Croatian Tutorial: Basic Croatian Phrases, Vocabulary and Grammar

The Croatian language is a South Slavic language closely related to Serbian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin. It is spoken mostly in Croatia by about 5 million people. It is the official language of Croatia and an official language of neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the the Serbian province of Vojvodina. Standard Croatian is based on the dialect Shtokavian but Croats also speak Chakavian and Kajkavian. (Formerly, the languages spoken in the Balkans were known collectively as Serbo-Croatian but this term tends not to be used anymore.)

Thanks to Sven for proofreading this tutorial and the volunteers at Rhinospike for the recordings. If you are interested in authentic uses of language, go to Croatian realia for photos taken in Croatia.


1. Basic Croatian Phrases

Dobar dan
Hello / Good Day (more formal)
Zdravo / Bok / Ćao 
Hello, Hi / Bye
Do viđenja / Zbogom
Goodbye (more formal)
Dobro jutro
Good Morning
Dobra večer
Good Evening
Laku noć
Good Night
Hvala (lijepa)
Thank you (very much)
Nema na čemu
You're welcome
Vidimo se kasnije
See you later
Vidimo se uskoro
See you soon
Idemo / Hajdemo
Let's go
Gospođa, gospođica
Madam, Miss
Da / Ne / Možda
Yes / No / Maybe
Oprosti / Oprostite
Excuse me (informal / formal)
Žao mi je
I'm sorry
Kako ste?
How are you? (formal)
Dobro / Dobro sam
I'm fine
U redu sam
I'm OK
Kako ti ide? / Kako si?
How are you? (informal)
Dobro mi ide
I'm great
Nije mi tako dobro
I'm not so well
Kako se zovete?
What's your name? (formal)
Kako se zoveš?
What's your name? (informal)
Zovem se... / Ime mi je ...
I am... / My name is...
Drago mi je!

Nice to meet you!
Možete li mi pomoći?
Can you help me? (formal)
Možeš li mi pomoći?
Can you help me? (informal)
Odakle ste? Where are you from? (formal)
Odakle si?
Where are you from? (informal)
Ja sam iz ...
I'm from...
Koliko imate godina?
How old are you? (formal)
Koliko imaš godina?
How old are you? (informal)
Ja imam __ godina.
I am ____ years old.
Govorite li ____? / Znate li ____?
Do you speak ____? (formal)
Govoriš li ____? / Znaš li ____?
Do you speak ____? (informal)
[Ne] Govorim / Znam ...
I [don't] speak ...
Govorim malo... / Znam malo...
I speak a little...
[Ne] razumijem
I [don't] understand.
[Ne] znam
I [don't] know
hrvatski, srpski, engleski, njemački, francuski, ruski, španjolski, portugalski, talijanski, arapski, kineski, japanski, indonezijski
Croatian, Serbian, English, German, French, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian
Možete li to ponoviti?
Could you repeat that? (formal)
Što ste rekli?
What does that mean?
Kako se kaže ___ na hrvatskom?
How do you say ___ in Croatian?
May I?
Htio / Htjela bih ___.
I would like ___. (male / female)
Nije važno.
It doesn't matter.
[Ne] slažem se.
I [don't] agree.
Gdje je ___?
Where is ___ ?
Koliko je to?
How much is this?
Gladan / Gladna sam.
I'm hungry. (male / female)
Žedan / Žedna sam.
I'm thirsty. (male / female)
Izgubio sam se / Izgubila sam se
I'm lost. (male / female)
Just a moment.
Izvoli / Izvolite!
Here you go. (informal / formal)
Požuri / Požurite!
Hurry up! (informal / formal)
Šta ima novoga?
What's new?
Ništa novog.
Nothing much.
Good luck!
Bless you! (after sneeze)
Ne brini!
Don't worry!
Sretan put!
Have a nice trip!
Slatki snovi!
Sweet dreams!
Sviđaš mi se.
I like you.
Volim te.
I love you.
Sretan rođendan!
Happy birthday!
Sretan Božić!
Merry Christmas!
Sretna nova godina!
Happy New Year!
Sretni praznici/blagdani!
Happy Holidays!
Hvala, također!
Thanks, same to you!
Dobar tek!
Enjoy your meal!

