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Serbo-Croatian is a South Slavic language that, like most other Slavic languages, has an extensive system of inflection. This article describes exclusively the grammar of the Shtokavian dialect, which is a part of the South Slavic dialect continuum[1] and the basis for the Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian standard variants of Serbo-Croatian.[2] "An examination of all the major 'levels' of language shows that BCS is clearly a single language with a single grammatical system."[3]

Pronouns, nouns, adjectives and some numerals decline (change the word ending to reflect case, the grammatical category and function) whereas verbs conjugate for person and tense. As in other Slavic languages, the basic word order is subject–verb–object (SVO), but the declensions show sentence structure and so word order is not as important as in more analytic languages, such as English or Chinese. Deviations from the standard SVO order are stylistically marked and may be employed to convey a particular emphasis, mood or overall tone, according to the intentions of the speaker or writer. Often, such deviations will sound literary, poetical or archaic.

Nouns have three grammatical genders (masculine, feminine and neuter) that correspond, to a certain extent, with the word ending. Accordingly, most nouns with -a are feminine, -o and -e neuter, and the rest mostly masculine but with some feminine. The grammatical gender of a noun affects the morphology of other parts of speech (adjectives, pronouns, and verbs) attached to it. Nouns are declined into seven cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, vocative, locative, and instrumental, albeit with considerable syncretism (overlap) especially in the plural.

Verbs are divided into two broad classes according to their aspect, which can be either perfective (signifying a completed action) or imperfective (action is incomplete or repetitive). There are seven tenses, four of which (present, perfect, future I and II) are used in contemporary Serbo-Croatian, and the other three (aorist, imperfect and pluperfect) used much less frequently. The pluperfect is generally limited to written language and some more educated speakers, and the aorist and imperfect are considered stylistically marked and rather archaic. However, some nonstandard dialects make considerable (and thus unmarked) use of those tenses. Aorist and pluperfect are typically more used in villages and small towns of Serbia than in standard language, even in villages close to the Serbian capital Belgrade. In some parts of Serbia, the aorist can even be the most common past tense.[4]

All Serbo-Croatian lexemes in this article are spelled in accented form in the Latin alphabet as well as in Ijekavian and Ekavian (with Ijekavian bracketed) when these differ. See Serbo-Croatian phonology.


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

The dative and locative cases mostly coincide; however, in some nouns they have a different pitch accent: grȃd — grȃdu — grádu, stvȃr — stvȃri — stvári.


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), (-e), or zero (-Ø) in the nominative singular, and (-a) in genitive singular. It includes most of the masculine and all of the neuter nouns.

The category of animacy is important for choosing of accusative singular of o-stems, and of personal 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 that agree with masculine nouns in case.

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

The zero ending -Ø is for masculine nouns that end in consonant in nominative singular. Most masculine monosyllabic and some bisyllabic words receive an additional suffix -ov- or -ev- throughout the plural (bor – borovi 'pine', panj – panjevi 'stump').

The choice of -o- and -e- endings in the nominative, vocative and instrumental singular, as well as the plural suffix -ov-/-ev-, is governed by the stem-final consonant: if it is a "soft" (chiefly palatal consonant – c, č, ć, đ, j, lj, nj, š, ž, št, and sometimes r), -e- endings are used, and -o endings otherwise; however, there are exceptions.

Some loanwords, chiefly of French origin, preserve the ending vowel (-e, -i, -o, -u) as part of the stem; those ending in -i receive an additional epenthetic -j- suffix in oblique cases: kàfē – kafèi 'café', pànō – panòi 'billboard', kànū – kanùi 'canoe', tàksi – taksiji 'taxi'. They are always of masculine gender; loanwords ending in -a are typically of the e-declension class (feminine); neuter nouns are basically a closed class.

