Learn Serbian

Learning Serbian with video lessons, online courses, grammar explanations and interactive exercises.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Describing People in Serbian - Part 2

If you liked the first part about how to describe people's age in Serbian, I'm sure you'll enjoy practising following features with the people & places video below:

  • height and build (visina i građa):
  1. ... je prosečne visine = ... is average height.
  2. ... je visok = ... is tall.
  3. ... je nizak = ... is short.
  4. ... je debeo / punačak =... is fat / overweight
  5. ... je mršav = ... is thin
  6. ... je vitak  = ... is slim
  • hair (kosa):
  1. duga kosa: ... ima dugu kosu = ...has long hair
  2. kratka kosa: ... ima kratku kosu = ... has short hair
  3. kosa srednje dužine ... ima kosu srednje dužine = ... has medium-length hair
  4. crna kosa ... ima crnu kosu = ...has dark hair
  5. plava kosa ... ima plavu kosu = ... has fair hair
  6. crvena kosa ... ima crvenu kosu = ... has red/ginger hair
  7. (svetlo / tamno) smeđa kosa ... ima (svetlo /tamno ) smeđu kosu = ... has (light / dark) brown hair
  8. seda kosa ... ima sedu kosu = ... has gray hair
  9. kovrdžava kosa ... ima kovrdžavu kosu = ... has curly hair
  10. talasasta kosa ... ima talasastu kosu = ... has wavy hair
  11. ravna kosa ... ima ravnu kosu = ... has straight hair
  12. ... je ćelav = ... is bald
  13. ... je proćelav  ... has a receding hairline.
  14. ...ima šiške (pluralia tantum) = ... has a fringe (in Serbian this word is always in plural, like "vrata"=door)
  15. ...nosi pletenice = ... is wearing her hair in plaits
  16. ...nosi kikice = ... is wearing her hair in pig-tails
  17. ...nosi rep = ... is wearing her hair in a pony-tail
  18. ...nosi puštenu kosu = ...is wearing her hair loose
  19. ...nosi razdeljak (na stranu / u sredini) = ... has a (side / centre) parting
  • complexion (ten)
  1. ...ima taman ten = ...has a dark complexion 
  2. ...ima svetlu put =...has a fair complexion
  3. ... je bled = ...is pale
  4. ... se sunčao = ... has a tanned complexion
  5. ...ima lep ten = ... has a clear /good complexion
  6. ...ima bubuljice /pege  =...has spots / freckles.
  • distinguishing features (karakteristične crte)
  1. ...ima bradu = ...has a beard
  2. ...ima brkove = ... has a moustache
  3. ...je izbrijan =...is clean-shaven
  4. ...ima ožiljak  = ...has a scar
  5. ...ima tetovažu = ... has a tattoo
  6. ...ima guste obrve = ... has bushy eyebrows
  7. ...nosi naočare = ...wears glasses

Thursday, September 26, 2013

European Day of Languages in Serbian

Many thanks to all the faithful followers of this blog for celebrating European Day of Languages every day :) I'm not a big fun of one-day praznik-a, but let me share with you some great resources for learning Serbian which cover this topic:

  • An excellent 2012 video on this topic:

Can you watch it several times, if necessary, and jot down at least three reasons why learning different languages is important, according to the interviewees ?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Word Order in Serbian - Negation in Present, Part 1.3

If you are following the Word Order in Serbian series of blog posts, you surely remember that the first one was about simple verbs (not -se verbs) in the Present Simple tense. This time, I'll cover the same set of sentences in the same tense, but with their negative forms:

One word verb: NE pevati (not sing)Present tense OF "I sing / I'm singing."

Subject (S) + predicate (P)
  • Ne pevam. N
  • Ja ne pevam
  • Ti igraš, a ja ne pevam. N 
  • Ti ne igraš i ja ne pevam. N 
  • Profesor je čuo kako ne pevam i dao mi je jedinicu ! N
  • Priznajem da ne znam da pevam. N
S + P +  direct object (dO)
  • Ne pevam pesmu. N
  • Ja ne pevam pesmu.
  • Vidiš li  da ne pevam tu pesmu ?  N
  • Svi čuju da ja ne pevam pesmu. 

