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