Are you ready to learn how to use the Accusative case in Croatian?
This is one of the most commonly used cases in everyday speech and there are a couple of things you can pay attention to when forming your own sentences.
In this article, I will cover this fourth grammatical case and help you understand when and how to use it in your everyday speech.
The article contains two main parts:
- How to form the Accusative case
- The Accusative case in everyday speech – when do you need to use the Accusative case.
- Without prepositions
- With common prepositions
To learn how to use the Accusative, let’s first learn how to form it….
How to Form the Accusative Case
Before we dig deeper into the use of this case, let’s learn how we can transform a noun from its basic form (Nominative) into Accusative.
It will be good for you to familiarize yourself with these forms before we start looking at more examples of the Accusative case because the more you read it or hear it, the easier it will be to use it later on.
The best way to learn grammar is to gradually recognize the different endings in reoccurring grammar features of the sentence, and so learn grammar automatically, without actually memorizing any “rules”.
So, let’s start getting familiar with the shape and form of the Accusative words.
The Endings of Accusative Nouns
If you do want to memorize the endings, the easiest way would be to first become comfortable with determining the gender of the noun.
In our article about the grammatical genders in Croatian, you can learn how to do this.
In short, remember that all the nouns that end on a -o, or -e are neuter nouns. All the nouns that end in -a are feminine nouns, and the majority of nouns that end on a consonant are masculine nouns.
Now, the trick is that there are several nouns which end on a consonant, but are not masculine but feminine, as the noun in the table – noć (night).
Let’s look at the form of the Accusative case.
|Singular||Nouns||The ending in Accusative||Nominative||Accusative|
|feminine nouns (that end with -a)||– u||žena(woman)||ženu|
|feminine nouns (that end on a consonant)*||The form is the same as Nominative||noć(night)||noć|
|masculine nouns (end on a consonant)||– a (for living beings)|
(for inanimate things)
|neuter nouns (end with -o, -e)||The form is the same as Nominative||jezero(lake)|
*The majority of feminine nouns in Croatian ends on -a. However, there are several nouns that end on a consonant (which is usually the rule for masculine nouns). To learn more, take a look at our article about Croatian genders.
|Plural||Nouns||The ending in Accusative||Nominative||Accusative|
|feminine nouns||The form is the same as Nominative||žene(women)|
|masculine nouns||– e||dječaci(boys)|
|neuter nouns||The form is the same as Nominative||jezera(lakes)|
*You may notice a change in plural – dječak (sing.) > dječaci (pl.), instead of dječaki. These sound changes are very common in Croatian. Notice how the Accusative case goes back to the root of the Nominative singular form to make the Accusative plural form by adding the ending -e.
This happens because of the popular sound change in Croatian called sibilation. This sound change causes sounds k, g, and h to change into sounds c, z, s when they appear before the letter -i.
Therefore, in order to make the plural (dječaci) out of the singular (dječak), you need to pay attention to the sibilation:
dječak > dječak + i > dječac + i > dječaci
The root of the word is still dječak. Therefore, the Accusative will use the root word and add the ending -e.
Nouns that have the same form for Nominative and Accusative
Neuter and feminine (-consonant) nouns, singular
As you can see, the Accusative form of the noun is the same as the Nominative form of the noun for neuter and feminine nouns that end on a consonant.
I saw the lake.
Ugledao sam jezero. (neut.)
jezero = jezero
I’m waiting for the night.
Čekam noć. (fem.)
noć = noć
Masculine (inanimate) nouns, singular
However, masculine nouns that refer to inanimate things also don’t change their form in the Accusative.
I drive through that town every day.
Vozim kroz taj grad svaki dan.
grad = grad
Feminine and neuter plural nouns
The Accusative keeps the same form as the Nominative for feminine and neuter plural nouns.
I love Summer nights.
Volim ljetne noći. (fem.)
noći = noći
You have to visit Baćina lakes.
Moraš posjetiti Baćinska jezera. (neut.)
jezera = jezera
Nouns that change form in the Accusative case
Feminine (-a) nouns, singular
For feminine nouns that end with an -a (which are most common), the Accusative ending is -u.
I love that woman.
Volim tu ženu. (fem.)
žena > ženu
Notice that the vowel ending changes from a to u.
žena > žen
a + u > ženu
Masculine (living) nouns, singular
For masculine nouns (they end on a consonant) that refer to living beings, the Accusative ending is -a (same form as the Genitive case).
I love that man.
Volim tog čovjeka. (masc.)