Masculine nouns

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

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

  1. nouns having the zero ending -Ø in nominative singular (twelve declensional patterns)
  2. nouns having the ending -o or -e in nominative singular (two declensional patterns)
Pattern 4 Nouns ending in -k Nouns ending in -g Nouns ending in -h
Case Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
N vòjnīk vojníc-i bùbreg bùbrez-i tr̀buh tr̀bus-i
G vojník-a vojník-ā̄ bùbreg-a bȕbrēg-ā̄ tr̀buh-a tȑbūh-ā̄
D vojník-u vojníc-ima bùbreg-u bùbrez-ima tr̀buh-u tr̀bus-ima
A vojník-a vojník-e bùbreg-a bùbreg-e tr̀buh-a tr̀buh-e
V vȍjnīč-e vojníc-i bùbrež-e bùbrez-i tr̀buš-e tr̀bus-i
L vojník-u vojníc-ima bùbreg-u bùbrez-ima tr̀buh-u tr̀bus-ima
I vojník-om vojníc-ima bùbreg-om bùbrez-ima tr̀buh-om tr̀bus-ima
Pattern 5 – Nouns ending in -(a)k
Case Singular Plural
N čvór-a-k čvórc-i
G čvórk-a čvȏr-ā-k-ā̄
D čvórk-u čvórc-ima
A čvórk-a čvórk-e
V čvȏrč-e čvórc-i
L čvórk-u čvórc-ima
I čvórk-om čvórc-ima
Pattern 6 – Nouns ending in a palatal
Case Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
N pȃnj pánj-ev-i sȗž-a-nj sȗžnj-i prȋšt príšt-ev-i
G pánj-a pánj-ēv-ā̄ sȗžnj-a sȗž-ā-nj-ā̄ príšt-a príšt-ēv-ā̄
D pánj-u pánj-ev-ima sȗžnj-u sȗžnj-ima príšt-u príšt-ev-ima
A pȃnj pánj-ev-e sȗž-a-nj sȗžnj-e prȋšt príšt-ev-e
V pȃnj-u pánj-ev-i sȗžnj-u sȗžnj-i prȋšt-u príšt-ev-i
L pánj-u pánj-ev-ima sȗžnj-u sȗžnj-ima príšt-u príšt-ev-ima
I pánj-em pánj-ev-ima sȗžnj-em sȗžnj-ima príšt-em príšt-ev-ima

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

Neuter nouns

Neuter nouns end in -o, -e and -.

Neuter nouns ending in -o

The final o is always a suffix. Nouns which have at least two consonants (except st and zd) before the final o have disappearing a in genitive plural.

The noun dȑvo can mean 'wood', in which case it is declined as above (without disappearing a); and 'tree', where it can be declined either as above (without disappearing a) or as an imparisyllabic form below:

When the nouns ȍko and ȕho mean 'eye' and 'ear', except after a number ending with two-to-four, their plurals are feminine; their plurals are neuter otherwise.

Nouns čȕdo 'miracle', kȍlo 'wheel', nȅbo 'sky', tijêlo 'body' and ȕho 'ear', in addition to parisyllabic form plurals without disappearing a, have imparisyllabic plurals formed by appending -es- to the base. These plurals are used differently. The nominative plural of ȕho is ušèsa, and the nominative plural of tijêlo is tjelèsa.

Neuter nouns ending in -e

The final e can be a suffix, so the noun is parisyllabic, and it can belong to the noun base, in which case the noun is not parisyllabic. The noun is parisyllabic if it ends with -je (except jáje in singular), -lje, -nje (except jȁnje), -će, -đe, -ce (except pȕce and tùce), -šte, -šće or -žđe. The nouns môre and tlȅ are also parisyllabic. If a noun has at least two consonants before the final e, it has a disappearing a in genitive plural. This is not the case if the noun ends with -šte, -šće, -žđe or -je. Nouns representing living things do not have plural forms, but their plurality is marked with a collective noun formed with -ād (téle, n. sg. singulare tantumtȅlād, f. sg. singulare tantum) or by using a noun formed with -ići (pȉle, n. sg. singulare tantumpȉlići, m. pl.). The noun dijéte 'child' is a singulare tantum and uses the collective noun djèca, f. sg. singulare tantum, but plural with verbs, instead of a plural form.

