87 Player, Playroom and Playground: Common Derivations


In this chapter, I will explain how various derived nouns, such as player, playroom and playground are derived in Croatian.

The simplest nouns derived from verbs are of ‘player’ type. You simply remove the infinitive ending, and the vowel before it (if any) and add -ač:

verb ‘player’ noun
birati choose birač (») elector, voter
glasati vote glasač (») voter
igrati play igrač (») player
kupati bathe kupač (») bather
pjevati sing pjevač (») singer
plivati swim plivač(») swimmer
plesati (pleše) dance plesač (») dancer
pušiti smoke pušač (») smoker
trčati (trči) run trkač (») runner
voziti drive vozač (») driver

As you can see, all these words are stressed in the same way: the ‘western’ stress on -ač, and the standard stress on the syllable before it – therefore, the standard stress moves in all these words:

igrač (») player → A igrača

The feminine versions are simply derived by adding -ica (and consequently moving the standard stress):

igrač (») player (m) → igračica player (f)
pjevač (») singer (m) → pjevačica singer (f)
vozač (») driver (m) → vozačica driver (f)

While these nouns usually stand for people who do something, others derived in the same way can stand for various hardware too (I’ve listed only derived nouns; you can find verbs in a dictionary easily):

čitač (») reader
nosač (») carrier / prop
grijač (») heater ®
otvarač (») opener
prekidač (») switch
pokrivač (») cover
punjač (») charger
upaljač (») lighter

The word čitač reader is related to devices only (e.g. card reader, e-book reader): the word for a person who reads will be explained below.

However, not all verbs make nouns with -ač: some use -telj, and they always mean persons; the most common ones are:

verb ‘player’ noun
čitati read čitatelj reader
gledati watch gledatelj watcher
graditi build graditelj builder
natjecati (natječe) se² compete natjecatelj competitor ®
roditi give birth roditelj parent
slušati listen slušatelj listener

As you can see, these nouns have the stress always on the third syllable from the end, and preserve the vowel before the infinitive ending.

The feminine versions of these nouns are simply derived by adding -ica and moving the stress to -telj-:

čitatelj reader (m) → čitateljica reader (f)
gledatelj watcher (m) → gledateljica watcher (f)

However, the noun roditelj parent is usually used in masculine forms only, regardless of person’s sex.

Some of these verbs have a bit colloquial alternative nouns ® which end in -lac, with the ‘case-base’ -oc-, while some other verbs have -lac (-oc-) nouns only:

verb ‘player’ noun
čitati read čitalac (čitaoc-) reader (colloq.) ®
gledati watch gledalac (čitaoc-) watcher
slušati listen slušalac (čitaoc-) listener
misliti think mislilac (mislioc-) thinker
nositi carry nosilac (nosioc-) carrier
roniti dive ronilac (ronioc-) diver

It’s interesting that these nouns are often regularized in real life (to their case-base), so you’ll hear (and read) mislioc, nosioc, ronioc etc. as well – just check the Google™ hits (on the .hr domain):

ronilac 20900
ronioc 9980
nosilac 24400
nosioc 11700

However, some people think such regularized forms are signs of uneducated speech and writing (but it seems they are getting more common, and they can be found even in texts published on universities).

Then, a couple of verbs derive such nouns with -ac (-c-):

verb ‘player’ noun
boriti se² fight borac (borc-) fighter
glumiti act glumac (glumc-) actor
loviti catch, hunt lovac (lovc-) hunter
kupiti perf. buy kupac (kupc-) buyer
pisati (piše) write pisac (pisc-) writer

It’s interesting that only few of -lac and -ac nouns have feminine versions; from the nouns above, only this one has the feminine version:

glumac (glumc-) actorglumica actress

(There’s a lot of debate should feminine forms of these nouns be introduced/invented or not.)

But that’s not all. There are also two suffixes used to derive such nouns that get attached to both verbs and nouns: one of them is -ar:

verb ‘player’ noun
kuhati cook kuhar cook ®
slikati paint (pictures) slikar painter
meso meat mesar (») butcher
pošta post poštar postman
riba fish ribar fisherman
stol table ® stolar carpenter
ura clock (see below) urar (») watchmaker ®
zid wall zidar (») mason
zub tooth zubar (») dentist

The word ura is considered today a bit archaic, dialectal and non-standard, but the term for watchmaker is still derived from it.

