The nominative case in the Croatian language
The master case

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The nominative case is the master case, the basic case. When you search for, say, a in a dictionary, you’ll find it in the nominative case. 

There are four types of words that can change in cases, so there are four types of words that can have the nominative form: nouns, , and (some) numbers. In this blog post, we’ll focus on nouns.

To get a better idea of what this is all about, take a look at the following sentences: 

Rakija je dobra. – Rakija is good. (rakija – nominative case, singular)
Volim piti rakiju. – I like to drink rakija. (rakiju – accusative case, singular)
Ana je tamo. – Ana is there. (Ana – nominative case, singular)
Vidiš li Anu? – Do you see Ana? (Anu – accusative case, singular)

As you can see, the words rakija and Ana change their endings. For a better understanding of what’s going on, take a look at the following English sentences: 

I see him
He sees me

An English speaker would never say:

Me see he.
Him see I.

In English, when I comes before the , it’s called the because it’s the one who is performing the action. When it comes after the verb, it changes to me and it’s called the , because the action is carried out on it. According to the same principle, the subject in a sentence in Croatian is in the nominative case, while the object is in the accusative case. The same principle applies in Croatian to all nouns, pronouns, adjectives and some numbers.

The main uses of the nominative case are: 

1. For the subject of a sentence or a clause. For example:

Ja jedem pršut.  – I am eating prosciutto. (ja – nominative case, singular)
Student puno uči. – A student studies a lot. (student – nominative case, singular)
Ana pije rakiju. – Ana drinks rakija. (Ana – nominative case, singular)

    The nominative case in the Croatian language

    2. For the complement with the verb to be (biti). Any noun following forms of the verb to be (biti) is always in the nominative case. For example: 

    Ona je Hrvatica. – She is a Croat. (Hrvatica – nominative case, singular)
    Mi smo dobri prijatelji. – We are good friends. (prijatelji – nominative case, plural)
    Šime je moj otac. – Šime is my father. (otac – nominative case, singular)

    The nominative case of nouns in Croatian

    In one of our previous posts, we wrote about the genders in the Croatian language. The good news is that the endings that help you determine genders of nouns are actually nominative singular endings:

    masculine nouns typically end in a consonant (for example: muškarac)
    feminine nouns typically end in -a (for example: žena)
    neuter nouns typically end in -e or -o (for example: more or vino)

    Voila! It’s all connected! So, if you already know how to determine the genders of nouns, you already know nominative singular endings! Isn’t that nice?

    In the table below, you can find the endings for the nominative case of nouns in both singular and plural.

    Table of the nominative case endings for nouns

    Singular Plural
    Nominative Nominative
    Masculine consonant
    muškarac
    -i
    muškarci
    Feminine a
    žena
    -e
    žene
    Neuter -e, -o -a
    more, vino mora, vina

    How do you feel about the nominative case?

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

    Learning Croatian continues… Next Tuesday we will learn about the genitive case in the Croatian language. If you would like us to send you an email with the next Croatian grammar lesson, put your email address here.

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