Expressing quantities with numbers

Expressing quantities with numbers

In many languages the simple plural is used to refer to more than one of anything, regardless of the actual number involved: two apples, ten apples, sixty seven apples, ... .

In Croatian things are a little more complex, but we've broken it down into a few simple rules to help you understand.

In Croatian the genitive case is always used to express:

  • quantities with numbers (i.e. six apples)
  • quantity and amounts without numbers (e.g. lots of apples)

The numbers 1 and 2 have genders!

In Croatian numbers jedan (one) and dva (two) change depending on the gender of the noun that they precede. The same rule applies to all numbers which end in 1 or 2, such as dvadeset jedan (twenty one), trideset dva (thirty two) and so on.

The only exceptions are the numbers jedanaest (eleven) and dvanaest (twelve) ... these end with 1 and 2 when written down, but not when pronounced, so these don't change! All other numbers stay the same, regardless of the gender of the noun.

Declining the numbers 1 and 2 when used with a noun:

NumberMuški rod
(masculine)
Ženski rod
(feminine)
Srednji rod
(neutrum)
1 jedan prozor - one window jedna jabuka - one apple jedno pivo - one beer
2 dva prozora - two windows dvije jabuke - two apples dva piva - two beers

The numbers 2, 3 and 4 genitive singular

The numbers 2, 3 and 4 require the genitive singular. This rule also includes numbers such as 22, 23, 132 and 243:

NumberMuški rod
(masculine)
Ženski rod
(feminine)
Srednji rod
(neutrum)
2 dva prozora - two windows dvije jabuke - two apples dva piva - two beers
3 tri prozora - three windows tri jabuke - three apples tri piva - three beers
4 četiri prozora - four windows četiri jabuke - four apples četiri piva - four beers

The numbers 5, 6, 7 genitive plural

And finally, numbers from 5 onwards require the genitive plural, so:

NumberMuški rod
(masculine)
Ženski rod
(feminine)
Srednji rod
(neutrum)
5 pet prozora - five windows pet jabuka - five apples pet piva - five beers
6 šest prozora - six windows šest jabuka - six apples šest piva - six beers
11 jedanaest prozora - eleven windows jedanaest jabuka - eleven apples jedanaest piva - eleven beers
27 dvadeset i sedam prozora - twenty seven windows dvadeset i sedam jabuka - twenty seven apples dvadeset i sedam piva - twenty seven beers

And a few notes ...

Single-syllable masculine nouns

The -a ending is applicable to plural forms, which is important to remember when it comes to the single syllable masculine nouns, which receive the ending –ovi or –evi in the plural instead of the usual –i:

(jedan) stol (table) dva stola pet stolova (*nominative plural: stolovi)
(jedan) nož (knife) dva noža pet noževa (*nominative plural: noževi)

And a few notable exceptions

Some words like cent (cent), mjesec (month) or sat (hour) in genitive plural end in -i:

(jedan) cent dva centa pet centi
(jedan) mjesec dva mjeseca pet mjeseci
(jedan) sat dva sata pet sati

Exercise: How would you say the following in Croatian?

2 houses Answer dvije kuće (kuća)

2 months Answer dva mjeseca (mjesec)

7 stars Answer sedam zvijezda (zvijezda)

12 bridges Answer dvanaest mostova (most)

3 kunas Answer tri kune (kuna)

5 kunas Answer pet kuna (kuna)

392 dollars Answer tristo devedeset i dva dolara (dolar)

198 dollars Answer sto devedeset i osam dolara (dolar)

33 cents Answer trideset i tri centa (cent)

35 cents Answer trideset i pet centi (cent)

27 eggs Answer dvadeset i sedam jaja (jaje)

15 months Answer petnaest mjeseci (mjesec)

4 husbands Answer četiri muža (muž)

13 husbands Answer trinaest muževa (muž)

4 bathrooms Answer četiri kupaonice (kupaonica)

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