80 Present Adverbs and Adjectives


How to say flying saucer or playing cards in Croatian? English is here quite simple: the same form that’s used to make the Present Continuous tense (e.g. I’m flying) is re-used as an adjective.

Croatian has two special forms. The first one is called present adverb (or present participle). It’s a very simple form to make, just take the pres-3pl form of the verb and add -ći to it:

čekati waitčekajući
ležati (leži) lie, reclineležeći
jesti (jede) eatjedući
učiti learn, studyučeći

Since all pres-3pl forms end in either -u or -e, all present adverbs end in -ući or -eći.

This form can be used in various ways. First, it can be used as an adverb, meaning while x-ing:

Zaspao sam gledajući televiziju. I fell asleep while watching TV.

Here the verb zaspati (zaspi) is a perfective verb meaning fall asleep. Such verbs will be described in the next chapter.

The case of any noun appended to the participle is the same as used with the verb:

gledam televiziju (A) I’m watching TVgledajući televiziju

Adverbs are used in this way mostly in formal writing; in speech and casual writing, time clauses with dok are preferred, so you will hear usually:

Zaspao sam [dok sam gledao televiziju]. I fell asleep [while I was watching TV].

If this were an ordinary course or textbook, or even a grammar, that would be it. Of course, there’s more. Traditionally, the pattern to make present adverbs started from pres-3pl, here shown on the left:

spavaju pres-3pl
spava-ti inf

However, for verbs in -ati, having regular present forms, it’s easy to notice a simpler pattern, starting from the infinitive – shown on the right – giving the same result. And then the simpler pattern was applied to a number of verbs without regular present tense forms, such as:

dodavati (dodaje) adddodavajući
prodavati (prodaje) sellprodavajući
poznavati (poznaje) know (person, city) → poznavajući ®

Some of these forms are still rarer than the classic forms – for example, Google™ on the .hr domain is roughly 2:1 in favor of the standard form prodajući vs prodavajući. Therefore, expect to see and hear both forms (the language police doesn’t like this).

However, unlike prodavajući, poznavajući is very common, it seems standard (at least, nobody complains against it) and is used mostly like this:

poznavajući + A from what I know about A ®

(For some reason, these alternative forms exist mostly for verbs in -avati.)

There are more present adverbs used in phrases. A common one is:

zahvaljivati (-uje «) thankzahvaljujući

It’s used with DL:

Zahvaljujući dobrom vremenu, plaže su pune. Thanks to the good weather, beaches are full.

A lot of present adverbs can be used as adjectives, and that’s quite common in speech. This is usually possible only for adverbs made from verbs that cannot have any object, e.g. for the present adverb made from spavati sleep but not for the adverb made from učiti learn, study. So you can call UFO’s:

Vidjela je leteće tanjure. She saw flying saucers.

You see how here the present adverb is understood as an adjective and put to the masc. A-pl form. Some common present adjectives are:

leteći flying
ležeći lying
odgovarajući suitable
postojeći existing
prateći accompanying
trepćući blinking
viseći hanging
vodeći leading

A couple of present adverbs have specific meaning as adjectives (besides the inf, only pres-3 forms are listed here, since only those forms are important for formation of present adverbs and adjectives):

verb present adj.
(bude) perf. be budući future
ići (ide) go idući following, next
moći (može +) can moguć possible
slijediti follow sljedeći next
teći (teče) flow tekući flowing, liquid ®

The adjective budući means future in e.g. future tense. The word sljedeći is spelled so when used as an adjective, but slijedeći if used as an adverb. The adjective moguć even lost the otherwise obligatory final -i.

Some present adjectives form combinations with specific meanings:

ležeći policajac speed bump (lit. ‘lying policeman’)
tekući račun checking (or current) account (lit. ‘liquid account’)

Don’t forget that they are adjectives, when used to describe a noun, or in set combinations:

Ima° puno ležećih policajaca na cesti. There are a lot of speed bumps on the road.

There’s one English construction where -ing forms are used which translate as neither gerund nor present adverb:

She saw birds flying.

In Croatian, one way to express this is using kako (usually meaning how) or da with a small clause (with normal tense rules) after it:

Vidjela je ptice kako lete.

Vidjela je ptice da lete.

Another option is to use kad(a) and a clause. Recall this line from the example in 52 Stand, Become, Exist, Cease:

Čulo se samo kako ptice pjevaju. Only birds singing could be heard.

Here the birds singing is actually the subject of the verb čuti (čuje) hear, used in the mediopassive construction.

Since present adverbs stand for action performed by the noun after them (tekuća voda = flowing water = water that flows), they cannot be used for expressions like bathing costume: the costume doesn’t bathe, it’s just used when someone is bathing.

Therefore, there’s another form, used only as adjective, but looking really similar to the present adverb (the form has no name, unfortunately). For verbs with infinitive in -ati, it’s created by transforming that ending to -aći:

kupati bathekupaći
spavati sleepspavaći
šivati sewšivaći
žvakati (žvače) chewžvakaći

(Compare them to the present adverbs of these verbs, e.g. kupajući and spavajući.)

If verbs don’t end in -ati, it’s made from their pres-3 form in a way that the result always ends in -aći:

jesti (jede, jeo) eatjedaći

These adjectives are used in set expressions only, e.g.:

brijaći aparat electric razor
igraća karta playing card
kupaći kostim bathing costume
kupaće gaće swim briefs
spavaća soba bedroom
šivaća mašina sewing machine
žvakaća guma chewing gum

The adjective kupaći is virtually used only to describe those two nouns, so it’s colloquially very often used on it’s own, nouns are omitted. When in singular masculine it’s costume, and in plural neuter it’s briefs. Of course, it still changes as any adjective:

je bez kupaćeg.
(colloq.) She left without the swimming costume.

Zaboravio sam kupaće. (colloq.) I forgot my swim briefs.

Here the adjective kupaći is in G, as required by the preposition bez without. We know it’s a costume, since it’s in singular! In the second sentence, the adj. kupaće is in A-pl.

The same happens to žvakaća guma chewing gum, usually shortened to just žvakaća.


® In Serbia, the pres. adj. poznavajući is considered non-standard.

In Serbia and most of Bosnia, the meaning liquid is expressed with another adjective: tečan (tečn-), while tekući means only flowing.

5 Easy Croatian: 80 Present Adverbs and Adjectives N A  DL  G 24 I V How to say flying saucer or playing cards in Croatian? English is here quite simple: the same form that’s us...

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