Serbian/Main Contents/Level 1/Lesson 2

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Serbian can be a challenge for foreigners to master, since words tend to have different forms in different contexts and some words can sound similar to unrelated words. Serbian, like most Slavic languages, uses noun cases. In addition, Serbian verbs tend to inflect quite liberally. Fortunately, Serbian uses both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets, which is an exception among European languages. The variation of the Latin alphabet that Serbian uses is shared with two other languages, Croatian and Bosniak.

Basic vocabulary and useful phrases[edit]

English Serbian
I Ја/Jâ*
You (singular) Ти/Tî*
He Он/Ôn*
She Она/Òna*
It Оно/Òno*
We Ми/Mî*
You (plural) Ви/Vî*
They Они/Òni (оне/òne, она/òna)*
Good morning Добро јутро/Dobro jutro
Good afternoon Добар дан/Dobar dan
Good evening Добро вече/Dobro veče
Good night Лаку ноћ/Laku noć
Thanks Хвала/Hvala
Goodbye (formal) Довиђења/Doviđenja ('till seeing)
You're welcome Нема на чему/Nema na čemu
Here you go Изволи/Izvoli (can also mean What do you want?)
You're welcome Молим/Molim (can also be used as What? and Please)
Bye Здраво/Zdravo, Ћао/Ćao (from Italian word Ciao)
Man Мушкарац/Muškarac
Woman Жена/Žena (can also mean wife)
Yes Да/Da
No Не/Ne
My name is... Зовем се/Zovem se... (lit. I call myself) or more rarely Име ми је/Ime mi je...
Water Вода/Voda
Food Храна/Hrana
I love you Волим те/Volim te or Ја те волим/Ja te volim
Next Следећи/Sledeći
Fool Будала/Budala
Hello, hi Здраво/Zdravo (also means healthy), Ћао/Ćao

*Diacritics here are used only for easier pronunciation, they are normally not used when writing Serbian

Nominative case of nouns[edit]

Serbian has three grammatical genders (Masculine, Feminine and Neuter) and two grammatical numbers (Singular and Plural). Historically, there was a third number, Dvojina used only for exactly two objects, but it is not used in modern Serbian.

Jednina/Singular[edit]

Masculine nouns in nominative usually do not have fixed ending. Student, Profesor, Radnik are all masculine nouns.

Feminine nouns have several endings: -ica (Radnica), -ka (Profesorka), -kinja (Studentkinja), -a (Plaža), just to name a few.

Neuter nouns usually end with -o (Vino) or -e (Dete).

Muški rod (Masculine) Ženski rod (Feminine) Srednji rod (Neuter)
Student Student + kinja = Studenkinja Víno
Radnik Radnik + ica = Radnica* Dete

* K in Radnik is lost in feminine form Radnica

Množina/Plural[edit]

When masculine nouns are used in the plural, they usually have a suffix, such as an -i (Profesori) or an -ovi (Gradovi).

Feminine nouns used in the plural replace the -a with an -e suffix. Sometimes, the preceding vowel changes as well.

Neuter nouns when used in plural replace an -o or an -e with an -a as a suffix.

Some nouns insert an -en between the root word and the suffix (Ram becomes Ramena). Other nouns do not follow the rule and they create an irregular plural, without adding any suffix. The plural of Uho (ear) is Uši (ears); and the plural of Oko (eye) is Oči (eyes).