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Grammar in English

SRPSKI JEZIK
Alphabet / Azbuka
Latin alphabet:
A
B
C

D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
Lj
M
N
Nj
O
P
R
S

T
U
V
Z

a
b
c

d
e
f
g
h
i
j
k
l
lj
m
n
nj
o
p
r
s

t
u
v
z

Cyrillic alphabet:

Grammar in English

Introduction

Zdravo!
Ja sam Milan Jankovi.
Ja sam Srbin.
Ja govorim srpski.
Ja sam profesor.

Hello!
I am Milan Jankovi.
I am Serb.
I am speaking Serbian.
I am a teacher.

Notes
1. Names of languages are written with a small letter:
Ja govorim srpski. I Speak Serbian.
2. There is no article in Serbian ( a or the ). Profesor can therefore mean a theacher, the
teacher or just teacher.
3. Serbian is an inflected language, which means that words have different endings in different
situations. Nouns, adjectives and certain pronouns have different endings according to
gender, number and case. There are seven cases in Serbian, and they perform different
functions. They are called:
nominative
genitive
dative
accusative
vocative
locative
instrumental
Here are some examples of nouns changing their endings from the introduction.
Mr. Jankovi ( in the nominative ) is gospodin Jankovi, but when he is being addressed,
the vocative must be used: gospodine Jankoviu!
The accusative forms of the words knjiga and porodica are knjigu and porodicu, as
they are the object of a verb:
knjiga a book
Imate knjigu? Have you got a book?

Sounds and spelling


Vowels
There are five vowels ( a, e, i, o, u ), and they are all clearly pronounced. The consonant r
sometimes acts as a vowel, in words such as vrt ( garden ) or crv ( worm ).

Consonants
1. Voiced and unvoiced consonants

Grammar in English

Trere are ten unvoiced consonants, eight of which can be paired off with a voiced consonants. All
the other consonants are voiced.
voiced:
b d g d v z
unvoiced:
p t k f s c h
2. When to use and
is used:
a) in words where it replaced k and c:
jak ( strong ), jai ( stronger )
momak ( young man ), momaki ( of a young man )
deca ( children ), deji ( children's )
sunce ( sun ), sunan ( sunny )
b) in the following endings:
nouns
-a, -aa, aga, -e, ica, -urina, -eak, -i, -iak, -iar, -iina, -ina
adjectives
-aak, -iv, -iast, -iav, -iki
adverbs
-ake, -aki
is used:
a) in words where it replaced t:
pamtiti ( to remember ), pamenje ( memory )
c) in the following endings:
nouns
-a, -i, -oa
adjectives
-ai, ei
verbs
-i in infinitive
Note: Most surnames in Serbian end in i.

Spelling changes
3. In order to make the pronaunciation easer, the spelling of many words changes according to
gender, case, etc. A letter may be dropped, or a letter may be added between two
consonants.
4. The letter a appears in some forms of a word, between the last two consonants. Most often
it appears:
a) in nominative singular and genitive plural of some masculine nouns:
singular
plural
N.
momak ( young man )
momci
G.
momka
momaka
b) in the genitive plural of some feminine nouns:
singular
plural
N. sestra ( sister )
sestre
G. sestre
sestara
c) in the nominative singular of indefinite adjectives:
singular
plural
N. dobar ( good )
dobri
G. dobra
5. The consonant l replaces o at the end of a syllable or a word, before an ending is added:

Grammar in English

noun
adjective

m. mio ( dear ), f. mila


N. posao ( work ), G. posla, D. poslu

6. The consonants k, g, h, change into , , before i or e in some forms of a word. This is


called palatalizacija ( palatalisation ), and occurs as follows:
a) in the vocative singular of masculine nouns:
N. drug ( friend )
duh ( spirit )
V. drue
due
b) in the present tense of some verbs:
moi ( to be able to )
ti moe ( oni mogu )
Note: In some words c changes to before e or i:
N. stric ( uncle )
starac ( old man )
V. strie
stare
7. The consonants k, g, h, change into c, z, s, before i in some forms of a word. This is called
sibilarizacija ( sibilization ), and it occurs:
a) in the dative and locative singular of feminine nouns:
N.
majka ( mother ) noga ( leg )
snaha ( daughter-in-law )
D. and L. majci
nozi
snasi
b) in the nominative and vocative plural of masculine nouns:
N.s.
seljak ( peasant ) orah ( nut )
bubreg ( kidney )
N. and V.pl. seljaci
orasi
bubrezi
c) in the imperative:
rei ( to tell )
singular
plural
1st.pers.
recimo
2nd.pers. reci
recite
3rd.pers. neka ree
neka reku
8. The letter j, in combination with certain consonants, produces new consonants. This change
is called jotovanje.
c+j=
l + j = lj
d+j=
n + j = nj
g+j=
s+j=
h+j=
t+j=
k+j=
z+j=
9. Jotovanje takes place in the following forms of words:
a) in the comparative of adjectives formed with the endings ji:
brz ( quick ), bri ( brz + ji )
tih ( quiet ), tii ( tih + ji )
b) in the present tense of verbs with the stem ending in a consonant, where j is not
visible in the endings jem, -je, etc.
skakati ( to jump ), skaem ( skak + jem ), skae, skae, etc.
c) in the imperative formed with the endings ji, -jimo, -jite:
pisati ( to write )
singular
plural
1st.pers.
piimo ( pis + jimo )
2nd.pers. pii ( pis + ji )
piite ( pis + jite )
3rd.pers. neka pie
neka piu

Grammar in English

10. Where are two consonants together and one is voiced and the others unvoiced, the first
changes into its voiced or unvoiced equivalent in order to match the second. This is done to ease
prounanciation.
a) if the first consonant is unvoiced and the second one voiced, the first changes into its
voiced equivalent:
td
primetiti ( to notice ), primedba ( comment )
k g
svaki dan ( every day ), svagdanji ( daily )
sz
est ( six ) ezdeset ( sixty )
b) if the first consonant is voiced and the second one unvoiced, the first changes into its
unvoiced equivalent:
b p vrabac ( sparrow ), G. vrapca
d t sladak ( sweet ), slatka, slatko
g k drugi ( other ), drukiji ( different )
z s blizak ( near ), bliska, blisko
teak ( heavy ), teka, teko
Note: these changes do not take place:
i)
if d stands in front of s or , e.g. gradski ( town, adj. ), odteta ( damages );
ii)
in a few words, usually of foreign origin, e.g. adhezija ( adhesion ), gangster
( gangster )
11. It is unusual in Serbian to find two of the same consonants next to each other. Where two
words have combined to make another word and logically the resulting word should have a
double consonant, only one is written and pronounced:
pet ( five ) petdeset peddeset pedeset ( fifty )
However, in the superlative of adjectives beginning with j, a double consonant does occur:
najjai ( the strongest ), najjednostavniji ( the simplest )
12. The consonants t and d disappear in some groups of consonants which are difficult to
pronounce:
a) in front of c, and
N. otac ( father )
G. oca ( instead of otca )
V. oe ( instead of ote )
b) in the consonant groups stn, tn, zdn, dn, stl, stk, tnj:
mesto ( village ), mesni adj. ( instead of mestni )
rastao ( growing ), rasla f. ( instead of rastla )

Nouns
Gender
1. There are three genders in Serbian: masculine, feminine and neuter.
2. Masculine nouns usually end in a consonant:
Beograd ( Belgrade ), paso ( passport ), mukarac ( man )

Grammar in English

3. Some masculine nouns end in o or e. They are mostly names, or nouns of


foreign origin:
auto ( car ), Maroko ( Marocco )
4. Feminine nouns usually end in a:
Dragana, majka ( mother ), sestra ( sister )
5. Some feminine nouns end in a consonant. Most of these are abstract nouns:
no ( night ), re ( word ), ljubav ( love )
6. Neuter nouns end in o or e:
more ( sea ), polje ( field ), selo ( village ), jutro ( morning )
Number
7. There are two numbers in Serbian: singular and plural.
8. Masculine nouns ending in a consonant, form the plural by adding i:
s.
pl.
prozor ( window )
prozori
izlet ( trip )
izleti
9. Feminine nouns ending in a, form the plural by changing a into e:
s.
pl.
ena ( woman )
ene
tetka ( aunt )
tetke
drugarica ( friend )
drugarice
Feminine nouns ending in a consonant, form the plural by adding i:
s.
pl.
knjievnost ( literature )
knjievnosti
ljubav ( love )
ljubavi
10. Neuter nouns form the plural by changing the final o or e into a:
s.
pl.
jaje ( egg )
jaja
selo ( village )
sela
11. Some nouns have only a plural form, for example:
vrata ( door ), declines as a neuter noun in the plural
novine ( newspaper ), declines as a feminine noun in the plural
lea ( back ), declines as a neuter noun in the plural
Case
12. A noun is declined by adding the case ending to the noun stem. The noun stem
is formed by dropping the case ending in the genitive singular:

Grammar in English

Nominative
ena ( woman )
dete ( child )

Genitive
en-e
det-eta

13. There are seven cases in Serbian: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative,
vocative, locative and instrumental. Certain cases are usually preceded by a
preposition. Some prepositions can be followed by more than one case:
Idem u sobu. ( Accusative )
I am going into the room.
On je u sobi. ( Locative )
He is in the room.
Use of the cases
14. The nominative answers the question ko? ( who? ), or to? ( what? ). The
subject of a sentence is always in the nominative.
15. The genitive answers the question koga? ( whose? ), ega? ( of what? ). The
genitive, preceded by od, is used to express possession: od koga? ( whose? )
od Marka
Mark's
Ovaj je auto od njegove ene.
This is his wife's car.
16. The most common prepositions used with the genitive are:
od ( from ), do ( until ), bez ( without ), iz ( from ), blizu ( near ), ispred ( in front
of ), iza ( behind ), iznad ( above ), (po)kraj ( near ), oko ( around ), s, sa
( from ), za ( for ) etc.
Danica sedi pokraj Miloa.
Danica sits next to Milo.
On je iza kue.
He is behind the house.
Podigla je knjigu sa poda.
She picked up the book from the floor.
17. The genitive is used after evo and eno ( here is, there is ).
Evo autobusa.
Here is the bus.
Eno Vojislava.
There is Vojislav.
18. Koliko? ( how many? ) is followed by genitive plural.
Koliko aviona ... ?
How many planes ... ?
19. The genitive is used to indicate quantity. It follows:
a) adverbs of quantity: nekoliko ( some ), malo ( little ), mnogo ( much ), manje
( less ), vie ( more ), dosta ( enough )
Milan pije mnogo mleka.
Milan drinks a lot of milk.
Treba mi vise odmora.
I need more rest.
b) nouns indicating measure: kilogram ( kilo ), komad ( piece ), metar ( metre )
komad hleba
a piece of bread

Grammar in English

20. The dative answers the question kome? ( to whom? ), emu? ( to what? ). It
follows the prepositions: uprkos ( in spite of ), nasuprot ( contrary to ).
21. The accusative answers the question koga? ( whom? ), or to? ( what? ). The
object of a verb is usually in the accusative.
Gledam televiziju.
I am watching television.
itam knjigu.
I am reading a book.
22. Accusative endings need special attention. Note the following:
a) Masculine nouns indicating inanimate objects, feminine nouns ending in a
consonant, and neuter nouns, all have the same form in the nominative and
accusative singular.
Nominative
Accusative
sto ( m. )
Vidim sto.
( I see a table. )
stvar ( f. )
Vidim stvar. ( I see a thing. )
selo ( n. )
Vidim selo. ( I see a village. )
b) Masculine nouns indicating persons and animals, end in a in the acccusative
singular:
Vidim Vojislava.
I see Vojislav.
Vidim lava.
I see a lion.
c) Feminine nouns in a have the ending u in the accusative singular.
Jedem jabuku.
I am eating an apple.
23. Some prepositions which can be followed by the accusative are: kroz
( through ), na ( on ), niz ( down ), pod ( under ), pred ( in front of ), u ( in ):
Silazim niz stepenice.
I am coming down the stairs.
Pogledaj pod krevet.
Look under the bed.
These prepositions are followed by the accusative when expressing motin or
direction.
Idem u bioskop.
I am going to the cinema.
Oni se penju na planinu.
They are climbing a mountain.
24. The vocative is used to address or call someone.
Vojislave!
Vojislav!
Gospodjo!
Madam!
25. The locative answers the question o kome? ( about whom? ), or o emu? (
about what? ), when preceded by the preposition o ( about ).
The locative also express location, and answers the question where?, when used with
the following prepositions: na ( on ), u ( in ), prema ( towards ), pri ( near ).
u koli
in the school
na stolu
on the table

Grammar in English

26. The instrumental answers the question s kim? ( with whom? ), or s im? (
with what? ), when used with the preposition s, sa ( with ):
s Danicom
with Danica
It also followed the prepositions: pred ( in front of ), za (at, after ), pod ( under ),
when there is no motion indicated.
pod stolom
under the table
pred kolom
in front of the school
za stolom
at the table

Masculine nouns
27. Standard declension of masculine nouns:
singular
plural
N. prozor ( window )
prozori
G. prozora
prozora
D. prozoru
prozorima
A. prozor
prozore
V. prozoru
prozori
I. prozorom
prozorima
L. prozoru
prozorima
28. Masculine nouns of one and two syllables can have a short (-i ) or a long (-ovi,
-evi ) plural. Most monosyllabic nouns have the long plural.
singular
plural
N. grad ( town )
gradovi
G. grada
gradova
D. gradu
gradovima
A. grad
gradove
V. grade
gradovi
I. gradom
gradovima
L. gradu
gradovima
29. Masculine nouns with a stem ending in two consonants other than st, zd, t and
d, have the letter a between these two consonants in the nominative singular
and genitive plural only. It is not present in all other cases.
singular
plural
N. momak ( young man )
momci
G. momka
momaka
D. momku
momcima
A. momka
momke
V. mome!
momci
I. momkom
momcima
L. momku
momcima
30. In masculine nouns ending in -k, -g, -h, the final consonant changes into -c, -z,
-s, before i ( momak, momci ).

Grammar in English

31. In masculine nouns ending in -c, -k, -g, -h, the final consonant changes into -,
-, -, before e in the vocative singular ( momak, mome ).
32. Nouns with soft stems.
Note the vocative ending u, and the instrumental ending em in the singular of
nouns ending in , , d, , j, lj, nj, , . These nouns usually have the long plural in
-evi.
singular
plural
N. konj ( horse )
konji
G. konja
konja
D. konju
konjima
A. konja
konje
V. konju!
konji!
I. konjem
konjima
L. konju
konjima
33. The declension of otac ( father ):
singular
plural
N. otac
oevi
G. oca
oeva
D. ocu
oevima
A. oca
oeve
V. oe!
oevi!
I. ocem
oevima
L. ocu
oevima
34. A few masculine nouns end in a, such as tata ( Dad ) and deka ( grandpa ).
They decline in the same way as feminine nouns ending in a.
35. Masculine nouns ending in o in the nominative and accusative singular
formerly ended in l. In modern usage the final l has been dropped in the
nominative singular, but it is present in other cases:
N. sto ( table )
G. stola
D. stolu
A. sto, etc.

Neuter nouns
36. Declension of neuter nouns ending in o ( hard type ).
singular
plural
N. selo ( village )
sela
G. sela
sela
D. selu
selima

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Grammar in English

A. selo
V. selo!
I. selom
L. selu

sela
sela!
selima
selima

37. Declension of neuter nouns ending in e ( soft type ).


singular
plural
N. more ( sea )
mora
G. mora
mora
D. moru
morima
A. more
mora
V. more!
mora!
I. morem
morima
L. moru
morima
38. Neuter nouns ending in me have en inserted before the case endings in all
cases except nominative, accusative and vocative singular.
singular
plural
N. vreme ( time )
vremena
G. vremena
vremena
D. vremenu
vremenima
A. vreme
vremena
V. vreme!
vremena!
I. vremenom
vremenima
L. vremenu
vremenima
39. Some neuter nouns have et inserted before the case ending in genitive, dative,
locative and instrumental singular. Such nouns are usually the word for a young
animal, or a child, and are irregular in the plural.
singular
plural
N. dete ( child )
deca
G. deteta
dece
D. detetu
deci
A. dete
decu
V. dete!
deco!
I. detetom
decom
L. detetu
deci

Feminine nouns
40. Standard declension of feminine nouns.
singular
plural
N. ena ( woman )
ene
G. ene
ena
D. eni
enama

