Turbo Serbo FAQ


Q: Which common nouns have irregular plural forms?

Fist, there are three common nouns which have Singular feminine forms as their plural. These nouns are as follows: brat ‘brother’, gospodin ‘gentleman, mister’, and dete ‘child’.

brat and gospodin are regular in their singular forms, thus:

Sg N brat, G brata, D/L bratu, A brata, V brate, I bratom

Sg N gospodin, G gospodina D/L gospodinu, A gospodina, V gospodine, I gospodinom

Both these nouns are masculine. However in their Plural forms they use singular feminine endings, thus 'brothers’ and ‘gentlemen’ is as follows:

Pl N braća, G braće, D/L braći, A braću, V braćo, I braćom

Pl N gospoda, G gospode, D/L gospodi, A gospodu, V gospodo, I gospodom

These nouns have the same forms as any feminine singular nouns. Same is true for any modifiers they might have, for example:

Vidim njegovu braću ‘I see his brothers’ is just like Vidim njegovu ženu.

Razgovaram s mladom gospodom ‘I am talking to young gentlemen’ is just like Razgovaram sa mladom ženom

The only difference is that gospoda and braća the verb is in plular and with žena in singular forms:

Velika braća su došla. (Big brothers came)

Velika žena je došla (Big woman came)

In plural, dete is just like brat and gospodin, the plural form is deca ‘children’ and its forms are:

Pl N deca, G dece, D/L deci, A decu, V deco, I decom

and the verb si in plural: Deca su došla

However, dete is irregular not only in plural but also in singular it has a longer stem in cases different from N, A and V, thus:

Sg N dete, G deteta, D/L detetu, A dete, V deco, I decom

Also, dete is neuter, while brat and gospodin are masculine. Therefore: ovo dete ‘this child’

See also nouns like: pile ‘chicken’, tele ‘calf’ in the next questions

You also have to be aware of the fact that most one-syllable stems have extended plural, such as: voz ‘train’ – N Pl is vozovi, kralj ‘king’ – N Pl is kraljevi, etc. (This does not pertain to, for example, names of nationalities: Rus-Rusi /not Rusevi/, etc.)

Q: Which common nouns have two stems, one for the Nom, Acc, Voc, other for other cases?

First, there are nouns like: ime ‘name’, vreme ‘time, tense, weather’, dugme ‘button’ which have one stem for N, A, and V sg and other stem for other cases (one stem is extended by adding et or en). Their forms are as follows:

Sg N ime, G imena, D/L imenu, A ime, V ime, I imenom

Pl N imena, G imena, D/L imenima, A imena, V imena, I imenima

Sg N dugme, G dugmeta, D/L dugmetu, A dugme, V dugme, I dugmetom

Pl N dugmeta, G dugmeta, D/L dugmetima, A dugmeta, V dugmeta, I dugmetima

Some nouns, such as jaje ‘egg’ have only irregular singuar, while the plural form is regular, thus:

Sg N jaje, G jajeta, D/L jajetu, A jaje, V jaje, I jajetom

Pl N jaja, G jaja, D/L jajima, A jaja, V jaja, I jajima

Finally, neuter nouns meaning young animals have extended stem in the singular and highly irregular plural. For example the neuter noun pile ‘chicken’

Sg N pile, G pileta, D/L piletu, A pile, V pile, I piletom

in plural can either have forms of MASCULINE PLURAL forms of the stem pilić:

Pl N pilići, G pilića, D/L pilićima, A piliće, V pilići, I pilićima

or F2 SINGULAR (feminine ending in a consonant) stem pilad:

Pl N pilad, G piladi, D/L piladi, A pilad, V pilad, I piladi

Their modifiers have their corresponding endings, for example:

Pl N moji pilići su tu, G mojih pilića, etc. or

Pl N moja pilad je tu, G moje piladi, etc.

Q: What are common alternation in noun stems?

