Croatian language

South Slavic language spoken in Croatia

The Croatian language is spoken mainly throughout the countries of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the surrounding countries of Europe. Croatian grammar is the grammar of the Croatian language. The Croatian language consists of three vernaculars (Kaikavian, Chakavian and Shtokavian).[2]

Native toCroatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia (Vojvodina), Montenegro, Romania (Caraș-Severin County), Slovenia, and diaspora
Native speakers
5.6 million (2006)
Latin (Gaj's alphabet)
Croatian Braille
Official status
Official language in
 Bosnia and Herzegovina
 Serbia (Vojvodina)
 European Union
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byInstitute of Croatian Language and Linguistics
Language codes
ISO 639-1hr
ISO 639-2hrv
ISO 639-3hrv
Linguaspherepart of 53-AAA-g
Traditional extent of Serbo-Croatian dialects in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
Croatian language Baska tablet 1100.
Croatian Prayer Book 1380-1400.

Croatian grammar books show that the codification of the language started at the beginning of the 17th century (the first grammar was written by Bartol Kašić in Latin in 1604). This means that the rules for the language were written down. From 1604 to 1836 there were 17 grammars. Most of them described the Štokavian dialect, but some were about Kajkavian. In the 19th century, more grammars based on Štokavian were written. They were "Nova ricsoslovnica illiricka", written by Šime Starčević (1812), and "Grammatik der illyrischen Sprache", written by Ignjat Alojzije Brlić (1833),.[3] Even before the 19th century, the three dialects of the Croatian language were almost equally used. However, the way each dialect was written down varied throughout Croatia. Near the Adriatic coast, it was more similar to Italian, and near the Hungarian border, it was more similar to Hungarian.[3][4] All grammars of the above period (1604-1836) used three accents: acute, grave and circumflex, Starčević's grammar is an exception as it uses a system of four accents.[3] In 19th century, Ljudevit Gaj proposed new letters from Czech (č,ž,š,ľ,ň,ď and ǧ). The letters that were accepted were č, ž and š, and from Polish, ć. For other phonemes (sounds), the digraphs that were accepted were ie, lj, nj and . Later dj or gj was changed to đ (according to proposal by Đuro Daničić).[4]



The Croatian language uses a Latin script of 30 letters and one diphthong "ie" or "ije", and "ŕ". This system is called gajica in Croatian (or Croatian Gaj's Latin alphabet). The name came from Ljudevit Gaj.[5] The letter order (and whole alphabet) is called abeceda in Croatian, because the first 4 letters are spelled "a, be, ce, de".[6] For writing foreign names and words, and in some professions, the Croatian language uses letters which do not belong to gajica, like "X, x (iks), Y,y (ipsilon)" and others.[6]

Croatian alphabet (Gaica) 1830.c

Grammatical cases


In Croatian, nouns change form depending on the composition of the sentence. This is called declension. For people who are learning Croatian, declension is the most difficult part of the language to master. It is very complicated and time-consuming to explain it and because of that we will use simpler techniques. However, many languages have noun and pronoun declension, including English. In English, though, only pronoun declension now remains. Let us start by explaining all of the seven Croatian grammatical cases. The technique that is most frequently used in determining grammatical cases (the same technique is used in Croatian schools when taught to children) is by asking yourself a question when you are trying to figure out which case a noun should be in. In Croatian, grammatical cases are called padeži (plural) and padež (singular).

  • Example:
  1. In this example you will be shown how to determine a noun's grammatical case by using the table below.
  2. Krešimir is going to school. (Krešimir ide u školu.)

The question you will ask yourself here is: “Where is Krešimir going?”. And the answer is that he's going to school. By looking at the table below you will see that the question 'where' is used for the Locative case.