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Grammar in English

A. enu
V. eno!
I. enom
L. eni

ene
ene!
enama
enama

41. In feminine nouns ending in ka, -ga, -ha, the final consonant changes into c,
-z, -s before i in the dative and locative singular.
singular
plural
N. reka ( river )
reke
G. reke
reka
D. reci
rekama
A. reku
reke
V. reko!
reke!
I. rekom
rekama
L. reci
rekama
42. Declension of the feminine nouns ending in a consonant.
singular
plural
N. no ( night )
noi
G. noi
noi
D. noi
noima
A. no
noi
V. noi!
noi!
I. noi
noima
L. noi
noima
43. Feminine nouns ending in o in the nominative singular formerly ended in l.
The final l has now been dropped in the nominative and accusative singular, but is
present in the other cases.
singular
plural
N. so ( salt )
soli
G. soli
soli
D. soli
solima
A. so
soli
V. soli!
soli!
I. soli
solima
L. soli
solima

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Grammar in English

Pronouns
Personal pronouns
1. In some of the cases personal pronouns have two forms: long and
short. The long one is usually used to give more emphasis.
singular
N. ja ( I )
G. mene, me
D. meni, mi
A. mene, me
V. I. mnom, mnome

ti ( you )
tebe, te
tebi, ti
tebe, te
ti
tobom

on ( he )
njega, ga
njemu, mu
njega, ga
njim, njime

plural
N. mi ( we )
G. nas
D. nama, nam
A. nas
V. I. nama
L. nama

vi ( you )
vas
vama, vam
vas
vi
vama
vama

oni, one, ona ( they )


njih, ih
njima, im
njih, ih
njima
njima

ona ( she )
nje, je
njoj, joj
nju, je, ju
njom, njome

ono ( it )
njega, ga
njemu, mu
njega, ga
njim, njime

2. Je, ju, the accusative of ona.


Je is the most usual form. Ju is used only when the word before the pronoun ends je, or
the word following begins in je.
Nisam je naao.
I did not find her.
Nije ju video.
He did not see her.
Sluao ju je.
He listened to her.

eli je videti.
Vidim ga.

3. Short form are not stressed at all, and cannot stand at the beginning
of a sentence.
He wants to see her.
I see him.

4. Long form are used to emphasise something. They are stressed and
can stand at the beginning of a sentence.
Njega zovem, a ne tebe.
I'm calling him, not you.
Njega vidim, a ne nju.
I see him, but not her.
On je iza mene.

5. Long forms are always used after prepositions.


He is behind me.

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Grammar in English

Reflexive pronouns
6. The reflexive pronoun is se ( or sebe ). It is used instead of a
personal pronoun when the action refers back to the subject of the
sentence.
Ona kuva za sebe.
She cooks for herself.
Oni vide sebe.
They see themselves.
7. The declension of the reflexive pronoun ( both singular and plural ).
N.
G. sebe, se
D. sebi,si
A. sebe, se
V.
I. sobom
L. sebi

Possessive pronouns
8. The possessive pronouns are: moj ( my, mine ), tvoj ( your, yours ),
njegov ( his, its ), njen ( her, hers ), na ( our, ours ), va ( your,
yours ), njihov ( their, theirs ). They all answers the question iji?,
ija?, ije? ( whose? ).
9. The reflexive possessive pronoun svoj ( one's own ) repleces and
takes the meaning of any of the possessive pronouns, when the
possessor is the subject of the sentence or phrase.
Ja vidim svoja kola.
Mi vidimo svoja kola.

I see my car.
We see our car.

In the third person Serbian is less ambiguous than English.


On vidi svoja kola.
He sees his car. meaning he sees his own car, rather
than somebody else's, which would be: On vidi njegova kola.
10. The declension of moj.
Moj, tvoj, svoj, na and va are all declined in the same way, except that na and va do
not have the alternative short forms in the masculine and neuter genitive, dative and
locative singular.
11. The declension of njegov, njen and njihov. They are declined like
indefinite adjectives.

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Grammar in English

Demonstrative pronouns
12. The demonstrative pronouns are: ovaj, ova, ovo ( this ); taj, ta, to
( that ); onaj, ona, ono ( that ). They are all declined in the same
way. The short forms are more common than the longer alternatives.

Interrogative and relative pronouns


13. The interrogative pronouns are: ko? ( who? ), ta? ( what? ), koji? (
which? ), iji? ( whose? ), kakav? ( what kind of? ). Some of these
are also used as relative pronouns.
14. The declenesion of ko, to ( ta ). These pronouns have no plural.
N. ko
G. koga
D. kome
A. koga
I. kim
L. kome

ta
ega
emu
ta
im(e)
emu

Indefinite pronouns
Here are some indefinite pronouns: neko ( somebody ), neto ( something ), niko
( nobody ), nita ( nothing ), svako ( everybody ).
Indefinite pronouns are declined like ko and ta, of which they are compounds:
nita ( nothing )
svako ( everybody )
N.
nita
svako
G.
niega
svakoga
D.
niemu, etc.
svakome, etc.
The declension of sav ( all ).
singular
masculine
N.
sav
G.
svega
D.
svemu
A.
as N. or G.
I.
svim(e)
L.
svem(u)

neuter
sve
svega
svemu
sve
svim(e)
svem(u)

feminine
sva
sve
svoj
svu
svom
svom

plural
N.
G.
D.
A.

sva
svih
svim(a)
sva

sve
svih
svim(a)
sve

svi
svih
svim(a)
sve

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Grammar in English

I.
L.

svim(a)
svim(a)

svim(a)
svim(a)

svim(a)
svim(a)

Adjectives
1. Adjectives qualify the noun. They can be used attributively or predicatively.
When used attributively, they agree with the noun in number, gender and case.
When used predicavely they agree in gender and number, but can only be in the
nominative case.
attributive: Ovaj stari ovek je bolestan.
This old man is ill.
predicative: Ovaj ovek je star.
This man is old.
Adjectives in the masculine singular accusative behave in the same way as nouns, the
accusative is like nominative when referring to an inanimate object, and like the
genitive when referring to an animate being.
2. In Serbian, qualitative, drven ( wooden ), zlatan ( golden ), and descriptive, lep
( beautiful ), nov ( new ), adjectives have two forms: definite and indefinite.
Generally, the definite adjective is used attributively and the indefinite is used
predicatively.
isti kaput je u ormaru.
The clean coat is inthe wardrobe.
( attributive and definite )
Taj kaput je ist.
This coat is clean.
( predicative and indefinite )
The indefinite form is used when an adjective is used to describe someone or
something for the first time.
Ti si dobar deko, a on je lo.
You are a good boy, and he is a bad boy.
When a quality is already known, i.e. has been mentioned in a previous sentence, the
adjective is in the definite form.
Dobri deko pomae ocu, a loi ne radi nita.
The good boy helps his father, but the bad one doesn't do anything.
3. Definite adjectives
Definite adjectives are used much more than indefinite adjectives, because they are
used in all cases. ( Indefinite adjectives are only widely used in the nominative, in
their predicative function. ) The masculine nominative singular of definite adjectives
ends in i; the feminine in a; the neuter in o or e.
beli ( white ), bela, belo
lepi ( beautiful ), lepa, lepo
4. The following definite adjectives do not have an indefinite form
a) adjectives ending in ski, -ki, -ki or ji: gradski ( town ), zagrebaki ( Zagreb,
adj. )
b) ordinal numbers: prvi ( first ), drugi ( second ), trei ( third )
c) comparatives and superlatives: najvei ( biggest ), noviji ( newest )
16

Grammar in English

d) adjectives of time and place ending in nji or ni: dananji ( today's )


e) a few other adjectives, of which the most important are: isti ( same ), neki and
poneki ( some, certain ).
5. Hard and soft adjectives
Adjectives in Serbian may be classified as "hard" or "soft". If the last consonant of
the stem is j, lj, nj, c, , , s, d, d or the adjective is soft. Otherwise it is hard. Thus
vru ( hot ) is soft but star ( old ) and nov ( new ) are hard. The only differences in
declension of hard and soft adjectives occur in the masculine and neuter singular.
Wherever the letter o occurs in the hard adjective endings, it is replaced by e in the
soft adjectives.
6. Declension of definite adjectives
singular
m.
n.
hard soft hard
soft
-i
-i
-o
-e
as N. or
-o
-e
G.
hard
soft
-og(a)
-eg(a)
-om(e,u)
-em(e,u)
-om(e,u)
-em(u)
-im
-im

f.

m.

