46 Whole, Parts and Heaps


How to express half an apple? Or third? If you think you can just use ordinal numbers (e.g. treći third) to express parts (e.h. third of an apple), you cannot. They must be ‘adjusted’ a bit.

In English, third is both an adjective (the third man) and a noun (two thirds). The Croatian form treći corresponds to the adjective meaning only!

However, it’s simple to make a noun from it: just add -na and you have the partial noun you need (except for the word for half does not fit to this scheme at all). For 1/2 and 1/4 there are additional words that behave like adverbs:

noun adverb
1/2 polovina pol(a)
1/3 trećina
1/4 četvrtina četvrt
1/5 petina
part dio (dijel-) m

I have listed also a generic noun meaning just part. How to use them? Well, just use the above nouns as any nouns on -na, and the other noun (one you want to express part of) goes after it, in the genitive singular:

Ovo je trećina jabuke. This is a third of an apple.

Imam trećinu jabuke. I have a third of an apple.

Instead of polovina, adverb pol(a) is much more frequent; it of course don’t change, since it’s not a noun, but an adverb:

Ovo je pola jabuke. This is half an apple.

Imam pola jabuke. I have half of an apple.

Such partial quantities are in singular; pol(a) is neuter and other partial nouns are feminine, as expected:

Pola jabuke je bilo na stolu. Half of an apple was on the table.

Trećina jabuke je bila na stolu. A third of an apple was on the table.

Just remember that you are talking about a third (of something) and not about something.

It’s possible to use parts with nouns in genitive plural, meaning a part of some plural quantity, possibly the total quantity; then partial quantities get verbs in plural sometimes:

Pola jabuka je bilo zrelo. Half of apples were ripe.

Pola ljudi su bili žene. Half of the people were women.

The use of plural in such sentences prevails with people and animals, while singular is common with other things (apples, stones...).

The generic dio (dijel-) m part can be used with both singular and plural nouns (in genitive, of course):

Imam dio jabuke. I have a part of an apple.

The quantity in Croatian has always gender of the quantity-word (neuter for adverbs). For instance, since dio (dijel-) is masculine, the whole quantity is masculine singular:

Dio jabuke je bio na stolu. A part of the apple was on the table.

Dio ljudi je plesao. Some people were dancing.

There are two very useful words:

komad piece ® kriška slice

The word komad is very often used, in a similar way as English piece®. You can have a piece of something, but all countable, material stuff (e.g. screws) is very often expressed in pieces:

Jedemjesti komad kruha. I’m eating a piece of bread. ®

(Besides the word kriška for slice, you’ll often hear and read colloquial words šnita and feta: the former prevails inland, while the latter dominates on the Croatian coast.)

There are two more useful generic quantity nouns:

manjina minority većina majority, most

These nouns can be used either as measures or on its own:

Većina ljudi je gledala utakmicu. Most people watched the match.

There are several other nouns that can be used as measures of countable nouns in plural and uncountable in singular. The result behaves as the quantity noun.

gomila bunch, big quantity
kutija box
hrpa heap
vreća bag, sack
žlica spoon

For example:

Gomila ljudi je bila na trgu. A large crowd of people was at the town square.

Hrpa pijeska je bila u dvorištu. A heap of sand was in the yard.

Croatia uses the Metric system. Main measures are:

dekagram 1/100 kilogram
tona metric ton
kila (colloq.) kilogram
deka (colloq.) 1/100 kilogram
litra liter

(The rest is coming soon...)

® In Serbia, komad is used only in meaning whole piece, i.e. as a unit (e.g. buy two pieces, get one for free), while piece as a part (e.g. piece of pizza or piece of cake) is expressed with the noun parče (parčet-).

Instead of kruh, in most of Bosnia, the word hljeb is used for bread; in Serbia, it has Ekavian form hleb.

5 Easy Croatian: 46 Whole, Parts and Heaps N A  DL  G 24 I How to express half an apple ? Or third ? If you think you can just use ordinal numbers (e.g. treći third ) to e...

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