48 Everybody, Each and Everything Else


This chapter is dedicated to a single adjective: a rather interesting adjective sav (sv- +) all. It has a bit specific endings in singular – as if it ended 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 has never 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.

Hvala svim mojim prijateljima. Thanks to all my friends.

Of course, singular is used with mass and uncountable nouns®:

Pojela je svu čokoladu. She ate all the chocolate.

You will sometimes hear (and read) singular adjective forms with regular endings (svo, etc.) – such forms are not standard, but frequent in some regions, especially outside Croatia:

Popio je svo vino. (colloq.) He drank all the wine.

Oprao je svo suđe. (colloq.) He washed all dishes.

Just check hits on the .hr domain, both forms are used with about the same frequency with the collective noun suđe dishes:

"sve suđe" 470
"svo suđe" 510

(Try yourself with other combinations, e.g. "sve drveće" and "svo drveće", etc.)

However, the main use of this adjective is as a pronoun, and when it’s used as a pronoun, various forms correspond to different English pronouns.

The simplest are neuter singular forms (N/A sve, DL svemu...) – they mean everything, all:

Vidio sam sve. (A) I saw everything. {m}

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

To je sve. (N) That’s all.

The last two sentences are frequent Croatian phrases (type them into Google™).

When used with process verbs, forms of this pronouns mean you didn’t skip anything, you were involved with everything, while completion verbs mean you completed all what was offered, what was your task:

Jela sam sve. I ate everything. (skipped nothing) {f}

Pojela sam sve. I ate everything. (left nothing) {f}

When this adjective is used as a pronoun, colloquial regularized forms (svo, etc.) are never used.

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. {m}

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 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.

Now, words like svi can be combined with the adjective (again used as pronoun) drugi other/second, but both words still change as adjectives:

Svi drugi spavaju. Everybody else is sleeping.

Razgovarao sam sa svima drugima. I talked to everybody else.

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.

Prodala sam skoro sve. I sold almost everything. {f}

Conversely, you can use the word baš really, exactly, which is an exact opposite of skoro almost:

Nemam baš ništa. I have really nothing.

Baš svi spavaju. Really everyone is sleeping.

Prodala sam baš sve. I sold really everything. {f}

This is worth remembering:

With svi, sve, nitko, nikad, uvijek, ništa...
skoro almost relaxes them
baš really, exactly makes them absolute

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:

Svašta! Rubbish! Nonsense!

Adverbs of this type are:

svakako in any case
svugdje everywhere

The adjective 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.

The form sve has additional uses, which will be explained gradually. For example, it can be used with endpoint prepositions od¨ and do¨, basically emphasizing them, like all the way; it works for both space and time:

Trčala sam sve do jezera. I ran all the way to the lake. (really reached it) {f}

Zabavljali smo se sve do jutra. We had fun ‘all the way until the morning’. {m/mixed}

This emphasizes reaching something that was really far, you really reached it. To say that something was done on every part of the path (like, you were constantly running, not just a part of it) English uses again all the way, but Croatian has more specific cijelim putem whole way (in instrumental):

Trčala sam cijelim putem do jezera. I ran all the way to the lake. (during the whole path) {f}

There’s a frequent phrase using use sve with an unexpected meaning:

sve u svemu all in all; on balance; all things considered

It’s usually used to start a sentence, and is then separated by a comma:

Sve u svemu, zadovoljna sam. All things considered, I’m satisfied. {f}

(Recall that word-counting restarts after a comma.)


® In Bosnia and Serbia, sav- (sv-) can also mean whole, so you will hear and read:

Pročitala je svu knjigu. She’s read the whole book.

↓ Examples (click to show)

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5 Easy Croatian: 48 Everybody, Each and Everything Else N A  DL  G 24 I This chapter is dedicated to a single adjective : a rather interesting adjective sav ( sv- +) all . It has a ...

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