-a
-u

-i
-e

-e
-oj
-oj
-om

plural
n.
-a
-a

f.
-e
-e

-ih
-im(a)
-im(a)
-im(a)

N. V.
A.
G.
D.
L.
I.
Note: there are shorter and longer forms in some cases ( G. novog, novoga; D.
novom, novome, novomu, etc. ). When an adjective stands alone, i.e. without noun, the
longer form is used.
7.The following table gives examples and nouns declined together. It does not include
the vocative, the soft endings or the longer adjectival forms ( as the latter are not used
when the adjective is with a noun ).
singular

17

Grammar in English

masculine
N. novi kaput ( new coat
G. novog kaputa
D. novom kaputu
A. novi kaput
but novog studenta
I. novim kaputom
L. novom kaputu
plural
masculine
N. novi kaputi
G. novih kaputa
D. novim kaputima
A. nove kapute
I. novim kaputima
L. novim kaputima

neuter
plavo jezero ( blue lake )
plavog jezera
plavom jezeru
plavo jezero

feminine
bela haljina ( white dress )
bele haljine
beloj haljini
belu haljinu

plavim jezerom
plavom jezeru

belom haljinom
beloj haljini

neuter
plava jezera
plavih jezera
plavim jezerima
plava jezera
plavim jezerima
plavim jezerima

feminine
bele haljine
belih haljina
belim haljinama
bele haljine
belim haljinama
belim haljinama

8. Indefinite adjectives
Indefinite adjectives are not used as much as definite adjectives. They are used
mainly in the nominative, as predicatives. The masculine nominative singular of
indefinite adjectives ends in a consonant or o; the feminine in a; the neuter in o or
e. In the feminine and neuter there is no differencein spelling between the definite
and indefinite forms, but in speech the final vowel of the definite form may be
pronounced longer than that of the short. However, even this distinction is now
disappearing.
9.With the majority of adjectives the definite and indefinite forms are the same, exept
that the final i on the masculine singular of the definite adjective is dropped to form
the indefinite:
stari ( definite ) star ( indefinite; old )
However, in adjectives where the loss of the final i would result in the word ending
in two consonants other than st, zd, t or d, the letter a is inserted between the final
two consonants in the masculine nominative:
hladni ( def. )
- hladan ( indef., cold )
but isti ( def. ) - ist ( indef., clean )
Where a definite adjectives ends in li, the l is usually dropped in the nominative
masculine of the indefinite form. Sometimes the l is replaced by a:
beli ( def. )
- beo, bela, belo ( indef., white )
but topli ( def. ) - topao, topla, toplo ( indef., warm )
In indefinite adjectives ending in stan, such as raznovrstan ( varied ) and koristan
( useful ), the letter t is dropped in all cases except the masculine nominative singular
( and masculine accusative of inanimate objects ).
N. raznovrstan, G. raznovrsna

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Grammar in English

10. A few indefinite adjectives do not have a definite form, of which the most important
are: sav ( all ), itav ( whole ) and jedan ( one ).
11. Declension of indefinite adjectives
There is no indefinite declension for the feminine singular, and there are no plural
forms for any gender. The neuter singular is the same as the masculine, except in the
nominative and accusative. There is no difference between the endungs of hard and soft
adjectives, and there is no vocative case. The declension of the masculine, except for
the instrumental which is im instead of om, is the same as the masculine noun
declension.
star ( old )
topao ( warm )
N.

m.
star
as N. or G.
stara
staru
staru
starim

n.
staro
staro

m.
topao
as N. or G.
topla
toplu
toplu
toplim

n.
toplo
toplo

A.
G.
D.
L.
I.

12.Apart from those possessive adjectives which are the same as possessive pronouns
( moj, tvoj, etc. ), there are some possessive adjectives in Serbian derived from nouns
denoting persons and from personal names. Those which come from masculine and
neuter nouns end in ov, -ljev, or ev, if the noun ends in a palatal consonant ( , , d,
d, j, lj, nj, , ). Those form feminine nouns have the ending
in.
brat bratov
brother's
Vojislav Vojislavljev
Vojislav's
Milo Miloev
Milo's
sestra sestrin
sister's
13. The possessive adjectives ending in ov, -ljev, -ev or in are declined in the
masculine and neuter singular nominative as indefinite adjectives.
Piem bratovu prijatelju.
I'm writing to my brother's friend.
However, except in the nominative singular with masculine nouns ( bratov auto,
brother's car ), these adjectives can also be declined as definite adjectives. The meaning
is exactly the same.
Piem bratovom prijatelju
I'm writing to my brother's friend.
14.The comparative
The comparative of an adjective is usually formed by adding ji ( -ja, - je ) or iji ( -ija,
ije ) to the adjective stem, which is found by removing the ending from the genitive
singular of the masculine indefinite adjective.
pametan ( clever ), G. pametn-a pametniji ( more clever )

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Grammar in English

15.The following groups of adjectives form the comparative by adding ji.


Note that jotovanje takes place in forming the comparative with ji. The final consonant
of the adjective under the influence of j changes into a new sound, and the ending ji is
often not visible.
a) Most adjectives of one syllable, with a long vowel( and a few with a short vowel )
blag ( mild ), ( blag-ji ) blai
ut ( yellow ), ( ut-ji ) ui
jak ( strong ), ( jak-ji ) jai
brz ( quick ), ( brz-ji ) bri
mlad ( young ), ( mlad-ji ) mlai
tih ( quiet ), ( tih-ji ) tii
crn ( black ), ( crn-ji ) crnji
b) Most adjectives of two syllables ending in ak, or ok. These endings are
dropped before ji:
tanak ( thin ), tanji
dalek ( far away ), dalji
dubok ( deep ), dublji
blizak ( near ), blii
gladak ( smooth ), glai
kratak ( short ), krai
nizak ( low ), nii
plitak ( shallow ), plii
sladak ( sweet ), slai
visok ( high ), vii
uzak ( narrow ), ui
estok ( strong ), ei
16.The following groups of adjectives form the comparative by adding iji.
a) Most adjectives of one syllable with a short vowel:
lo ( bad ), loiji
nov ( new ), noviji
prost ( simple ), prostiji
slab ( weak ), slabiji
star ( old ), stariji
vet ( clever ), vetiji
zdrav ( healthy ), zdraviji
ist ( clean ), istiji
b) Adjectives ending in o ( which developed from l ):
beo ( white ), beliji
mio ( dear ), miliji
vreo ( boiling ), vreliji
zreo ( ripe ), zreliji

20

Grammar in English

c ) Most adjectives of two syllables not ending in ak, -ek or ok:


bistar ( clear ), bistriji
crven ( red ), crveniji
zelen ( green ), zeleniji
mudar ( clever ), mudriji
plaljiv ( shy ), plaljiviji
tuan ( sad ), tuniji
d)All adjectives of three or more syllables:
pametan ( clever ), pametniji
zadovoljan ( contented ), zadovoljniji
17. There are three adjectives which form the comparative by adding i:
lep ( beautiful ), lepi
mek ( soft ), meki
lak ( easy ), laki
18. The following adjectives have irregular comparatives:
dobar ( good ), bolji
zao ( bad ), gori
veliki ( big ), vei
malen ( small ), manji
19. There are two words for than in Serbian: nego and od. Nego is followed by the
nominative, od by the genitive.
Milan je stariji od Miloa.
nego Milo.

Milan is older than Milo.

20. The superlative


The superlative is formed by adding the prefix naj- to the comparative.
mlad ( young ), mlai, najmlai
crven ( red ), crveniji, najcrveniji
dubok ( deep ), dublji, najdublji
dobar ( good ), bolji, najbolji
Remember that adjectives beginning in j have a double consonant in the superlative:
jak ( strong ), jai, najjai

Adverbs
1. Adverbs do not decline. There are different kind of adverbs.
2. Adverbs of place answer the question: where?
ovde ( here ), gore ( above ), blizu ( near ), nikuda ( nowhere ), nekuda( somewere )
21

Grammar in English

3. Adverbs of time answer of question: when?


sada ( now ), onda ( then ), jue ( yesterday ), danas ( today ), sutra ( tomorrow ),
rano ( early ), kasno ( late ).
4. Adverbs of degree answer the question: how much?
vrlo ( very ), mnogo ( a lot ).
5. Adverbs of manner answer the question: how?, in what way?:
napamet ( by heart ), odjednom ( suddenly ), ovako ( in this way ).
6. Many adverbs of manner come from adjectives and have the same form as the
neuter adjective:
brzo ( quickly ), veselo ( gaily ), lepo ( beautiful ), lako ( easily ).
7. Such adverbs have comparatives and superlatives, which are formed in exactly the
same way as those of the corresponding adjective.They end in e and do not
change.
brzo, bre ( more quickly ), najbre ( most quickly )
lako, lake ( more easily ), najlake ( most easily ).

