72 Addressing and Vocative Case

Finally, now it’s the time to introduce the last case: the vocative case (just V for short). This is the last case to be introduced, since it’s the least used case.

It’s mostly used when you’re calling or addressing someone. There are no specific forms in the plural – vocative is equal to the nominative case in plural. The endings in singular are:

noun type (N) V
nouns in -a (≈ fem.) -a-o
(or: no change)
neuter nouns (≈ in -o, -e) = N
masc. nouns not in -a add -e (some -u)
fem. not in -a (e.g. noć) add -i

For people, this case is usually used when you are addressing someone using his or her name or title, often with imperatives or polite expressions, such as:

Hvala Vam, profesore. Thank you, professor.

Molim Vas, dođite, doktore. Please, come here, doctor.

Izvolite, gospodine. Here you are, mister.

Dobar dan, gospođo. Good afternoon, madam.

With personal names, it's increasingly common to use just nominative instead of vocative. This holds especially for names ending in -a:

Hvala ti, Ana. Thank you, Ana.

Izvoli, Luka. Here you are, Luka.

The vocative for female names is conserved only in set expressions, e.g. in a Catholic prayer:

Zdravo, Marijo... Hail Mary,...

There's no change for masculine names not ending in -a (regardless whether they behave as if ending in -a or not):

Dođi, Kruno. Come here, Kruno.

Dođi, Marko. Come here, Marko.

The ending -e for masculine nouns ending in consonant causes consonant shift kč, gž, hš:

čovjek man, humančovječe
bog godbože
vrag devilvraže

If a masc. noun ends in a Croatian-specific consonant, it gets -u in vocative:

kralj kingkralju
muž husbandmužu
prijatelj friend (m) → prijatelju

However, if a masc. noun ends in c, it gets -e, and c changes to č:

princ princeprinče

For nouns ending in -ica, the vocative case is -ice:

kraljica queenkraljice
prijateljica friend (f) → prijateljice

This usually applies to few female and male names that end in -ica, like Anica (f) and Ivica (m):

Hvala ti, Anice. Thank you, Anica.

Izvoli, Ivice. Here you are, Ivica.

The are no special vocative forms for adjectives, except that masculine singular gets an -i (except, of course, for possessives like moj and so on, which never have an -i).

In Croatian, adjectives normally precede nouns (moj prijatelj) but it's common in vocatives to invert the order (prijatelju moj), and it's especially common in songs and poetry in general; you will very often hear:

ljubavi moja o, my love

The vocative case is always used in addressing in letters and mail messages. They usually have the following formula:

+ gospodine (+ last name)
gospođo (+ last name)
name in V

Words gospodin mister and gospođa madam are often shortened:

gospodin mister = g. / gosp.
gospođa madam = gđa

There's one more word: gospođica miss, sometimes shortened to gđica. Abbreviations gđa and gđica are declined as nouns, that is V = gđo, A = gđu, etc. There's no period (.) after gđa and gđica.

For example, a letter could start with one of the following:

Dragi Ivane,...

Poštovana gospođo Jurić,...

Poštovani g. Horvat,...

Poštovana gđo Jurić,...

These three words are formal. They are basically used only when you directly address someone, either in writing, or in a formal situation; therefore, they are much less often used than English counterparts.

For instance, you will often read in English language newspapers and books sentences like we talked to Mr. Smith... and so on. You will never see such use of such formal words in Croatian; people will be referred to using only their last name or full name; however, if someone holds an office or position (president, minister...) it will be used.

Since words like gospodin are formal, children never use them. While English language picture books can be about Mr. Bear, Mr. Tiger and so on, you will never see it in Croatian: such books will be adapted as Big Bear, My Dear Tiger, etc. Even when adults talk to children about other adults, they won't usually use words like gospodin.

Children do use specific words addressing grown-ups that are not part of their family:

Titles used by children
teta 'madam'
striček (NW, including Zagreb)
barba (coast, except Dubrovnik)
dundo (Dubrovnik)
čiko (A -u) (elsewhere)
striko (A -u) (elsewhere)

The words are the same as words for relatives in family, and words vary by region.

Children will usually use the title + first name, e.g. they will call their kindergarten teacher teta Ana; adults will refer to her in the same way, when talking to their children.

Most familiar terms of relatives nowadays don't have special vocative forms and use nominatives:

mama Mom
tata Dad
teta aunt
baka grandmother

The following terms have vocative forms:

otac (oc-) fatheroče
majka mothermajko

Finally, it's custom to end a letter or mail message with one of:

S poštovanjem,


Lijep pozdrav,

Followed by the full name (and function) of the sender. The line Lijep pozdrav is getting increasingly common, and colloquially abbreviated as lp or LP.

5 Easy Croatian: 72 Addressing and Vocative Case Finally, now it’s the time to introduce the last case: the vocative case (just V for short). This is the last case to be introduced, since ...

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