2. Pronunciation

Letter IPA English example Letter IPA English example
a [a]  father l [l]  love
b [b]  big lj [ʎ]  million
c [ʦ]  fits m [m]  mom
ć [ʧ]  chat (softer sound) n [n]  no
č [ʨ]  church (harder sound) nj [ɲ]  onion
d [d]  do o [o]  hope
đ [ʤ]  jungle (harder sound) p [p]  pull
[ʥ]  jumbo (softer sound) r [r]  right (rolled)
e [e]  bed s [s]  son
f [f]  fan š [ʃ]  shed
g [g]  good t [t]  table
h [h / x]  happy / Bach u [u]  shoot
i [i]  eat v [v]  vault
j [j]  you z [z]  zero
k [k]  kite ž [ʒ]  pleasure


Vowels in Croatian are pure. There is no extra gliding sound such as at the end of the English words play, now, high, etc.

Stress: Words with two or more syllables are never stressed on the last syllable (except in some dialects). However, in most cases It can be difficult to guess where the stress should be in polysyllabic words so you will have to learn them individually.

3. Croatian Alphabet

a ah l luh
b buh lj ljuh
c tsuh m muh
ć chuh n nuh
č chuh nj njuh
d duh o oh
đ dzhuh p puh
dzhuh r ruh
e uh s suh
f fuh š shuh
g guh t tuh
h huh u oo
i ee v vuh
j yuh z zuh
k kuh ž zhuh


4. Croatian Nouns and Demonstratives

Croatian nouns have three genders:  masculine, feminine or neuter.  In general, masculine nouns end in a consonant, feminine nouns end in -a, and neuter nouns end in either -o or -e.  Some exceptions: večer (evening) and noć (night) are feminine.

There are seven noun cases in the singular and in the plural. The cases show the grammatical function of a noun in a sentence.

Case Function  
Nominative who, what  tko, što
Genitive  whose, of what (possession, origins) koga, čega 
Dative  to whom, to what (indirect object) komu, čemu
Accusative  whom, what (direct object) koga, što
Vocative  (calling / talking directly to someone) dozivanje 
Instrumental  with whom/what  s kim, čim 
Locative about  o komu, o čemu


Notice that locative forms are the same as the dative forms. The difference is that the locative always goes with prepositions: o (about), u (in), na (on), po (over), pri (near), and prema (according to), while the dative stands alone or goes with the preposition k / ka (toward).

Each noun in Croatian changes according to its case. Notice how the word for teacher (učitelj) changes in each of the following sentences:

Singular Examples
Nominative  A teacher had a book.  Učitelj je imao knjigu. 
Genitive  The teacher's book was big.  Knjiga učitelja je bila velika. 
Dative  We went to the teacher.  Otišli smo učitelju
Accusative  And we asked the teacher.  I upitali smo učitelja. 
Vocative  Teacher, is your book big?  Učitelju, je li vaša knjiga velika? 
Instrumental  After our conversation with the teacher.  Poslije našeg razgovora sa učiteljem
Locative We know more about the teacher. Znamo više o učitelju.

Besides possession, the genitive also answers the questions "From whom?" and "From where?". Thus a possible genitive example could be Dobio sam knjigu od učitelja. (I got the book from the teacher.)

Plural Examples
Nominative   Some teachers had books. Neki učitelji su imali knjige 
Genitive The teachers' books were big. Knjige ucitelja su bile velike 
Dative  We went to the teachers.  Otišli smo učiteljima
Accusative  And we asked the teacher.  I upitali smo učitelje
Vocative  Teachers, are your books big?  Učitelji, jesu li vaše knjige velike? 
Instrumental  After the conversation with the teachers.  Poslije razgovora sa učiteljima
Locative We know more about teachers. Znamo više o učiteljima.

