The instrumental case is generally considered the easiest to learn by our students.
The plural noun endings in the instrumental are identical to those in the dative and locative, and the rules on when to use the instrumental are very straightforward.
The instrumental case is most commonly used in three different situations:
i.e. when referring to the instrument being used, hence the name!
Idem na posao autobusom. – I travel to work by bus.
i.e. who we’re doing something with
Idem u kino s mamom. – I’m going to the cinema with my mom.
i.e. when referring to one thing combined with another
Pijem kavu s mlijekom. – I’m drinking a coffee with milk.
Note: Masculine nouns which end with a palatal consonant (č, ć, đ, dž, š, ž, lj, nj, j, št) receive the ending –em, e.g.:
Note: Neutral nouns which end with a palatal consonant (č, ć, đ, dž, š, ž, lj, nj, j, št…) receive the ending –em, e.g.:
Some feminine nouns which end in a consonant receive the ending –i in the instrumental singular. Here are a few common examples:
|Nominative singular||Instrumental singular|
You probably noticed that two of these sentences above use the preposition and one doesn’t. When the instrumental is used in the context of explaining a tool or the means used to accomplish an action, there’s no preposition necessary.
The instrumental case is used with several prepositions, but the most common is s (meaning “with”) or its variation sa which is used when the following word begin with letters s, š, z or ž. The prepositions s and sa are used when:
Talking about company:
Talking about the unity of two entities:
The preposition s is always pronounced as one with the following word, e.g. smamom (s mamom), smužem (smužem).
If you find these rules about then to and when not to use the preposition s confusing, don’t worry! Most Croatians find them confusing too, and many people use the same preposition in all three situations ...
A coffee with milk, please. Answer Kavu s mlijekom, molim.
We’re going to Croatia by car. Answer Idemo u Hrvatsku autom.
Marko likes pizza with cheese. Answer Marko voli pizzu sa sirom.
On Sunday I’m going to the cinema with Goran. Answer U nedjelju idem s Goranom u kino.
For lunch I eat pancakes with jam. Answer Za ručak jedem palačinke s marmeladom.
In summer I drink apple juice with ice. Answer Ljeti pijem sok od jabuke s ledom.
I never travel by plane. Answer Nikad ne putujem zrakoplovom.
Below you'll find a series of instrumental grammar questions for you to test yourself on. If you enjoy the quiz, take a look at our grammar trainer page and test yourself on different cases and tenses!
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