77 As If: Advanced Clauses


This chapter will wrap up the remaining clauses and clause-like constructions, so it could be also called various stuff that can be done with da ( and sometimes što ).

The first thing we’re going to deal with are so-called complex conjunctions. Some clauses in Croatian can have two forms — one with što, and another with da. For example:

kao što (+ clause) as
kao da (+ clause) as if

The main difference is that forms with što refer to something that has happened, or will happen for sure (at least, what is expected to happen), and ones with da to something that did not happen, or is not expected to happen.

For example:

Vruće je kao što je bilo prošli tjedan. It’s hot as it was the last week.

Vruće je kao da smo u Africi. It’s hot as if we were in Africa.

The first sentence compares the heat to something that really happened, and the second one to something obviously not true. You can say the second sentence while in Africa only if you’re joking.

Another situation where we have što vs. da is with comparison conjunction nego, when used with a clause:

nego što (+ clause) than
nego da (+ clause) than (something imagined)

The combination nego da is only used to compare to something unreal, imagined, while nego što compares to another, existing action or state:

Hotel je bolji nego što sam očekivao. The hotel is better than I’ve expected.

Another complex conjunction which shows such duality is umjesto:

(desired event) umjesto što (real event)
(real event) umjesto da (imagined event)

English here uses only instead.

When you look more carefully, the reason and purpose clauses follow a similar pattern:

zato što (+ clause) because
(zato) da (+ clause) so that

The correspondence is not perfect, for two reasons: first, zato is used in purpose clauses only for emphasis: only da is normally used. Second, purpose clauses are restricted to the present tense only.

Then, we have the word osim except, used in various complex conjunctions and similar stuff. They are:

osim ako unless
osim da/što except (see below)
osim...i... besides... also...

These constructions will be explained one by one. We will first tackle osim da and osim što. They are best understood as osim + clause. Which clause you’re going to use depends on the main verb.

For example, the expressions moguće je da... it’s possible that..., content clauses are used. So, for example, you want to say that everything is possible, except that X. You would then use da, like in a content clause, and just add osim before it:

Sve je moguće, osim [da igram protiv Barcelone]. Everything is possible, except [‘that I play’ against Barcelona]. = except [me playing against Barcelona]

This is an actual translation of a statement by Andrés Iniesta I found on the Internet. Pay attention there’s no transformation in the Croatian sentence (from I play to me playing).

Recall that it’s common to use što to start a content clause when commenting on a fact:

Dobro je [što pada kiša]. It’s good [it’s raining].

Now, we want to say it’s nice, except it’s raining:

Lijepo je ovdje, osim [što pada kiša]. It’s nice here, except [it’s raining].

In such cases, you have to use što.

(to be expanded)

The next thing is using da-clauses to express how something is done. Such clauses are then appended to tako so, in such way, so effectively we have tako da:

Odgovorite na pitanja tako da zaokružite broj ispred odgovora. Answer the questions ‘in such a way that’ you circle the number before the answer. (i.e. by circling a number)

The last thing could be called the ‘weirdest construction’. It’s a kind of extension of the negative + nego construction, introduced in 55 And, Or, But: Basic Conjunctions. Recall:

To nije mačka, nego pas. It’s not a cat, it’s a dog. (or: instead, it’s a dog)

You can also say it for verbs:

On ne spava, nego gleda televiziju. He’s not sleeping, he’s watching TV instead.

The ‘weirdest construction’ is similar, but it says that the first (negated part) is an understatement. An example in English would be:

I’m not (just) cold, I’m (actually) freezing!

And in Croatian, it looks like this:

Ne da mi1 DL je hladno, nego se smrzavam.

What is ‘weird’ in this construction? First, ne¨ and da are glued into a complex conjunction (still spelled as two words, of course, but usually pronounced as one word). You can’t place anything in between. The conjunction (or whatever it is) nego is optional:

Ne da mi1 DL je hladno, smrzavam se.

The second weird thing is that you can pull things (I mean, words) out from the da clause:

Meni ne da je hladno, nego se smrzavam. (the same meaning, emphasis on the person who feels it)

Pulling subjects out is quite common (but optional):

Voda ne da curi, nego tečeteći. Water is not just leaking, it’s flowing.

The understatement in the first part can be also negative:

Ne da nije pročitao knjigu, nije ju3f A ni otvorio. It’s not just that he didn’t read the book through, he didn’t even open it.

The English translation is not so elegant, but it’s a very compact expression in Croatian.

(the rest is coming soon...)

5 Easy Croatian: 77 As If: Advanced Clauses N A  DL  G 24 I This chapter will wrap up the remaining clauses and clause-like constructions, so it could be also called various...

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