pȅpeo • пе̏пео pȅpel-i • пе̏пел-и ȕgao • у̏гао ȕgl-i • у̏гл-и
G pȅpel-a • пе̏пел-а pȅpēl-ā • пе̏пе̄л-а̄ ȕgl-a • у̏гл-а ȕg-ā-l-ā • у̏г-а̄-л-а̄
D pȅpel-u • пе̏пел-у pȅpel-ima • пе̏пел-има ȕgl-u • у̏гл-у ȕgl-ima • у̏гл-има
A pȅpeo • пе̏пео pȅpel-e • пе̏пел-е ȕg-a-o • у̏г-а-о ȕgl-e • у̏гл-е
V pȅpel-e • пе̏пел-е pȅpel-i • пе̏пел-и ȕgl-e • у̏гл-е ȕgl-i • у̏гл-и
L pȅpel-u • пе̏пел-у pȅpel-ima • пе̏пел-има ȕgl-u • у̏гл-у ȕgl-ima • у̏гл-има
I pȅpel-om • пе̏пел-ом pȅpel-ima • пе̏пел-има ȕgl-om • у̏гл-ом ȕgl-im • у̏гл-им
Pattern 10 - The noun čȍv(j)ek • чо̏в(ј)ек
Case Singular Plural
N čȍv(j)ek • чо̏в(ј)ек ljȗd-i • љу̑д-и
G čȍv(j)ek-a • чо̏в(ј)ек-а ljúd-ī • љу́д-ӣ
D čȍv(j)ek-u • чо̏в(ј)ек-у ljúd-ima • љу́д-има
A čȍv(j)ek-a • чо̏в(ј)ек-а ljȗd-e • љу̑д-е
V čȍv(j)eč-e • чо̏в(ј)еч-е ljȗd-i • љу̑д-и
L čȍv(j)ek-u • чо̏в(ј)ек-у ljúd-ima • љу́д-има
I čȍv(j)ek-om • чо̏в(ј)ек-ом ljúd-ima • љу́д-има
Pattern 11 - Nouns in -e • -е or -o • -о
Case Singular Plural
N bìfē • бѝфе̄ bifè-i • бифѐ-и
G bifè-a • бифѐ-а bifé-ā • бифе́-а̄
D bifè-u • бифѐ-у bifè-ima • бифѐ-има
A bìfē • бѝфе̄ bifè-e • бифѐ-е
V bȉfe-u • би̏фе-у bifè-i • бифѐ-и
L bifè-u • бифѐ-у bifè-ima • бифѐ-има
I bifè-om • бифѐ-ом bifè-ima • бифѐ-има
Pattern 12 - Nouns ending in -i • -и
Case Singular Plural
N žìrī • жѝрӣ žirìj-i • жирѝј-и tàksi • та̀кси tàksij-i • та̀ксиј-и
G žirìj-a • жирѝј-а žiríj-ā • жири́ј-а̄ tàksij-a • та̀ксиј-а tàksij-ā • та̀ксиј-а̄
D žirìj-u • жирѝј-у žirìj-ima • жирѝј-има tàksij-u • та̀ксиј-у tàksij-ima • та̀ксиј-има
A žìrī • жѝрӣ žirìj-e • жирѝј-е tàksi • та̀кси tàksij-e • та̀ксиј-е
V žȉrij-u • жи̏риј-у žirìj-i • жирѝј-и tàksij-u • та̀ксиј-у tàksij-i • та̀ксиј-и
L žirìj-u • жирѝј-у žirìj-ima • жирѝј-има tàksij-u • та̀ксиј-у tàksij-ima • та̀ксиј-има
I žirìj-em • жирѝј-ем žirìj-ima • жирѝј-има tàksij-em • та̀ксиј-ем tàksij-ima • та̀ксиј-има
Pattern 13 - Personal names
Case Non-palatal paradigm Palatal pardigm
N Dànil-o • Да̀нил-о Hȑvoj-e • Хр̏вој-е
G Dànil-a • Да̀нил-а Hȑvoj-a • Хр̏вој-а
D Dànil-u • Да̀нил-у Hȑvoj-u • Хр̏вој-у
A Dànil-a • Да̀нил-а Hȑvoj-a • Хр̏вој-а
V Dànil-o • Да̀нил-о Hȑvoj-e • Хр̏вој-е
L Dànil-u • Да̀нил-у Hȑvoj-u • Хр̏вој-у
I Dànil-om • Да̀нил-ом Hȑvoj-em • Хр̏вој-ем
Pattern 14 - Hypocorisms in -ko • -ко
Case Non-palatal paradigm Palatal pardigm
N raščupànk-o • рашчупа̀нк-о raščupànc-i • рашчупа̀нц-и
G raščupànk-a • рашчупа̀нк-а raščupánk-ā • рашчупа́нк-а̄
D raščupànk-u • рашчупа̀нк-у raščupànc-ima • рашчупа̀нц-има
A raščupànk-a • рашчупа̀нк-а raščupànk-e • рашчупа̀нк-е
V rȁščupank-o • ра̏шчупанк-о raščupànc-i • рашчупа̀нц-и
L raščupànk-u • рашчупа̀нк-у raščupànc-ima • рашчупа̀нц-има
I raščupànk-om • рашчупа̀нк-ом raščupànc-ima • рашчупа̀нц-има

