Croatian contains a big number of adjectives derived from nouns (and sometimes from other words too) that are often represented in English as nouns-used-as-adjectives. Here's what I mean:
Here school is actually used as an adjective, it describes what kind of yard it is, what it belongs to. Such adjectives are sometimes called relational or quasi-possessive adjectives. It's interesting that such adjectives in English cannot have a comparative (you cannot say more school) or even cannot be used as a property (you cannot say the yard is school).
In Croatian, you cannot simply use nouns as adjectives – you have to turn them into adjectives. It holds for some nouns in English too: you cannot use e.g. person as an adjective (e.g. 'person space') you have to turn it into an adjective – personal.
The main way to turn nouns into adjectives in Croatian is to append -ski as if it were a case ending (it's not a case ending!):
brod ship → brodski|
grad city → gradski
more sea → morski|
škola school → školski
The resulting word is an adjective, so it must adapt to the noun case and gender. Since dvorište yard is neuter (as expected) we have to use it accordingly:
Ovo je školsko dvorište. This is a school yard.
Bili smo u školskom dvorištu. We were at the school yard.
In some words that add -ski, the s gets fused with neighboring consonants and vowels, and we sometimes get -ški, -čki or even -ćki, or other irregularities:
pošta post →
putnik passenger → putnički
Adjectives for cities, regions and countries are often irregular (and they are not uppercase):
Bosna → bosanski|
Dalmacija → dalmatinski
Istra → istarski
Pariz → pariški|
Slavonija → slavonski
Zagreb → zagrebački
Such adjectives are also created for cities having more than one word (e.g. Banja Luka, a city in Bosnia-Herzegovina) and foreign ones, respelled according to pronunciation:
|Banja Luka → banjalučki||New York → njujorški|
Recall, words like Hrvatska Croatia or Njemačka Germany are already adjectives, just used as nouns – there's no need to make adjectives from them.
Not all words form their relational adjective by adding -ski; many words add -ni instead, and there's no real rule which noun uses what ending, as you can see for adjectives derived from seasons – you have to remember it:
jesen f autumn →
zima winter → zimski
proljeće spring →
ljeto summer → ljetni
Common adjectives that are derived with -ni are:
kiša rain → kišni
kuća house → kućni
ljubav f love → ljubavni
osoba person → osobni ®
rad work → radni
rat war →
soba room → sobni
stol table, desk → stolni
voće fruit(s) → voćni
vrt garden → vrtni
zid wall → zidni
Observe that adjective cvjetni has just je instead of ije. Consonants change before this ending, e.g. k or c → č and so on, as in these examples:
brak marriage →
krug circle → kružni
ruka hand → ručni
noga leg →
oko eye → očni
trbuh belly → trbušni
ulica street → ulični
(English has specific adjectives personal, marital and circular, but there's no specific adjective for many other nouns in English, e.g. hand is simply used as an adjective in hand brake. English usually has specific adjectives if a noun is of French or Latin origin, since these two languages have specific adjectives). Adjectives derived from cardinal directions also follow this pattern:
It's interesting that relational adjectives cannot be derived from days of week, except for Sunday:
nedjelja Sunday → nedjeljni
(You will occasionally see and hear adjective subotnji adj. Saturday, but it's quite rare.)
For other days of week use either I (for something that's regular) or od¨ + G (for something related to "this" day of week), both after the noun you describe:
utakmice petkom Friday games (every Friday)
utakmica od petka this Friday game
It's very useful to learn relational adjectives derived from time nouns (like English day → daily, month → monthly); some of them are quite irregular:
dan day →
noć f night → noćni
jutro morning → jutarnji
večer f evening →
mjesec month → mjesečni
godina year → godišnji
For the nouns tjedan (tjedn-) week, ponoć f midnight and podne (podnev-) noon, adjectives are derived regularly by adding the -ni. For example:
Ovo je moj mjesečni prihod. This is my monthly income.
Kupi neke dnevne novine. Buy a daily newspaper.
The adjective godišnji annual is used in a common phrase:
godišnji odmor annual leave, paid vacation
(Each employee in Croatia has at least 4 weeks of paid vacation, often more.) The phrase is often – in speech and casual writing – shortened to just godišnji: the noun odmor is assumed. So, you'll often hear (and read):
Ivan je na godišnjem. Ivan is on (paid) vacation.
Of course, even when used on its own, the word godišnji behaves like any adjective and keeps the gender of the omitted noun (here: masculine inanimate). Therefore, it got the DL ending -em here (for "activity as location").
It's also possible to derive relational adjectives from many adverbs, e.g. sad(a) now, jučer yesterday, gore up and so on: they will be explained in 76 Inner and Outer: More on Space and Time.
Few nouns have relational adjectives on -ji, again with (specific) consonant alternations; they include most animals:
djeca coll. children → dječji ®|
mačka cat → mačji
miš mouse → mišji
ptica bird → ptičji|
riba fish → riblji
zec rabbit → zečji
There are frequently used adjectives to indicate what kind of meat something is made of:
goveđi adj. beef|
janjeći adj. lamb
pileći adj. chicken|
teleći adj. beef (veal)
Since relational adjectives cannot be simply derived from nouns, they will be listed with nouns in the Core Dictionary.
Certain terms in Croatian are not expressed in this way, especially when we describe the purpose of something, e.g. where something is applied or where it's used. Then, the preposition za¨ + a noun in A are put after the noun. Common examples are:
čaša za vino wine glass|
četka za kosu hair brush
krema za ruke hand cream
lak za nokte nail polish|
pasta za zube toothpaste
šalica za čaj tea cup
Some of these terms also have alternative versions, with relative adjectives (e.g. zubna pasta).
Certain types of nouns, e.g. gerunds like čitanje reading don't have relational adjectives at all. To express reading glasses in Croatian, you have to use the same construction:
naočale za čitanje reading glasses
štap za pecanje fishing rod
(More about gerunds in 66 Smoking is Dangerous: Verbal Nouns.)
The -ski is the default suffix for relational adjectives: new words that are adopted into Croatian use it (translation for the words below is, I hope, not necessary):
|atom → atomski||laser → laserski|
® Instead of proljetni, regular adjective proljećni is used in Serbia and Montenegro, and sometimes in Bosnia; instead of osoba → osobni, lice → lični covers that meaning in Serbia and Bosnia.
Adjectives ending in -ji (e.g. dječji) have alternative forms ending in -iji (e.g. dječiji) that actually prevail in Serbia and Bosnia and are accepted in standard there. They are sometimes seen in Croatia as well.