44 Genitive Plural

Now, let's learn the genitive case in plural! Unfortunately, it's not a simple form to create. For start, nouns get the following endings:

noun type G-pl
nouns in -a (≈ fem.) -a-a* (or -i)
neuter nouns (≈ in -o, -e) -o, -e-a*
masc. nouns not in -a N-pl -i-a*
fem. not in -a (e.g. noć) add -i

For example:

Goran se boji mrava. Goran is afraid of ants.

There's no difference in spelling of genitive plural and singular, therefore the sentence could also mean Goran is afraid of an ant.

In the beginning, I wrote that I will disregard vowel length, i.e. differences between long and short vowels, since many people in Croatia don't have that difference in their speech. However, those that keep the difference, and Standard Croatian, have the -a in G-pl always long – while -a in other case endings is always short – so forms mrava (G) and mrava (G-pl) are not really pronounced the same. That specific length in G-pl is sometimes indicated in writing by putting a circumflex sign over the long vowel: mravâ. It's by no means mandatory, you will see it from time to time. (A recent Croatian orthography manual recommends using a macron – a line over vowel – instead, e.g. mravā; it's still very rare.)

There are no twists for nouns ending in -a, -o or -e preceded by only one consonant: nouns just get -a in G-pl.

Other nouns can get a kind of 'lengthening' (I indicated it by an asterisk).

How does it work? If a neuter or feminine noun would have two consecutive consonants just before the genitive plural -a, an additional a gets inserted between those consonants:

pjesma songpjesama
sestra sistersestara
društvo societydruštava
pismo letterpisama

Some nouns (e.g. sestra sister, listed above), move the stress to the inserted -a-.

This insertion never happens if those last two consonants are either st, št, šć, zd, žd or žđ (so-called non-splittable sequences):

zvijezda starzvijezda mjesto placemjesta

Masculine nouns that get short plural endings, get the -a always attached to their nominative form, even if they have a specific case-base:

kolač cakekolača
magarac (magarc-) donkeymagaraca
pas (ps-) dogpasa
pisac (pisc-) writerpisaca

This makes their G-pl form distinct from the singular genitive. For example:

Ana se bojala pasa. Ana was afraid of dogs.

Ana se bojala psa. Ana was afraid of the dog.

Few masculine nouns that end in two consonants which are not a non-splittable sequence, get an additional a in the same way as feminine and neuter nouns:

bicikl bicyclebicikala
koncert concertkoncerata
dokument documentdokumenata

Some nouns on -a preceded by two or more consonants can have both -a in gen. plural (with an additional a inserted) and -i. Both are used, but versions with -i prevail in everyday speech, at least in larger cities in Croatia:

daska plankdasaka / daski
karta card, mapkarata / karti
olovka penolovaka / olovki
školjka shellškoljaka / školjki
voćka fruit treevoćaka / voćki

These nouns can have both -a and -i but they never get an additional a inserted; they mostly end in -nja; the ending -i is more common in spoken language:

nepravda injustice
pažnja care, attention
prijetnja threat
šetnja walk

The following often used nouns have just -i in G-pl:

bajka fairy tale
borba struggle
lopta ball
majka mother
maska mask
mjesec month/moon
molba plea
palma palm
plahta bed sheet ®
tajna secret
torba bag, big purse
žalba complaint, appeal

The noun čovjek man/human has the irregular plural ljudi people; its G-pl is also just ljudi.

The noun sat – when meaning hour – has G-pl sati.

Some nouns get an -u or something similar, instead of the endings listed above. These three nouns get always -u:

noga leg ruka arm sluga m servant

These nouns get -iju:

gost guestgostiju
kost f bonekostiju

The strange plurals of oko eye and uho ear get -iju as well:

oči f pl. eyesiju uši f pl. earsiju

The following noun can have both -a and -iju:

prst finger/toeprsta / prstiju
nokat (nokt-) fingernail, toenailnokata / noktiju
vrata n. pl. doorvrata / vratiju

Additionally, the following colloquial noun can get both -i and -iju, but the latter ending is seen as very colloquial:

dečko (dečk-) m boydečki / dečkiju ®

All such unexpected forms in the G-pl are listed in the Core Dictionary.

Compared to all the twists I had to explain for nouns, the genitive plural forms of adjectives are as simple as possible:

gender adj. G-plexample
fem. -ih velikih riba
big fishes
neut. velikih jezera
big lakes
masc. velikih stolova
big tables

The adjective-often-used-as-pronoun svi has an alternative, non-standard form that's sometimes seen is G-pl: sviju, besides the expected svih.

We can review endings of adjectives in DL, G and I cases in both singular and plural:

adj. gender DL I G
sing. fem. -oj -om -e
-im -og
plur. all    -im(+a) -ih

® Besides plahta, words čaršav or čaršaf are often used in Bosnia and completely prevail in Serbia, in meaning thin sheets, while plahta is used for thick covers.

The noun dečko is less common outside Croatia, and it's not even used in some Croatian regions; it's most common in Zagreb and surrounding areas.

5 Easy Croatian: 44 Genitive Plural Now, let's learn the genitive case in plural! Unfortunately, it's not a simple form to create. For start, nouns get the following en...

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