Prepositions in the Croatian language

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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.

stick-speak-cro33a

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. 

Ja sam u uredu. – I’m at the office. (the locative case
Idem u ured. – I’m going to the office. (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 k(a)
unatoč
usprkos
kroz(a)
niz(a)
uz(a
prema
pri

with more cases

nasuprot*
s(a)
nasuprot*

 

za
na
o
po
u
među
nad(a)
pod(a)
pred(a)

 

 

na
o
po
u

 

s(a)
za

među
nad(a)
pod(a)
pred(a)

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.

BEZ GENITIVE
without
Kavu bez šećera, molim.
Coffee without sugar, please
BLIZU GENITIVE
close to
Naš hotel je blizu mora
Our hotel is close to the sea.
DO GENITIVE
(up) to, until
Ostajemo u Dubrovniku do petka.
We’re staying in Dubrovnik until Friday.
ISPOD GENITIVE
under, below
Pas je ispod stola
The dog is under the table
ISPRED GENITIVE
in front of
Čekaj me ispred kuće!
Wait for me in front of the house!
IZ GENITIVE
from, out of
Moji roditelji su iz Hrvatske.
My parents are from Croatia
IZA GENITIVE
behind
Parkirali smo auto odmah iza konobe.
We’ve parked the car right behind the tavern.
IZMEĐU GENITIVE
between
Kutija je između stolice i kauča.
The box is between the chair and the couch.
IZNAD/POVIŠE GENITIVE
above
Pogledaj nebo iznad grada
Look at the sky above the city!
IZVAN  GENITIVE
outside (of)
Više od 3 milijuna Hrvata živi izvan Hrvatske.
More than 3 million Croats live outside of Croatia.
KOD GENITIVE
at somebody’s place; 
near
Upravo sam kod zubara.
I am at the dentist’s right now. 
near Solin je kod Splita
Solin is near Split.
KRAJ/POKRAJ GENITIVE
next to, by
Knjiga je kraj/pokraj kauča.
The book is next to the couch.
NAKON/POSLIJE GENITIVE
after
Vidimo se nakon/poslije posla!
after See you after work!
OD GENITIVE
from;
since;
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.
  (made) of Ovo je domaća juha od rajčice
This is homemade soup of tomatoes (tomato soup).
OKO GENITIVE
around
Oko kuće je veliko dvorište.
There’s a big yard around the house.
OSIM GENITIVE
except, apart from
Svi su došli osim Ivana.
Everyone came except Ivan.
POPUT GENITIVE
like
Tvoje oči su plave poput mora.
Your eyes are blue like the sea.
PORED GENITIVE
by, next to
Želim kupiti malu kuću pored mora.
I want to buy a small house by the sea.
PREKO GENITIVE
across, over
Letimo preko oceana.
We’re flying across the ocean.
PRIJE GENITIVE
before
Uvijek doručkujem prije posla.
I always have breakfast before work.
PROTIV GENITIVE
against
Hajduk je jučer igrao protiv Dinama.
Hajduk played against Dinamo yesterday.
RADI GENITIVE
for the purpose of
Došli su radi kupovine kuće.
They came for the purpose of buying a house.
TIJEKOM
GENITIVE
during
Telefon je stalno zvonio tijekom sastanka.
The phone kept ringing during the meeting.
UMJESTO
GENITIVE
instead of
Dodaj maslinovo ulje umjesto maslaca.
Add olive oil instead of butter.
UNUTAR
GENITIVE
inside (of), within
Dvorac se nalazi unutar zidina.
The castle is located inside the walls.
USRED GENITIVE
in the middle of
Telefon je zazvonio usred sastanka.
The phone rang in the middle of the meeting.
ZBOG GENITIVE
because of
Zakasnili smo zbog Jelene.
We were late because of Jelena.
stick-speak-cro32
NASUPROT* GENITIVE OR DATIVE
opposite (of)
Restoran je nasuprot škole/školi.
The restaurant is opposite the school.
K(A)
DATIVE
to, towards
Dođi k nama!
Come to us!
UNATOČ/USPRKOS
DATIVE
despite, in spite of
Idemo na koncert unatoč kiši.
We’re going to the concert despite the rain.
KROZ(A)
ACCUSATIVE
through
Prolazimo kroz grad.
We are passing through the city.
NIZ(A)
ACCUSATIVE
down, along
Spusti se niz stepenice.
Come down the stairs.
UZ(A)
ACCUSATIVE
up, along;
beside
Popni se uz stepenice.
Come up the stairs.
Uz hobotnicu se serviraju pečeni krumpiri.
Roasted potatoes are served beside the octopus.
ZA
ACCUSATIVE
for
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!
  INSTRUMENTAL
behind, at (location!)
Čovjek sjedi za stolom.
A man is sitting behind (i.e. at) the table.
NA
LOCATIVE
on; at (location!)
ACCUSATIVE
on; to (destination!)
Sada sam na ljetovanju.
I am now on my summer holiday.
Idem na ljetovanje.
I am going on a summer holiday.
O LOCATIVE
about
ACCUSATIVE
against
Razgovaramo o hrani.
We are talking about food.
Auto je udario o zid.
The car hit against the wall.
PO LOCATIVE
all over, around
ACCUSATIVE
for (to pick up)
Putuju po Europi.
They are traveling all around Europe.
Došao je po knjigu.
He came for the book.
PREMA
LOCATIVE
toward
Vozimo prema Splitu.
We are driving toward Split.
PRI
LOCATIVE
close to (some point);
Projekt je već pri kraju.
The project is already close to the end.
U
LOCATIVE
in; at (location!)
ACCUSATIVE
in; to (destination!)
Živim u Dubrovniku.
I live in Dubrovnik.
Idem u Dubrovnik.
I am going to Dubrovnik.

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MEĐU INSTRUMENTAL
among (location!)
ACCUSATIVE
among (destination!)
Dokument je među papirima.
The document is among the papers.
Stavi dokument među papire.
Put the document among the papers.
NAD
INSTRUMENTAL
above, over (location!)
ACCUSATIVE
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.
POD
INSTRUMENTAL
under (location!)
ACCUSATIVE
under (destination!)
Kutija je pod stolom.
The box is under the table.
Stavi kutiju pod stol.
Put the box under the table.
PRED INSTRUMENTAL
in front of (location!)
ACCUSATIVE
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.
S(A)
INSTRUMENTAL
with
GENITIVE
from
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. 

If you want to learn Croatian online with a teacher one-on-one, don’t hesitate to book your free trial lesson here.

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