67 Only, Except, Too: Inclusion and Exclusion


There’s a set of often used words in Croatian that are used for restriction, inclusion and exclusion. Two basic words are:

samo only osim except ®

The word samo is quite easy to use: just insert it before any part of the sentence to express meaning only:

Pojest ću samo salatu. I’ll eat only the salad.

smo samo u kino.
We went only to the cinema. {m/mixed} ®

Poslao sam razglednicu samo mami. I sent a picture postcard only to my mum. {m}

Samo Ana je ovdje. Only Ana is here.

As you can see, the word samo doesn’t affect the words following it.

The word osim is similar; it’s mostly used with ‘total pronouns’ (don’t forget that they change through cases!):

svi... osim... everyone... except...
sve... osim... everything... except...
nitko... osim...   nobody... except...
ništa... osim... nothing... except...

There’s one important difference between samo and osim: when osim is used before nouns (or adjectives + nouns), it affects them if they are in A or N and changes them into the genitive case. (That’s why osim is frequently listed as a preposition used with G; actually, it’s a word that doesn’t fit into any category.) To illustrate this:

Pojest ću sve osim salate. (A → G) I’ll eat (up) everything except the salad.

Poslao sam razglednicu svima osim mami. I sent a picture postcard to everyone except my mum. {m}

Check how the noun in the sentence about postcards stays in the DL case. The change also happens in the nominative case:

Svi su ovdje osim Ane. (N → G) Everyone’s here except for Ana.

Of course, osim can be used with ‘total adverbs’ as well:

svugdje... osim... everywhere... except...
uvijek... osim... always... except...
nigdje... osim... nowhere... except...
nikad(a)... osim...   never... except...

Another word, umjesto, is used in a very similar way to osim. It means instead of:

smo u kino umjesto u restoran.
We went to the cinema instead of restaurant.

Pojest ću salatu umjesto jabuke. (A → G) I’ll eat salad instead of an apple.

Ivan je ovdje umjesto Ane. (N → G) Ivan is here instead of Ana.

However, you will sometimes see that A is retained after umjesto, and that G is used when the original case could be retained.

Now, there’s a major difference between English and Croatian grammar when umjesto instead of is used with verbs. English here has to use a gerund (ing-form) after instead of, while Croatian uses da + clause:

Goran je ostao u krevetu umjesto da odeotići u školu. Goran stayed in bed instead of going to school.

(It seems that the clause after da can here be in either present or past tense, but perfective verbs are allowed in the present tense, as in the example above!)

There’s also the version umjesto što; there are more conjunctions that can be used with što and da, with a bit different meanings. Details will be explained in 77 As If: Advanced Clauses.

Both osim and umjesto can be used to refer to things previously said: as you hopefully know, in Croatian the general reference is to. We use it after those words (changed to G, of course) to start sentences:

Osim toga, pada kiša. Besides, it’s raining.

Umjesto toga, idemoići u kino. Instead, we’re going to the cinema.

While English instead is often found at the end of a sentence, Croatian umjesto toga is usually at the front.

There’s another conjunction we met before – i¨. It’s placed before the word that adds to what is known or what has been said before.

Volim kavu. I like coffee. ®

Volim i čaj. I like tea as well.

I Ivan voli kavu. Ivan likes coffee as well.

It’s similar to English too (placed after what is added), but it’s more strict than in English: i¨ must be placed before the added thing:

I Ana voli čaj. Ana too likes tea.

Ana voli i čaj. Ana likes tea too.

While the English Ana likes tea too is a bit ambiguous, Croatian Ana voli i čaj is precise: she likes other drinks, and additionally tea.

What is added must be emphasized, that is, pronouns must not be left out, and stressed forms must be used:

I ja volim kavu. I like coffee as well.

I njima se sviđa film. They like the movie as well. (or: They, too, like the movie.)

It’s absolutely impossible to add i¨ before a second-position form, e.g. normal A of pronouns (e.g. “vidim i te”). Regardless of placement, you have to use stressed forms after i¨ (e.g. vidim i tebe).

It’s possible to put i¨ in front of the verb, meaning something will happen (or be done by someone) in addition:

Ana će posjetiti Rim. Ana will visit Rome.

Tamo će i prespavati. She will sleep for a night there as well.

If the sentence is negative (that is, the verb is negated) the negative ni¨ must be used:

Ni ja ne volim kavu. I don’t like coffee either.

Ni njima se ne sviđa film. They don’t like the movie either.

(You will find this rule a bit relaxed in real life, so you will sometimes hear just in negated sentences. Standard Croatian actually prescribes using i¨ before negative words like ne¨.)

As with i¨, stressed forms are mandatory after ni¨ when you use pronouns.

