76 Inner, Outer, Step by Step: More on Space and Time


Here are two spatial adverbs that distinguish locations from directions, with associated prepositions:

  dir. loc. preposition
outside van ® vani ® izvan outside of
inside    unutra unutar within

All prepositions are, as expected, used with G. For example:

Hotel ne radi izvan sezone. The hotel doesn’t ‘work’ outside of the (tourist) season. (= isn’t open)

Sometimes the adverb van can be used with nouns, as a kind of preposition, so you’ll hear and read both van sezone and izvan sezone.

The following adverbs stand both for origins and locations, in the following way: the same adverb means from outside and on the outer surface. We can call them origin/surface adverbs:

izvana from outside, on the outside
iznutra from within, on the inside
odozgo from above, on the top side
odozdo from below, on the bottom side

For example:

Hladan zrak dolazi izvana. The cold air is coming from the outside. ®

There are such adverbs also for left and right:

slijeva from left, on the left side
zdesna from right, on the right side

For example:

Also, there are two adverbs for relative origins:

izbliza up close
izdaleka from a far, from a distance

For example:

Ovo voće dolazi izdaleka. These fruits come from afar.

All these adverbs are also used to express where you perceive (listen, watch, see, hear) something from (like in English):

Vidjela sam ih izdaleka. I saw them from afar. {f}

Moraš pogledati izbliza. You have to take a look from close.

It’s possible to derive relational adjectives from the adverbs from the first table above. Such adjectives are derived by adding -ski, -nji or -šnji. However, since they are far from regular, they have to be remembered as separate adjectives:

vani outvanjski outer ®
unutra insideunutrašnji inner
gore upgornji upper
dolje downdonji lower

However, it’s not possible to derive such adjectives from origin adverbs, such as odozgo from above or izbliza up close.

Next, it’s also possible to derive relational adjectives from many specific time adverbs (e.g. today), as well and you have to use them – there’s no other way say today’s newspaper in Croatian; they are always derived with -šnji; if the original adverb ends in -s, it’s lost:

danas todaydanašnji
noćas tonightnoćašnji
jučer yesterdayjučerašnji
jutros this morningjutrošnji
večeras this eveningvečerašnji
sutra tomorrowsutrašnji

(The difference večerašnji vs. večernji is the same as večeras vs. večer.)

They are also derived from non-specific time adverbs in the same way:

sad(a) nowsadašnji
tad(a) thentadašnji
nekad(a) a time agonekadašnji
prije beforeprijašnji

English has few adjectives that correspond to Croatian ones: sadašnji translates as current, present, and nekadašnji as former. For example:

To su jučerašnje novine. This is yesterday’s newspaper.

The adjectives derived from adverbs for last evening and last year do not follow this scheme:

sinoć last eveningsinoćni (also sinoćnji)
lani last year ®lanjski

One preposition introduced long ago, normally meaning from with G, has a special meaning with a specific noun strana side:

s¨/sa¨ ... strane on... the side

For example:

Kuće su s lijeve strane ulice. Houses are on the left side of the street.

The same can be expressed with na¨ ... strani, i.e. using a DL expression (which I personally prefer).

On its own, without any additional words, sa strane usually means aside, apart; in the same meaning, you can sometimes hear na strani and po strani:

Stajao je sa strane. He was standing aside.

Then, there are couple of interesting prepositions yet unexplained. These two are quite simple:

niz¨ + A down, along
uz¨ + A up, close to

The basic meaning of them is direction of movement. The preposition niz¨ means the ‘normal’ direction, i.e. the same direction as the river flows, as hair grows etc.:

Bacila je sve niz rijeku. She threw everything down the river.

With steps, ramps, etc. it implies the downward direction:

Trčao sam niz stepenice. I ran down the stairs. {m}

The preposition niz¨ is used also with paths that have no obvious direction, like avenues, river banks, roads, trails, simply to indicate movement along something which is path-like:

Trčao sam niz ulicu. I ran down the street. {m}

The preposition uz¨ means the opposite direction from niz¨, but also a location close to, this has been covered in 55 More Prepositions.

Finally, there’s a quite complex preposition which is often hard to translate to English:

po¨ + A by, here and there (‘sequence’)

This preposition is best explained by examples. First, it’s used in expressions like English step by step, day by day:

Kretala sam se korak po korak. I was moving step by step. {f}

Očistio sam sve, sobu po sobu. I’ve cleaned everything, room by room. {m}

Both the word before and the word after po¨ must be in A, so this is definitely not an usual preposition!

The next use emphasizes there’s more than one instance of something, which resolves ambiguity in some cases. This example will make it clear:

Dao sam Goranu i Marku pedeset kuna. I gave Goran and Marko 50 kuna. {m}

It’s not clear whether each got 50 kn, or the speaker has given just 50 kn for both of them. Adding po¨ makes it clear there was more than one 50 kn bill:

Dao sam Goranu i Marku po pedeset kuna. I gave Goran and Marko 50 kuna each. {m}

This table summarizes all uses of the preposition po¨:

meaning used with example
motion over
a surface
DL Trčim po plaži.
I’m running on the beach.
‘according to’ DL Po njemu,...
According to him,...
‘to pick up’
A Trčim po knjigu.
I’m running to get the book.
‘each’ A Daj im po jabuku.
Give them one apple each.
‘sequence’ A + A sobu po sobu
room by room

There are adverbs that are historically derived as po¨ + an adverb, but they are considered single words today. We have already encountered some of them. Common ones are:

ponegdje here and there
ponekad now and then = sometimes
ponešto this and that thing = a bit, to a degree

The last word is used as a quantity adverb. There are also generic pronouns and adjectives derived in this way:

poneki (+) occasional, few and far between
ponetko (ponek-) this and that person = a few people

The adjective poneki changes as neki, of course.

Finally, there’s an expression that can use one of two adverbs with opposite meanings, but the meaning of the whole expression is the same:

ni izbliza
ni izdaleka  
    + neg. not even close

They are used in negative sentences, i.e. the main verb must be negated, as adverbs, i.e. modifying meanings of verbs and before adjectives. For example:

To ni izdaleka nije dovoljno. That’s not even close enough.

Both expressions are occasionally spelled as one word.


® Instead of van and the related words, the following words are common in Serbia, parts of Bosnia and even in some parts of Croatia:


Instead of zrak, the word for air in Serbia and most of Bosnia is vazduh.

The adverb lani has an unexpected “Ekavian” form lane in Serbia, but the relational adjective is the same.

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