Masculine nouns ending in -o • -о or -e • -е present a special case. They generally comprise personal names, hypocorisms and certain foreign-language borrowings.

Neuter nouns
  singular plural
Nominative -o/e -a
Genitive -a -a
Dative/Locative -u -ima
Accusative -o/e -a
Vocative -o/e -a
Instrumental -om/em -ima

Some neuter nouns add 'n' or 't' before the declension.

  singular plural
Nominative -e -(n/t)a
Genitive -(n/t)a -(n/t)a
Dative/Locative -(n/t)u -(n/t)ima
Accusative -e -(n/t)a
Vocative -e -(n/t)a
Instrumental -(n/t)om -(n/t)ima

e-type nouns

This type reflects Proto-Slavic a-stems, and is characterized by the ending -a • -а in nominative singular and -ē • -е̄ in genitive singular. It contains most of the feminine nouns, and a small number of masculines.

  singular plural
Nominative -a -e
Genitive -e -a
Dative/Locative -i -ama
Accusative -u -e
Vocative -o/a -e
Instrumental -om -ama

i-type nouns

This type reflects Proto-Slavic i-stems, and is characterized by the zero ending in nominative singular and -i • и in genitive singular. It contains the rest of feminine nouns, that are not contained in the e-type nouns (a-stems).

singular plural
Nominative - -i
Genitive -i -i
Dative/Locative -i -ima
Accusative -0 -i
Vocative -i -i
Instrumental -i/ju -ima


Personal Pronouns

Case 1st sg. 2nd sg. 3rd sg. (m/f/n) 1st pl. 2nd pl. 3rd pl.
Nominative ja ti on / ona / ono mi vi oni / one / ona
Genitive mene tebe njega / nje / njega nas vas njih
Dative meni tebi njemu / njoj / njemu nama vama njima
Accusative mene tebe njega / nju / njega nas vas njih
Vocative -- ti -- -- vi --
Locative (o) meni (o) tebi (o) njemu / njoj / njemu (o) nama (o) vama (o) njima
Instrumental (sa) mnom (sa) tobom (sa) njim / njom / njim (sa) nama (sa) vama (sa) njima


Some of the declensions for adjectives are the same as for nouns, and so they might rhyme: velika kuća (sing. nom.), veliku kuću (sing. acc.). Others differ: jednim klikom ("with one click", sing. masc. instrum.).

  singular plural
  masculine feminine neuter masculine feminine neuter
Nominative -i -a -o -i -e -a
Genitive -og -e -og -ih -ih -ih
Dative/Locative ! -om -oj -om -im -im -im
Accusative -i/-og* -u -o -e -e -a
Vocative -i -a -o -i -e -a
Instrumental -im -om -im -im -im -im

* same as nominative if a word is marking inanimate object; same as genitive if a word is marking animate object.