S  + P + dO + adverb of time (AoT)

  • Ne pevam pesmu svaki dan. N
  • Svaki dan ne pevam pesmu.
  • Moji profesori svaki dan vide kada ne uradim domaći. N

    S + P + dO + AoT + AoP (adverb of place)

    • Ne pevam pesmu svaki dan  kod kuće.  N
    • Ne pevam pesmu kod kuće svaki dan. N
    • Svaki dan ne pevam pesmu kod kuće. N
    • Kod kuće obično ne pevam pesmu. N
    • Moje komšije ponekad ne čuju kada kod kuće pevam pesmu. N
    • Moje komšije obično ne čuju kada  pevam pesmu kod kuće. N
    • Moje komšije ne igraju uz iks-boks dok ja pevam pesme kod kuće svaki dan. N

    I admit that this was pretty boring, but it's good to have lots of similar examples in one place :) I promise the next part with questions, short answers and negations will be real fun !

    Tuesday, September 24, 2013

    Learn about Serbian Verbs with Children's Songs

    Another great song which all the devojčice i dečaci sing is "Ivin voz" by Dragan Laković . It's also perfect to introduce a complex lexical system of the Serbian verb (which mirrors English phrasal verbs as well as perfectve /imperfective aspects ) :

    The Cyrillic script version:
    Ћиху, Ћиху, ћиху-ху...

    Из куће је излетео на улицу Ива
    сав задихан захуктао к'о локомотива.

    Видели га другови, па за њим и они
    потрчали, захуктали к'о прави вагони.

    Ћиху, Ћиху, ћиху-ху...

    Сад улицом тако јури та чудна колона
    то воз Ивин путује са седам вагона.

    The Latin script version:
    Ćihu, Ćihu, ćihu-hu...

    Iz kuće je izleteo na ulicu Iva
    sav zadihan zahuktao k'o lokomotiva.

    Videli ga drugovi, pa za njim i oni
    potrčali, zahuktali k'o pravi vagoni.

    Ćihu, Ćihu, ćihu-hu...

    Sad ulicom tako juri ta čudna kolona
    to voz Ivin putuje sa sedam vagona.

    Interesting verb lexicology:

    • leteti = to fly, IZleteti = to fly out of 
    • huktati = to make a sound like a to train (figuratively: to complain) , ZAhuktati se  = to gather speed (for a train, or when doing something)
    • trčati = to run, POtrčati = to start running
    An exercise covering this topic can be found on this SerbianLesson.com page.

    Monday, September 23, 2013

    Describing People in Serbian - Age

    In part one of this short series of blog posts on how to describe a person in Serbian, I'll cover just how to describe someone's age, and give you lots of sample sentences, so you can try to describe people in the photo below, focusing on their age ( and a little bit on clothes ):

    Godište = Age

    • beba  = baby
    • dete =  child
    • dete koje je tek prohodalo = toddler
    • dečko = boy
    • devojčica = girl
    • tinejdžer = teenager 
    • mladić = young man (short "a")
    • devojka = young woman 
    • omladina = youth
    • čovek u zrelim godinama = middle-aged man
    • žena u zrelim godinama = middle-aged woman 
    • stariji čovek / žena = elderly man/ woman
    • ... ima dvadeset pet godina =... is 25 
    • ...ima tridesetak godina = ... is thirty something
    • ...ima oko četrdeset godina = ... is about forty
    • ...ima pedeset i kusur = ... is fifty odd.
    • ... je u (svojim) ranim / kasnim dvadesetim = ... is in (her /his) early / late twenties

    Primeri = Examples
    Na ovoj slici vidim puno ljudi koji su različitog godišta. S desne strane vidim devojčicu u  ružičastoj suknji i majici, a pored nje je srednjovečni čovek  sa kapom. Ispred njih sedi žena plave kose i proćelavi muškarac, koji deluju kao par u zrelim godinama. Pored njih, s leve strane su dve žene u kasnim dvadesetim. Jedna ima belu majicu bez rukava i crne bermude, a druga nosi ljubičastu majicu bez rukava i plave pantalone. Iza njih s leve strane sedi žena u crvenoj majici kratkih rukava koja ima pedesetak godina i  iza nje je verovatno njen suprug, koji je isto stariji čovek. Pored nje sedi  dečko koji ima oko devet ili deset godina. Oni su na nekom slavlju ili događaju i uglavnom su tu deca ili ljudi u zrelim godinama. Ne vidim uopšte tinejdžere.