Other neuter nouns

The pluralia tantum nouns vráta, ústa and plúća can have the suffix -ijū in genitive plural: vrátijū, ústijū, plúćijū. The only neuter noun ending in -a is dȍba/dôba:

e-type nouns

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

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

Some nouns appear only in the plural form and do not have a singular variant (see plurale tantum). The gender of these nouns is either feminine (e.g. hlače 'trousers', gaće 'pants', grudi 'chest') or neuter (e.g. kola 'car', leđa 'back', usta 'mouth').[5]


Serbo-Croatian allows deletion of the subject pronoun, because the inflected verb already contains information about its subject (see pro-drop language).[6] Example:

Bojim se. 'I am afraid.'
Bojiš se. You are afraid.
Možeš reći što god hoćeš. 'You can say whatever you want.'

(Note: The words in the brackets represent shorter, unstressed versions of the pronouns that are very often used instead of longer, stressed versions. Those unstressed versions, however, only occur in genitive, accusative and dative.)

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 (me) tebe (te) njega (ga) / nje (je) / njega (ga) nas vas njih (ih)
Dative meni (mi) tebi (ti) njemu (mu) / njoj (joj) / njemu (mu) nama (nam) vama (vam) njima (im)
Accusative mene (me) tebe (te) njega (ga) / nju (ju) / njega (ga) nas vas njih (ih)
Vocative ti vi
Locative meni tebi njemu / njoj / njemu nama vama njima
Instrumental mnom tobom njim / njom / njim nama vama njima


Some of the declensions for adjectives are the same as for nouns: velika kuća (sing. fem. nom.), veliku kuću (sing. fem. acc.). Others differ: velikog stana (sing. masc. gen.), jednim klikom 'with one click' (sing. masc. instrum.).

Case singular plural
masculine indefinite masculine definite feminine neuter indefinite neuter definite masculine feminine neuter
Nominative Ø -i -a -o -o -i -e -a
Genitive -a -og/-oga -e -a -og -ih -ih -ih
Dative -u -om/-omu/ome -oj -u -om/-omu/ome -im/-ima -im/-ima -im/-ima
Accusative Ø/-a* -i/-og/-oga* -u -o -o -e -e -a
Vocative Ø -i -a -o -o -i -e -a
Locative -u -om/-omu/-ome -oj -u -om/-omu/-ome -im/-ima -im/-ima -im/-ima
Instrumental -im -im -om -im -im -im/-ima -im/-ima -im/-ima

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

Case singular plural
masculine indefinite masculine definite feminine neuter indefinite neuter definite masculine feminine neuter
Nominative velik veliki velika veliko veliko veliki velike velika
Genitive velika velikog, velikoga velike velika velikog, velikoga velikih velikih velikih
Dative veliku velikom, velikomu, velikome velikoj veliku velikom, velikomu, velikome velikim, velikima velikim, velikima velikim, velikima
Accusative velik veliki veliku veliko veliki velike velike velika
Vocative velik veliki velika veliko veliko veliki velike velika
Locative veliku velikom, velikomu, velikome velikoj veliku velikom, velikomu, velikome velikim, velikima velikim, velikima velikim, velikima
Instrumental velikim velikim velikom velikim velikim velikim, velikima velikim, velikima velikim, velikima


Nouns modified by numerals are in the genitive case. As a vestige of the dual number, 2, 3, and 4 take the genitive singular, and 5 and above take the genitive plural.

Digit Serbo-Croatian English Digits Serbo-Croatian English Digits Serbo-Croatian English Digits Serbo-Croatian (1) Serbo-Croatian (2) English
0 nula zero 10 deset ten 20 dvadeset (two <times> ten) twenty 200 dv(j)esta /
dvije stotine /
dve stotine
two hundred
1 jèdan one 11 jedanaest eleven 30 trideset thirty 300 tristo tri stotine three hundred
2 dvȃ two 12 dvanaest twelve 40 četrdeset forty 400 četiristo četiri stotine four hundred
3 trȋ three 13 trinaest thirteen 50 pedeset fifty 500 petsto pet stotina five hundred
4 čètiri four 14 četrnaest fourteen 60 šezdeset sixty 600 šeststo šest stotina six hundred
5 pȇt five 15 petnaest (same pattern as above) fifteen 70 sedamdeset seventy 700 sedamsto sedam stotina seven hundred
6 šȇst six 16 šesnaest (same pattern as above) sixteen 80 osamdeset eighty 800 osamsto osam stotina eight hundred
7 sȅdam seven 17 sedamnaest (same pattern as above) seventeen 90 devedeset ninety 900 devetsto devet stotina nine hundred
8 ȍsam eight 18 osamnaest (same pattern as above) eighteen 100 sto hundred 1000 tisuća / hiljada thousand
9 dȅvet nine 19 devetnaest (same pattern as above) nineteen


Like those of 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 continuous, 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 tenses.