čovjek > čovjeka
Note: Remember that nouns that end on a consonant simply add the new case ending onto the Nominative noun (čovjek-čovjeka), but nouns that end an a vowel change the vowel ending into the new case ending (žena-ženu).
čovjek > čovjek + a > čovjeka
Let me quickly mention a noun dog. This is a masculine noun in Croatian. But, it’s declension from Nominative to other cases is a bit peculiar. Let’s check it out:
N – pas
G – psa pas > p
as = ps + a > psa
D – psu pas > p
as = ps + u > psu
A – psa pas > p
as = ps + a > psa
As you can see, this noun also gets the a ending in Accusative, but the base for this case and the other cases changes as well.
The form pas exists only in the Nominative case. In other cases, the base changes from pas to ps onto which the other endings are added.
The same happens with nouns like magarac (donkey), vrabac (sparrow), etc.
N – magarac
G – magarca
D – magarcu
A – magarca
N – vrabac
G – vrapca
D – vrapcu
A – vrapca
Note: Masculine nouns have the same form in the Genitive and the Accusative case. Remember, to tell them apart, you need to think of their use.
Masculine plural nouns
The plural masculine nouns change the vowel ending into -e in the Accusative case.
Water for elephants.
Voda za slonove.
slonovi > slonov
i + -e > slonove
N (pl.) A (pl.)
To make things even more simple, the following rule will usually work for all the nouns:
|Singular nouns in Nominative||Singular nouns in Accusative|
|nouns ending in -a||-a changes into -u|
|nouns ending in -o, -e||no change|
|nouns ending in a consonant|
|nouns ending in a consonant|
|Plural nouns in Nominative||Plural nouns in Accusative|
|All feminine and neuter nouns||No change from Nominative plural|
|All masculine nouns||change vowel ending to -e|
The Endings of Accusative Adjectives
The adjectives have the following endings:
|Singular||Adjectives ascribed to nouns that are:||The ending in Accusative (for adjectives)||Nominative||Accusative|
|feminine||– u||lijepa žena(beautiful woman)|
mračna noć(dark night)
(for living beings)
(for inanimate things)
|dobar dječak(good boy)|
|neuter||no change||duboko jezero(deep lake)|
plavo more(blue sea)
Regardless of which ending the feminine noun has, the feminine adjective always has the ending -u in the Accusative case.
The endings for masculine Accusative adjectives get the endings -og(a) only for living beings, while all the masculine adjectives referring to inanimate things, and all the neuter Accusative adjectives have the same form as the Nominative.
|Plural||Adjectives ascribed to nouns that are:||The ending in Accusative (for adjectives)||Nominative||Accusative|
|feminine||no change||lijepe žene(beautiful women)|
mračne noći(dark nights)
|masculine||-e||dobri dječaci(good boys)|
|neuter||no change||duboka jezera(deep lakes)|
plava mora(blue seas)
The plural adjectives are easier to remember. Only the masculine adjectives change their form from Nominative to Accusative by changing the vowel ending from -i to -e.
All the other plural adjectives have the same form in the Nominative and the Accusative case.
The pronouns are particular and have somewhat irregular declension.
|Singular||Pronouns in Nominative||Pronouns in Accusative||Pronouns in Accusative (shortened form)|
(you – plural), (you – polite singular and plural)
|oni (m.), one (f.), ona (n.)|
they (masc., fem., neut.)
* Shortened form is used more often in sentences than the longer form.
**Note: In Croatian, there’s a difference when you’re addressing someone informally and formally. If you’re addressing someone informally you would simply say – ti, tebe, but if you’re being formal, or as a sign of respect, you wouldn’t use the form ti (you), but the from Vi (you – polite). In this instance, the pronoun is always written with a capital V.
Ok, now that we know how to transform the words into the Accusative case, let’s see when we will actually need to do that.
The Accusative Case in everyday speech
The Accusative case is the fourth grammatical case out of seven that exist in Croatian.
- Accusative – whom? (koga) what? (što)
The Accusative case is very commonly used in everyday speech because most of the direct objects in the sentence are in the Accusative case.
The Accusative case is therefore dependent on the verb in the sentence.
For this reason, after we identify the verb, we ask the questions in the brackets above – whom (koga) or what (što)? These questions actually help us determine the direct object of the sentence, as the image below shows.
Remember, once you identify the direct object in the sentence, you will most often have to use the Accusative case in order to express it correctly.
When to use the Accusative case?
As you have learned, the Accusative case is most often used as a direct object. It depends on the verb in the sentence and it can come with or without a preposition.
