41 Somewhere, Nobody, Everything...


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)

Another type of indefinite pronouns is obtained by prefixing sva- (svu- for some words), usually in meaning every. Again sva- + što = svašta:

svatko everyone
svašta things of all kinds

The pronoun svašta doesn’t mean everything! For example:

Vidjeli smo svašta. We saw many different things.

The word svašta can also have negative implications, as all kind of (bad, strange) things, depending on the context. It can also be used as a short comment, when something is unexpected, illogical or meaningless.

Adverbs of this type are:

svakako in any case
svugdje everywhere

The adjectives is:

svaki every, each

The adjective svaki is quite often used. For instance:

Svaka soba ima dva kreveta. Each room has two beds.

Držimdržati čašu u svakoj ruci. I’m holding a glass in each hand.

Finally, there’s a rather interesting adjective sav (sv- +) all. It has a bit specific endings in singular – as if it ends in a Croatian-specific consonant; it also has obligatory final vowels in endings for masc./neut. singular (normally optional for most adjectives):

gender  N  A  DL  G  I
feminine sva svu svoj sve svom
neuter sve = N svemu svega svim
m. (not p/a) sav = N
m. (p/a) = G

As with other adjectives or pronouns having specific forms, the forms for fem. gender are just plain forms, listed just for completeness sake. Also, like most other adjectives with special uses, it never has the optional -i in masc. N.

The adjective can be used as any other adjective, mostly in plural, due to its meaning:

Zovemzvati sve moje prijatelje. I’m calling all my friends.

However, the main use of this adjective is as a pronoun, and specific forms have specific uses. Neuter singular forms (NA sve, DL svemu...) mean everything:

Vidio sam sve. (A) I saw everything.

Dosta mi1 DL je° svega. (G) I had enough of everything.

The second sentence is a frequent Croatian phrase (type it into Google™).

Masculine plural forms (N svi, A sve...) are used in generic sense everybody:

Svi su kod Ane. Everybody is at Ana’s place.

You have to be careful that svi is plural, so when used as the subject, verbs come in plural too, unlike English:

Svi spavaju. Everybody is sleeping.

Bear in mind that adjectives – sav (sv-) is essentially an adjective – get an additional -a in DLI-pl when used on their own, as nouns or pronouns. Therefore:

Hvala svima. Thanks to everyone.

Razgovarao sam sa svima. I talked to everyone.

The first phrase, hvala svima, is the preferred way to thank a group of people.

Of course, when sav (sv-) is used as an adjective, it gets ordinary endings in DLI-pl:

Hvala svim mojim prijateljima. Thanks to all my friends.

Sometimes, feminine plural forms (N sve, A sve...) are used if you refer to women only. You will sometimes hear (and read) forms with regular endings (svo, etc.) – however, only when it’s used as an adjective – such forms are not standard, but frequent in some regions, especially outside Croatia.

You will from time to time hear additional version of masc. A-pl: svih (like personal pronouns, oninjih). It’s widespread in parts of Croatia, but it’s not standard.

Of course, you can use svi drugi everybody else, etc.

There are more adjectives that are used as pronouns in this way: masc. pl. for people, neut. sing. for things.

The words svi, nitko are similar to total adverbs (e.g. nikad). As will other such words, you can loosen them a bit with the help of the adverb skoro almost:

Nemam skoro ništa. I have almost nothing.

Skoro svi spavaju. Almost everyone is sleeping.

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5 Easy Croatian: 41 Somewhere, Nobody, Everything... 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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