What does the present tense represent?
The present tense is used to talk about:
- an action in a present situation: Sada gledam televiziju. → I am watching TV now.
- a habit or repeated action: Često sviram gitaru. → I often play the guitar.
- a wish or command: Želim ići na odmor. → I want to go on vacation.
- an action that started at a certain time in the past and continues into the present: Moja sestra šest godina ide ljeti na Krk. → My sister has been going to Krk in the summer for six years.
- expressing the near future: Sutra idem kod bake. → Tomorrow I am going to my grandma’s (house).
How is the present tense formed?
In Croatian, we have a few types of verbs depending on the infinitive form’s ending. We have verbs that end in –ati (pjevati, plivati, kuhati), -iti (žuriti, sjediti) and -jeti (vidjeti, voljeti). The simplified pattern, according to the endings attached to the root of the verb, is the following:
| ||1st person singular||2nd person singular||3rd person singular||1st person plural||2nd person plural||3rd person plural|
A little tip: try to memorise the 1st person singular of the verb in order to create other forms of the same verb (and the same tense) more easily!
What if the subject is omitted?
In the Croatian language, personal pronouns are omitted from most sentences, because the ending already indicates who performs the action. Personal pronouns are mostly used for emphasis. For instance, when we are trying to point somebody distinctive out.
Ti nikada ne čistiš sobu! → You never clean your room!
Oni uvijek slušaju glasnu glazbu! → They always listen to loud music!
On uvijek na vrijeme uči za ispit! → He always starts studying for the test on time!
How do I form negative sentences?
To form negative present tense, simply put ne in front of the verb.
Ne mislim da lažeš. → I don't think you are lying.
Ne pjevaš dobro. → You don't sing well.
Ne pišemo razglednice prijateljima. → We are not writing postcards to our friends.
What if I need to ask a question?
To ask questions about the present, don't forget to put the particle li directly after the verb in the present tense.
Vidim li dobro? → Do I see well?
Voliš li me? → Do you love me?
Radite li puno? → Are you working a lot?
Exercise: How would you say the following in Croatian?
Their sons are learning how to play the piano.
Njihovi sinovi uče svirati klavir.
My brother rides a motorbike.
Moj brat vozi motor.
I need to sleep eight hours every day.
Trebam spavati osam sati svaki dan.
She is thirty years old.
Ona ima trideset godina.
Your sister does not clean very well.
Tvoja sestra ne čisti baš dobro.
You are not telling the truth.
Ti ne govoriš istinu.
Adults don't play games.
Odrasli ne igraju igre.
Do you speak French? (singular)
Govoriš li francuski?
Do you speak German? (plural or formal)
Govorite li njemački?
Do we like winter?
Volimo li zimu?
Does she want some tea?
Želi li ona čaja?