Accusative case without prepositions
The Accusative case without the prepositions is quite common. It always comes with the transitive (prijelazni) verb. The transitive verbs are verbs that follow the pattern subject – verb – direct object.
Let’s look at this example:
He speaks Croatian.
The verb to speak is a transitive verb since it can be followed by a direct object. This is where the Accusative questions come in handy. If we ask what does he speak?, we can answer in the Accusative – Croatian (direct object).
He speaks Croatian.
On govori hrvatski. (Acc.)
Note: While in English you would write the names of languages with capital letters, in Croatian we don’t use capital letters because all these words are possessive adjectives which are always written with lowercase letters.
Let’s look at more examples:
Volim gledati televiziju.
I love watching television.
Vidio sam starog čovjeka.
[Saw – am – old – man (acc.)]*
I saw an old man.
Moram kupiti kruh.
I have to buy bread.
Molim Vas jednu kavu.
[I’m asking politely – you(polite)(acc.) – one(acc.) – coffee(acc.)]*
I would like one coffee, please.
Najviše volim more.
[The most – I love – the sea(acc.).]*
I love the sea the most.
Jučer sam vidio Marka.
[Yesterday – am – saw – Mark(acc.).]*
I saw Mark yesterday.
I love you.
Čekam te na trgu.
[I’m waiting – you(acc.) – on – square(loc.)]
I’m waiting for you on the square.
I’m reading a book.
*The brackets show word-by-word translation.
As you can see, the Accusative case is very common in the Croatian language. The Accusative without prepositions is most common in sentences where the Accusative noun is the direct object.
The Accusative case with prepositions
The Accusative with the prepositions is normally an adverb. Usually it is used as a part of the adverb of place.
What you’ll need to look for in a sentence are the prepositions that are used with the Accusative case. These are:
- kroz – through
- niz – downwards
- uz – alongside, by, next to,
- na – on
- u – in
- među – among, in the midst of
- nad – above
- pod – under
- pred – in front of
- za – for
Let’s look at the examples for each one.
Hodam kroz grad.
[I’m walking – through – town(acc)]
I’m walking through town.
Prolazim kroz tunel.
[I’m passing – through – tunnel(acc)]
I’m passing through a tunnel.
Šetamo kroz šumu.
[We are walking – through – forest(acc.)]
We’re walking through the forest.
Šetamo kroz grad.
[We are walking – through – town]
We’re walking through the town.
Remember that the masculine nouns that refer to inanimate things don’t change their form in the Accusative.
Siđi niz stepenice.
[Come down – down – stairs(acc.)]
Spustili smo se niz rijeku.
[We went down – are – ourselves – down – river(acc.)]
We went down the river.
Šetamo niz ulicu.
[We are walking – down – the street(acc).]
We are walking down the street.
Trči uz brdo!
[Run – up – hill (acc.)]
Run up the hill!
Vozim uz more.
[I’m driving – alongside – sea(acc.)]
I’m driving alongside the sea.
Stani uza zid.
[Stand – against – wall(acc.)]
Stand against the wall.
Notice how in the phrase stand against the wall, the preposition against (along, next to) gets an extra “a” (uza)?
This happens because of the easier pronunciation. Since the preposition ends with z, and the noun begins with z, we add the extra “a” so that it would be easier to pronounce it.
Similar thing happens in British English when you can hear the speaker pronounce a sound “r” to make the pronunciation easier. This is commonly heard in phrases like Law and order. You will hear a British person say somehing like Lawr an’ order.
This is what adding the “a” does in Croatian as well, except that you also actually write the added letter, and not only pronounce it.
This is common for a lot of different prepositions when the pronunciation is hard because of the consonants that stand next to each other.
Kasnim na vlak.
[I’m running late – on – train(acc.)]
I’m late for the train.
Možemo se kupati na ljeto.
[We can – to swim – on – summer(acc.)]
We can swim in the summer.
Stavio je torbu na rame.
[He put – is – bag – on – shoulder(acc.)]
He put a bag on the shoulder.
Idem na pauzu.
[I’m going – on – break(acc.)]
I’m going on a break.
Now, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
There are prepositions that the Accusative shares with some other cases. One of those prepositions is the preposition on.
This preposition is shared with the Locative case. However, when used with the Locative case, it marks the location of something, while when used with the Accusative, it will always refer to movement.
Just think of it this way – if there’s a verb of moving in any way (putting something on, running late, going somewhere, etc.) the preposition on will be followed by a word in the Accusative case.
If the verb is stationary, you add the Locative case.