Verbs
General
1. The infinite of a verb is the part which is expressed in English as "to" do
something, to read, to run. It simply states the action, without giving any
information about person, tense or voice. In Serbian infinitives end in ti or i.
2. In Serbian some verbal forms are based on the infinitive stem, and some on the
present tense stem. In many verbs these two stems are the same, but in many
others they are not. It is therefore very important that you know which verbs have
the same infinitive and present stem, and which do not.
I Infinitives ending in ti.
The infinitive and present tense stems of these verbs are generally the same:
gledati ( to look )
gledam ( I look )
II Infinitives ending in ivati, -ovati and avati.
Again, the infinitive and present tense stems are generally the same. This becomes
clear when the infinitive ending and the present ending, both of which are longer than
in type I verbs, are removed:
pokaz-ivati ( to show )
pokaz-ujem ( I show )
III Infinitives ending in i.

22

Grammar in English

Verbs ending in i never have the same infinitive and present tense stem. Their
present tense stem always ends in a consonant other than , usually g, k, d, or h.
Sometimes an n is also present at the end of the stem:
pomoi ( to help )
pomognem ( I help )
ii ( to go )
idem ( I go )
doi ( to come )
doem ( I come )
IV Infinitives ending in sti.
Verbs ending in sti do not have the same infinitive and present tense stem if the sti
follows a vowel, although it may be the same if it follows a consonant. The present
tense stem of these verbs usually ends in t, d, p or b:
jesti ( to eat )
jedem ( I eat )
3. Personal pronouns are very often omitted in Serbian. They are only used for
emphasis and to draw attention to the person.
4. Verbs which can be followed by a noun ( or a person ) as object of the action are
called transitive verbs.
Gledam Danicu.
I'm watching Danica.
Sluam radio.
I'm listening ( to ) the radio.
5.Many transitive verbs can be made reflexive by using the reflexive pronoun se as
the object. Se does not change, and it is used for all persons. It follows the verb if
there is no pronoun or noun in front of the verb. It precedes the verb if a pronoun or a
noun is used as a subject.
Gleda se.
She is looking at herself.
Ona se gleda.
In Serbian many more verbs are used in a reflexive way than in other languages. In
the example above, a reflexive would be expected, as the action refers back to the
subject. However, a verb is often made reflexive, by the use of se, when in English
there is no reference back to the subject and a reflexive would not be expected. In
Serbian a reflexive is oftenused a convert a transitive verb into an intransitive one, or
when the subject and object are the same.
Igramo se.
We are playing. ( We amuse ourselves. )
Igramo fudbal.
We are playing football.
A reflexive is often used to express a reciprocal action by two or more people, i.e.
when in English we would say "each other".
On je pozdravlja.
He greets her.
Oni se pozdravljaju.
They greet each other.
6. Verbs which have no object are called intransitive. Most verbs that express
motion are intransitive: ii ( to go ), etati ( to walk ).
7. The second person singular ( ti ) is used to address a close friend, relative or child.
The second person plural ( vi ) is used to address more than one person, or one
person who is not well known to the speaker.

23

Grammar in English

8. Imperfective and perfective verbs


In Serbian there are usually two verbs for every one verb in English: one imperfective
and one perfective. This enables Serbian, which has less tenses than English and some
other languages, to convey the shades of meaning expressed by the various tenses in
those languages. The imperfective verb expresses an action in progress or continuous
over a period, and is often translated by a continuous tense in English.
Jue sam itao jedan roman itavo vee.
Yesterday I was reading a novel the whole evening.
The perfective verb expresses an action which has been, or will be, completed, or
perfected. It is usually translated by a simple tense in English.
Jue uvee sam proitao jednu pripovetku.
Yesterday evening I read ( finished reading ) a short story.
The imperfective verb is used to express a habitual or repetitive action.
Danica uvek pomae baki da spremi ruak.
Danica always helps grandma to prepare lunch.
The imperfective verb is used to describe an action in general, which may not be
happening at the moment, while the perfective verb expresses a particular action done
at a specific time ( even if there is no mention of time in the sentence ).
U leto nam esto dolaze gosti iz grada.
In summer guests from town often come to ( see ) us.
Doli su nam gosti iz grada.
Guests from town have come to ( see ) us.
Otac kupuje novine svakog jutra.
Father buys a newpaper every morning.
Kupili smo novi auto.
We've bought a new car.
9. Many imperfective verbs become perfective by the addition of a prefix, such as
po-, na-, pro-, o-, etc.
imperfective
perfective
piti
to drink
popiti
to drink up
pisati to write
napisati
to finish
itati to read
proitati
to finish
Other pairs of verbs:
donositi doneti ( to bring )
odmarati se odmoriti se ( to rest )
plaati platiti ( to pay )

24

Grammar in English

zaboravljati zaboraviti ( to forget )


The two verbs in some pairs are so different from each other that they should be
learnt together, so that it is remembered that they are a pair.
ulaziti ui ( to go in, enter )

The present tense


10. The present tense is used for following:
a) to express an action happening at the moment of speaking.
On slua radio.
He is listening to the radio.
b) to express a habitual action.
Milena ide u kolu svaki dan. Milena goes to school every day.
c) to express an action which started in the past and is still going on.
Milan radi od est sati ujutru. Milan has been working since six in the morning.
ivimo u Beogradu deset godina.
We have lived in Belgrade for ten years.
d) it can be used to express a future action.
Prekosutra idemo na more.
We're going to the seaside the day after tomorrow.
e) The word da and the present tense is used after some verbs, such as znati ( to
know ), eleti ( to want, wish ), nameravati ( to intend ), voleti ( to like ), as an
alternative to the infinitive.
elim da kupim novo odelo.
I want to buy a new suit.
elim kupiti novo odelo.
11. The present tense is formed by adding one of four basic groups of endings to the
present tense stem. The first person singular of the four groups ends in am, -in,
-em or jem. Complete models of each type are given below.
I Infinitives ending in ti
The vowel preceding the ti may indicate which type of present tense endings the
verb takes:
-am
-im
gledati ( to look )
raditi ( to work )
(ja) gledam
(mi) gledamo
(ja) radim
(mi) radimo
(ti) gleda
(vi) gledate
(ti) radi
(vi) radite
(on)
(oni)
(on)
(oni)
(ona) gleda
(one) gledaju
(ona) radi
(one) rade
(ono)
(ona)
(ono)
(ona)
However, the vowel before -ti is not always a good indication of the endings a verb
will take. Here is a summary of possibilities, according to which vowel precedes ti.
a) verbs ending in iti always take im.
b) verbs ending in uti always take em

25

Grammar in English

krenuti ( to move ), krenem ( I move )


c) verbs ending in eti may take em or im
Endings of the em type are more common, but when they are used the present tense
stem usually differs in some way from the infinitive:
poeti ( to start ), ponem ( I start )
When im type endings are used, the present tense stem and the infinitive stem are
usually the same:
videti ( to see ), vidim ( I see )
There is no way of telling which present tense endings are taken by a verb ending in
-eti, so the present tense of each such verb should be learned.
d) verbs ending in ati usually take am, but may take im or em in the following
circumstances:
i)
if the last consonant of the stem is , or ( sometimes ) j, -im type
endings may be added:
drati ( to hold ), drim ( I hold )
stojati ( to stand ), stojim ( I stand )
ii)
if the last consonant of the stem are nj, lj or ( sometimes ) j, -em type
endings may be added:
poinjati ( to start ), poinjem ( I start )
kaljati ( to cough ), kaljem ( I cough )
Note: Some verbs ending in ati, where the last consonant of the infinitive stem is s, z, t,
c, k or ks, have a different final consonant in the present tense, and em type endings:
pisati ( to write ), piem ( I write )
This is due to jotovanje.
Here are complete models of verbs with em and jem type endings:
-em
-jem
pisati ( to write )
piti ( to drink )
(ja) piem
(mi) piemo
(ja) pijem
(mi)pijemo
(ti) pie
(vi) piete
(ti) pije
(vi) pijete
(on)
(oni)
(on)
(oni)
(ona) pie
(one) piu
(ona) pije
(one) piju
(ono)
(ona)
(ono)
(ona)
II Infinitives ending in ivati, -ovati and avati.
All these verbs have a slightly longer present tense ending than other types of verbs,
because of the addition of an extra vowel, u or a, before jem type endings.
a) verbs ending in ivati and ovati have the letter u before jem endings:
pokazivati ( to show ), pokazujem ( I show )
stanovati ( to live, reside ), stanujem ( I live )
b) verbs ending in avati have the letter a before jem endings:
prodavati ( to sell ), prodajem ( I sell )
Note: in a few verbs ending in avati, the av is part of the stem. These verbs
conjugate like ati verbs: pribliavati ( to approach ), pribliavam ( I approach ).
III Infinitives ending in i