Grammatical case The question you are ask yourself Example
Nominativ (Nominative) Tko? Što? (Who or what?) Jabuka je fina. (The apple is delicious.)
Genitiv (Genitive) Koga? Čega? Čiji? (Who? Of What? Who's?) Ovo radim zbog jabuke. (I'm doing this because of the apple.)
Dativ (Dative) Komu? Čemu? (Whom or what am I going toward?) Idem prema jabuci. (I am going toward the apple.)
Akuzativ (Accusative) Koga? Što? (Whom or what?) Ne vidim jabuku. (I do not see the apple.)
Vokativ (Vocative) Oj! Ej! (Oi! Hey!) Oj, jabuko! (Oi, apple!)
Lokativ (Locative) Gdje? U komu? U čemu? (Where? In what? In who?) Živim u jabuci. (I live in the apple.)
Instrumental S kime? S čime? (With whom or with what?) Trčim s jabukom. (I am running with the apple.)



Croatian nouns are divided into three genders: the masculine, feminine and neuter gender. To know a noun's gender is very important because it affects all the words in a sentence that are tied to the noun, such as adjectives. A gender is determined by the noun's ending (with some exceptions). This makes it easier to tell what gender a noun is without memorizing the gender of every word. See the table below. Nouns retain their gender in plural. For instance, even though the noun 'žene' (women) ends in -e, it is of the feminine gender.

Ending -a -e, -o -k, -l, -r, -d... (and all other letters)
Gender Feminine Neuter Masculine
Example žena (woman) sunce (sun) metak (bullet)

Grammatical aspects


Croatian verbs have two grammatical aspects: the perfective and imperfective. The perfective aspect depicts an action that has already been finished. The imperfective aspect depicts an action that is still continuing. So, each verb in its infinitive form can be written in 2 ways: in its perfective and imperfective aspect. The table below is showing 5 verbs both in their perfective and imperfective aspects.

Imperfective aspect in infinitive Perfective aspect in infinitive
Trčati. (To run. infinite action) Odtrčati. (Definite action, the running has been done with.)
Sjediti. (To sit. infinite action) Sjesti.
Plivati. (To swim. infinite action) Odplivati.
Graditi. (To build. infinite action) Izgraditi.
Popravljati. (To fix/repair/mend. infinite action) Popraviti.

Grammatical tenses


In Croatian, there are seven grammatical tenses. They can be divided in two ways: by the time they take place in and by their complexity. Simple tenses consist of only 1 word (simple tenses are aorist, imperfect, and present) while complex tenses consist of 2 or even 3 words (complex tenses are pluperfect, perfect, first future, second future) because they also consist of auxiliary verbs. Also, some grammatical tenses cannot be formed with both grammatical aspects, they work with only one aspect.

Tense Description Example
Pluperfect An action that has happened before another action (same as English past perfect). Mladen je bio ručao. (Mladen had had lunch.)
Imperfect Past tense that is formed only by imperfective verbs. An unfinished past tense. Mladen trčaše. (Mladen was running.)
Aorist Past tense (not used much nowadays). It is the same as Perfekt. Can be formed only with verbs in perfective states. Mladen odtrčaše. (Mladen was running but he finished sometime in the past.)
Perfect Main past tense. Can be formed by both imperfective and perfective verbs. Mladen je trčao. (Mladen was running).
Present Present tense. Mladen ruča. (Mladen is having lunch.)
First future Future tense. Mladen će ručati. (Mladen will have lunch.)
Second future Before-future tense. Used in expressing a future action that will happen before another future action. Ako bude kiša uskoro pala, suša će prestati. (If rain soon falls, the drought will end.)

Common phrases

  • Basic and common expressions:
Croatian English
Da Yes
Ne No
Što What
I And
Ili Or
Bok Hi, bye
Zbogom Goodbye
Dobar dan Good day
Dobro jutro Good morning
Dobra večer Good evening
Laku noć Good night
Možda Maybe
Kada When
Gdje Where
Kako How
Hvala Thanks
Dođi Come
  • Colours:
Croatian English
Zlatna Golden
Zelena Green
Crvena Red
Žuta Yellow
Smeđa Brown
Narančasta Orange
Crna Black
Plava Blue
Ružičasta Pink
Ljubičasta Purple
Siva Grey
Bijela White
Tirkizna Turquoise
Srebrna Silver
  • Days, months & seasons

The Croatian week starts with Monday and ends with Sunday, unlike weeks from some other countries, where Sunday is the first day and Saturday the last.