Case Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative velik ("big") velika veliko
Genitive velikog velike velikog
Dative velikom velikoj velikom
Accusative velik veliku veliko
Vocative veliki velika veliko
Locative velikom velikoj velikom
Instrumental velikim velikom velikim


Case Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative veliki ("big") velike velika
Genitive velikih velikih velikih
Dative velikim velikim velikim
Accusative velike velike velika
Vocative veliki velike velika
Locative velikim velikim velikim
Instrumental velikim velikim velikim
  • Note: animate objects (people and animals) are treated differently in the singular masculine accusative. In this case, it is the same as singular masculine genitive. It is considered accusative even though it looks like the genitive. Example: Vidim velikog psa ("I see a big dog").
  • Note: most adjectives ending in consonant-'a'-consonant (for example: dobar, "good"), the 'a' disappears when any letter is added. Dobar becomes, for example, dobri, dobra, dobrog, dobru, dobrim, dobrom, dobre, and dobrih, according to case and number.



As in other Slavic languages, Serbo-Croatian verbs have a property of aspect: the perfective and the imperfective. Perfective indicates an action that is completed or sudden, while the imperfective denotes lasting, repeated, or habitual action. Aspect compensates for a relative lack of tenses compared with e.g. Germanic or Romance languages: the verb already contains the information whether the action is completed or lasting, so there is no general distinction between continuous and perfect.

Slavic verbs in general are characterized by a relatively low number of stems, from which a wide variety of meanings is achieved by prefixation.


The indicative has seven tenses: present, past, futures I and II, pluperfect, aorist and imperfect. The latter two are not used often in daily speech (more often in Bosnia and Herzegovina than in Croatia and Serbia), especially the imperfect. Present, aorist and imperfect are inflected, while others are periphrastic:

  • Past uses the present of biti ("to be") plus the perfect participle, e.g. radio sam (or sam radio, order depending on the sentence).
  • Future I uses the (reduced) present of htjeti ("will" or "to want") plus the infinitive, e.g. ćemo kuhati (or kuhat ćemo, in which case the -i of the infinitive marker -ti is elided).
  • Future II uses the perfective future of biti (the only verb with a simple future) plus the perfect participle, e.g. budu išli.
  • Pluperfect, which is not often used, uses the composite past tense of biti plus the perfect participle, e.g. bio sam došao, or (archaic) imperfect of biti plus the participle, e.g. bijah došao

Future tense can also be formed with (reduced) present of хтети plus the conjunction да and the present of the main verb, e.g. ћеш да куваш.


Besides the indicative, Serbo-Croatian uses the imperative, conditional, and the optative. Imperative forms vary according to the type of the verb, and is formed by adding the appropriate morpheme to a verbal stem. The conditional I (present) uses the aorist of biti plus perfect participle, while conditional II (past) consists of the perfect participle of biti, the aorist of the same verb, and the perfect participle of the main verb. Some grammars classify future II as a conditional tense, or even a mood of its own.

Optative is in its form identical to the perfect participle. It is used by speakers to express a strong wish, e.g. Živio predsjednik! 'Long live the president!', Dabogda ti se sjeme zatrlo! (an archaic and dialectal curse), etc. The optative may be translated into English by an imperative construction, with set phrases (such as the already exemplified 'long live'), or by use of the modal verb may.

Some authors[who?] suggest existence of subjunctive mood, realized as da plus the present of indicative, but most grammars treat it as present indicative.


Verbal aspect is distinguished in English by using the simple or progressive (continuous) forms. 'He washed the dishes' indicates that the action was finished; 'He was washing the dishes' indicates that the action was ongoing (progressive). Serbo-Croatian, like all Slavic languages, has the aspect built into the verbs, rather than expressing it with different tenses.

To compare the meanings of the different aspects with verbal aspect in English, one should know three basic aspects: completed (may be called preterit, aorist, or perfect according to the language in question), progressive (on-going but not completed yet, durative), and iterative (habitual or repeated). English uses one aspect for completed and iterative and another for progressive. Serbo-Croatian uses one for completed and another for iterative and progressive.