    Saturday, September 21, 2013

    Best Sites for Learning Serbian

    In order to persevere with learning the Serbian language you have to be proactive in finding fun and quality material on the internet. In the morning you can work on more demanding materials, such as :

    and in the evenings always flick through some easy, fun and relaxing stuff :

    Thursday, September 19, 2013

    The Meaning of the Verb "slagati se " in Serbian

    Slažu se kao pas i mačka :)
    The verb "slagati se" imperf.(with first "a" being long) /"složiti se" perf.  = to agree * can have a range of different meanings in Serbian and we're going to discuss them today, because I'll need it for my next lesson about Serbian history.

    • If two colours match, we say "slažu se". For example: Plava se slaže sa žutom, ali se ne slaže sa crvenom (slagati se = to match)
    • If a brother and sister get on/along with each other, we say "oni se slažu". For example: Baš imaš sreće, tvoj  brat i ti se dobro slažete. (You are rally lucky, your brother and you get along very well)
    • If you agree to go out with your friend, you will say: "slažem se". For example: Hoćeš li da idemo u restoran večeras ? Važi, slažem se! (Would you like to go to a restaurant tonight ? OK, I agree!)
    • If two people are at each other's throats, i.e." fight like cat(s) and dog(s)" you can similarly describe it in Serbian as "slažu se kao pas i mačka"!
    The simple present tense conjugations of the verb SLAGATI:
    (Sg) Slažem se - slažeš se - slaže se  (Pl) Slažemo se - slažete se - slažu se 

    The past tense verb forms 
    - Imperfective aspect
    ( _ denotes the auxiliary "to be" which shows which person is the sentence referring to)
    (Sg) M slagao _ se, F slagala _ se, N slagalo _  se
    (Pl) M slagali _ se , F slagale _ se, N slagala _ se
    - Perfective aspect:

    ( _ denotes the auxiliary "to be" which shows which person is the sentence referring to)
    (Sg) M složio _ se, F složila _ se, N složilo _  se
    (Pl) M složili _ se , F složile _ se, N složila _ se

    The simple future forms:
    - Imperfective aspect
    (Sg) Slagaću se - slagaćeš se - slagaće se
    (Pl) Slagaćemo se - slagaćete se - slagaće se
    Perfective aspect:
    (Sg) Složiću se - složićeš se - složiće se
    (Pl) Složićemo se - složićeš se - složiće se

    * You might also find the word "slagati" which means "to lie", but the stress pattern is different (with the first  "a" being short) and there is no reflexive " se".
    ** You might also find the word "slagati" with the same  stress pattern as "slagati se" (to agree), but without the reflexive "se". In that case, the verb "slagati" means "to stack things" or " to put things in order" 

    Monday, September 16, 2013

    How to Pronounce Serbian "LJ" ?

    For learners of Serbian as a foreign language often times it's difficult to pronounce the Serbian sound "LJ" or "Љ" correctly. That's because some students tend to pronounce "L" and then "J" separately. If you'd like to make your pronunciation of "lj" perfect, follow these steps:

    1. Try to say "L", as in English word "love". Where is your tongue ? Up or down ?
    2. Try to say "J", as in English word "yes". Where is your tongue ? Up or down ?
    3. Right, so you noticed that in "L" the tongue is up, just behind your upper  teeth, while with "J", the tongue is down. If you want to say "lj" correctly, the tongue mustn't move from the upward position downwards, because it's one sound.
    4. Now, keep your  tongue as if you want to pronounce "J" as in "yes", because it's the right tongue position for the perfect "lj", and at the same time try to pronounce "L", WITHOUT raising your tongue upwards. What happens ? Did you hear your first "lj" ? Now keep practising !
    Keep your tongue low, as if you want to pronounce "J" (as in "yes") sound, but say "L" (as in "love")

