42 Come In, Come Out, Go


Now I will introduce you to various verbs derived from ići (ide, išao, išla) go.

The verb is irregular in the pres-3 and past forms, and verbs derived from it are also irregular. They have a wide range of meanings, some of them both a literal meaning and metaphorical one.

There’s a very important difference compared to English. Take a look at the following English sentences:

I went into the room.

I came into the room.

I entered the room.

English has a set of verbs (enter, leave, etc.) that are used with simple objects: you just enter something.

Not so in Croatian: most motion verbs behave as go and don’t use objects, but rather destinations or locations. For example:

sam u sobu.
I went into the room. {m}

sam u sobu.
I entered the room. {m}

All derived verbs are organized into event pairs. All impf. verbs in those pairs are perfectly regular. The two simplest verb pairs are:

dolaziti ~ doći (dođe, došao, došla) come
ulaziti ~ ući (uđe, ušao, ušla) enter, come into

As you can see, these two verb pairs have exactly the same forms, just one pair starts with do- and another with u-. All verbs derived from ići have exactly the forms like the verbs above, except for two verbs, so it’s much less to remember than it seems.

This is a general characteristic of Croatian verbs: they are organized into families, where all pairs have very similar forms, stress pattern, and usually just different prefixes. An upside is that you can easily remember all verb pairs at once; a downside is that you can sometimes mix pairs up.

Let’s put them to use:

Doći ćemo sutra. We’ll come tomorrow.

The stress patterns of verbs depend on the number of syllables in the prefix, e.g. verbs derived with do- do not have the same pattern as ones derived with iza-.

The following verb deviates from the above pattern:

odlaziti ~ otići (ode, otišao, otišla) leave, depart

It’s a very frequently used verb pair. The impf. verb means depart, leave:

Odlazimo na plažu. We’re leaving for the beach.

This perf. verb is a bit ambiguous. It stands for two things: departure (like the impf. verb) and completing the whole motion:

je na plažu.

 (1) She has left for the beach. (departed)
 (2) She has gone to the beach. (completed)

The meaning #2 is just perfective of ići (...) go: the motion is completed.

On the other hand, do- corresponds to English come/came:

smo na plažu.
We came to the beach. {m/mixed}

There are more Croatian verb families that show this opposition. Their pair with ot- or od- is similar to one described above – a bit ambiguous perf. verb, often being just perfective of the base verb, and another pair, derived do-, similar to come.

For both pairs, the place you’re going to is expressed as a destination.

When you want to express that you leave some place, you have to use origins (that is, the right prepositions + G), and not objects:

smo iz Zagreba.
We left Zagreb. {m/mixed}

This verb pair means only go somewhere or leave a place; there’s another Croatian verb pair that means go and not take something (e.g. leave the wallet):

ostavljati ~ ostaviti leave (e.g. keys)

For example:

Ostavila sam novčanik negdje. I left the wallet somewhere. {f}

This verb pair is also used when you intentionally leave things, e.g. for someone:

Ostavila sam ručak za tebe u frižideru. I left the lunch for you in the fridge. {f}

If you know some Spanish, you can see these two Croatian verb pairs correspond to two Spanish verbs: salir (leaving a place) and dejar (leaving a thing). The same difference exists in French: partir vs. laisser, and in German: abfahren vs. lassen. However, French laisser and German lassen have many generic meanings, while ostavljati ~ ostaviti means only leave things or people.

Another verb also deviates from the above pattern:

izlaziti ~ izaći (izađe, izašao, izašla) come out, exit

It is used in a similar way to odlaziti, but mostly for closed spaces, e.g. rooms, houses, etc. You have to use origins:

sam iz sobe.
I came out of the room. {f}

The perf. verb in this pair has also an alternative form, with izi- instead of iza-; it’s actually preferred in Standard Croatian, but less often used in real life (e.g. about 5 times less common on the Internet).

The next three verbs have forms very similar to others. These verbs sound quite alike, and their meaning is all about moving with respect to something else rather than the destination or origin of motion. What is special about them is that they can use prepositions with nouns, but also plain objects in A, without much difference in meaning. Each verb uses a different preposition:

obilaziti ~ obići (obiđe, obišao, obišla) go around; visit
prelaziti ~ preći (pređe, prešao, prešla) cross, go over *
prolaziti ~ proći (prođe, prošao, prošla) go through; pass

The verb pair starting with pro- is used when you literally pass something; it’s used with either A or kroz + A:

Prolazim kroz šumu. I’m passing through the forest.

sam kroz šumu.
I passed through the forest. {m}

sam šumu.
I left the forest behind. {m}

As in English, this pair can be used figuratively, then things just pass, i.e. they are there, and then they are not:

Vrijeme prolazi. Time is passing.