Aspect is the most challenging part of Serbo-Croatian grammar. Although aspect exists in all other Slavic languages, learners of Serbo-Croatian who already know even one of several other Slavic languages may never learn to use aspect correctly, though they will be understood with only rare problems. While there are bi-aspectual verbs as well, primarily those derived by adding the suffix -irati or -ovati, the majority of verbs not derived in such a manner are either perfective (svršeni) or imperfective (nesvršeni). Almost all of the single aspectual verbs are part of a perfective/imperfective pair of verbs. When learning a verb, one must learn its verbal aspect, and the other verb for the opposite verbal aspect, e.g., prati ("to wash", imperfective) goes with oprati ("to wash", perfective). The pairing, however, is not always one to one: some verbs simply don't have a counterpart on a semantic level, such as izgledati ("seem") or sadržati ("contain"). In others, there are several perfective alternatives with slightly different meanings.

There are two paradigms concerning formation of verb pairs. In one paradigm, the base verb is imperfective, such as prati ("to wash"). In this case the perfective is formed by adding a prefix, in this case o, as in oprati. In the other paradigm, the root verb is perfective, and the imperfective is formed either by modifying the root: dignutidizati ("to lift") or adding an interfix statistajati ("to stop", "to stand").

A pattern which often arises can be illustrated with pisati, "to write". Pisati is imperfective, so we need to add a prefix, in this case na-, to make it perfective: napisati. But if we add other prefixes to modify the meaning, the basic verb becomes perfective: zapisati ("to write down") or prepisati ("to copy by hand"). Since these basic verbs are perfective, we need to add an interfix to make them imperfective: zapisivati and prepisivati. This could be continued by adding a prefix: pozapisivati and isprepisivati which is again perfective.

Conjugation of verbs

There are three conjugations of verbs:

    1. 'a': almost all verbs that have this conjugation end in '-ati'.
    2. 'e': verbs ending in '-nuti' and all irregular verbs (as in the example below). Verbs ending in '-ovati', '-ivati' become 'uje' when conjugated (trovati, "to poison", is trujem, truje etc.)
    3. 'i': almost all verbs ending in '-jeti' or '-iti' use this conjugation.
Person čitati prati (irregular) vidjeti (-jeti or -iti)
singular plural singular plural singular plural
First person čitam čitamo perem peremo vidim vidimo
Second person čitaš čitate pereš perete vidiš vidite
Third person čita čitaju pere peru vidi vide
Auxiliary Verbs
Verb jesam

Verb јеsam is often regarded as the verb "to be" in the present tense. It is a defective verb. It does not have the infinitive form; its basic dictionary form is јесам which is the present tense 1st person singular of the verb itself. Furthermore, it has the forms of present tense only:

Pronoun Present Present (negative forms)
Long (accented) form Short (unaccented) form
Ја (I) jesam sam nisam
Ti (You) jesi si nisi
On, Ona, Ono (He, she, it) јeste je nije
Mi (We) jesmo smo nismo
Vi (You pl.) jeste ste niste
Oni, One, Ona (They) јesu su nisu

The copulative use of the verb јеsam matches that of the verb "to be" in English (e.g. He is a student - On је učenik), of course, in the present tense only. The 'true forms' of the verb "to be", i.e. the forms of the verb biti in the present tense have a limited use (in formation of the future exact or in conditional clauses referring to the future). The truth is grammarians decided to introduce the verb jesam as the second auxiliary (the verb hteti/htjeti being the third one) to resolve the problem of one verb having two different conjugations in the present tense.

Verb biti

Verb biti, "to be", one of the most common irregular verbs is conjugated in the manner described below:

Pronoun Present Future Past tense
1st 2nd perfect aorist imperfect pluperfect
Ја (I) budem ću biti / biću budem bio/la sam bio/la; bio/la sam bih bijah / bejah / beh bio/la sam bio/la
Тi (You) budeš ćeš biti / bićeš budeš bio/la si bio/la; bio/la si bi bijaše / bejaše / beše bio/la si bio/la
On, Ona, Ono (He, she, it) bude će biti / biće bude bio/la/lo јe bio/la/lo; bio/la/lo јe bi bijaše / bejaše / beše bio/la/lo јe bio/la/lo
Mi (We) budemo ćemo biti / bićemo budemo bili/le smo bili/le; bili/le smo bismo bijasmo / bejasmo / besmo bili/le smo bili/le
Vi (You pl.) budete ćete biti / bićete budete bili/le ste bili/le; bili/le ste biste / beste biјaste / bejaste / beste bili/le ste bili/le
Oni, Оne, Оna (They) budu će biti / biće budu bili/le/ su bili/bile/bila; bili/le/la su bi/ biše biјahu / bejahu / behu bili/le/la su bili/le/la
Regular verbs

