46 More than Four Things


Counting more than 4 items is quite simple: just use the number and put the noun in genitive plural after it:

Imam pet jabuka. I have five apples.

If you want to use one of adjectives that come before numbers (that is, determiners as taj (t-) that or possessives), they should be in G-pl as well:

Imam ovih pet jabuka. I have these five apples.

If you use them as a subject, it behaves as neuter singular:

Pet jabuka je bilo u kutiji. Five apples were in the box.

To show you when expressions like pet jabuka are subjects, they will be highlighted with a blue frame if you place your mouse over an example, or touch it (on touchscreens). Try the examples above!

This table summarizes use of various numbers in Croatian (for masc. nouns):

je pjevao
su pjevala
je pjevalo

The same table for fem. nouns:

je pjevala
su pjevale
je pjevalo

Some numbers greater than 4 behave as numbers 1-4: it all depends on the last word in the number:

21 dvadeset i jedan → behaves as jedan (jedn-)

53 pedeset i tri → behaves as tri

So, for such numbers, rules for using nouns and adjectives with numbers 1-4 apply:

Imam dvadeset i jednu jabuku. I have 21 apples. (A)

Imam pedeset i tri jabuke. I have 53 apples. (G)

In the same manner, rules for 1-4 don’t apply to numbers 11, 12, 13 and 14: they don’t end with any of the words above, but with -naest, which makes them behave like 5 or 10. (This applies to English as well: 12 is twelve – does it end in two in speech?)

The number zero also behaves as a number greater than 4 (note that English requires here plural as well!):

Imam nula jabuka. I have 0 apples.

For numbers with decimal points (in Croatian, a comma is often used instead of the decimal point) it again depends on the last word:

Imam dva cijela pet kilograma. I have 2.5 kilos. (G-pl)

Imam dva cijela jedan kilogram. I have 2.1 kilos. (A)

Instead of cijela, words točka dot and zarez comma ® are also used.

Now, we can finally say how old someone is. In Croatian, the primary way to specify age is to say that someone ‘has years’:

Imam dvadeset i jednu godinu. I’m 21 years old. (lit. ‘I have 21 years.’)

Goran ima osam godina. Goran is 8 years old. (lit. ‘Goran has 8 years.’)

If you know some Spanish, you will notice it uses exactly the same construction to express this (Goran tiene 8 años).

Alternatively, ‘having years’ is sometimes expressed with the person in DL, and years in N; second position words usually split number + year:

Dvadeset i jedna mi je godina. (the same meaning, but less frequent)

Goranu je osam godina. (the same meaning, but less frequent)

This is rarer than using imati have, but you’ll sometimes read and hear it, especially in literature and songs.®

To ask how old someone is, use again the question word koliko how many (sometimes stressed as koliko) – as this is a quantity adverb, the word it refers to (here godina year) must be in genitive plural:

Koliko imaš godina? How old are you? (lit. ‘How many years do you have?’)

— Osam. Eight.

The same holds for any question about quantity of something countable, even if one who is asking knows it’s less than five:

Koliko imaš jabuka? How many apples do you have?

— Tri. Three.

You’ll sometimes see the DL for age in questions as well:

Koliko ti je godina? (the same meaning, sometimes used)

There’s a useful way to express at what age you did something:

s¨ / sa¨ + age (in instrumental) = at the age of...

For example:

Prvi put sam letio avionom s dvanaest godina. I flew in an airplane for the first time at the age of twelve. {m}

You’ll sometimes see just s¨ + number, years are assumed then. However, it’s also usual to express this with an embedded time clause, starting with kad(a):

Prvi put sam letio avionom kad sam imao dvanaest. I flew in an airplane for the first time when I was twelve. {m}

Such clauses are really sentences-within-a-sentence; any second-position words (e.g. sam²) come right after the word kad(a).

Bigger numbers use the following words – there’s more than one word for numbers 100 and 1000:

100 sto (adv.) / stotina
1000 tisuća ® / hiljada (colloq.) ®
million milijun (») ® / milion (») (colloq.) ®
1000 millions milijarda (G-pl -i)

The last word in the table is quite unlike the word in American English, which sometimes causes bad translations. Furthermore, in speech, the word for million is very often miljon, but that form is very rare in writing.

The above words are nouns (except sto) and can change case according to usual roles (the counted noun is always in G-pl, of course):

Imam tisuću dolara. I have one thousand dollars.

Tisuća dolara je u ladici. One thousand dollars are in the drawer. ®

The Standard Croatian noun for 1000 is tisuća, while the noun hiljada is colloquial; both words are used in speech (I personally use tisuća).