The Croatian language does NOT use definite or indefinite articles (a, an, the), but it does use demonstratives (this, that, these, those). These demonstratives, like adjectives in Croatian, agree with the noun they precede, depending on gender (masculine or feminine), number (singular or plural), and case. Demonstratives can either act as adjectives (modifying a noun) or pronouns (replacing the noun), and the nuances between the three forms for this/that or these/those refers to the location of the object about which one is speaking.

this / that masculine feminine neuter
close by ovaj ova ovo
in between taj ta to
further away onaj ona ono
these / those      
close by ovi ove ova
in between ti te ta
further away oni one ona

5. General Vocabulary

and a; i friend (male) prijatelj
but but; nego friend (female) prijateljica
only samo, jedino man muškarac
now sad woman žena
always uvijek boy dječak
never nikad girl djevojčica
something nešto child dijete
nothing ništa book knjiga
also / too također pencil olovka
again opet, iznova, još jednom paper papir
almost za malo dog pas
of course pá dá; naravno cat mačka

6. Subject Pronouns

Singular Plural
ja I mi we
ti you (familiar) vi you (formal)
on he oni they (masc.)
ona she one they (fem.)
ono it ona they (neut.)


Vi is used when addressing a stranger, someone you do not know, or a person of authority and can be used in the singular or plural sense.  Ti is used with family members and animals and shows familiarity with the person.  Vi can also be used with family members and animals in the plural sense, but not the singular. It is also used in the formal sense.

7. To Be & To Have / Biti & imati

Subject pronouns are not used very often, except when you want to show emphasis. The conjugations of biti (to be) are a little confusing because there are two forms: short and long. The short forms are never stressed and a sentence cannot begin with them, except je when it begins a question. The long forms are used to ask questions, to answer a question with a short reply and to affirm an answer.


biti - to be
short forms
(ja) sam I am (mi) smo we are
(ti) si you are (vi) ste you are
(on/a/o) je he/she/it is (oni/e/a) su they are

long forms
(ja) jesam I am (mi) jesmo we are
(ti) jesi you are (vi) jeste you are
(on/a/o) jest he/she/it is (oni/e/a) jesu they are



Ja sam dobar student. I am a good student.
Student sam. I am a student.
Dobar sam student. I am a good student.
Je li on student? Is he a student?
Jesam li u pravu? Am I right?
Jesi. Yes (you are).
Jeste li gladni? Are you hungry?
Jesam. Yes (I am.)


imati - to have

(ja) imam I have (mi) imamo we have
(ti) imaš you have (vi) imate you have
(on/a/o) ima he/she/it has (oni/e/a) imaju they have


The negative of biti and imati use different conjugated forms, unlike English where we insert not or do not.


negative of biti - to not be
(ja) nisam I am not (mi) nismo we are not
(ti) nisi you are not (vi) niste you are not
(on/a/o) nije he/she/it is not (oni/e/a) nisu they are not

negative of imati - to not have
(ja) nemam I do not have (mi) nemamo we do not have
(ti) nemaš you do not have (vi) nemate you do not have
(on/a/o) nema he/she/it does not have (oni/e/a) nemaju they do not have

8. Questions / Pitanja

what što why zašto
who tko how kako
where gdje how much/many koliko
where to kamo how long koliko dugo
where from otkud / odakle which koji
when kad / kada which way kuda

To ask a yes or no question in Croatian, use the verb and then the particle li:

Do you understand Croatian? Razumijete li hrvatski?
Can you swim? Znate li plivati?
Can you play football? Znate li igrati nogomet?

