89 However, Therefore: Discourse Markers and Similar Words



This chapter will introduce more useful words and short phrases, many used especially to connect a sentence to what was previously said. The have a fancy name: discourse markers.

Unfortunately, there are various opinions how to classify these words in linguistics, and grammars of various languages have different traditions of naming them. I’ll use a simple approach in this chapter: here are words that connect to or comment what was previously said. They are usually used to start a sentence, or sometimes on their own.

The first word I’ll introduce is a short word used to express a degree of disagreement with what was previously said, giving up on something, and usually a degree of impatience: ma. It’s hard to translate out of the context, but examples will make it hopefully clear. The word is always emotional. For example, someone tells you seem to be cold, and possibly insists, you can say:

Ma nije mi hladno. No, I’m not cold.

In speech, in conversations with someone, using only ma or ma mislim can be used to express that things are worse than expected.

This is an example of giving up on something that others expected:

Ma ne idem na koncert. Well, I’m not going to the concert. (or: Unfortunately...)

This word can be used to ‘strengthen’ other words commonly used in one-word responses, such as:

ma daj! oh, c’mon!
ma ne! oh, no! on the contrary!
ma nemoj! don’t you say! {impolite!}

For example, with the negative imperative verb (nemoj, etc.), it expresses strong disagreement with what was said (or, sometimes, that what was said was obvious, so there was no need to say it):

Nije bilo tramvaja... There was no tram...

Ma nemoj! Don’t you say! {angry, impolite}

Saying ma nemoj! is usually not polite at all, it’s used when you’re basically angry and don’t care about being polite.

However, ma nemoj! sometimes just expresses disbelief, e.g. when someone hears unexpected bad news.

So in all examples, this word has a kind of negative implication, roughly negation of some kind of expectations. The word ma always expresses emotions, usually negative.

There are two words that can be used to connect a sentence to something said before (even much earlier) or to connect two parts of a sentence:

dakle so, therefore
ipak nevertheless, still, after all

The word dakle means that something comes as a logical outcome of something said before, something that has happened before, but its role is to reach a conclusion, finish a discussion. Imagine someone talks about going or not going on vacation for a while, like weeks. When you meet her again, you want to know what the outcome was, so you ask:

Dakle, išlaići
si na odmor?
So, you went on vacation? {to f}

You can also use dakle to connect to a sentence before:

Dakle, doći ću oko osam. Therefore, I’ll arrive about 8 o’clock.

You can use it on its own as a question, asking for a summary, response or outcome:

Dakle? So?

The word ipak means what follows is not expected, but unlike ma, it doesn’t express impatience or disbelief, but it can express disappointment:

Ipak ne idem na koncert. I’m not going to the concert after all.

It can be used with one-word responses but the meaning is something like regardless, after all:

Ideš na koncert? Are you going to the concert? (colloq.)

‒ Ipak ne. I’m not, after all.

Then, there are several words and short phrases used to change a topic or somehow break the sequence of sentences:

inače ...
međutim however
naravno of course
nažalost unfortunately
osim toga besides
zapravo actually

These words and phrases are normally separated by comma from the rest of the sentence:

Zapravo, ... . Actually, ... .

We can check the particle zar. It’s used to start a yes/no question which, we think, have a negative answer. This is used mostly in writing and formal speech:

Zar je sve takvo? Is everything really like that?

This is more common in writing. In speech, baš and stvarno really are more common, but they aren’t fixed to the first position:

Stvarno je sve takvo? Is everything really like that?

Or, going very colloquial, the adverb fakat can be used, esp. in the northwestern parts of Croatia:

Fakat je sve takvo? (colloquial, mostly northwest)

↓ Examples (click to show)

5 Easy Croatian: 89 However, Therefore: Discourse Markers and Similar Words N A  DL  G 24 I V ** THIS CHAPTER IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION ** This chapter will introduce more useful words and short phrases, ma...

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