The words i¨ and ni¨ are often used in short responses, when you agree what was said (but ni¨ is used when you agree with something that used negation):

Volim čaj. I like tea.

— I ja. Me too.

Ne volim vino. I don’t like wine.

— Ni ja. Me neither.

Note that Croatian doesn’t change case as English does (i.e. me instead of I)

The conjunction ni¨ before the negated verb (or past form, infinitive) is often used to emphasize negation:

Nije ga ni vidjela. She didn’t even see him. (or it, depending on the context)

Neću te ni pitati. I won’t even ask you.

It can be placed also before a singular object in negated sentences, most often when using imati have – the object then usually goes into the G, to emphasize negation:

Nemam ni kune. I don’t have a single kuna. (Croatian money unit)

There’s the word niti which further emphasizes exclusion and negation, and often translates as actually, i.e. contrary to someone’s expectations (such use is a bit colloquial):

Niti ne želim čekati. (colloq.) I don’t want to wait at all. ®

There’s another word with the same "addition" effect, it’s less used in speech, more in writing:

također also, as well ®

This word can be placed like opet, basically anywhere in the sentence; it does not refer to a particular word or phrase, so it corresponds to English also and as well:

Ivan također voli kavu. Ivan likes coffee as well.

Colloquially, the word također is often used to strengthen i¨, so you’ll often hear and sometimes read također i¨.

Another word is frequently used to emphasize i¨, when you want to "add" to something what is already considerably large – još:

Pojeo je još i kolač. After everything else, he ate a cake as well.

If you want to emphasize that you’re adding so much, no more, use još samo (or samo još):

Želim još samo jednu jabuku. I want only one apple more.

Želim samo još jednu jabuku. (the same meaning)

Generic Croatian adjectives can be usually used as pronouns. However, the adjective sam alone cannot be used as a pronoun. Instead, another adjective/pronoun must be used: jedin only one, single.

We’re also capable to ask about addition. It’s quite simple, just add još to questions; the usual position is before the verb:

Što još želite? What else (besides previously said) would you like?

This can be added to any who/what/where/how question, but it implies something is already known, we want to know the rest:

Koga si još vidio? Who else did you see? {to m}

Što još znaš? What else do you know? (besides already told)

Gdje ste još bili? Where else have you been? {to m/mixed} (besides places you already told)

Besides that word, words to and sve can be added to questions in a similar manner, and then they behave like adverbs, i.e. don’t change; as with još, they are usually put before the verb:

Što si to čula? What did you hear? (I saw/know you heard something) {to f}

Što si to rekaoreći
What did you say? (I heard you said something) {to m}

Koga si sve vidio? Who did you see? (tell me all) {to m}

Što sve znaš? What do you know? (tell me all)

The word to restricts the question to something specific, known to the person who asks the question, something that’s going on or has just happened. Another example is that somebody has a photo from vacation on their living room wall, and you ask him or her, Gdje si to bio? the question being about specifically the picture you’re standing before.

The word sve means that we want a complete answer, i.e. all the places someone visited, all the people someone met, everything somebody knows, and so on.

This table summarizes the three context adverbs for who/what/where/how questions:

who/what/where/how context adverbs
to the current moment, situation
još in addition to previously said/discussed/known
sve totality: want to know everything

The word još can be placed before an indefinite pronoun, for example:

još nešto something in addition
još netko somebody in addition
još negdje somewhere in addition
još nekako in an additional way

For example, a waiter or waitress will usually ask you:

Želite li još nešto? Would you like something ‘in addition’? (i.e. beside things already ordered)

Još nešto? (colloquially shortened, the same meaning)

Another example:

Poznaješpoznavati li još nekog? Do you know somebody else? (beside ones you already said you know)

Treba mi još nešto. I need something more. (beside things I already said/took)

This has more specific meaning than adding the adjective drugi other after indefinite pronouns (or the appropriate adverb), which can mean either replacement or addition, but the default meaning is replacement, e.g. nešto drugo something else.


® In Serbia, besides osim, the word sem is also used, with the exactly same meaning and grammatical properties.

Instead of kino and kava, words bioskop and kafa prevail in Serbia and most of Bosnia for cinema and coffee. In Bosnia, especially in parts where Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) live, another word is also used for coffee: kahva.

The word niti is not used in Serbia to emphasize negation, and it’s rare in Bosnia; such use is considered specifically Croatian.

The word također is almost always in Serbia and usually in Bosnia shortened to takođe.

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5 Easy Croatian: 67 Only, Except, Too: Inclusion and Exclusion N A  DL  G 24 I There’s a set of often used words in Croatian that are used for restriction , inclusion and exclusion . Two basi...

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