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 wait →
ležati (leži) lie, recline → ležeći
jesti (jede) eat → jedući
učiti learn, study → učeći
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.
The case of any noun appended to the participle is the same as used with the verb:
gledam televiziju (A) I’m watching TV → gledajući televiziju
There’s one common irregular adverb, used like this:
poznavajući + A from what I know about A ®
A lot of present adverbs can be used as adjectives. 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:
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):
|(bude) perf. be||budući future|
|ići (ide) go||idući following, next|
|moći (može +) can||moguć possible|
|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 sl
ijedeći 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) with a small clause (with normal tense rules) after it:
Vidjela je ptice kako lete.
Other options are to use kad(a) or da and a clause.
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 on -ati, it’s created by transforming that ending to -aći:
kupati bathe →
spavati sleep → spavaći
šivati sew →
žvakati (žvače) chew → žvakaći
(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) eat → jedaći
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:
Otišla 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.