26

Grammar in English

Verbs ending in i always have em type endings. However, the final consonant of the
present tense stem varies, and can be g, k or d, sometimes with an n added as well:
pomoi ( to help ), pomognem ( I help )
rei ( to say ), reknem ( I say )
ii ( to go ), idem ( I go )
The final consonant may change again during conjugation. Note especially:
moi ( to be able )
mogu
moemo
moe
moete
moe
mogu

pei ( to bake )
peem
peemo
pee
peemo
pee
peku

IV Infinitives ending in sti


Verbs ending in sti always have em type endings, but their infinitive and present tense
stem is not always the same:
a) some verbs simply drop the ti and take em endings:
tresti ( to shake ), tresem ( I shake )
b) in other verbs the stem changes completely, and the final consonant is most often
d, but can be p, b or t:
jesti ( to eat ),
jedem ( I eat )
provesti ( to spend ),
provedem ( I spend )
grepsti ( to scratch ),
grebem ( I scratch )
12. Jotovanje takes place where jem, -je, -je type endings are added to verbs with a
present stem ending in one of the consonant affected by jotovanje. The j is no
longer visible.
skakati ( to jump ),
skaem ( skak-jem ),
skae, etc.
disati ( to breathe ),
diem ( dis-jem ),
die, etc.
rezati ( to cut ),
reem ( rez-jem ),
ree, etc.
kretati ( to set off ),
kreem ( kret-jem ),
kree, etc.
13. Palatalizacija takes place where endings beginning with e are added to verbs
with a present stem ending in k, g or h.
moi ( to be able ), mogu, moe ( mog-e ), etc.
tei ( to flow ), teem ( tek-em ), tee, etc.
pei ( to bake ), peem ( pek-em ), pee, etc.
14. Questions are made by the inversion of the verb and the pronoun, and the
inversion of li between them. The pronoun is very seldom used, so the inversion
can not always be seen.
(Oni) gledaju film.
They are watching a film.
Gledaju li (oni) film.
Are they watching a film?
Question can also be made by putting da li in front of the verb. Then no inversion
takes place.
Da li (oni) gledaju film?
Are they watching a film?

27

Grammar in English

15. Most verbs are negated simply by putting ne in front of them.


Milan ui.
Milan is studying.
Milan ne ui.
Milan is not studying.
16. Imati ( to have ) has a special negative form.
positive: imam, ima, ima, imamo, imate, imaju.
negative: nemam, nema, nema, nemamo, nemate, nemaju.

Auxiliary verbs
17. In Serbian two verbs are used as auxiliary verbs, i.e. to form tenses of other verbs.
Biti ( to be ) is used to form the past tense, and hteti ( to want ) to form the future.
18. The present tense of biti has three different forms:
a) short form
sam ( I am )
smo
si
ste
je
su
b)long form ( more emphatic )
jesam
jesmo
jesi
jeste
je
jesu
c) another form ( used to form the future exact tense )
budem
budemo
bude
budete
bude
budu
19.The negative present tense of biti:
nisam ( I am not )
nismo
nisi
niste
nije
nisu
20. Questions are made from biti in the following way:
jesam li (ja)? ( Am I? )
jesmo li (mi)? ( are we? )
jesi li (ti)?
jeste li (vi)?
je li ( on, ona, ono )?
jesu li ( oni, one, ona )?
Thus to long forms ( except in the third person singular ) are usually used to form
questions. However, questions can also be made by putting da li in front of the short
forms:
da li sam ja?
( am I? )
da li si ti?
( are you? )
21. Hteti ( to want ) has two forms of the present tense:
a) short form

28

Grammar in English

u
e
e

emo
ete
e

c) long form
hou
hoemo
hoe
hoete
hoe
hoe
Note that the long form is used when hteti has its own meaning of to want, and the
short form is used when it is an auxiliary verb forming the future tense of another
verb.
22. The negative present tense of hteti:
neu ( I don't want )
neemo
nee
neemo
nee
nee

The future tense


23. The future tense is formed with the short forms of the present tense of the
auxiliary verb hteti ( u, e, etc. ) and the infinitive. The future tense of most verbs
can be written in two ways: a) the auxiliary and the infinitive are written as two
separate words, b) the infinitive ending is dropped and the auxiliary is added to the
stem to form one word.
raditi ( to work )
a) (ja) u raditi
or
b) radiu ( I shall work )
(ti) e raditi
radie
(on)
(ona) e raditi
radie
(ono)
(mi) emo raditi
radiemo
(vi) ete raditi
radiete
(oni)
(one) e raditi
radie
(ona)
In addition, the order of the two-word form can be reversed: raditi u, etc.
24. Verbs ending in i do not drop their endings, and u, e, etc. are never added to
them, even when the order is reversed.
doi ( to come )
(ja) u doi
or
doi u ( I shall come )
(ti) e doi
(on)
(ona) e doi

29

Grammar in English

(ono)
(mi) emo doi
(vi) ete doi
(oni)
(one) e doi
(ona)
25. The long form of hteti ( hou, hoe, etc. ) is used to form the interrogative
future.
Hou li doi?
Shall I come?
Hoe li doi?
Will you come?
Hoe li doi?
Will he come?
Note: if the interrogative sentence begins with da li or an interrogative word, such as
kad ( when ), ko ( who ), to ( what ), the short forms of the present tense of hteti are
used.
Da li e kupiti auto?
Will you buy a car?
Kad e doi?
When will you come?
26. The negative future is formed by negative present tense of hteti and the infinitive.
Neu kupiti auto.
I shall not buy a car.
Nee ii u bioskop.
You will not go to the cinema.
27. The future tense of biti.
(ja) u biti
or
(ti) e biti
(on)
(ona) e biti
(ono)
(mi) emo biti
(vi) ete biti
(oni)
(one) e biti
(ona)

biu ( I shall be )
bie
bie
biemo
biete
bie

28. The interrogative future of biti.


hou li biti?
or
hoe li biti?

da li u biti? ( Shall I be? )


da li e biti? ( Will you be? )

29. The negative future of biti.


ja neu biti
ti nee biti

( I shall not be )
( you will not be )

Verbal adjectives
30. In Serbian there are two verbal adjectives: the active and the passive.

30

Grammar in English

31. The verbal adjective active has some of the characteristics of the definite
adjective. It agrees in number and gender with its subject. It is mostly used in forming
compound tenses, in particular the past tense. The verbal adjective active has the
following endings:
singular
plural
masculine
-o
-li
feminine
-la
-le
neuter
-lo
-la
These endings are added to the infinitive or the present tense stem, depending on the
type of verb.
I and II In all verbs ending in ti, the endings above replace the ti. Here are some
examples:
biti ( to be )
bio, bila, etc.
hteti ( to want )
hteo, htela
zvati ( to call )
zvao, zvala
razviti ( to develop )
razvio, razvila
krenuti ( to move )
krenuo, krenula
III If the infinitive ends in i, a consonant other than is present in the verbal
adjective active before the endings. It is often, but not always, the same consonant as
in the present tense of the verb. Where an n is added in the present tense, this is
omitted. The ending ao is added to the masculine:
present
verbal adjective active
moi ( to be able )
mogu, moe
mogao, mogla
pomoi ( to help )
pomognem
pomogao, pomogla
rei ( to say )
reknem
rekao, rekla
Exception to this are ii ( to go ) and its derivates, most of which have d or in the
present tense, and in the verbal adjective active, e.g.
ii ( to go )
idem
iao, ila
doi ( to come )
doem
doao, dola
IV If the infinitives ends in sti the stem of the verbal adjective active depends on
that of the present tense.
a) When the stem of the present tense ends in d, t, dn or tn, the stem of the infinitive
is used for the verbal adjective active, the sti being replaced by the ending:
jesti ( to eat )
jedem
jeo, jela
pasti ( to fall )
padnem
pao, pala
b) When the stem of the present tense does not end in d, t, dn or tn, the verbal
adjective active has the same stem as the present, and the masculine ending is
ao:
tresti ( to shake )
tresem
tresao, tresla

31

Grammar in English

grepsti ( to scratch )

grebem

grebao, grebla

32. The verbal adjective passive is used in the formation of the passive voice. The
passive is not very often used in speech. The following endings are added to the
infinitive or the present stem.

