The genitive case in Croatian

The genitive case in Croatian

The genitive case is considered to be the most difficult case to learn in Croatian because it is used in so many different situations and contexts.

The endings in the genitive are easy to remember, however: almost all of the nouns end in –a!

Regular noun endings in the genitive case

Muški rod
(masculine)
Ženski rod
(feminine)
Srednji rod
(neutrum)
Jednina
(singular)
Nominative

prozor – window
susjed – neighbor

– a

stolica – chair
mačka – cat

– e/o

stablo – tree
kazalište – theater

Genitive

e.g. Stojim iza –
I’m standing behind

– a

prozora
susjeda

– e

stolice
mačke

– a

stabla
kazališta

Množina
(plural)
Nominative

– i

prozori
susjedi

– e

stolice
mačke

– a

stabla
kazališta

Genitive

e.g. Stojim iza –
I’m standing behind

– a

prozora
susjeda

– a

stolica
mačaka*

– a

stabla
kazališta

*Exception: Genitive plural endings following two consonants

In cases where the –a noun ending in the genitive plural directly follows two consonants (with the exception of st, št, zd, žd, šć or šč) an additional a is inserted between these consonants. For example:

Nominative singular Genitive plural
pismo – letter pisama
djevojka – young girl djevojaka

Exception: Some feminine nouns ending in –i

Although regular nouns of all genders normally receive the ending –a in the genitive plural, certain feminine nouns which end in a consonant behave differently, receiving the ending –i instead, for example:

Nominative singular Genitive plural
bolest – sickness bolesti
smrt – death smrti
obitelj – family obitelji
ljubav – love ljubavi

And finally, there are also two masculine nouns that behave in this way:

Nominative singular Genitive plural
mjesec – month/moon mjeseci
sat – hour/clock sati


When is the genitive case used in Croatian?

Genitive with prepositions

In Croatian, the genitive case is primarily used with prepositions. Since there are more than 40 prepositions which take the genitive, the simplest thing is to memorise those few prepositions which take other cases (and then just use genitive with the rest).

The most common of these are:

iz
ispod
iznad
iza
ispred




from
under
above
behind
in front of
od
izvan
unutar
između
bez




of
out of
inside of
between
without

And here some examples:

Ja sam iz Hrvatske – I’m from Croatia
Maja je iza škole – Maja is behind the school
Hotel je između bolnice i restorana – The hotel is between the hospital and the restaurant

Genitive without prepositions

When used without a preposition, the genitive case can infer a characteristic (trait), substance, belonging, property or origin. This topic deserves (and requires) its own blog post, which we plan to write in the near future

The genitive is also used with numbers and adverbs of measure, but again, this is a topic which will receive its own blog article soon.

The genitive is always used with the word nema (there is not / there is none) in cases where it signifies the lack of or absence of someone or something:

Nema mlijeka – There’s no milk
Nema profesora – The teacher’s not here

Certain verbs also require the genitive object (e.g. bojati se – to be afraid of, igrati se – to play), for example:

Bojim se mraka – I’m afraid of the dark
Igramo se skrivača – We’re playing hide and seek

Exercise: How would you say the following in Croatian?

The car is behind the school.  Answer Auto je iza škole.

I come from Australia.  Answer Ja sam iz Australije.

The cat’s under the table.  Answer Mačka je ispod stola.

The waiter’s in front of the restaurant.  Answer Konobar je ispred restorana.

I’m afraid of the tiger.  Answer Bojim se tigra.

There’s no sugar.  Answer Nema šećera.

There’s no water.  Answer Nema vode.


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