    Thursday, September 12, 2013

    Word Order in Serbian - Part 5

    This part is preparing you to practise word order with the words with the reflexive/impersonal pronoun "se". This time I've chosen only the verbs which are widely used when you talking about important life phases, so all the sentences in the videos will be in the Simple Past:
    • roditi se = to be born
    • školovati se = to be schooled
    • upisati se (u školu / na fakultet) = to enrol (a school / university)
    • zaposliti se = to start working / to get a job
    • preseliti se = to move (to another city / country)
    • kvalifikovati se (za) = to get qualified (for)
    • venčati se = to get married
    After practising telling a story about yourself with these phrases:

    ...you can try to do the similar one based on my false biography, so you have to make all the sentences in the exercise negative :)

    Friday, September 06, 2013

    Common Mistakes in Serbian

    One of the most common mistakes students of Serbian as a foreign  language tend to make is to use the verbs of movement "ići " + u, "stići" + u, "vratiti se" + u, "posetiti" with the noun in Dative, instead of Accusative. That's why it's often heard:
    Idem u Beogradu (incorrect)
    instead of
    Idem u Beograd (correct)
    In the case of the listed verbs above (ići = to go to/ stići = to arrive at/ vratiti se = to come back to /posetiti = to visit), the noun which follows them is in the Accusative case (so called the Accusative of goal/aim).

    That's why I've created this video with which you can make simple sentences such as:

    Thursday, September 05, 2013

    Word Order in Serbian - Part 4.5

    Now that you've learnt the introductory song by heart (napamet), you are ready for more examples with the word order of the sentences with reflexive or impersonal "se". This time I'll cover the word order in the Simple Present tense with all three forms, affirmative, negative and questions. So, let's start :

    Reflexive -se: oblačiti se  (to get dressed) Present tense of OBLAČITI SE is :

    Affirmative sentences : Subject (S) + predicate (P)

    • Oblačim se. N
    • Ja se  oblačim. 
    • Ti se igraš, a ja se oblačim. N 
    • Sedi i gledaj TV dok se ja oblačim. N 
    • Komšije su videle kako se (ja) oblačim u kuhinji. N 
    • Priznajem da se oblačim u kuhinji. N

    Negations: Subject (S) + NE + predicate (P)
    • Ne oblačim se. N
    • Ja se ne  oblačim. 
    • Ti se ne igraš, a ja se ne oblačim. N 
    • Sedi i gledaj TV dok se ja ne oblačem. N 
    • Tvrdila sam da se ne oblačim u kuhinji. N 
    • Priznajem da se ne oblačim u kuhinji. N

    Questions: Subject (S) +  predicate (P)
    • Da li se oblačiš ? N
    • Da li se ti oblačiš ? 
    • Oblačiš li se
    • Jel' se oblačiš ? N
    • Kada se oblačiš ? N
    • Kada se ti oblačiš ? N

    S + P + AoT(adverb of time) + AoP (adverb of place)

    • Oblačim se svaki dan u kuhinji. N
    • Svaki dan se oblačim u kuhinji. N
    • (I'm not listing all the other combinations as they are not neutral)
    • Moje komšije su čule da se oblačim u kuhinji svaki dan. N
    • Moje komšije su čule da se svaki dan oblačim u kuhinji. N
    • (I'm not listing all the other combinations as they are not neutral)

    Wednesday, September 04, 2013

    Past Tense in Serbian

    Let's make a short comparison of the Present Simple and Past Simple in Serbian with this "drinks video" :)

    • Šta obično piješ / pijete tokom dana ?
    • Šta obično piješ / pijete kada izađeš uveče ?
    • Šta si juče pio  / pila ? / Šta ste juče pili ?*


    • What do you usually drink during the day ? ("piješ" informal, "pijete" formal)
    • What do you usually drink when you go out at night ?
    • What did you drink yesterday ? ("pio" for masculine singular, "pila" for feminine singular, "pili" for the second person singular, used formally, or for the second person plural, when you are talking to more people)

    Monday, September 02, 2013

    Asking Questions in Serbian - Present Simple

    Let me show you one more video in the series called Easy Texts in Serbian. This time you have to ask direct questions about the word which is in red.

    For example: "Zovem se Tanja" - your task is to ask:

    • "Kako se zoveš ?" informal 
    • "Kako se zovete ?" formal

    For the following questions start with these question words:

    • Gde ... (where)
    • Kako ... (how) 
    • Koliko godina ... (how old)
    • Kakvi ...  (what...like)

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