While Croatian grammar is sometimes considered difficult to learn, correct pronunciation in Croatian boils down to one simple rule: every letter is pronounced the same, regardless of its position within a word.
In Croatian, each letter represents a single sound. In Croatian you won't come across consonant clusters pronounced as a single sound (e.g. as with th in English or sch in German). All this means that after a little practice, Croatian words are consistently very easy to pronounce!
When speaking Croatian:
The Croatian alphabet has 30 letters, with 25 consonants and 5 vowels (a, e, i, o, u). Compared to the standard Latin alphabet Croatian has the following additional letters: č, ć, dž, đ, lj, nj, š and ž and doesn't feature the letters q, w, x or y.
You can read more about the Croatian alphabet here, including examples of pronunciation and more about the letters č, ć, dž, đ, š, ž, lj and nj in our blog post here.
In Croatian, the letter r is sometimes treated as a vowel and therefore referred to as a 'half vowel', or syllabic consonant.
Generally, Croatian does not have double vowels or double consonants, however there are some exceptions. These are almost always words which themselves are formed from two other words, or of the combination of a prefix and a word.
Here are a couple of examples:
najjači – the strongest naj (prefix for superlatives) + jači (comparative form of jak (=strong))
– dark ochre (e.g. coloured) tamno (dark) + oker (ochre)
srna – roe deer
vrhnje – cream
najjužnije – southernmost
trn – thorn
crn – black
poočim – foster father
protuudar – counter-coup
mršav – thin
neukusan – tasteless
svijetao – light
završavati – to be ending