55 More Prepositions


It might be a surprise to you that in Croatian, most prepositions require nouns in genitive.

There are various spatial prepositions that indicate closeness; they are shown here from the closest to the most distant:

do¨ + G by
uz¨ + A next to
oko¨ + G around
pored¨ + G beside
kod¨ + G at, by
blizu + G near

Not all prepositions listed above use the genitive case, but are listed here because they belong to this group. The word blizu is not strictly a preposition, as it can be used on its own:

Kuća je blizu mora. The house is close to the sea.

There’s a related adverb bliže closer, which can be also used on its own, but also with other words, mostly in DL, and rarely in G (here I used forms of the demonstrative adjective/pronoun to that):

Idemoići bliže. We’re going closer.

Idemoići bliže tome. We’re going closer to it.

Idemoići bliže toga. (the same meaning, a bit rarer)

Three prepositions above – do¨ + G, uz¨ + A and pored¨ + G – can be ‘strengthened’ with the particle tik, which must be placed before the preposition, no words can come in between:

Kuća je do mora. The house is by the sea.

Kuća je tik do mora. The house is right by the sea.

The preposition uz¨ + A is used also metaphorically to express with. It’s quite common in expressions related to public events, promotions and weather (all examples are taken from the Internet):

večerfem. uz glazbu i ples an evening with music and dance

tečaj engleskog jezika uz popust a course of English with a discount

sunčano uz umjerenu naoblaku sunny with a moderate cloud cover

There a very interesting preposition that indicates (when used with DL, you’ll see other uses later!) that a motion is along surface, broadly understood:

po¨ + DL on the surface of (with motion)

For example, if somebody (e.g. a child) is crawling on the floor – Croatian has the verb puzati (puže) – you would use this preposition to indicate space where the motion happens. It’s not a direction (you don’t indicate what the goal is) but a kind of location:

Dijete pužepuzati po podu. The child is crawling on the floor.

The preposition na¨ + DL is not used when you describe motion.

Another classic use of this preposition with DL is to describe a motion that’s constantly against some surface, e.g. jumping or banging:

Goran skačeskakati po krevetu. Goran is jumping on the bed.

The difference between na¨ + A and po¨ + DL when expressing motion can be nicely illustrated with the following sentences:

Trčimtrčati na plažu. (A) I’m running to the beach.

Trčimtrčati po plaži. (DL) I’m running on the beach.

The first sentence expresses the destination, the second the location (as a surface) where the entire motion happens. Another common use of po¨ + DL is when someone is traveling across a country, i.e. visiting many parts (regardless of the country not perceived as a surface):

Putujemoputovati po Europi. We’re traveling across Europe. ®

Recall that na¨ is also used with weather conditions, e.g. na kiši in the rain or na suncu exposed to sun. When there’s motion which is entirely subject to weather conditions, po¨ + DL is again used:

Plesali smo po kiši. We were dancing in the rain.

Trčali smo po snijegu. We were running in the snow.

However, you will also hear and read na kiši in sentences like the one above.

Yet another use of po¨ + DL is when you attend a number of activities which use na¨. Again, po¨ is optional, but frequently used:

Cijeli dan sam po sastancima. I’m in meetings all day. (I = masc.)

Finally, po¨ + DL can also mean according to, e.g. Gospel of Mark is Evanđelje po Marku®. (It’s interesting that this use is a bit controversial and discouraged by some style manuals.) Believe it or not, there are more uses of po¨, but we’ll leave them for later!

There’s another preposition:

prema + DL towards / according to

This preposition is used to describe orientation or direction, not a destination, e.g. when you tell someone to move two steps in the direction of something, or you turn towards something (which can be a cardinal direction).

It’s also used to express ‘according to’, either a person or something else:

Ovo nije prema pravilima. This is not according to the rules.

Prema karti, imamo još dva kilometra do vrha. According to the map, we have two kilometers more to the top.

Together with the generic pronoun to, it’s used in a frequent phrase to start a sentence:

Prema tome,...According to that,...’ = Therefore,...

Some nouns have specific meanings with prepositions. One of most common is red. This noun has one generic meaning: order. For instance, the TV series Law & Order is translated as Zakon i red.