With this suffix, the stress is basically unpredictable, as you can see, but it seems that with verbs, the more common pattern is the stress on the first syllable, while nouns derived from nouns get the ‘western’ stress on -ar, and the standard stress on the syllable before it – and the standard stress is again movable.

The suffix -ar derives nouns from verb roots, which might be visible only in past forms or in the present tense:

peći (peče, pekao, pekla) bakepekar baker

From such nouns, feminine versions are derived in the usual way:

kuhar cook (m) → kuharica cook (f)
slikar painter (m) → slikarica painter (f)
zubar dentist (m) → zubarica dentist (f) ®

Another suffix that gets attached to both verbs and nouns is -nik:

verb ‘player’ noun
koristiti use korisnik user
liječiti cure liječnik physician ®
početi (počne) perf. begin početnik beginner
vjerovati (vjeruje) believe vjernik believer
ljubav f love ljubavnik lover
moć f might, ability moćnik person in power
put way putnik traveler
rad work radnik worker
rat war ratnik warrior
vlast f government, rule vlasnik owner

(The form početnik is derived a bit irregularly; the loss of -t- in korisnik and vlasnik is regular in Croatian, recall the adjective bolestan (bolesn-) sick, where the -t- is lost between s and n.)

From all such nouns, feminine nouns are derived in this way:

putnik traveler (m) → putnica traveler (f)
vlasnik owner (m) → vlasnica owner (f)

However, there are nouns derived with -nik that have nothing to do with people:

čaj teačajnik teapot
riječ f wordrječnik dictionary
ruda orerudnik mine
ruka hand/armručnik (») towel
zlato goldzlatnik gold coin

Finally, a couple of verbs have two derived nouns — one for the person who is kind of ‘giving’, and another for the one who is ‘receiving’. The most common one is:

učiti study / teach učitelj teacher
učenik student

From it, feminine versions are regularly derived, as described earlier.

There are two more nouns that are derived from some verbs: one stands for ‘playroom’, and another for ‘playground’. The first type is derived with -onica, after removing the infinitive ending -ti:

verb ‘playroom’ noun
igrati play igraonica playroom
kupati bathe kupaonica bathroom
učiti study / teach učionica classroom

You’ll often see shortened versions of these nouns, with only -ona, e.g. kupaona for bathroom; they are understood as a bit colloquial.

There are more terms where more than one word is used; the most common example are the words for bakery:

pekarna (colloq., common in Zagreb)
pekarnica (standard, but less common)

Another term which has more than one word is flower shop, but this time, the variation is regional:

cvjećarnica (Zagreb, elsewhere)
cvjetarna (Rijeka area)
   flower shop

Finally, there are ‘ground’ nouns, derived usually with -lište:

verb ‘playground’ noun
igrati play igralište playground
graditi build gradilište building site
kupati bathe kupalište bathing place, area
parkirati («) park (a car) parkiralište parking area

Some nouns have a bit specific meanings:

gledati watchgledalište auditorium
kazati (kaže) saykazalište theater ®

Colloquially, besides parkiralište, just parking is used for parking lot.


® The word grijač heater is used in an unexpected “Ekavian” form grejač in Serbia.

Instead of natjecati (natječe) se² compete, the verb takmičiti se² is more common in Serbia and most of Bosnia; from it, the noun takmičar is derived.

Nouns like čitalac (čitaoc-) are standard in Serbia and most of Bosnia, while alternative nouns like čitatelj – standard and common in Croatia – are very rare in Serbia; however, when there’s only one form (e.g. roditelj parent), it’s common and standard in all countries.

Instead of the verb kuhati cook, the form kuvati is used in Serbia (where it’s standard) and a part of Bosnia with Serbian majority. The derived noun is kuvar.

The word stol table is used in the form sto (stol-) m in Serbia and most of Bosnia.

Instead of urar watchmaker, the word časovničar is used in Serbia and parts of Bosnia.

With some nouns in -ar, another suffix to derive feminine versions is used in Serbia and often in Bosnia: -ka, e.g. zubarka dentist (f).

In most of Bosnia, the word for physician isn’t derived from the verb liječiti cure, but from lijek medicine, with -ar: ljekar; in Serbia, the “Ekavian” form lekar is used.

Instead of kazalište, the word for theater in Serbia and most of Bosnia is pozorište.

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5 Easy Croatian: 87 Player, Playroom and Playground: Common Derivations N A  DL  G 24 I V In this chapter, I will explain how various derived nouns, such as player , playroom and playground are deri...

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