Common alternations are: k,g,h which changes in c, z, s. It happens in nouns when followed by an i of the ending, for example:

N Sg: vojnik ‘soldier’ N Pl vojnici, D, I, L Pl vojnicima

N Sg majka, D/L Sg majci

There is also k,g,h which changes into č,ž,š in the vocative singular of the masculine nouns in front of the –e ending:

N Sg vojnik V vojniče

You have also to watch for the fleeting A, i.e. A:0 alternation You can have the fleeting A in the nominative singular and genitive plural of the masculine nouns, and in the genitive plural of the feminine and neuter nouns. It also appears in the masculine singular forms of the adjectives and past participle, for example:

Sg N vatrogasAc, G vatrogasca

Pl N vatrogasci, G vatrogasAca

Sg N kruška, Pl G krušAka

m sg adjective: kratak

f sg adjective: kratka

The fleeting A (A:0 alternation) is frequently associated with other alternations, such as l:o, for example orao ‘eagle’:

N Sg orAO

G Sg or0La

and with the T:0 alternation such as:

N Sg zadaTAK

N PL zada00Ci

Q: What is the difference between zašto, zbog, jer, and zato što?

You use zašto to ask questions, for example: Zašto je on došao ‘Why did he come’.

zbog is used when you introduce a noun or a noun phrase. For example:

Uradio sam to zbog Marije (I did it because of Maria)

Therefore, it is roughly an equivalent of the English ‘because of’

jer and zato što is used to introduce a sentence:

Uradio sam to jer mi jer tako rekla Marija ‘I did it because Maria told me so’.

Q: What are the forms and meanings of sav, svi?

sav means ‘all, entire’ it is declined as follows:

Sg N sav, sva, svo/sve, G svog(a)/sveg(a), sve, svog(a)/sveg(a)...

Pl N svi, sve, sva, G svih, D svim(a)...

It declines just like an adjective with the only exception that it can have both soft and hard-stem endings. Also, in plural has an additional meaning – it means: everybody

Q: How do I make negatives of the three basic tenses?

In the present tense you just attach the negative particle ‘ne’ spelled separatelly from the verb, for example:

Ja radim ‘I work’, Ja ne radim ‘I do not work’

In the future tense, you add ne- to the auxilliary verb:

Ja ću raditi ‘I will work’, Ja neću raditi ‘I will not work’

In the past tense, you add ni- to the auxilliary verb

Ja sam radio ‘I worked’, Ja nisam radio ‘I did not work’

Q: What are forms of the three basic verb when there is more than one verb in the clause?

In instances like: I must work, I begun to work, etc. you have to put only the first verb in its corresponding tense, and the second one will be in either the infinitive or da & Present Tense (optional). For example, I must work is as follows:

Present: Ja moram raditi (or Ja moram da radim)

Past: Ja sam morao raditi (or Ja sam morao da radim)

Future: Ja ću morati raditi (or Ja ću morati da radim)

Q: What are the cases of (t)ko and što?

(t)ko means ‘who’ and što/šta means ‘what’. Their cases are as follows:

N (t)ko, G koga, D/L kome/komu, A koga, I kim(e)

N što/šta, G čega, D/L čemu, A šta, I čim(e)

Q: How do I form the imperative mood?

Take the third person plural present tense. Take off the last vowel. If the last remaining consonant is not J add an –i and that is your second person, if it is an J, do not add anything and that will be your second person. For example:

pisati ‘to write’ – oni pišu (minus last vowel) = piš (add i) = piši

čitati ‘to read’ – oni čitaju (minus last vowel) = čitaj (do not add anything) = čitaj

For first person plural add –mo, for second person plural add –te


Sg 2 piši, čitaj, Pl 1 pišimo, čitajmo, 2 pišite, čitajte

For third person of both singular and plural you use neka and present tense, for example:

neka on radi ‘let him work’ neka oni rade ‘let them work’

Q: What do I use after the comparative forms of the adjectives?