a)
b)
c)
d)

masculine
s.
pl.
-en
-eni
-jen
-jeni
-n
-ni
-t
-ti

feminine
s.
pl.
-ena
-ene
-jena
-jene
-na
-ne
-ta
-te

neuter
s.
pl.
-eno
-ena
-jeno
-jena
-no
-na
-to
-ta

The past tense


33. The past tense is formed with the short forms of the present tense of biti ( sam, si,
je, smo, ste, su ) and the verbal adjective active, which agrees with the subject in
number and gender. The order of the short form of biti and the verbal adjective is
reversed when the noun or pronoun is omitted: ja sam rekao, but rekao sam; rekao
sam can only be used at the beginning of a sentence.
rei ( to say )
ja sam rekao ( m. ), rekla ( f. ) I said
ti si rekao ( m. ), rekla ( f. )
on je rekao
ona je rekla
ono je reklo

mi smo rekli ( m. ), rekle ( f. )


vi ste rekli ( m. ), rekle ( f. )
oni su rekli
one su rekle
ona su rekla

34. The negative past


ja nisam rekao ( rekla ) I didn't say
ti nisi rekao ( rekla )
on nije rekao
ona nije rekla
ono nije reklo

mi nismo rekli ( rekle )


vi niste rekli ( rekle )
oni nisu rekli
one nisu rekle
ona nisu rekla

35. The interrogative past


jesam li (ja) rekao ( rekla )?
jesi li (ti) rekao ( rekla )?

da li sam (ja) rekao ( rekla )? ( did I say? )


da li si (ti) rekao ( rekla )? ( did you say? )

or

36. The past of biti

32

Grammar in English

a) ja sam bio (bila) ( I was )


ti si bio (bila) ( you were )
on je bio
ona je bila
ono je bilo
b)The negative past of biti
ja nisam bio ( bila ) ( I wasn't )
ti nisi bio ( bila ) ( you weren't )
c) The interrogative past of biti
jesam li (ja) bio ( bila )?
jesi li (ti) bio (bila)?

mi smo bili (bile)


vi ste bili (bile)
oni su bili
one su bile
ona su bila

or

da li sam bio ( bila )? ( was I? )


da li si bio (bila)? (were you?)

37. The past of hteti


a) ja sam hteo ( htela ) ( I wanted )
ti si hteo ( htela )
on je hteo
ona je htela
ono je htelo

mi smo hteli ( htele )


vi ste hteli ( htele )
oni su hteli
one su htele
ona su htela

b)The negative past of hteti


ja nisam hteo ( htela ) ( I didn't want )
ti nisi hteo ( htela )
c)The interrogative past of hteti
jesam li (ja) hteo ( htela )?
or
jesi li (ti) hteo ( htela )?

da li sam (ja) hteo ( htela )? ( Did I want?)


da li si (ti) hteo ( htela )?

The future exact tense


38.The future exact is formed by the verbal adjective active and a different present
form of biti: budem, bude, bude, budemo, budete, budu. It is not used as much
as the future tense . It may be used to refer to an action in the future which will take
place before another action in the future. The present tense may also be used in such
cases.
Ona e doi kada bude imala vremena.
She will come when she has time.

The conditional
39. The conditional can express a condition, possibility or wishes. Here are some
examples:
Kad bismo imali vremena, otili bismo na izlet.
If we had time, we would go on a trip.

33

Grammar in English

Mogli bismo ii u bioskop.


We could go to the cinema.
Kupio bih novi auto.
I would like to buy a new car.
40. The conditional is formed by bih, bi, bi, bismo, biste, bi and the verbal
adjective active. The order of these two words can be reversed.
dolaziti ( to come )
ja bih dolazio ( dolazila ) ( I would come ) mi bismo dolazili ( dolazile )
ti bi dolazio ( dolazila )
vi biste dolazili ( dolazile )
on bi dolazio
oni bi dolazili
ona bi dolazila
one bi dolazile
ono bi dolazilo
ona bi dolazila

The imperative
41. The imperative is used to express command or request. It is formed by adding
the endings i, -imo, -ite; -j, -jmo, -jte; or ji, -jimo, -jite to the present or
infinitive stem. These endings are for the second person singular, and first and
second person plural. The third person singular and plural are formed by neka
and the present tense form.
sluati ( to listen )
singular
plural
1st. p.
slua-jmo ( let us listen )
2nd. p.
sluaj ( listen! )
slua-jte ( listen! )
3rd. p.
neka slua ( let him/her listen )
neka sluaju ( let them listen )
42. Some verbs with a present tense stem ending in j have no additional ending in
the second person singular, and have mo and te in the first and second person
plural respectively.
dati ( to give )
1st. p.
dajmo
2nd. p.
daj
dajte
3rd. p.
neka daje
neka daju
43. Because of jotovanje the j is not visible in the imperative forms of many verbs
which take the ending ji, -jimo, -jite.
pisati ( to write )
s+j=
1st. p.
piimo
2nd. p.
pii
piite
3rd. p.
neka pie
neka piu
vezati ( to tie )
1st. p.
-

z+j=
veimo
34

Grammar in English

2nd. p.
3rd. p.

vei
neka vee

veite
neka veu

vikati ( to scream ) k + j =
1st. p.
2nd. p.
vii
3rd. p.
neka vie

viimo
viite
neka viu

44. Sibilarizacija takes place in the imperative forms of some verbs.


pei ( to bake )
peci, neka pee, pecimo, pecite, neka peku
rei ( to say )
reci, neka ree, recimo, recite, neka reku
45. The negative imperative is made by putting ne in front of the imperative: ne sluaj!
( don't listen! ). However, for milder commands nemoj, nemojmo, nemojte, can be used
instead of ne, followed by an infinitive or by da and the present tense.
svirati ( to play )
1st. p.
2nd. p.
nemoj svirati ( don't play )
3rd. p.
neka ne svira ( let him not play )

nemojmo svirati ( let's not play )


nemojte svirati ( don't play )
neka ne sviraju ( let them not play )

or pevati ( to sing )
1st. p.
2nd. p.
nemoj da peva
3rd. p.
neka ne peva

nemojmo da pevamo
nemojte da pevate
neka ne pevaju

46.The imperative of biti


1st. p.
2nd. p.
budi
3rd. p.
neka bude

budimo
budite
neka budu

Negative
1st. p.
2nd. p.
3rd. p.

nemoj biti
-

ne budimo and
ne budi
ne budite
neka ne bude neka ne budu

nemojmo biti
nemojte biti
-

Imperfective and perfective verbs


Here is a list of common imperfective and perfective verbs. The first verb of each pair is
the imperfective, the second the perfective:
boleti/zaboleti
istiti/oistiti
itati/proitati
uvati/priuvati
utati/zautati

to ache
to clean
to read
to look after
to be silent
35

Grammar in English

davati/dati
dogovarati se/dogovoriti se
dolaziti/doi
donositi/doneti
drati/odrati
gledati/pogledati
greiti/pogreiti
grliti/zagrliti
hvaliti/pohvaliti
ii/otii
izlaziti/izai
iznositi/izneti
kriti/sakriti
kupati se/okupati se
kupovati/kupiti
leiti/izleiti
ljubiti se/poljubiti se
meriti/izmeriti
misliti/pomisliti
nailaziti/naii
nalaziti/nai
obavetavati se/obavestiti se
odmarati se/odmoriti se
odvajati/odvojiti
oseati/osetiti
padati/pasti
peglati/ispeglati
pisati/napisati
plaati/platiti
poinjati/poeti
pokazivati/pokazati
pokrivati/pokriti
polagati ispit/poloiti ispit
pomagati/pomoi
poseiveti/posetiti
pozivati/pozvati
prati/oprati
primati/primiti
provoditi/provesti
pucati/puknuti
radovati ( se )/obradovati ( se )
rastajati se/rastati se
seati se/setiti se
slagati se/sloiti se
slati/poslati
smetati/smestiti

to give
to discuss ( imp. )/ to agree ( perf. )
to come
to bring
to hold
to look
to make a mistake
to embrace
to praise
to go
to go out
to carry out
to hide
to bathe
to buy
to cure
to kiss
to measure
to think
to appear
to find
to find out
to rest
to put aside
to feel
to fall
to iron
to write
to pay
to begin
to show
to cover
to take an exam
to help
to visit
to call, invite
to wash
to accept, receive
to spend ( time )
to shoot; burst
to please ( be pleased )
to part
to remember
to agree
to send
to put, place