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 last two are not used often in daily speech (more often in Bosnia and Herzegovina than in Croatia and Serbia)[citation needed], especially the imperfect. The imperfect is considered archaic in speech and appears only in certain expressions like "Kako se zvaše" ("What was it called"). The aorist is often used to indicate that something has just now happened, for example "Ispadoše mi ključevi" ("My keys fell down"). Its frequency depends on the speaker and the region. Southern Serbian and Montenegrin regions use it quite often whereas people in Belgrade use it only sometimes. Some regions may also use it referring to a remote event.[citation needed] The aorist form of the verb "otići" ("to go away") is often used to refer to an immediate future, for example "Odoh na spavanje" ("I'm going to sleep"). Like the present, the aorist and imperfect are formed through inflection, and the other tenses are periphrastic:

Future tense can also be formed with (reduced) present of hteti plus the conjunction da and the present of the main verb, e.g. ćeš da kuvaš in Serbian, but this form is incorrect in Croatian. Also, whereas in Croatian it would be radit ćemo, in Serbian the t can be omitted and the verbs merged into radićemo.

This section contains instructions, advice, or how-to content. Please help rewrite the content so that it is more encyclopedic or move it to Wikiversity, Wikibooks, or Wikivoyage. (May 2023)

Aorist forms

The aorist form depends on the verb's infinitive root (the form without -ti, may be different from the present root). Case where the root ends in a vowel:

inf. pomisliti (to think of something), root pomisli-
Person Singular Plural
1st pomisli-h pomisli-smo
2nd pomisli-Ø pomisli-ste
3rd pomisli-Ø pomisli-še

The infinitive root may not be obvious from the infinitive if it ends in a consonant, because the root ending interacted with the t of -ti during the language's development. These were the sound changes:

Caption text
Starting combination Result
z+t st
t+t st
d+t st
k+t ć
g+t ć

This is the source of infinitives with -ći instead of -ti (except ići). Roots of these kinds should then technically be known by heart, but they happen to be equal to the present root forms. An alternate aorist form is used with these verbs: an -o- is infixed in some cases, and -e is used in 2nd/3rd sg.

inf. pasti (to fall), root pad-
Person Singular Plural
1st pad-o-h pad-o-smo
2nd pad-e pad-o-ste
3rd pad-e pad-o-še

Before the front vowel e, the velars k and g regularly turn into č and ž respectively.

inf. stići (to catch up with), root stig-
Person Singular Plural
1st stig-o-h stig-o-smo
2nd stiž-e stig-o-ste
3rd stiž-e stig-o-še

A verb with an irregular inf. root ending in a consonant. Correspondingly, the 2nd aorist form described is used:

inf. dati (to give), root dad-
Person Singular Plural
1st dad-o-h dad-o-smo
2nd dad-e dad-o-ste
3rd dad-e dad-o-še

The use of this apparently extraneous (when compared to the infinitive) d has spread to other verbs, most notably verbs on -stati and znati.

Exemplary postati (to become):

regular root posta-
Person Singular Plural
1st posta-h posta-smo
2nd posta-Ø posta-ste
3rd posta-Ø posta-še
irregular root posta-d-
Person Singular Plural
1st posta-d-o-h posta-d-o-smo
2nd posta-d-e posta-d-o-ste
3rd posta-d-e posta-d-o-še

How to use the aorist?

