Croatian/Main Contents/Level 2/Lesson 3

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Verbs in the present tense of Croatian are simpler than those of English. Pišem can mean I write, I do write, or I am writing. In the present tense, verbs can be categorized into three basic types, as: znati, raditi, pisati. As it is difficult to distinguish which category a verb belongs to, it is often given in the infinitive and present forms. For most verbs, the present forms can be deduced from the first person singular (exceptions: biti, htjeti, moći). The infinitive and the first person singular present form are the so-called "principal forms" of a Croatian verb.

To form verbs in the present tense, if the first person singular present is not known:
Start with the infinitive: znati
Remove the final three letters: znati = zn + -a + -ti = zn-
Add the appropriate endings, i.e.: (ja) znam

The best way is to memorize the 1st person singular to create the other forms without any problems.

Verbs like znati (principal form: -am)

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znati, to know

Pronouns Verb Forms
ja znam
ti zn
on/ono/ona zna
mi znamo
vi znate
oni/one/ona znaju

Verbs like raditi (principal form: -im)

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raditi, to work, to do

Pronouns Verb Forms
ja radim
ti rad
on/ono/ona radi
mi radimo
vi radite
oni/one/ona rade

Verbs like pisati (principal form: -jem)

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pisati, to write

Pronouns Verb Forms
ja pisjem (s+j=>š) pišem
ti pisješ (s+j=>š) piš
on/ono/ona pisje (s+j=>š) piše
mi pisjemo (s+j=>š) pišemo
vi pisjete (s+j=>š) pišete
oni/one/ona pisju (s+j=>š) pišu

Verbs like ići (principal form: -em)

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ići, to go
ići = id + -ti = id-

Pronouns Verb Forms
ja idem
ti id
on/ono/ona ide
mi idemo
vi idete
oni/one/ona idu


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It ends on -ti or -ći

-TI: raditi, to work; spavati, to sleep; igrati, to play; jesti, to eat; trčati, to run; ubiti, to kill; tražiti, to search; piti, to drink;

-ĆI: ići, to go; teći, to flow; reći, to say; moći, to be able to, can;

Pronouns (accusative form)

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In Croatian language reflexive pronouns have 2 forms: shorter and longer. It is often better to use shorter form than longer one. Longer ones can sometimes be used on the beginning of a sentence while short forms can't.

Pronouns Accusative form Shorter
ja mene me
ti tebe te
on/ona/ono njega/nju/njega ga/ju/ga or nj/je/nj
mi nas
vi vas
oni/one/ona njih ih

Here is an example:
Vidim je. - I see her.

Pronoun drop

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Croatian, like all other Slavic languages and most Romance ones as well, is a pro-drop language. This means that personal pronouns (I, you, etc.) are omitted from most sentences. Because the verb stem ending clearly indicates who performs the action, it is not necessary to put pronouns, unless it is for emphasis.

For example: Razumijem hrvatski., I understand Croatian.
From this sentence, we know that the speaker is speaking in the first person singular.

Exceptions to pro-drop:

  • For emphasis, e.g.,
Tko zna odgovor?, Who knows the answer?
Ja znam!, I know
  • Two verbs htjeti and biti have longer forms that are used as answers to questions. They can be translated as "I/you/he/she/it/we/they did" or in some cases "I am/You are/He is/She is/It is/We are/They are" (when confirming identity).
Person Affirmative Negative Affirmative Negative
Ja/I Jesam Nisam Hoću Neću (or ne ću)
Ti/You (sing.) Jesi Nisi Hoćeš Nećeš (or ne ćeš)
On,ona,ono/he,she,it Jest Nije Hoće Neće (or ne će)
Mi/we Jesmo Nismo Hoćemo Nećemo (or ne ćemo)
Vi/You (plur.) Jeste Niste Hoćete Nećete (ne ćete)
Oni,One,Ona/They Jesu Nisu Hoće Neće (or ne će)
  • Negative forms of the verb htjeti can be written in two ways: neću or ne ću. I, as croatian native speaker, prefer this first form, "neću". Of course, both forms are correct.

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