The vocative case: direct speech

The vocative case in Croatian

The vocative case (vokativ) is used for nouns when these are addressed directly. Most commonly it is seen with people's names when these are being spoken to.

For example, in the sentence "Tko je Ivan?" (“Who is Ivan?”) Ivan is the predicate noun, but in the sentence “Tko je, Ivane?” (“Who is it, Ivan?”), Ivan is being directly addressed.

Luckily, for adjectives and pronouns the vocative form is the same as nominative. What's more, a lot of people rarely use the vocative, using the nominative instead.

Vocative endings for masculine nouns

Masculine nouns 
Regular nouns receive the suffix –e
in the vocative case

sin – son sine
doktor – doctor doktore
profesor – teacher/professor  profesore

For nouns ending in –k or -c,
the word ending changes to –če

rođak – relative rođače
čovjek – man  čovječe
stric – uncle (paternal)  striče
ujak – uncle (maternal)  ujače

For nouns ending in –g or –z,
the word ending changes to –že

vrag – devil  vraže
vitez – knight  viteže

For nouns ending in –h or –s,
the word ending changes to –še

duh – ghost  duše

If the word ends in a palatal consonant
(–č, -ć, -đ, -dž, –š, -ž, -nj, -lj, -j), it usually receives the suffix –u in the vocative

muž – husband  mužu
konj – horse  konju
kralj – king  kralju

   

Vocative endings for feminine nouns

Feminine nouns 

For regular feminine nouns (ending in –a)
the word ending changes to –o

žena – woman, wife  ženo
majka – mother  majko
sestra – sister  sestro

For nouns with more than two
syllables ending in -ica, end in -ice.

sestrica – little sister  sestrice
prijateljica – friend (female)  prijateljice

   

What happens with first names?

First names 

Male names commonly receive the suffix –e in the vocative case

Marin Marine
Krešimir Krešimire

Names that end in a vowel and foreign names remain unchanged

Luka  Luka
Ivo  Ivo
George  George
James  James

Female names no longer change in the vocative in spoken language

Iva Iva
Jelena Jelena

For female names which end in –ica
the word ending changes to –e
Janica Janice
   

A note on writing in the vocative

The name or the noun describing who we’re addressing must always be separated by a comma in Croatian:

Bok, Ivane! - Hello Ivan!
Kako si, Ana? - How are you Ana?
Profesore, sretan rođendan! - Happy birthday professor!

Exercise: Can you put these words into the vocative case?

profesorica – teacher/professor  Answer profesorice

polaznik – participant Answer polazniče

Harry! (name) Answer Harry!

gospodin - mister Answer gospodine

gospođa - lady Answer gospođo

vuk - wolf Answer vuče

Bog - God Answer Bože

susjed - neighbor (male) Answer susjede

susjeda - neighbor (female) Answer susjedo

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