  • Days:
Croatian English
Ponedjeljak Monday
Utorak Tuesday
Srijeda Wednesday
Četvrtak Thursday
Petak Friday
Subota Saturday
Nedjelja Sunday
  • Months:
Croatian English
Siječanj January
Veljača February
Ožujak March
Travanj April
Svibanj May
Lipanj June
Srpanj July
Kolovoz August
Rujan September
Listopad October
Studeni November
Prosinac December
Croatian English
Sjever North
Jug South
Istok East
Zapad West
Gore Up
Dolje Down
Lijevo Left
Desno Right
  • Prepositions
Croatian English
Na On
Uz By
Ispod/pod Under, below
Iznad/nad/ober Above
U In
Ispred In front of
Iza Behind
  • Numbers
0 - Nula
1 - Jedan
2 - Dva
3 - Tri
4 - Četiri
5 - Pet
6 - Šest
7 - Sedam
8 - Osam
9 - Devet
10 - Deset
11 - Jedanaest
12 - Dvanaest
13 - Trinaest
14 - Četrnaest
15 - Petnaest
16 - Šesnaest
17 - Sedamnaest
18 - Osamnaest
19 - Devetnaest
20 - Dvadeset
30 - Trideset
40 - Četrdeset
50 - Pedeset
60 - Šezdeset
70 - Sedamdeset
80 - Osamdeset
90 - Devedeset
100 - Sto
1,000 - Tisuću
1,000,000 - Milijun
1,000,000,000 - Milijarda

Areas where Croatian language is spoken of central South Slavic dyasistems (as of 2006)

Different languages

English Croatian Serbian
Compare Usporedba Поређење (Poređenje)
Europe Europa Европа (Evropa)
Netherlands Nizozemska Холандија (Holandija)
Italians Talijani Италијани (Italijani)
Universe Svemir Васиона (Vasiona)
Spine Kralježnica Кичма (Kičma)
Air Zrak Ваздух (Vazduh)
Education Odgoj Васпитање (Vaspitanje)
Week Tjedan Седмица (Sedmica)
History Povijest Историја (Istorija)
Pantaloons Hlače Панталоне (Pantalone)
Belly Trbuh Стомак (Stomak)
Science Znanost Наука (Nauka)
Personally Osobno Лично (Lično)
Persona Osoba Лице (Lice)
United Nations Ujedinjeni Narodi Уједињене Нације (Ujedinjene Nacije)
Bread Kruh Хлеб (Hleb)
Artificial Umjetno Вештачки (Veštački)
Cross Križ Крст (Krst)
Democracy Demokracija Демократија (Demokratija)
Detection Spoznaja Сазнање (Saznanje)
Island Otok Острво (Ostrvo)
Officer Časnik Официр (Oficir)
Road traffic Cestovni promet Друмски саобраћај (Drumski saobraćaj)
Autobahn Autocesta Аутопут (Autoput)
Length Duljina Дужина (Dužina)
Association Udruga Удружење (Udruženje)
Factory Tvornica Фабрика (Fabrika)
General Opće Опште (Opšte)
Christ Krist Христoс (Hristos)
I'm sorry Oprosti Извини (Izvini)
Native language standard Materinski jezićni standard Матерњи језички стандард


  1. "Linguistic Lineage for Croatian". Retrieved 2010-01-26.
  2. Milan Moguš, "Povijest hrvatskoga književnoga jezika", Globus, Zagreb, 1993, ISBN 953-167-014-5, p. 12
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Sanda Ham, "Povijest hrvatskih gramatika", Globus, Zagreb, 2006, ISBN 953-167-185-0, p. 16
  4. 4.0 4.1 Težak-Babić, "Gramatika hrvatskoga jezika", Školska knjiga, Zagreb, 1994, ISBN 953-0-40008-X, p. 13
  5. Babić, Ham, Moguš, "Hrvatski školski pravopis", Školska knjiga, Zagreb, 2008., ISBN 978-953-0-40026-9, p. 11
  6. 6.0 6.1 Babić, Ham, Moguš, "Hrvatski školski pravopis", Školska knjiga, Zagreb, 2008., ISBN 978-953-0-40026-9, p. 12