Prepositions are words that show relationships between other words. Some examples of prepositions are: ispred (in front of), iza (behind), u (in/at/to), na (on/at/to), o (about), s (with)… They never change their endings or their form in any way – no matter what, they always stay the same. Now that’s something after all these or changes that we wrote about in our previous posts!
While learning about the cases in the Croatian language, we came across many prepositions: knowing them is very helpful in determining which case you should use after them. There are only two cases that never come with prepositions: they are nominative and vocative. Only one case always comes with prepositions, that is locative, and all other cases are preposition-friendly, but can be with them or without them. The absolute Don Juan amongst prepositions is the genitive case, as it’s the one that can come with more prepositions than any other case.
Most prepositions come with only one case – for example, the preposition ispred will always be followed by a (or an or a or a number) in the genitive case, no matter what the context is – but some of them can come with more than one case. For example:
- The preposition u can come with the locative or with the accusative case.
- The preposition pred can come with the instrumental case or with the accusative case.
Auto je pred školom. – The car is in front of the school. (the instrumental case)
Dolazim pred školu. – I’m coming in front of the school. (the accusative case)
This is exactly the reason why, throughout our teaching experience, our students have often asked us for a comprehensive list of all prepositions in the Croatian language. So, ladies and gentlemen, below you can find the table of the most common prepositions in the Croatian language, divided into two sections: those that always come with one case and those that come with more cases. In the table, we focused on the prepositions which are used in contemporary Croatian, which means that we have skipped some obsolete prepositions that are nowadays not in use that much anymore – or not at all. Also, a few (very few!) of the prepositions that we listed as “come with one case” might be used with another case, but only rarely or as part of some random phrases. So, to sum up: the table below shows the “standard” use of the most common prepositions in contemporary Croatian.
A table of the most common prepositions in the Croatian language
|THE MOST COMMON PREPOSITIONS IN CROATIAN
with one case
|bez, blizu, do, ispod, ispred, iz, iza, između, iznad, izvan, kod, kraj, nakon, od, oko, osim, pokraj, poput, pored, poslije, preko, prije, protiv, radi, tijekom, umjesto, unutar, usred, zbog
with more cases
Yes, we know you’d like some examples now! Here you go. You can thank us later. 🙂 The prepositions that can be used with more than one case are in italic and listed with all cases that they can come with, as shown in the table above.
|Kavu bez šećera, molim.
Coffee without sugar, please
|Naš hotel je blizu mora.
Our hotel is close to the sea.
(up) to, until
|Ostajemo u Dubrovniku do petka.
We’re staying in Dubrovnik until Friday.
|Pas je ispod stola.
The dog is under the table
in front of
|Čekaj me ispred kuće!
Wait for me in front of the house!
from, out of
|Moji roditelji su iz Hrvatske.
My parents are from Croatia
|Parkirali smo auto odmah iza konobe.
We’ve parked the car right behind the tavern.
|Kutija je između stolice i kauča.
The box is between the chair and the couch.
|Pogledaj nebo iznad grada!
Look at the sky above the city!
|Više od 3 milijuna Hrvata živi izvan Hrvatske.
More than 3 million Croats live outside of Croatia.
at somebody’s place;
|Upravo sam kod zubara.
I am at the dentist’s right now.
near Solin je kod Splita.
Solin is near Split.
next to, by
|Knjiga je kraj/pokraj kauča.
The book is next to the couch.
|Vidimo se nakon/poslije posla!
after See you after work!
| Ostajemo u Zadru od ponedjeljka do petka.
We’re staying in Zadar from Monday until Friday.
Ovdje smo od ponedjeljka.
We’ve been here since Monday.
|Ovo je domaća juha od rajčice.
This is homemade soup of tomatoes (tomato soup).
| Oko kuće je veliko dvorište.
There’s a big yard around the house.
except, apart from
|Svi su došli osim Ivana.
Everyone came except Ivan.
|Tvoje oči su plave poput mora.
Your eyes are blue like the sea.
by, next to
|Želim kupiti malu kuću pored mora.
I want to buy a small house by the sea.
|Letimo preko oceana.
We’re flying across the ocean.
|Uvijek doručkujem prije posla.