Kasnim na vlak (acc.).
I’m running late for the train.
Na vlaku (loc.) ima mnogo ljudi.
[On – train (loc.) – there are – many – people.]
There are many people on the train.
The same is true for the preposition u (in).
When expressing location, we use the Locative with this preposition. But when expressing movement, especially movement into something, we use the Accusative.
|Idem u kino.|
[I’m going – in – cinema(acc.)]
I’m going to the cinema.
|Gledam film u kinu.|
[I’m watching – movie – in – cinema(loc.)]
I’m watching a movie in the cinema.
|Povrće stavljam u lonac.|
[Vegetables – I’m putting – in – pot(acc.)]
I’m putting the vegetables in a pot.
|Kuham ručak u loncu.|
[I’m cooking – lunch – in – pot(loc.)]
I’m cooking lunch in a pot.
|Idem u trgovinu.|
[I’m going – in – store(acc.)]
I’m going to the store.
|Nalazim se u trgovini.|
[I find – myself – in – store(loc.)]
I’m in the store.
|Volim ići u grad.|
[I love – to go – in – town(acc.)]
I love going into town.
|Živim u gradu.|
[I live – in – town(loc.)]
I live in town.
If you have read our article about the Dative case, you saw that the Dative case is also used with the verbs that express movement, more accurately, direction. The difference is that you use the Dative if you’re moving towards something or someone, but if you’re entering “into” somewhere, you would use the Accusative case.
Let me recap:
Moving toward someone/something – use the Dative
Going somewhere, into somewhere, through something – use the Accusative
Being somewhere (not moving) – use the Locative
|Idem prema kinu.|
I’m walking towards the cinema.
|Idem u kino.|
I’m going to the cinema.
|Gledam film u kinu.|
I’m watching a movie in the cinema.
The Dative and Locative have the same form but a slightly different use. You can read more about it in the articles about the Dative and the Locative Case.
However, this preposition can also be used as the adverb of time.
Vidimo se u jutro.
[we see – ourselves – in – morning (acc.)]
We’ll see eachother in the morning.
Stvari su bile drugačije u prijašnje vrijeme.
[Things – are – were – different – in – past – time. (acc.]
Things were different in the past times.
The following prepositions (među, nad, pod, pred) the Accusative case shares with the Instrumental case (the 7th case). These prepositions are actually more common in the Instrumental case.
The Accusative case will come with these prepositions when the verb expresses an action which is finished.
Let’s look at some examples.
Među – among, in the midst of
Odjednom je došao među nas.
[All of a sudden – is – came – among – us (acc.)]
All of a sudden he came among us.
Pao je među trnje.
[He fell – is – among – thorns (acc.)]
He fell among thorns.
Nad – above
Oblaci su se nadvili nad grad.
[Clouds – are – themselves – hovered – above – town (acc.)]
The clouds hovered over the town.
Postavi ukras nad stol.
[Place – decoration – above – table (acc.)]
Place the decoration above the table.
Pod – under
Stavio je njenu sliku pod jastuk.
[He placed – is – her (acc.) – photo (acc.) – under – pillow (acc.)]
He placed her photo under the pillow.
Stavi podmetač pod čašu.
[Place – coaster (acc.) – under – glass (acc.)]
Place a coaster under the glass.
Pred – in front of
Stao je pred mene.
[He stepped – is – in front of – me (acc.)]
He stepped in front of me.
Mačka je izletjela pred psa.
[Cat – is – ran out – in front of – dog (acc.)]
The cat ran out in front of the dog.
Za – for
Učinila bih sve za tebe.
[I did – would – all – for – you (acc.)]
I would do anything for you.
Imam pismo za Ivana.
[I have – letter – for – Ivan (acc.)]
I have a letter for John.
Tražim poklon za majku.
[I’m looking – gift – for – mother (acc.)]
I’m looking for a gift for mom.
Let’s quickly recap these prepositions that the Accusative shares with the other cases.
The prepositions u (in) and na (on) the Accusative shares with the Locative. When expressing movement, use the Accusative. When expressing the place or location, use the Locative.
The prepositions među (among), nad (above), pod (under), and pred (in front of) the Accusative shares with the Instrumental case and they are more often used with the Instrumental case. However, when expressing an action that is finished, use the Accusative.
Ok, that’s it! That’s all the basics that you need to know in order to use the Accusative case. Remember that the Accusative is most often used as the direct object.
I hope this article has been helpful! If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to contact us. I’ll be here for you.
Good luck with learning Croatian!