It is used only with verbs of the perfective aspect

1: For actions that have just now happened, right before you talk about it (often with an emotional nuance):


"Ujede me komarac" ("A mosquito bit me")

"Ode mi autobus" ("I missed the bus/The bus went away")

"Baš sad htedoh da te nazovem" ("I just wanted to call you")

"Uništiše mi ovi moljci košulju" ("These moths destroyed my shirt")

"Pomislih na tebe" ("I have just thought about you")

2: One time actions that happened at some point in the past. This meaning of the aorist appears often in storytelling

"Bio sam u kući, kad neki ljudi zakucaše na vrata. Ustadoh da vidim ko je" ("I was at home when someone knocked at the door. I got up to see who it is")

3: Actions that are just about to happen. Limited to certain verbs

"Odoh sad u školu" ("I'm going to school now")

"Pomresmo od gladi" ("We are starving")


Book cover of Snježana Kordić's Grammar book Serbo-Croatian 1st pub. 1997, 2nd pub. 2006 (Contents)

Besides the indicative, Serbo-Croatian uses the imperative, conditional, and the optative. Imperative forms vary according to the type of the verb, and are 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! 'May God let your seed destroyed' (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 preterite, 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 do washing' (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 a prefix is needed to make it perfective, in this case na-: napisati. But if other prefixes are added, modifying the meaning, the verb becomes perfective: zapisati 'to write down' or prepisati 'to copy by hand'. Since these basic verbs are perfective, an interfix is needed to make them imperfective: zapisivati and prepisivati. In some cases, this could be continued by adding a prefix: pozapisivati and isprepisivati which are again perfective.


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

As in most other Indo-European languages including English, the Indo-European copula ('to be') is used as an auxiliary verb. It is universally irregular, because conjugations of two proto-forms *h1es- (>English is) and *bʰuH- (>English be) merged, producing mixed paradigms: the former being used in the present, and the latter in the other tenses. In Serbo-Croatian, however, there are two present forms surviving: jesam ('I am') and budem ('I be'). Because of that dualism, some grammars (chiefly Serbian ones) treat jesam as a defective verb having only present tense. Others treat these forms as two realizations of the same irregular verb biti, jesam being imperfective and budem perfective.[7]

Jesam has the following conjugation in the present tense. It has long and clitic (short) forms (without leading je), while its negative form is written as one word, unlike other verbs (compare English isisn't). The short and the negative forms are used as auxiliary, while the long form is marked.[7]

Pronoun Present Present (negative forms)
Long (stressed) form Short (unstressed) form
(I) jesam sam nisam
ti (you) jesi si nisi
on, ona, ono (he, she, it) jest(e) je nije
mi (we) jesmo smo nismo
vi (you pl.) jeste ste niste
oni, one, ona (they) jesu 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 present of the verb biti, (budem) have a limited use (in formation of the future exact tense, or in conditional clauses referring to the future, e.g. ako budemif I am).[7]

Verb biti is conjugated as follows:

Pronoun Present Future Past tense
1st 2nd perfect aorist imperfect pluperfect
(I) budem ću biti / biću / bit ću budem bio/bila sam bio/bila; bio/bila sam bih bijah / bejah / beh bio/bila sam bio/bila
ti (you) budeš ćeš biti / bićeš / bit ćeš budeš bio/bila si bio/bila; bio/bila si bi bijaše / bejaše / beše bio/bila si bio/bila
on, ona, ono (he, she, it) bude će biti / biće / bit će bude bio/bila/bilo je bio/bila/bilo; bio/bila/bilo je bi bijaše / bejaše / beše bio/bila/bilo je bio/bila/bilo
mi (we) budemo ćemo biti / bićemo / bit ćemo budemo bili/bile smo bili/bile; bili/bile smo bismo bijasmo / bejasmo / besmo bili/bile smo bili/bile
vi (you pl.) budete ćete biti / bićete / bit ćete budete bili/bile ste bili/bile; bili/bile ste biste / beste biјaste / bejaste / beste bili/bile ste bili/bile
oni, one, ona (they) budu će biti / biće / bit će budu bili/bile su bili/bile/bila; bili/bile/bila su bi / biše biјahu / bejahu / behu bili/bile/bila su bili/bile/bila