I always have breakfast before work.
|Hajduk je jučer igrao protiv Dinama.
Hajduk played against Dinamo yesterday.
for the purpose of
|Došli su radi kupovine kuće.
They came for the purpose of buying a house.
|Telefon je stalno zvonio tijekom sastanka.
The phone kept ringing during the meeting.
|Dodaj maslinovo ulje umjesto maslaca.
Add olive oil instead of butter.
inside (of), within
|Dvorac se nalazi unutar zidina.
The castle is located inside the walls.
in the middle of
|Telefon je zazvonio usred sastanka.
The phone rang in the middle of the meeting.
|Zakasnili smo zbog Jelene.
We were late because of Jelena.
|GENITIVE OR DATIVE
|Restoran je nasuprot škole/školi.
The restaurant is opposite the school.
|Dođi k nama!
Come to us!
despite, in spite of
|Idemo na koncert unatoč kiši.
We’re going to the concert despite the rain.
|Prolazimo kroz grad.
We are passing through the city.
|Spusti se niz stepenice.
Come down the stairs.
|Popni se uz stepenice.
Come up the stairs.
Uz hobotnicu se serviraju pečeni krumpiri.
Roasted potatoes are served beside the octopus.
behind, to (destination!)
|Ovo je pjesma za moju mamu.
This is a song for my mom.
Dođi za stol!
Come behind (i.e. to) the table!
behind, at (location!)
|Čovjek sjedi za stolom.
A man is sitting behind (i.e. at) the table.
on; at (location!)
on; to (destination!)
|Sada sam na ljetovanju.
I am now on my summer holiday.
Idem na ljetovanje.
I am going on a summer holiday.
|Razgovaramo o hrani.
We are talking about food.
Auto je udario o zid.
The car hit against the wall.
all over, around
for (to pick up)
| Putuju po Europi.
They are traveling all around Europe.
Došao je po knjigu.
He came for the book.
|Vozimo prema Splitu.
We are driving toward Split.
close to (some point);
|Projekt je već pri kraju.
The project is already close to the end.
in; at (location!)
in; to (destination!)
|Živim u Dubrovniku.
I live in Dubrovnik.
Idem u Dubrovnik.
I am going to Dubrovnik.
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|Dokument je među papirima.
The document is among the papers.
Stavi dokument među papire.
Put the document among the papers.
above, over (location!)
above, over (destination!)
|Oblak je nad gradom.
There’s a cloud over the city.
Oblak se nadvio nad grad.
The cloud drifted over the city.
|Kutija je pod stolom.
The box is under the table.
Stavi kutiju pod stol.
Put the box under the table.
in front of (location!)
in front of (destination!)
| Auto je pred kućom.
The car is in front of the house.
Auto je stigao pred kuću.
The car has arrived in front of the house.
|Volim jesti janjetinu s krumpirima.
I love to eat lamb with potatoes.
Vraćam se s posla kasno popodne.
I am coming back from work late in the afternoon.
*The preposition nasuprot is the only preposition listed above that can be used with either one of the two cases (genitive or dative) in the same sentence. In everyday language, it is more commonly used with the genitive case, even though grammar books still prefer using it with the dative case. The reason behind this is that the dative case is slowly losing prepositions in everyday Croatian. Namely, the dative and the locative case are completely identical in form, and – as mentioned above – locative is the only case that is always used with a preposition. So, unlike the locative case, the dative case tends to become free of all prepositions.
For those of you who want to know more: this is also the reason why the preposition k(a) – used only with the dative case – can be omitted from most of the sentences without affecting the meaning of a sentence. For example:
Priđi k stolu. = Priđi stolu. – Approach the table.
And finally: the letter a that you can see in brackets with some prepositions above (s(a), k(a), niz(a)…) is completely optional. It’s mostly a matter of style, it doesn’t change the meaning of those prepositions or their role in the sentence. For example:
Spusti se niz stepenice. = Spusti se niza stepenice. – Come down the stairs.
I hope that you have found this blog post about prepositions in the Croatian language useful. Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and what other Croatian language topics you would like us to write about.
Next Tuesday we are learning about the types of adjectives in the Croatian language. If you want us to send you an email with the next Croatian grammar lesson, put your email address here.
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