The conjugation system of regular verbs is rather complex. There are several classes of verbs distinguished according to certain features verbs within a class share.
The verb is raditi (To work)

Pronoun Present Future Past tense
1st 2nd perfect aorist imperfect pluperfect
Јa (I) radim ću raditi budem radio/la sam radio/la; radio/la sam rad+ah>rađah bio/la sam radio/la
Ti (You) radiš ćeš raditi budeš radio/la si radio/la; radio/la si rad+aše>rađashe bio/la si radio/la
On, Ona, Ono (He, she, it) radi će raditi bude radio/la/lo јe radio/la/lo; radio/la/lo јe rad+aše>rađashe bio/la/lo јe radio/la/lo
mi (We) radimo ćemo raditi budemo radili/le smo radili/le; radili/le smo rad+asmo>rađasmo bili/le smo radili/le
Vi (You pl.) radite ćete raditi budete radili/le ste radili/le; radili/le ste rad+aste>rađaste bili/le ste radili/le
Oni, One, Ona (They) rade će raditi budu radili/le/la su radili/radile/radila; radili/le/la su rad+ahu>rađahu bili/le/la su radili/le/la

This technique applies to verbs such as:
vidjeti (to see)
hodati (to walk)
pričati (to talk)
morati (must)

Irregular verbs

Irregular verbs are more complex to conjugate than regular verbs. Here is an example of the verb
moći (to can, to be able to)

Pronoun Present Future Past tense
1st 2nd perfect aorist imperfect pluperfect
Јa (I) mogu ću moći budem mogao/la sam mogao/la; mogao/la sam mogoh mogah bio/la sam mogao/la
Ti (You) možeš ćeš moći budeš mogao/la si mogao/la; mogao/la si može mogaše bio/la si mogao/la
On, Ona, Ono (He, she, it) može će moći bude mogao/la/lo јe mogao/la/lo; mogao/la/lo je može mogaše bio/la/lo je mogao/la/lo
Mi (We) možemo ćemo moći budemo mogli/le smo mogli/le; mogli/le smo mogosmo mogasmo bili/le smo mogli/le
Vi (You pl.) možete ćete moći budete mogli/le ste mogli/le; mogli/le ste mogoste mogaste bili/le ste mogli/le
Oni, One, Ona (They) mogu će moći budu mogli/le/la su mogli/mogle/mogla; mogli/le/la su mogoše mogahu bili/le/la su mogli/le/la



Conjunctions and particles


Serbo-Croatian has a rich case structure that is reflected in the declension of nouns and adjectives. This makes syntax of little use and allows for a great deal of freedom in word order. In English, for example, the difference between "Man bites dog" and "Dog bites man" is shown by syntax. In Serbo-Croatian, Čovjek grize psa and Čovjeka grize pas have the same word order, but the meanings are shown by the noun endings. Any order of the three words is grammatically correct, and the meaning is clear because of the declensions. However, the usual order is subject-verb-object.

There are certain words that have no accent (enclitics) that must come in a fixed order. They are, in order,

  1. question words (only li),
  2. verbs: clitic forms of "to be" except je (sam, si, smo, ste, su, bih, bi, bismo, biste), and of "will" (ću, ćeš, će, ćemo, and ćete)
  3. dative pronouns (mi, ti, mu, joj, nam, vam, im),
  4. the reflexive accusative pronoun (only se), and the reflexive dative pronoun (only si)
  5. accusative pronoun (me, te, ga, je, ju, nas, vas, and ih),
  6. clitic form of the third person singular present of "to be" (je).

The enclitics must almost always be at the second position of the declarative and imperative sentence. The first element may be a single word or a noun phrase, e.g. Taj se čovjek vara, "That person deceives himself", or Taj čovjek se vara. When using a combination of several enclitics in a sentence they must be at the second, third and fourth position; in some interrogative forms of sentences or in colloquial speech they can be placed even at the first position.

See also



External links

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