80 Flying Bugs: Present Adverbs and Adjectives


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 waitčekajući
ležati (leži) lie, reclineležeći
jesti (jede) eatjedući
učiti learn, studyučeći

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.

Such forms are related to actions and processes, not completion, so they can be derived only from imperfective verbs.

The case of any noun appended to the participle is the same as used with the verb:

gledam televiziju (A) I’m watching TVgledajući televiziju

The present adverbs are adverbs of manner, i.e. they say how. In the last example, how someone fell asleep. They can’t modify adjectives and do stuff some other adverbs do.

Adverbs are used in this way mostly in formal writing; in speech and casual writing, time clauses with dok are preferred, so you will hear usually:

Zaspao sam [dok sam gledao televiziju]. I fell asleep [while I was watching TV].

If this were an ordinary course or textbook, or even a grammar, that would be it. Of course, there’s more. Traditionally, the pattern to make present adverbs started from pres-3pl, here shown on the left:

spavaju pres-3pl
spava-ti inf

However, for verbs in -ati, having regular present forms, it’s easy to notice a simpler pattern, starting from the infinitive – shown on the right – giving the same result. And then the simpler pattern was applied to a number of verbs without regular present tense forms, such as:

dodavati (dodaje) adddodavajući
prodavati (prodaje) sellprodavajući
poznavati (poznaje) know (person, city) → poznavajući ®

Some of these forms are still rarer than the classic forms – for example, Google™ on the .hr domain is roughly 2:1 in favor of the standard form prodajući vs prodavajući. Therefore, expect to see and hear both forms (the language police doesn’t like this).

However, unlike prodavajući, poznavajući is very common, it seems standard (at least, nobody complains against it) and is used mostly like this:

poznavajući + A from what I know about A ®

(For some reason, these alternative forms exist mostly for verbs in -avati.)

There are more present adverbs used in phrases. A common one is:

zahvaljivati (-uje «) thankzahvaljujući

It’s used with DL:

Zahvaljujući dobrom vremenu, plaže su pune. Thanks to the good weather, beaches are full.

A lot of present adverbs can be used as adjectives, and that’s quite common in speech. In fact, it’s more common than using present adverbs as adverbs! 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.

It’s not possible to use all present adverbs as an adjectives. There’s no other option but to remember common present adjectives.

Some common present adjectives are:

leteći flying
ležeći lying
odgovarajući suitable
osvježavajući refreshing
postojeći existing
prateći accompanying
stojeći standing
trepćući blinking
viseći hanging
vodeći leading

(Note that the verb odgovarati («) answer means also suit, fit, comply; the alternative meaning was likely taken from German entsprechen.)

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):

verb present adj.
(bude) perf. be budući future
ići (ide) go idući following, next
moći (može +) can moguć possible
slijediti follow sljedeći next
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 slijedeći if used as an adverb. The adjective moguć even lost the otherwise obligatory final -i.

Since present adjectives are adjectives, their neuter forms can be used as adverbs to modify other adjectives, so you’ll see examples like this (it maybe sounds like a commercial):

Pivo je osvježavajuće hladno. The beer is refreshingly cold.

Note that the basic present adverb (e.g. osvježavajući) can’t be used to modify adjectives, it can modify only the whole sentence, i.e. the verb.

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) or da with a small clause (with normal tense rules) after it:

Vidjela je ptice [kako lete].

Vidjela je ptice [da lete].

Another option is to use kad(a) and a clause. Recall this line from the example in 52 Stand, Become, Exist, Cease:

Čulo se samo [kako ptice pjevaju]. Only [birds singing] could be heard.

Here the birds singing is actually the subject of the verb čuti (čuje) hear, used in the mediopassive construction.

Since present adjectives 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, so let’s invent one! For example: secondary present adjectives (not really original, I admit).

For verbs with infinitive in -ati, secondary present adjectives are created by transforming that ending to -aći:

pres. adj.
brijati (brije) shave brijući brijaći
kupati bathe kupajući kupaći
pisati (piše) write pišući pisaći
spavati sleep spavajući spavaći
šivati sew šivajući šivaći
žvakati (žvače) chew žvačući žvakaći

Compare them to the present adverbs of these verbs, which always end in -ući!

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) eatjedaći

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
pisaći stol writing desk
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 its 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:

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.

To summarize:

spavati verb sleep
spavajući pres. adverb (while, by) sleeping
spavajući pres. adjective (which is) sleeping
spavaći secondary pres. adjective (used for) sleeping
spavaća secondary pres. adjective used as noun (room for) sleeping

The lower you go in this table, forms are rarer and rarer, and only a few verbs have fixed adjectives such as spavaća (soba) room for sleeping i.e. bedroom.


® In Serbia, the pres. adj. poznavajući is considered non-standard.

In Serbia and most of Bosnia, the meaning liquid is expressed with another adjective: tečan (tečn-), while tekući means only flowing.

↓ Examples (click to show)

↓ Exercise (click to show)

5 Easy Croatian: 80 Flying Bugs: Present Adverbs and Adjectives N A  DL  G 24 I V How to say flying saucer or playing cards in Croatian? English is here quite simple: the same form that’s ...

↓ Add Your Comment (click here)