Croatian/Main Contents/FAQ

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What is the difference between i, te and a?

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They're all translated as "and", but there is a difference in how to use them.

  • Of all three, i suits its translation the best and can replace te and a in any case except when a means "what about" (see below). "I" is often used as "too" or "also" (I on? - Him too?) It is used the most.
  • Te is usually used to avoid sounding too repetitive (that is why it is more often found in literature).
  • A is more of and/but. It is also often used as "and what about..?" (A on? What about him?). It is also more often used at the beginnings of the sentences than "i".

Unlike i that can indicate curiosity e.g.i kada će to biti? (and when will that be?) a can bring a little sarcastic tone to a conversation e.g. a kada će to biti? (and just when will that be?). When writing, unlike te and i, a always has a comma behind it.

Note that when listing things:

  • i is used for normal listing e.g. mačke i psi (cats and dogs)
  • a can carry the meaning of "and what about?!" e.g. A mačke? A psi? (And what about cats and dogs?)
  • te is rarely used

Native speakers tend to use "and" a lot, even when it's unnecessary, mostly following words such as 'čak', 'kad' etc. and some sentences can even sound strange if they lack "and" such as "Došli bi čak kada ne bi morali" Došli bi čak i kada ne bi morali - They'd come even if they wouldn't have to.

Can also be used A možda i ne bi. - And [then again], maybe they wouldn't.

Two words are the same but one has an "a" at the end. Why?

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Some rare words can have navezak, a letter "a" at the end that doesn't have to be used if the speaker doesn't want to. It is usually added to make pronunciation easier and more understandable (s sjekirom => sa sjekirom). Some of the words include s/sa, kad/kada, kud/kuda, nikog/nikoga, svakog/svakoga...

What does šetati and what does hodati mean?

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They both mean "to walk", however šetati indicates walking for pleasure, in a park or on the beach while hodati indicates the action itself or, more precisely the movement. Note: Don't use hodati if you want to say you're going for a walk with someone because you'll sound strange (especially because it can also mean "to date")

What is the difference between no and ali?

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They both mean "but", but no has more of "however" meaning and is not used as often as ali.

Do words for months, seasons, weekdays and holidays have any meaning?

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Mostly. For literal translations of months go to Months.

Nedjelja (Sunday) is derived from ne djelati, slavic word meaning not to work, ponedjeljak (Monday) could roughly mean "after sunday", četvrtak (Thursday) is derived from četvrti which means the fourth and petak (Friday) is derived from peti meaning fifth.

As for the holidays, Božić (Christmas) could be roughly translated as little god, Uskrs (Easter) is derived from uskrsnuti, meaning "to resurrect" and Nova godina does indeed mean New year.

Two of the four season-names appear to have meaning:

    Summer ("ljeto"):
        A word appearing to have the same root is "ljetina", which means "crop/harvest/yield."
        Summer might well have been considered the season of crops/harvesting/yields.
    Winter ("zima"):
        The same word means "cold," and Winter is certainly the cold season.

What are the differences between standard Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian?

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Differences between standard Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian is the article in Wikipedia.

When do you use kamo, when kuda and when gdje?

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All of them mean where, but the difference is often ignored even by native speakers themselves as they tend to use only "gdje".

  • Gdje is used when you want to ask where a person was/is/will be.
  • Kuda is used when asking which way a person will go.
  • Kamo is used when asking about a destination.

What is the difference between zato and jer?

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They both mean because, but are used differently.

Zato is used the most, but is usually followed by što.. If it's not followed by any of the two it can also mean "and that's why...". Zato can also be used as an answer (Zato! - Because!) while jer can't. Also, jer is never followed by što or zato.

Which words in Croatian are the shortest?

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The shortest words in Croatian are a (and, but), o (about), u (in), i (and), k (to), s (with).

Is the word "of" used in the same way as it is in English?

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The use is similar but there are a few rules which aren't in English grammar. The word "of" is used if it describes what the object is made of, for example "Kolač od jabuka" which means "A cake made of apples". But the sentence Kuća od bake which literally translates as "house of grandma" is wrong because it means a house is made of grandma. The right sentence would be: Bakina kuća. So, if it's describing possession, od is not usually used (there are a few exceptions). Od can also mean "from" but use it only when referring to places.

When do you use sa?

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Sa (with) is only used when the next word in the sentence starts with a letter "s". For example: "Popravljam igračku sa sestrom" ("I'm repairing a toy with my sister"). Normally, it would be "Popravljam igračku s prijateljem" ("I'm repairing a toy with my friend").

The word "with" is only used if it's describing a person with whom the work is preformed. For example: "Popravljam igračku s prijateljem (I'm repairing a toy with my friend"). If it's describing a tool with which a job is done, then it's not used.

S/Sa can also mean "of" (for example: skočiti s litice means "to jump off the cliff").

Does Croatian have its own writing system?

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Not today, but Croatian did have its own writing system a few centuries ago. It was a form of Glagolitic alphabet (uglata glagoljica), the squared one and was in use in Middle Ages.

What is the difference between sjećati and pamtiti?

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The difference is huge but a little hard to explain. Both words translate as remember but sjećati refers to remembering something from the past, reminiscing (e.g. Sjećam ga se-I remember him). Pamtiti however refers more to remembering a piece of information for future use (e.g. Upamti to-Remember that)


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As with other languages, there is a formal and informal method of speech with people. When speaking formally, the person is referred to in the plural sense, as opposed to singular when informally speaking. For example: Kako ste? (formal: How are you?), as opposed to Kako si? (informal: How are you?). Formal speech is used when talking to much older person, teacher, or stranger. Informal speech is used for friends, family and children. It's normal to say što? (What) but it can sometimes be considered rude when speaking more or less formally(especially if it's "šta" or "kaj"), but more formal is molim?.

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