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
ja (I) radim ću raditi budem radio/la sam radio/la; radio/la sam radih rad+jah>rađah bio/la sam radio/la
ti (you) radiš ćeš raditi budeš radio/la si radio/la; radio/la si radi rad+jaše>rađaše bio/la si radio/la
on, ona, ono (he, she, it) radi će raditi bude radio/la/lo je radio/la/lo; radio/la/lo je radi rad+jaše>rađaše bio/la/lo je radio/la/lo
mi (we) radimo ćemo raditi budemo radili/le smo radili/le; radili/le smo radismo rad+jasmo>rađasmo bili/le smo radili/le
vi (you pl.) radite ćete raditi budete radili/le ste radili/le; radili/le ste radiste rad+jaste>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 radiše rad+jahu>rađahu bili/le/la su radili/le/la
Pronoun Present Future Past tense
1st 2nd perfect aorist imperfect pluperfect
ja (I) vidim ću videti budem video/la video/la sam videh viđah bio/la sam video/la
ti (you) vid ćeš videti budeš video/la video/la si vide viđaše bio/la si video/la
on, ona, ono (he, she, it) vidi će videti bude video/la/lo video/la/lo je vide viđaše bio/la/lo je video/la/lo
mi (we) vidimo ćemo videti budemo videli/le videli/le smo videsmo viđasmo bili/le smo videli/le
vi (you pl.) vidite ćete videti budete videli/le videli/le ste videste viđaste bili/le ste videli/le
oni, one, ona (they) vide će videti budu videli/le/la videli/le/la su videše viđahu bili/le/la su videli/le/la
Pronoun Present Future Past tense
1st 2nd perfect aorist imperfect pluperfect
ja (I) reknem ću reći budem rekao/la rekao/la sam rekoh / bio/la sam rekao/la
ti (you) rekn ćeš reći budeš rekao/la rekao/la si reče / bio/la si rekao/la
on, ona, ono (he, she, it) rekne će reći bude rekao/la/lo rekao/la/lo je reče / bio/la/lo je rekao/la/lo
mi (we) reknemo ćemo reći budemo rekli/le rekli/le smo rekosmo / bili/le smo rekli/le
vi (you pl.) reknete ćete reći budete rekli/le rekli/le ste rekoste / bili/le ste rekli/le
oni, one, ona (they) reknu će reći budu rekli/le/la rekli/le/la su rekoše / bili/le/la su rekli/le/la

The present tense of "reći" is rare. It's replaced by the present tense of the verb "kazati". "Reći" is a verb of the perfective aspect and hence it doesn't have the imperfect tense.

Irregular verbs

Irregular verbs are more complex to conjugate than regular verbs, for example the verb moći (can, to be able to)

Pronoun Present Future Past tense
1st 2nd perfect aorist imperfect pluperfect
ja (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 je 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


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (August 2017)

Adverbs in Serbo-Croatian are, unlike nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns and numbers, and like prepositions, conjunctions, exclamations and particles, immutable words. Adverbs are, thus, immutable words given to verbs to determine the time, place, manner, cause, point and the amount of the action of the verb. There are seven types of adverbs in Serbo-Croatian:

Place adverbs

Place adverbs (Serbo-Croatian: mjesni prilozi) answer the questions where? (gdje?), to where? (kamo?), which way? (kuda?), from where? (otkuda?, odakle?) and to where? (dokle?, dokud?).[8] Examples for each type are:

gde/gdje? (where)
ovde/ovdje (here),
negde/negdje (somewhere),
nigde/nigdje (nowhere),
igde/igdje (anywhere),
gore (up),
dole/dolje (down),
odpozadi/straga (from behind),
napolju/vani (outside)
blizu (close by);
kuda/kamo? (to where)
ovamo (to here)
napred/naprijed (forwards)
nazad (backwards);
kuda? (which way)
ovuda (this way),
kojekuda (otišli su kojekuda – they dispersed),
otkuda? (from where)
odavde (from here),
niotkuda (from nowhere),
izdaleka (from far away)
dokle? (to where):
dotle (to here, also used as 'in the mean time', dotle su oni čekali),
donekle (up to a point).