The Croatian verb is in singular, since we’re talking about a thousand – only one thousand, like one box containing small pieces of paper.

The nouns listed above – except milijun million – are often used as ‘adverbs’ (identical to the accusative forms of nouns), regardless of their role, especially tisuća:

Tisuću dolara je u ladici. One thousand dollars are in the drawer.

If you use the accusative form as subject (i.e. an ‘adverb’), don’t forget it then behaves as any quantity adverb, that is, adjectives and past forms of verbs must be put to neuter singular. Compare the following sentences:

Tisuću dolara je bilo u ladici. (adverb) One thousand dollars were in the drawer.

Tisuća dolara je bila u ladici. (fem. noun, the same meaning)

While in English it’s a rule to say one thousand (or one million), in Croatian it’s a rule to use just tisuća (or milijun, milijarda) – it’s assumed there’s one if the word is in singular.

If you have two thousands (or more) you don’t have an option to use accusative, you have to follow rules for counting two things (or more) – things counted are thousands. Therefore the word tisuća goes into either the 2-4 form or G-pl, the same as if you were counting money in bags or any other noun:

Imam dvije tisuće dolara. I have two thousand dollars.

Imam pet tisuća dolara. I have five thousand dollars.

Pay attention that milijun million is always a noun in Croatian, following the usual rules for counted nouns (however, the forms for 2-4 and G-pl are normally spelled the same – length marks are seldom used):

jedan milijun dva milijuna pet miliju

While you usually say in English five million men, in Croatian you have to adjust the word to the number before it, and a noun after the million always goes into G-pl:

U Hrvatskoj živi četiri milijuna ljudi. Four million people live in Croatia.

Wait a second! Why is the verb in singular? Shouldn’t the verb be in plural, like in:

U Hrvatskoj žive četiri vrste ljudi. Four kinds of people live in Croatia.

Well... true. But the problem is that milijun million is also a number, so 4 million seems to be often understood as a single, large number, and with numbers larger than 4, singular is used (and neuter gender, where it applies). Therefore, both singular and plural of verbs are used in such constructions, but the singular is more common. This holds for 1000 and larger numbers; here’s some statistics on the .hr domain of the Internet:

ima imaju
dvije tisuće... 153 36
dva milijuna... 368 8
dvije milijarde... 572 7

So, the singular prevails, especially for millions and larger numbers.

Hundreds are expressed as:

200 dvjesto
300 tristo
400 četiristo
500 petsto
600 šesto
700 sedamsto
800 osamsto
900 devetsto

(There are archaic forms dvjesta 200 and trista 300 ® as well, dvjesta appears on banknotes.) Since they are derived from sto, they never change their form. You’ll occasionally see the number 600 spelled as šeststo. In Croatian, numbers bigger that 1000 are never expressed as nineteen hundred, always as one thousand and nine hundred.

Ordinals derived from sto, tisuća and milijun are a bit irregular and end in -ti:

stoti hundredth
tisućiti thousandth ®
milijunti millionth ®

Thousands are, of course, used for years, as ordinal numbers; in singular, the adverb form tisuću is only used:

1996. tisuću devetsto devedeset (i) šesta

2015. dvije tisuće (i) petnaesta

In speech, years are often referred to with shortened ordinals, where the word for thousand is left out (and often the number of hundreds, if there’s no confusion)®:

1996. devetsto devedeset šesta (colloq.)

1996. devedeset šesta (colloq.)

2015. dvije i petnaesta (colloq.) ®

Unfortunately, there’s one more complication left. Some nouns don’t have a real plural: dijete child and brat brother have – instead of real plurals – so-called collective nouns, which are not really plural. (Yeah, I know it’s confusing.) So, if you want to count children and brothers, you have to use a specific way of counting them, which will be described in the following chapter.


® Besides zarez comma, the word zapeta is also used in Serbia. You will also occassionally hear koma. Instead of točka, tačka is used in Serbia and parts of Bosnia.

Using DL to express ‘possession’ of years seems to be very rare in Serbia.

While ladica is used in Serbia as well, the word fioka is much more common there for the drawer.

Instead of tisuća and milijun, words hiljada and milion are used in Bosnia and Serbia. The ordinals are hiljaditi and milionti.

The forms dvjesta and trista are much more common in Serbia and Bosnia, and in the “Ikavian” forms (e.g. dvista) in Dalmatia, a part of Croatia.

Colloquial shortening like dvije i petnaesta = 2015 doesn’t occur in Serbia.

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5 Easy Croatian: 46 More than Four Things N A  DL  G 24 I Counting more than 4 items is quite simple: just use the number and put the noun in genitive plural after it: ...

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