You have a choice of using either od and Genitive or nego and whatever case was used earlier, for example:

He is younger than she can be either:

On je mlađi od nje or On je mlađi nego ona

Q: How do I make an adjective when I know a noun?

No rules, you have to remember it on case by case basis. Make sure to form an adjective. For example to say:

window glass

you cannot simply use:

*prozor staklo

you have to form an adjective, in this case:

prozorsko staklo

But, in many cases you can avoid adjectives by using nouns and prepositions. You can always say:

staklo za prozore ‘glass for windows’

In some instances it is worth to remember the suffix for a wider group of nouns. For example, most geographic names will use the suffix -ski (which cna be changed to -ški or -čki): Boston-bostonski, Turska 'Turkey' - turski, etc.

Q: How do I decline names and surnames?

If it is a masculine name and surname, decline both just like any other noun:

Vidim Milana Petrovića ‘I see Milan-Acc Petrović-Acc’

If the name is feminine, decline the name but not the surname

Vidim Mariju Petrović ‘I see Marija-Acc Petrović-Nom’

Only the last names ending in an -a can be declined, for example:

Vidim Mariju Ličina ‘I see Marija-Acc Ličina-Acc’ or Mariju Ličinu ‘I see Marija-Acc Ličina-Acc’

Q: How do I use “čiji”?

čiji means ‘whose’ and its forms are just like any soft-stem adjective:

Sg N čiji, čija, čije, G čijeg, čiju, čijeg, D čijem, čijoj, čijem...

For example:

Čijom olovkom pišeš? ‘With whose pencil do you write’

Q: Is there any difference between "ju" and "je" in the Accusative singular feminine third person pronoun?

They are interchangeable. Both are non-emphasised forms of the 3rd person feminine pronoun.

Q: Can one use the Vocative case in formal situations?

Yes, using the Vocative case does not make a situation informal. It is the form of address itself which makes it formal or informal. If you use one’s name in the vocative case (e.g., Milane, Milošu, etc.) it will be informal because you use the first name. If you use gospodine Markoviću (gospodin-Voc and Marković-Voc) it will be formal because of the fact that you use gospodin and surname.

Q: How should I use the verb "trebati"?

There are three usages of trebati. One is equivalent to the Eglish need. For example:

Ja trebam pomoć ‘I need help’

or: Ja trebam raditi ‘I need to work’

The second, however, is used to literally mean: Something is needed to someone.

For example:

Treba mi pomoć ‘I need help, literally: Help is needed to me’

Finally, the third usage is something like: Someone needs to do something, meaning ‘It is needed that someone does something’, for example

Oni treba da idu u kino ‘lit. It is needed that they to to the movies’

In this last case the verb is always in the third person singular (because of the ‘it’).

Q: When does one use the forms like: budem, budeš?

These forms are used in the so called Futur II. This futur tense is used when you have two concurrent or consecutive actions in the future. The forms are:

Sg 1 budem, 2 budeš, 3 bude

Pl 1 bidemo, 2 budete, 3 budu

and you use the past participle with it. For example:

Kad budem radio, ti ćeš doći. ‘When I am working [in the future], you will come’

Kad budem napisao zadaću, ja ću izaći ‘When I finish my homework, I will go out’

Budem is alos a form of the verb biti 'to be' with two uses:

a. da + budem: Treba da budem kod kuće u deset sati 'I have to be at home at 10 o'clock.'

b. ako/kad + budem = 'if I am [in the future], when I am [in the future]

Q: How does one form the past conditional tense?

Regular conditional tense is:

Sg 1 bih, 2 bi, 3 bi

Pl 1 bismo, 2 biste, 3 bi

and past participle. In order to make it past conditional tense, insert:

Sg m bio, f bila, n bilo

Pl m bili, f bile, n bila

between the auxilliary verb an the past participle

Kad bih bio kupio akcije Mikrosofta prije dvadest godina, sad bih imao mnogo novca.

‘If I had bought stock in Microsoft, I would have had lot of money now’

Also, for all verb forms see the corresponding section in the syllabus links