Temporal adverbs

Temporal adverbs, or vremenski prilozi, answer the questions when? (kada?), from when? (otkad?), until when? (dokad?). Examples are: kada (when) – sada (now), tada (then), nikada (never), ponekad (sometimes), uvijek (always), jučer (yesterday), danas (today), sutra (tomorrow), prekosutra (the day after tomorrow), lani (last year), večeras (tonight), odmah/smjesta (now/at once), zatim (then), uskoro (soon), napokon (at last); otkad (from when) – odsad (from now on), oduvijek (from always – oduvijek sam te volio – I have (from) always loved you); dokad (until when) – dosad (until now), dogodine (next year).


Each preposition has an assigned case. If an inflectable word follows a preposition, the word is declined in the same case as the preposition's assigned case.

Genitive prepositions:

od, do, iz, s(a), ispred, iza, izvan, van, unutar, iznad, ispod, više, poviše, niže, prije, uoči, poslije, nakon, za, tijekom, tokom, dno (podno, nadno, odno), vrh (povrh, navrh, uvrh, zavrh), čelo, nakraj, onkraj, krajem, potkraj, sred (nasred, posred, usred), oko, okolo, blizu, kod, kraj, pokraj, pored, nadomak, nadohvat, i, u, mimo, duž, uzduž, širom, diljem, preko, bez, osim, mjesto (umjesto, namjesto), uime, putem, (s) pomoću, posredstvom, između, (na)spram, put, protiv, nasuprot, usuprot, usprkos, unatoč, zbog, uslijed, radi (zaradi, poradi), glede, prigodom, prilikom, povodom

Dative prepositions:

k(a), prema, naprama, nadomak, nadohvat, nasuprot, usuprot, usprkos, unatoč, protiv

Accusative prepositions:

kroz, niz, uz, na, o, po, u, mimo, među, nad, pod, pred, za

Locative prepositions:

na, o, po, prema, pri, u

Instrumental prepositions:

s(a), pred, za, nad(a), pod(a), među
Dynamic v. Static

Some prepositions fall in two or more cases. The ones that fall in both the accusative and locative cases, the preposition is accusative if it is dynamic and is locative if it is static. Dynamic means that the preposition shows motion while static does not.


Ja idem u školu. I am going to school. (dynamic)
Ja sam u školi. I am in school. (static)

Conjunctions and particles

This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. (January 2011)


Word order

Serbo-Croatian has a rich case structure that is reflected in the declension of nouns and adjectives. That allows for a great deal of freedom in word order. In English, for example, the word order shows a difference in meaning between "Man bites dog" and "Dog bites man". 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 constituents is grammatically correct, and the meaning is clear because of the declensions. However, the usual order is subject–verb–object, as in English.

Serbo-Croatian closely observes Wackernagel's Law that clitics (unstressed functional words) are placed in the second position in all clauses. The first element may be a single word or a noun phrase: Taj je čovjek rekao 'That man (has) said', or Taj čovjek je rekao. Multiple clitics are grouped in the following fixed order:

  1. question word (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, si),
  4. accusative pronouns (me, te, ga, je, ju, nas, vas, ih),
  5. the reflexive accusative pronoun (only se),
  6. clitic form of the third-person singular present of 'to be' (je).[9]

Relative clauses

Relative clauses are frequent in modern Serbo-Croatian since they have expanded as attributes at the expense of the participles performing that function.[10]













Znam pacijenta koji je upravo ušao.

know:PRS.1SG patient:ACC.MSG which:NOM.MSG be:AUX.3SG just come_in:AP.MSG

'I know the patient who has just come in.'

Frequency of relativizers

The most frequent relativizer is the relative pronoun koji. It has the greatest range of antecedents, which, however, are mostly nouns or personal pronouns. Nouns are the word class with attributes, and the relative clause is most frequently an attributive clause. The frequency of the adjectival pronoun koji is greater than those relative pronouns that cannot have an antecedent noun (tko ʻwhoʼ and the declinable type of što 'what'). Also, it occurs much more frequently than other adjectival relative pronouns: in comparison with their specialized semantic functions such as possessiveness (čiji 'whose'), quality (kakav 'what sort of') or quantity (koliki 'how large'), the pronoun koji has the broadest scope of reference and identification with the referent.