9. Cardinal & Ordinal Numbers / Glavni & redovni brojevi

zero nula    
one jedan  first prvi
two dva second drugi
three tri  third treći
four četiri  fourth četvrti
five pet fifth peti
six šest sixth šesti
seven sedam seventh sedmi
eight osam eighth osmi
nine devet  ninth deveti
ten deset  tenth deseti
eleven jedanaest  eleventh jedanaesti
twelve dvanaest twelfth dvanaesti
thirteen trinaest thirteenth trinaesti
fourteen četrnaest  fourteenth četrnaesti
fifteen petnaest fifteenth petnaesti
sixteen šesnaest sixteenth šesnaesti
seventeen sedamnaest seventeenth sedamnaesti
eighteen osamnaest eighteenth osamnaesti
nineteen devetnaest  nineteenth devetnaesti
twenty dvadeset twentieth dvadeseti
twenty-one dvadeset jedan twenty-first dvadeset prvi
twenty-two dvadeset dva twenty-second dvadeset drugi
thirty trideset    
fourty četrdeset    
fifty pedeset    
sixty šezdeset    
seventy sedamdeset    
eighty osamdeset    
ninety devedeset    
one hundred sto / stotina    
one hundred one sto jedan / stotinu jedan    
two hundred dvjesto / dvjesta / dvije stotine    
one thousand tisuću    
million milijun    
billion milijarda    

Jedan (one) and dva (two) behave like adjectives - they have gender and declension (cases):Jedan bik (one bull), jedna krava (one cow), jedno tele (one calf), dva bika, dvije krave, dva teleta...

The counted noun is in nominative singular with jedan; genitive singular with dva, tri, četiri; and genitive plural with pet and higher: Pet bikova, deset krava...

For ordinal numbers, masculine ends in -i, feminine ends in -a, and neuter ends in -o, which you simply add to the cardinal number (except for prvi, drugi, treći, četvrti). Note that sedam and osam lose their -a before adding the endings.

10. Days / Dani

Monday  ponedjeljak  tonight / this evening večeras
Tuesday  utorak  birthday rođendan
Wednesday  srijeda  holiday praznik
Thursday  četvrtak  tomorrow sutra
Friday  petak  yesterday jučer
Saturday  subota  day before yesterday prekjučer
Sunday nedjelja day after tomorrow prekosutra
day dan week tjedan
today danas weekend vikend
morning jutro this week ovaj tjedan
evening večer next week idući tjedan
afternoon poslije podne last week prošli tjedan
night noć every week svakog tjedna
last Saturday prošle subote in two weeks za dva tjedna
next Thursday idući četvrtak  two weeks ago pred dva tjedna

What day is today? Koji dan je danas?
Today is Friday. Danas je petak.

11. Months / Mjeseci

January  siječanj  month mjesec
February  veljača  year godina
March  ožujak  decade desetljeće
April  travanj  century stoljeće
May  svibanj  millenium milenijum
June  lipanj  this month ovog mjeseca
July  srpanj  next month idući mjesec
August  kolovoz  last month prošli mjesec
September  rujan  every month skavog mjeseca
October  listopad  in a year u toku godine
November  studeni  for a year za godinu dana
December prosinac three years ago natrag tri godine

What's the date? Koji je datum?
It is the 12th of January. Ovo je dvanaesti siječnja.

12. Seasons / Godisnja doba

spring proljeće in the spring  u proljeće 
summer  ljeto  in the summer  u ljetu
winter  zima  in the winter  u zimi 
fall jesen in the fall u jesen

13. Directions / Smjer


right desno north sjever
left lijevo south jug
straight ravno east istok
this/that way ovim/onim putom west zapad


14. Colors & Shapes / Boje & oblika

black  crn circle krug
blue  plav square kvadrat
dark blue modri rectangle pravokutnik
brown smeđ triangle trokut
green zelen oval ovalan
orange  narančast diamond dijamant
purple  ljubičast sphere sfera
red crven cube kocka
pink ružičast pyramind piramida
white  bijel cone konus
yellow  žut cylinder cilindar
grey siv    


Colors are placed before nouns in Croatian, just as in English. Because colors are adjectives, they must agree with the noun they are modifying. If the noun is feminine, add -a, and if the noun is neuter, add -o. For example, smeđa is the feminine form of brown, plavo is the neuter form of blue.

