Croatian/Main Contents/Level 2/Lesson 4
Cases are probably one of the hardest things in Croatian to get used to. It is very important to learn cases because without them you will sound horrible and people might not understand you. Learning them is hard but with a lot of practice you will get used to them.
Cases of the Declension
The Nominative is otherwise known as the subject of a sentence, for example:
I was going home., Išao sam kući.
I is the nominative of the sentence. When nouns are nominative, they do not change. For example, the word student will remain student.
The genitive may denote possession of a place or object, for example:
They are from Pittsburgh. Oni su iz Pittsburgha.
Pittsburgh was the genitive of the sentence. Pittsburgh is Pittsburgh in its nominative form, but because it was used for the genitive, an -a was added onto the end. The same happens for any masculine genitive noun. Feminine nouns such as Hrvatska (in its nominative form) will have an -e replacing the -a on the end of the noun, so Hrvatska in its genitive form is Hrvatske. The genitive is also used after some prepositions, like od (from), bez (without) iza (behind) etc.
The genitive is also used after "here is" (evo), "there is" (eno) and "how many" (koliko) after an adverb of quantity, such as some, a lot, little etc.
Here are some pineapples. Eno nekoliko ananasa.
Indirect objects take the dative. The dative is also used in certain other expressions.
I gave the book to my friend. - Knjigu sam dao prijatelju.
To my friend is the dative. The dative also is used in prepositions such as u (in), na (on), pod (under), pred (in front of) and kroz (through)
The accusative case is used for nouns and adjectives that are the direct object of a verb. It's probably the first case you will encounter and the most useful.
Feminine nouns ending in -a change to -u in accusative case:
Knjiga je dobra (The book is good) --> Čitam knjigu (I'm reading a book)
Neuter nouns do not change, their accusative forms are the same as their nominative forms:
Pivo je dobro (The beer is good) --> Pijem pivo (I'm drinking a beer)
Masculine nouns are subdivided into two categories, those that represent animate objects, people and animals such as konj (horse) or čovjek (man) and those that represent inanimate objects, such as telefon (telephone) or auto (car). Note that auto is a masculine noun ending in -o because it is an abbreviation of "automobil".
For animate male nouns a suffix -a is added when it appears in accusative case:
Konj je dobar (The horse is good) --> Vidim konja (I see a horse)
Čovjek je veliki (The man is large) --> Žnam čovjeka (I know the man)
For inanimate male nouns the accusative form is identical to the nominative form:
Telefon je crveni (The phone is red) --> Čujem telefon (I hear the phone)
Auto je brzi (The car is fast) --> Volim auto (I love the car)
These are the basic rules for the accusative case, most (but not all) nouns follow them, some nouns have unusual patterns of declination such as the word for dog; pas --> psa but these are beyond the scope of this introduction
The vocative is used for calling people or animals.
The locative is used to denote certain locations, such as:
Je li profesor u učionici?
Is the professor in the classroom?
The masculine nouns end with -u when in the locative, and feminine nouns end with -i when in the locative. The main prepositions followed by the locative are "in" and "on".
The instrumental is used to denote actions, such as:
On je pokazao prstom He pointed with his finger
Putting it all together
Below are a few examples of some nouns and how they change with what case, whether they're masculine, feminine, singular or plural. It is very hard to remember the cases and how nouns follow, so this will help to have a clearer picture of it all.
Nouns that have -k as the last letter change to -c before going into the cases.