See also


  1. ^ Alexander, Ronelle (2000). In honor of diversity: the linguistic resources of the Balkans. Kenneth E. Naylor memorial lecture series in South Slavic linguistics; vol. 2. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University, Dept. of Slavic and East European Languages and Literatures. p. 4. OCLC 47186443.
  2. ^ Kordić, Snježana (2018) [1st pub. 2010]. Jezik i nacionalizam [Language and Nationalism] (PDF). Rotulus Universitas (in Serbo-Croatian). Zagreb: Durieux. pp. 69–77. doi:10.2139/ssrn.3467646. ISBN 978-953-188-311-5. LCCN 2011520778. OCLC 729837512. OL 15270636W. S2CID 220918333. British Library 015702691. SUDOC 17473820X. SELIBR 11895519. CROSBI 475567. Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 June 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  3. ^ Bailyn, John Frederick (2010). "To what degree are Croatian and Serbian the same language? Evidence from a Translation Study" (PDF). Journal of Slavic Linguistics. 18 (2): 181–219. ISSN 1068-2090. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 October 2019. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  4. ^ Nevski, Aco. "Past Tenses in Serbian Language, and modern trends of their use" Belgrade, February 2019. Retrieved on April 07 2019.
  5. ^ Kordić, Snježana (2005). "Gramatička kategorija broja" [Grammatical category of number] (PDF). In Tatarin, Milovan (ed.). Zavičajnik: zbornik Stanislava Marijanovića: povodom sedamdesetogodišnjice života i četrdesetpetogodišnjice znanstvenoga rada (in Serbo-Croatian). Osijek: Sveučilište Josipa Jurja Strossmayera, Filozofski fakultet. pp. 192–193. ISBN 953-6456-54-0. OCLC 68777865. S2CID 224274961. SSRN 3438755. CROSBI 426600. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 October 2022. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  6. ^ Kordić, Snježana (2002). Riječi na granici punoznačnosti [Words on the Border Between Lexicon and Grammar] (PDF) (in Serbo-Croatian). Zagreb: Hrvatska sveučilišna naklada. pp. 12–14. doi:10.2139/ssrn.3467413. ISBN 953-169-073-1. LCCN 2009386657. OCLC 54680648. OL 2863537W. S2CID 61311912. CROSBI 426493. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 June 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Mišeska Tomić, Olga (2006). Balkan Sprachbund morpho-syntactic features. Springer. p. 490. ISBN 978-1-4020-4487-8.
  8. ^ Kordić, Snježana (2004). "Prilozi gd(j)e, kamo, kuda" [Adverbs gd(j)e, kamo, kuda] (PDF). In Okuka, Miloš; Schweier, Ulrich (eds.). Germano-Slavistische Beiträge: Festschrift für Peter Rehder zum 65. Geburtstag. Die Welt der Slaven, Sammelbände – Sborniki; vol. 21 (in Serbo-Croatian). Munich: Otto Sagner. pp. 113–120. ISBN 3-87690-874-4. OCLC 55018584. S2CID 171431158. SSRN 3437881. CROSBI 426607. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  9. ^ Kordić, Snježana (2006) [1st pub. 1997]. Serbo-Croatian. Languages of the World/Materials; 148. Munich & Newcastle: Lincom Europa. p. 46. ISBN 3-89586-161-8. OCLC 37959860. OL 2863538W. CROSBI 426503. NYPL b13481076. NCID BA34854554. [Grammar book]. Contents . Summary Archived 2020-08-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Kordić, Snježana (1995). Relativna rečenica [Relative Clauses] (PDF). Znanstvena biblioteka Hrvatskog filološkog društva; 25 (in Serbo-Croatian). Zagreb: Matica hrvatska & Hrvatsko filološko društvo. pp. 277–281. doi:10.2139/ssrn.3460911. ISBN 953-6050-04-8. LCCN 97154457. OCLC 37606491. OL 2863536W. CROSBI 426507. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 June 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2018.

Further reading