The present tense of the verb to be (biti) in the Croatian language, negative
To be or not to be?

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How to say that you are not hungry in Croatian? We’ll teach you, although I’m afraid it won’t save you from having to eat more and then a bit more and then a bit more when you visit your Croatian friends or relatives. Hmm… maybe you don’t want to be saved from that?

OK, here we go… Let’s learn some Croatian! 🙂

The present tense of the to be, or in Croatian biti, is quite a simple topic in the process of learning the Croatian language. The plot thickens a bit later on when we start talking about But, step by step…

Here is how it goes:

Prezent glagola biti – niječni oblik
The present tense of the verb to be – negative form
Jednina
Singular
Množina
Plural
1. (ja) nisam I am not 1. (mi) nismo we are not
2. (ti) nisi you are not 2. (vi) niste you are not
3. (on) nije
(ona) nije
(ono) nije
he is not
she is not
it is not
3. (oni) nisu
(one) nisu
(ona) nisu
they (m.) are not
they (f.) are not
they (n.) are not

As you can see, the only difference from the affirmative form of the verb is the little prefix ni- in front.

For example:

Ja sam iz Splita. Ja nisam iz Zagreba.
Pas je velik. Pas nije malen.
Mi smo sretni. Mi nismo tužni.
Oni su Hrvati. Oni nisu Amerikanci.

Exercise 1:

The present tense of the verb to be (biti), in the Croatian language, negative

Why are the personal pronouns (ja, ti, on…) put into brackets in the table above?

That’s because they are optional – you can use them, but you don’t have to. If it’s obvious from the context who you are talking about, then the personal pronoun (ja, ti, on…) should be omitted.

For example, if somebody asks:

Je li on iz Zadra? – Is he from Zadar?

The answer can be any of the following:

  1. Nije. – He isn’t. 
  2. Nije iz Zadra. – He isn’t from Zadar.
  3. On nije iz Zadra. – He isn’t from Zadar. 
  4. Ne, nije. – No, he isn’t. 
  5. Ne, nije iz Zadra. – No, he isn’t from Zadar. 
  6. Ne, on nije iz Zadra. – No, he isn’t from Zadar.
Why are the personal pronouns (ja, ti, on…) put into brackets in the table above?

Exercise 2: 

Were these too difficult? Or maybe too easy? Which questions would you like to be able to ask in Croatian? And who would you ask? Your husband or wife, your grandparents?

How accurate were you giving the correct and incorrect answers? If you tell us your score in the comments below, you’ll get a special prize: 120-minute free trial lesson instead of the regular, 60-minute one. Just click here and leave “I want my 120-minute free trial lesson” in the comment box.

(Due to possible time difference, availability, and compatibility between our schedules, free trial lessons might not be possible to hold immediately.)

Learning Croatian continues… Next Tuesday we are learning about the interrogative form of the verb to be. If you would like 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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