A common phrase that includes a preposition and this word is:

u redu alright, OK

This is, for example, used in a frequent phrase:

Sve je u redu. Everything is OK.

However, there’s a derived meaning of this noun: an order of waiting, either a physical waiting line, or a waiting list. When you are waiting and someone else is also waiting, there are specific meanings with prepositions u¨ and na¨:

u¨ + red (DL / A) waiting, in line
na¨ + red (DL / A) at the front, about to be served

I wrote (DL / A) to remind you that the usual distinction of location (DL) vs. destination (A) applies here as well, no matter how metaphorical the place is. For instance, when you want to tell someone that it’s his or her turn to be served, you should say (politely, or to a group):

Vi ste na redu. You’re next.

(The Croatian expression is also used when people are talking turns, it corresponds to It’s your turn. then.). However, there’s another way (a bit rarer) to express this, which used ‘rotated’ cases, now one who is about to be served is expressed with na¨ + A:

Red je na vas. (the same meaning)

Another example, if you ask who should be served (you can hear it in shops, when more than one person is waiting at one counter):

Tko je na redu? Who’s next?

The same would be used in a card game, or similar. Of course, instead of tko who, colloquially ko is usually used.®

There’s yet another preposition which is used in waiting:

preko reda bypassing the line

There’s another often used preposition:

o¨ + DL about

It’s mostly used with the following verbs:

brinuti (brine) se² care
ovisiti depend ®
pisati (piše) write
razgovarati («) talk

For example (recall, you must use a stressed pronoun with a preposition):

Sve ovisi o njemu. Everything depends on him.

However, with the verb misliti think, this preposition is not used in the way you maybe expect. It’s rather:

    + na¨ + A think about
    + A + o¨ + DL have opinion on

For example:

Ne mislim na nju. I’m not thinking about her.

There are more ‘quasi-locations’. One example, which corresponds to an English phrase, is:

u obliku + G in the shape of

(The word oblik (oblik-) is an exception to stress-shift rules.) For example:

Imam kutiju u obliku srca. I have a heart-shaped box.

Another interesting construction uses two prepositions, and can be roughly translated as unlike:

za razliku od + G unlike X, Y

It’s usually used to contrast subject of the sentence with something else. An example will make it clearer:

Za razliku od Austrije, Hrvatska ima more. Unlike Austria, Croatia has the sea.

I’ve already explained some set expressions using na¨ + A, often spelled as one word. There are more. This expression is usually spelled as one word:

napamet (sometimes na pamet) by heart (about learning)

For example:

Moram naučiti ovo napamet. I have to learn this by heart.

There’s something interesting when prepositions are used with indefinite pronouns and adverbs. When they are used with ones starting with ni-, the prefix ni- gets detached and becomes a separate word that is placed before the preposition. As you can see from the table, this doesn’t happen for other indefinite pronouns, and it doesn’t happen when the preposition bez¨ without is used – something unexpected happens then:

preposition +
nešto something
preposition +
ništa nothing
od nečega ni od čega
za nešto ni za što
o nečemu ni o čemu
bez nečega bez ičega

The same holds for e.g. nitko nobody and adverbs like nikuda. However, in colloquial communication, the ‘split pronoun rule’ is not really respected, so you’ll hear and see od ničega quite often.®


® Instead of Europa, a slightly different word Evropa is used in Serbia. Note that the word is also often pronounced with a v in Croatia – you’ll often hear it – but spelling with a u prevails.

Instead of evanđelje, a slightly different form jevanđelje is used in the Serbian Orthodox tradition, which prevails in Serbia, and parts of Bosnia with Serbian majority.

The form ko is considered standard in Serbia and most of Bosnia.

Instead of the verb ovisiti depend, a similar verb zavisiti is much more common in Bosnia and Serbia.

The ‘split pronoun rule’ is more respected in Serbia: forms like od ničega are much more common in Croatia than in Serbia.

5 Easy Croatian: 55 More Prepositions N A  DL  G 24 I It might be a surprise to you that in Croatian, most prepositions require nouns in genitive . There are various...

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