36

Grammar in English

snalaziti se/snai se
spremati se/spremiti se
sretati/sresti
stavljati/staviti
sumnjati/posumnjati
etati/proetati
traiti/potraiti
troiti/potroiti
truditi se/potruditi se
ulaziti/ui
upoznavati se/upoznati se
uzimati/uzeti
vaditi/izvaditi
voleti/zavoleti
vraati se/vratiti se
zaboravljati/zaboraviti
zadravati se/zadrati se
zamenjivati/zameniti
zapaati/zapaziti
zaustavljati/zaustaviti
zvoniti/zazvoniti
eleti/zaeleti
uriti/pouriti

to find one's way


to get ready
to meet
to put
to doubt
to walk
to look for
to spend
to make an effort
to enter
to became acquainted
to take, buy, get
to take out
to love
to return
to forget
to stay, stop
to change
to notice
to stop
to ring
to wish
to hurry

Ii ( to go ) and its compounds


Ii is an imperfective verb. When a preposition is added as a prefix to give it a precise
meaning, iz ( out ), izai ( to go out ), this new form is automatically perfective. It is
therefore necessary to make a new imperfective form for the new verb: izlaziti.
The following are some of the more common compounds of ii, which occur in the
course and are formed according to this pattern:
dolaziti/doi ( ii + do, up to )
to come
odlaziti/otii ( ii + od, away from ) to go away
nalaziti/nai
to come upon, to find
polaziti/poi
to set off
prolaziti/proi
to pass by
silaziti/sii
to go down
prelaziti/prei
to cross
prilaziti/prii
to approach, come up to

Numbers
Cardinal numbers
1 jedan, jedna, jedno
2 dva ( m. and n. ), dve ( f. )

11 jedanaest
12 dvanaest
37

Grammar in English

3 tri
4 etiri
5 pet
6 est
7 sedam
8 osam
9 devet
10 deset

13 trinaest
14 etrnaest
15 petnaest
16 esnaest
17 sedamnaest
18 osamnaest
19 devetnaest
20 dvadeset

21 dvadeset (i) jedan


22 dvadeset (i) dva
30 trideset
40 etrdeset
50 pedeset
60 ezdeset
70 sedamdeset
80 osamdeset
90 devedeset
100 sto

101 sto (i) jedan


200 dvesta
300 trista
400 etristo
500 petsto
600 esto
700 sedamsto
800 osamsto
900 devetsto
1000 hiljada

Notes on cardinal numbers


1. Jedan, jedna, jedno behaves like an adjective. It always agrees in number, gender and
case with the noun it is with. Here is its full declension:
singular
N.
A.
G.
D.
I.
L.

m.
n.
jedan
jedno
as N. or G. jedno
jednog(a)
jednom(u)
jednim
jednom

plural
f.
jedna
jednu
jedne
jednoj
jednom
jednoj

m.
jedni
jedne

n.
jedna
jedna
jednih
jednim(a)
jednim(a)
jednim(a)

f.
jedne
jedne

Compound numbers ending in one agree with the noun, which is always singular, in
gender and case:
Kupio sam dvadeset (i) jednu novu knjigu.
I've bought 21 new books.
Jedan has additional meanings to the English one. It is sometimes used as an article, and
can mean a, a certain, and in the plural, some, certain:
jedan ovek
a man, a certain man

38

Grammar in English

2. Dva, dve, tri and etiri behave as nouns. Dva is used with masculine and neuter
nouns, dve with feminine. A noun following any of these numbers, or a compound
number ending in 2, 3, or 4, is in the genitive singular:
dva sina
two sons
dve sobe
two rooms
tri stola
three tables
etiri knjige
four books
dvadeset i dve knjige
twenty-two books
Declensions of these cardinal numbers exist but are rarely used in the modern language.
3.Cardinal numbers from five to ten, and all compound numbers ending in 5, 6,7,
8, 9,0, are followed by genitive plural:
dva sina
but
pet sinova
( five sons )
dve sobe
but
osam soba
( eight rooms )
Numbers from five upwards are not declined, except for stotina, hiljada, which have
regular feminine singular declension.
4. Verbs with cardinal numbers
After dva ( dve ), tri and etiri, although the noun is in the genitive singular, the verb
is in the plural. In the past tense a masculine noun has a verb with a neuter plural
ending.
Tri deaka su otila na fudbalsku utakmicu. Three boys went to a football match.
Ove dve devojke su bile u bioskopu. These two girls have been to the cinema.
After numbers ending in 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 0, the noun is in the genitive plural, but the
verb is neuter singular.
Pet uenika je gledalo utakmicu.
Five schoolboys watched the match.
est ena je sedelo za istim stolom.
Six women sat at the same table.

Collective numerals
5. Collective numerals are used quite often in Serbian. The following types are the
most common:
a) those ending in ica: dvojica, trojica, etvorica, petorica and obojica ( both ),
are used when referring collectively to masculine animates. They are declined as
feminine singular nouns, but take a neuter plural verb.
Trojica su otila u bioskop.
The three ( of them ) went to the cinema. ( males
only )
b) dvoje, troje, etvoro, petoro, and so on, refer collectively to a group of nouns of
mixed gender, and take a neuter singular verb.
Nas troje je otilo u bioskop. The three of us went to the cinema. ( male and
female )
c) There are no collective numerals for females only. The ordinary cardinal number
is used.

39

Grammar in English

Ordinal numbers
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
6th

prvi, prva, prvo


drugi, druga, drugo
trei, trea, tree
etvrti, etvrta, etvrto
peti, peta, peto
esti, etc.

13th
14th
15th
16th
17th
18th
19th

trinaesti
etrnaesti
petnaesti
esnaesti
sedamnaesti
osamnaesti
devetnaesti

7th
8th
9th
10th
11th
12th

sedmi
osmi
deveti
deseti
jedanaesti
dvanaesti

20th dvadeseti
21st dvadeset (i) prvi
22nd dvadeset (i) drugi
30th trideseti
100th stoti
200th dvestoti
1000th hiljaditi

Note on ordinal numbers.


All ordinal numbers are adjectives and agree in number, gender and case with the
noun they qualify. In compound ordinal numbers only the last element has ordinal
form and agrees with the noun, the preceding elements being cardinal:
Stotinu ezdeset (i) tri dan.
The one hundred and sixty third day.

Word order in Serbian is on the whole very flexible, thanks to the case endings and
the clearly differentiated verb endings. In one instance, however, word order is strict.
This is in the use of short forms of auxiliary verbs and pronouns. These small
words ( called 'enclitics' ) carry no stress; they are pronounced almost as part of the
preceding or following word. As they are unstressed, they cannot be placed in any
position in a sentence where they would be obliged to carry stress; they cannot be
placed first in a sentence or subordinate clause. The further on in sentence they are
placed, the more likely they are to be stressed, and so they are placed as near as
possible to the beginning of the sentence or clause, usually as the second word.
Look at the following examples:
a) Short form of verbs
Da li ste student?
Are you a student?
Da, ja sam student.
Da, student sam.

Yes, i am a student

In subordinate clauses of a complex sentence, verbal short forms are placed immediately
after the word introducing the subordinate clause:

40

Grammar in English

Rekao sam da sam student.


I said I was (am) a student.
Mislim da e doi.
I think they will come.
To je prijatelj koji je bio s nama u Parizu.
This is the friend who was with us in Paris.
Pitali smo ih gde su bili.
We asked them where they were.
b) Short forms of pronouns
The same rule applies, as in the following examples:
Svia mi se Beograd.
I like Belgrade. ( Belgrade pleases me. )
Pitao je da li mi se svia Beograd. He asked if I liked Belgrade ( if Belgrade pleases
me ).
Piu nam da e doi.
They write (us) that they'll come.
Oni nam piu da e doi.
Note that the long forms of pronouns must always be used after prepositions and in any
position of emphasis:
Vidim ga esto.
I see him often.
But
To je poklon za njega.
This is a present for him.
Molim te, pii nam: daleko smo od tebe.
I beg you, write to us: we are a long way away from you.
c) Verb and pronoun short forms in the same sentence
In sentences where auxiliary verbs are used to form the past or the future, and there are
short forms of pronouns present too, a strict hierarchy governs the order they follow;
remember the following formula:
VERBAL ( except je ), PRONOMINAL ( in order: DATIVE, ACCUSATIVE,
GENITIVE ), REFLEXIVE (se), je.
Remember that je always comes last. Here are some examples:
Videli su (VE) nas (A).
They saw us.
But
Video nas je.
He saw us.
Dao sam (VE) mu (D) ga (A).
I gave him it.
But
Dao mu ga je.
He gave him it.
Baka i deda su im se uvek hvalili.
Grandma and Grandpa were always boasting to them.
This will probably seem very complicated at first, but if you look carefully at sentences in
the course and practise forming them yourself, it will soon become quite natural and the
words will sound wrong if you put them in the wrong order.

41

Grammar in English

42