15. Telling Time / Kako reci vrijeme

What time is it?  Koliko je sati? 
It's...  Sada je... 
01:00 jedan sat 
03:05 tri i pet 
06:10 šest i deset 
04:15 četiri i četvrt / četiri i petnaest
07:30 sedam i trideset / pola osam
12:45 četvrt do jedan 
midnight  ponoć 
noon podne
second sekunda
hour sat
minute minuta
half hour pola sata
quarter hour / 15 minutes četvrt sata

Official time, such as at train stations and for television programs, uses the 24-hour clock.

Notice that if you use pola (half), you need to use the number that follows the current hour: 7:30 is half eight (pola osam).

16. Weather / Vrijeme

What's the weather like today?  Kakvo je vrijeme? / Kako je vani? 
Today it's...  Danas je... 
sunny  sunčano 
overcast  oblačno 
cool  hladno 
warm  toplo 
hot  vruće 
cold  studeno 
humid  vlažno 
foggy  maglovito 
windy  puše vjetar 
It's raining  Pada kiša 
It's snowing Pada snijeg

17. Family / Obitelj

family  obitelj grandmother  baka
relatives  rodbina  grandfather  djed, djedica
mother  majka  granddaughter  unuka 
father  otac  grandson  unuk 
mom mama cousin (male) bratić
dad tata cousin (female) sestrična
baby  beba niece  nećakinja
child / children dijete / djeca  nephew nećak
daughter  kći, kćer, kćerka  spouse (male) suprug
son  sin  spouse (female) supruga
sister  sestra  wife  žena 
brother  brat  husband  muž


The translations for aunt and uncle depend on the family relationship in Croatian:

aunt (mother's/father's sister) teta
uncle (mother's/father's sister's husband) tetak
uncle (father's brother) stric
aunt (father's brother's wife) strina
uncle (mother's brother) ujak
aunt (mother's brother's wife) ujna


18. To Know People & Facts / Poznavati & znati

poznavati - to know people znati - to know facts
poznajem poznajemo znam znamo
poznaješ poznajete znaš znate
poznaje poznaju zna znaju


When you talk about people, you should use the verb poznavati, but it is not necessarily a mistake to use znati.  Similarly, you should use znati when talking about knowing things or facts, but it it not a mistake to use poznavati.

To make a verb negative, simply put ne in front of it.

Ne znam. I don't know.

19. Formation of Plural Nouns

The plural of animate masculine nouns is formed by adding -i, -evi, or -ovi.  The masculine inanimate nouns with hard endings end in -ovi, while the soft endings end in -evi.  A few masculine nouns drop the final -n in the plural. Feminine plural nouns end in -e, unless they have a consonant ending, then they will end in -i.  All neuter nouns end in -a in the plural.


  singular   plural  
Masc: add -i mjesec month mjeseci months
Masc: add -evi broj number brojevi numbers
Masc: add -ovi trag rail / track tragovi rails / tracks
Masc: drop -n građanin citizen građani citizens
Fem: change to -e ruka hand ruke hands
Fem: add -i laž lie laži lies
Neuter: change to -a polje field polja fields


Some words insert -et- or -en- between the base and the plural ending. For example, ime (name) becomes imena (names).

20. Possessive Adjectives




masc. plural

fem. plural
neut. plural
my moj moja moje moji moje moja
your tvoj tvoja tvoje tvoji tvoje tvoja
his / its njegov njegova njegovo njegovi njegove njegova
her njezin njezina njezino njezini njezine njezina
our naš naša naše naši naše naša
your vaš vaša vaše vaši vaše vaša
their njihov njihova njihovo njihovi njihove njihova


Please keep in mind that the above forms are in the nominative case, which means these particular words are only used in the subject of the sentence. For other cases, there are slight changes to the words.

Most of this tutorial has been checked by a native speaker of Croatian from Zagreb, but if you are a native speaker and see a mistake on this page, please let me know.


Croatian Phrases, Vocabulary and Grammar

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