Which types of words change their endings in the Croatian language and which don’t?
To change or not to change?


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In the Croatian language, some types of words change their form within a sentence depending on their role or, put simply, the context within a sentence. Some other types never change, no matter what. So, we differentiate between changeable and unchangeable types of words.

Types of words are formally called ‘parts of speech’. We decided to simply refer to them as types of words as we are trying to make our posts as little technical and as more understandable to the non-linguist audience as possible.

Changeable words in the Croatian language are:

, e.g.: Ivan/Ivanu/Ivanom… (Ivan)
, e.g.: moj/moja/moje… (my)
, e.g.: lijep/lijepa/lijepo… (beautiful)
– Numbers, e.g.: jedan/jedna/jedno… (one)
, e.g.: raditi/radim/radiš… (to work)

Unchangeable words in the Croatian language are:

, e.g.: između (between), iznad (above), s (with)…
, e.g.: jučer (yesterday), tiho (quietly), puno (a lot)…
– Particles, e.g.: da (yes), ne (no), čak (even)…
– Exclamations, e.g.: aha, halo, ej…
– Conjunctions, e.g.: i (and), ili (or), ali (but)…

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Types of change that can happen with changeable words

a) Declension

Declension is how declinable words – nouns, pronouns, adjectives and numbers – change (i.e. get different endings) through cases. This depends on the position of a word within a sentence – is it a subject, an object, etc.

For example, if you have ever heard Croatian people doing weird things to your name, this is because your name – being a noun – changes in cases. So, if you are, say, John, Croats would also say Johnu, Johna, Johnom… Don’t worry – they are not out of their minds, they are just using different “versions” of your name, based on the context within a sentence.

For example:

John je moj brat. – John is my brother. (the nominative case)
Vidim Johna. – I see John. (the accusative case)
Razgovaramo o Johnu. – We are talking about John. (the locative case)
Idem na plažu s Johnom. – I’m going to the beach with John. (the instrumental case)

Types of change that can happen with changeable words

If this looks quite confusing, don’t worry – it’s normal. To cheer you up, we have prepared a series of posts where Croatian language and grammar are explained in detail, step by step. Please leave your email here if you want to receive them every week.

b) Comparison

can happen with some adjectives and adverbs. Many languages have exactly the same thing. As the name suggests, it’s when you do this:

c) Conjugation

Verbs change according to (past, present, future), (I, you, he, she…) and (singular and plural). These changes of a verb are called conjugation.

For example:

Ja radim. – I work.
Ti radiš. – You work.
On radi. – He works.

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Learning Croatian continues… Next Tuesday we are learning about the genders 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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