41 Somewhere, Nobody, Something...


There are couple of very useful words – usually called indefinite pronouns – that generally derive from question-words by adding a ne-. They don’t mean negation, but some-:

nekamo somewhere (destination)
negdje somewhere (location)
odnekud from somewhere (origin)

These words are used as generic locations, destinations or origins:

Automasc. je negdje. The car is somewhere.

The next two indefinite pronouns change in the same way as the question-words tko who and što what (introduced in 28 Asking Who and What):

netko someone nešto something

Both pronouns behave grammatically as the pronouns they’re derived from, that is, netko as masc. sing., nešto as neut. sing.:

Netko je bio tamo. Someone was there.

Nešto je bilo tamo. Something was there.

Netko spava. Someone is sleeping.

However, if you want to express just the opposite, that is, nobody is sleeping, in Croatian, you have only one option: you have to use negation (that is, the verb must be put to negative), and you must negate the pronoun as well. Croatian uses double negation as a rule:

Nitko ne spava. Nobody is sleeping.

It’s very simple to make negative forms of indefinite pronouns: if they begin with ne-, change it to ni-. Unfortunately, there’s an irregularity: when ni- is prefixed to što, the result is ništa:

Nemam ništa. I don’t have anything. (lit. ‘I don’t have nothing.’)

There’s an often used phrase, used when you look you might be hurt, but you aren’t (or just pretend you aren't):

Nije° mi1 DL ništa. I’m fine. (lit. ‘It’s nothing to me.’)

Of course, instead of mi², you can use any noun or pronoun in the DL case. Since ništa is really the subject, it behaves like što, therefore 3rd pers. neut. sing. is used in the past tense:

Nije joj3f DL bilo ništa. She was fine.

To negate adverb-like indefinite pronouns, again replace ne- with ni-, moving it to the beginning of the word:

nikamo nowhere (destination)
nigdje nowhere (location)
niotkud from nowhere (origin)

The next two adverbs stand for manner and are derived from the question-word kako how:

nekako somehow nikakonohow

Again, all these ni-words require negation of the verb as well:

Nikamo ne idemići. I’m not going anywhere. (lit. ‘I don’t go nowhere.’)

To ask questions, it’s normal in Croatian to use the same pronouns as in usual sentences:

Je li me1 A netko tražio? Was anyone looking for me?

Je li negdje jeftinije? Is anywhere cheaper?

However, in writing, sometimes in formal speech, instead of indefinite pronouns in such questions, questions pronouns can be used, with indefinite meaning:

Je li me1 A tko tražio? (the same meaning as above)

Je li gdje jeftinije?

Actually, Standard Croatian prefers such use – sentences like je li me netko... are considered colloquial in Standard Croatian!

Then, there are frequent combinations like somebody else, somewhere else, etc. Croatian uses specific else-words (meaning other, elsewhere etc. when used on their own) that must match the first word. Either both change in case, or neither one:

netko drugi somebody else → A nekog drugog
nešto drugo something else → I nečim drugim
negdje drugdje somewhere else (both words are adverbs)

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5 Easy Croatian: 41 Somewhere, Nobody, Something... N A  DL  G 24 I There are couple of very useful words – usually called indefinite pronouns – that generally derive from question...

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