Adjectives in Croatian

Adjectives in Croatian

The Croatian name for adjective, , comes from the now somewhat obsolete word pridjenuti (to attach), since adjectives can be seen as words that we attach to nouns to describe them.

Just as with nouns, adjectives change their forms according to the three grammatical categories gender (masculine, feminine, neuter), number (singular or plural) and case (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, vocative, locative, instrumental).

1. Gender

Adjectives can be either masculine ( - beautiful), feminine ( ) or neuter ( ) – in accordance with the noun gender.

The masculine singular form is the basic form of the adjective and it ends with a consonant. All other forms – both singular and plural – are created by adding certain endings to this basic form.

To form feminine adjectives, an ending -a is added and an -o is added to make neuter adjectives.

MasculineFeminineNeuter

(beautiful window)

(beautiful picture)

(beautiful sea)

You might come across masculine adjectives ending in -i (lijepi) in the nominative singular. The difference between the two (lijep vs. lijepi) is that the first one is indefinite, while the second one is definite. This would be equivalent to the English articles (a vs. the):

lijep prozor → a beautiful window
lijepi prozor → the beautiful window

However, since Croatian has no articles, this difference is of no greater importance, especially not to those who learn Croatian as the second language!

Even though most masculine adjectives (like masculine nouns) end in a consonant, there is also a relatively small group of masculine endings that end in two vowels: either -ao or -eo. With these adjectives, an “-l” needs to be inserted before the usual endings:

(fat) →
(warm) →
(round) →

2. Number

Adjectives have a singular and a plural form. Both forms also have genders. Plural endings of the adjectives in nominative are exactly the same as the noun endings (unless the noun is irregular):

SingularPlural
Masculine

lijep prozor

(beautiful window)

(beautiful windows)

Feminine

lijepa slika

(beautiful picture)

(beautiful pictures)

Neuter

lijepo more

(beautiful sea)

(beautiful seas)

3. Case

There are seven cases in Croatian. Unfortunately, the adjective ending doesn’t also match the noun ending, so these endings need to be learnt by heart.

Singular
MasculineFeminineNeuter
Nominativ lijep prozor lijepa slika lijepo more
Genitive lijepog prozora lijepe slike lijepog mora
Dative lijepom prozoru lijepoj slici lijepom moru
Accusative lijep prozor /lijepog čovjeka* lijepu sliku lijepo more
Vocative lijepi prozoru lijepa sliko lijepo more
Locative lijepom prozoru lijepoj slici lijepom moru
Instrumental lijepim prozorom lijepom slikom lijepim morem

*This change only applies to masculine nouns and adjectives which denote living beings (i.e. people and animals). These nouns receive the ending -a and adjectives receive the ending -og in the accusative case.

Plural
MasculineFeminineNeuter
Nominativ lijepi prozori lijepe slike lijepa mora
Genitive lijepih prozora lijepih slika lijepih mora
Dative lijepim prozorima lijepim slikama lijepim morima
Accusative lijepe prozore lijepe slike lijepa mora
Vocative lijepi prozori lijepe slike lijepa mora
Locative lijepim prozorima lijepim slikama lijepim morima
Instrumental lijepim prozorom lijepim slikama lijepim morima

In plural all three genders have the same adjective ending, -im, in three cases: dative, locative and instrumental!

Exercise: How would you say the following?

This is a pretty little house. Answer Ovo je lijepa malena kuća.

The blue house is next to the red fence. Answer Plava kuća je kraj crvene ograde.

We have a good dog. Answer Imamo dobrog psa.

We’re talking about good friends. Answer Govorimo o dobrim prijateljima.

He likes intelligent women. Answer On voli inteligentne žene.

I went to the cinema with a new boyfriend. Answer Išla sam u kino s novim dečkom.

We want a modern apartment. Answer Želimo moderan stan.

Are you going to the new café? Answer Ideš li u novi kafić?

I come from sunny Croatia. Answer Ja sam iz sunčane Hrvatske.

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