Using the imperative mood in Croatian

Using the imperative mood in Croatian

In this blog post you will learn about what the imperative is used for, how to construct the negative form, how to use irregular verbs (because there are always slight complications ????) and how to make all of the forms of imperative sound more pleasant.

The imperative is used in everyday life, even if we don’t always notice it. Imperative clauses are used when we want to tell somebody to do something as a command, instruction, suggestion or advice.


→ Don’t listen to loud music! (suggestion mostly ????)

→ Pass me the salad! (command)

→ Clean the vegetables and season them to taste. (instruction)

Probably the best examples of imperative sentences are the ones a parent uses when “talking to” their kids:

→ Pick up the toys!

→ Clean up your room!

→ Eat the green beans!

→ Don’t run!

How is the imperative formed?

To form the imperative, you need to know the third person plural of the present tense of a verb and then build from there by adding various endings.

This is the imperative formed with the most frequent types of verbs:

categoryinfinitivepresent
(3rd person plural)
imperative
(2nd person singular)
imperative
(1st person plural)
imperative
(2nd person plural)
-ati
(to sing)
-aju
pjevaju
Pjevajmo! Pjevajte!
-ivati
(to explore)
-uju
istražuju
Istražujmo! Istražujte!
-ovati
(to travel)
-uju
putuju
Putujmo! Putujte!
-iti
(to work)
-e
rade
Radimo! Radite!
-jeti
(to love)
-e
vole
Volimo! Volite!

There’s no imperative form for first person singular, because we don't usually give instructions to ourselves. And when we do, we talk to ourselves in the 2nd person singular.

Irregular verbs and the imperative form

Of course, like in every language, irregular verbs are, well, irregular! Here are a couple of examples of common irregular verbs:

infinitivepresent
(3rd person plural)
imperative
(2nd person singular)
imperative
(1st person plural)
imperative
(2nd person plural)

(to be)
budu Budimo! Budite!

(to go)
idu Idimo! Idite!

(to eat)
jedu Jedimo! Jedite!

(to drink)
piju Pijmo! Pijte!

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Imperative of the third person singular and plural

There’s no special form of imperative for the third person singular or plural (you or you all). Instead, the word (→ let) is used together with the present tense form of a verb.

infinitivepresent
(3rd person singular)
imperative
(3rd person singular)
present
(3rd person plural)
imperative
(3rd person plural)

(to sing)
pjeva
(Let him / her sing!)
pjevaju Neka pjevaju!
(Let them sing!)

(to explore)
istražuje istražuju Neka istražuju!

(to travel)
putuje putuju Neka putuju!

(to work)
radi rade Neka rade!

(to love)
voli vole Neka vole!
Tram


Making negative imperative statements

The negative form of the imperative is formed by putting (→ no) in front of the imperative form or in front of the present form:

infinitivepresent
(3rd person plural)
imperative
(2nd person singular)
imperative
(1st person plural)
imperative
(2nd person plural)

(to sing)
-aju
pjevaju

(Don’t sing!)
Ne pjevajmo! Ne pjevajte!

(to explore)
-uju
istražuju
Ne istražujmo! Ne istražujte!

(to travel)
-uju
putuju
Ne putujmo! Ne putujte!

(to work)
-e
rade
Ne radimo! Ne radite!

(to love)
-e
vole
Ne volimo! Ne volite!

Another way to make a negative imperative is by using the words (→ don’t, second person singular), (→ first person plural), (→ second person plural) with the infinitive of a verb. This is an easier way to use the negative imperative, as you don't have to think about changing verb endings.

infinitiveimperative
(2nd person singular)
imperative
(1st person plural)
imperative
(2nd person plural)

(to sing)

(Don’t sing!)
Nemojmo pjevati! Nemojte pjevati!

(to explore)
Nemojmo istraživati! Nemojte istraživati!

(to travel)
Nemojmo! Nemojte putovati!

(to work)
Nemojmo raditi! Nemojte raditi!

(to love)
Nemojmo voljeti! Nemojte voljeti!

Third person singular and third person plural forms still use neka.

pjevati → → Don’t let him (her) sing! / Don’t let them sing!

raditi → → Don’t let him (her) work! / Don’t let them work!

How to make the imperative sound more polite?

The imperative can sometimes be seen as overly direct, rude or impolite – maybe even offensive. In such cases, we can add (→ please) to soften the command.

For example: (Buy me a chocolate, please).

We can also use conditionals to make it less direct: (→ Would you buy me a chocolate?). Or use the question form instead: (→ Can you buy me a chocolate?)

Exercise: What do these phrases mean?

 Answer Don’t make fun of me!

 Answer Don't make a fool of yourself.

 Answer Think it through before you say it.

Exercise: How would you say the following in Croatian?

Bring me a beer. →  Answer Donesi mi pivo!

Close the window. →  Answer Zatvori prozor!

Finish your lunch. →  Answer Pojedi ručak do kraja!

Let us sing until dawn. →  Answer Pjevajmo do zore!

Buy me a watermelon. →  Answer Kupi mi lubenicu!

Let her wash the dishes. →  Answer Neka ona opere posuđe!

Exercise: See how much of this beautiful song by Natali Dizdar you understand!

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