Bol će proći. The pain will pass.

Bol je prošlaproći
The pain has passed. = The pain is gone.

The past form of the perf. verb is used as a real adjective, in the meaning previous, last:

Prošle godine sam bila u Zadru. I was in Zadar last year. {f}

The verb pair starting with pre- means cross; it can be used with either preko over + G, or with just with an object in A:

sam preko mosta.
I crossed over the bridge. {m}

sam most.
I crossed the bridge. {m}

Prelazim most. I’m crossing the bridge.

The perf. verb in this pair was listed above in a shorter, regularized form, which is considered non-standard, unfortunately. The standard perf. verb has a bit irregular infinitive and the present tense forms:

prelaziti ~ prijeći (prijeđe, prešao, prešla) cross, go over

You will encounter both forms in writing, and on the Internet, including newspapers (Google™ for e.g. preći preko or pređem preko). The verb pair with preko + G is also used metaphorically, to ignore, dismiss or not discuss something:

Ne mogumoći
prijeći preko toga.
I can’t dismiss it.

Ne mogumoći
preći preko toga.
(the same, but non-standard)

Another use of this verb pair is with na¨ + A, where it means cross to, switch to (as means), get to, move on to (in conversation):

smo na drugu temu.
We have moved on to another topic. {m/mixed}

The verb pair starting with obi- means go around; one option is to use it with oko around + G:

sam oko kuće.
I went around the house. {m}

When used with just an object (in A) it mostly means visit, sight-see:

sam grad.
I visited (went around) the city. {f}

Another verb pair is very similar to these three, but it’s used with DL (!) only:

prilaziti ~ prići (priđe, prišao, prišla) approach, come close

For example:

sam im.
I approached them. {f}

Then, there are three verbs with completely unexpected meaning:

nalazitinaći (nađe, našao, našla) find
pronalazitipronaći (pronađe, pronašao, pronašla) find, discover
snalaziti se² ~ snaći (snađe, snašao, snašla) se² manage, handle

You’ve maybe noted some weird marks on verb pairs. They will be later explained; they mean that these impf. verbs have only repetitive meaning.

The verb pair with na- is the main way to express this meaning in Croatian (the impf. verb nalaziti is not often used). It’s used just with an object in A:

sam ključeve.
I found the keys. {m}

Naći ću ključ. I’ll find the key.

This verb pair is not used in phrases like I find her attractive and I want to find out about it. It’s only used if you physically ‘find’ some object that was unknown or lost.

The second verb pair, with prona-, has a very similar meaning to the previous one, but it implies a longer search, and is used also when someone discovers something.

The third verb pair, with sna-, is also a kind of find: it’s used to when you manage not to get lost, either in a city you visit for the first time, or metaphorically, in something new you do, when you have to get quickly accustomed to new work, people, any new or unexpected situation, especially if you do it on your own, improvising, without assistance:

Nisam se odmah snašlasnaći se
u Zagrebu.
I didn’t get accustomed to Zagreb immediately. {f}

The verb pair with na-, when used with se², has meaning located, similar to English is found or can be found (in this way, the impf. verb is often used):

Pivo se nalazi u frižideru. The beer can be found in the fridge.

Rješenja se nalaze na kraju knjige. ‘Solutions’ (i.e. answer keys) are found at the end of the book.

This combination is used only for physical location, you cannot use it in meaning ‘exist’ e.g. sponges can be found in different sizes – for that, you have to use postojati (postoji) exist or some other way.

The following verb pair is similar to odlaziti ~ otići (...) but the focus is on starting a journey.

polaziti ~ poći (pođe, pošao, pošla) depart

These two verbs are not often used, mostly used when talking about trains or buses.

The following table summarizes all the verbs I’ve introduced here:

prefix used with meaning
do- dest., origin come
iz- origin, dest. come out
u- destination come in
od- (oti-) origin, dest. leave, depart
obi- oko + G / A go around
preko + G / A cross, go over
na + A switch to, move on to
pro- kroz + A / A pass
pri- DL approach
na- A find
se² be located
prona- A find/discover
sna- se² get accustomed

There are more verbs in this family, but they are less common, and will be explained later.

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5 Easy Croatian: 42 Come In, Come Out, Go N A  DL  G 24 I Now I will introduce you to various verbs derived from ići ( ide , išao , išla ) go . The verb is irregular ...

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