90 Number-like Words


There are several types of compound words derived from numbers.

The first type are derived adjectives of form number + measure. English examples would be 10-inch or four-year. In Croatian, they are spelled without a hyphen – in the standard spelling, at least – and the second part must be a (relational) adjective. The first part is derived from the ‘compounding forms’ of numbers:

‘Compounding’ number forms
1- jedno-
2- dvo-
3- tro-
4- četvero-
5- peto-
6- šesto-
7- sedmo-
8- osmo-
9- deveto-
10- deseto-
11- jedanaesto-
12- dvanaesto-
20- dvadeseto-
100- sto-
200- dvjesto-
1000- tisuću-
many više-

For example:

trodnevni three-day
četverogodišnji four-year
četrdesetogodišnji forty-year

The linking vowel (-o- in most forms) appended to create the compound form is lost in rare cases when an adjective begins with a vowel; it’s not lost if the vowel is a part of the original number:

desetinčni 10-inch stoinčni 100-inch

Despite being spelled as one word, they often pronounced with two places of stress, one on the number, another on the adjective. (You will occasionally see such adjectives in a non-standard spelling, as two words, or even with a hyphen, e.g. deset-inčni and deset inčni)

They are used as any other adjective:

Sutra počinjepočinjati trodnevni festival. A three-day festival begins tomorrow.

Bili smo na dvotjednom odmoru. We were on two-week vacation.

(Observe also placing of the indefinite subject after the verb.)

With forms derived from numbers based on 10 (10, 20, 50, etc.) you’ll sometimes see forms without the vowel -o-, that is pedesetgodišnji besides usual pedesetogodišnji. You will also see non-standard forms derived from numbers 5, 6 and 7, like ones for 4, that is:

(all colloq.)
5- petero-
6- šestero-
7- sedmero-
8- osmero-

When such adjectives – derived from relative adjectives of time periods – are used with people and animals, they mean three-year-old, forty-year-old, etc. For example:

je šestogodišnjeg sina.
She brought her six-year-old son.

Note that the words derived from šesto- can mean both 6- and 600-; therefore, some people write compounds derived from 600- as šeststo-. In real life, confusion is rare – there are very few 600-year-olds around.

The second type uses suffix -ak to create numbers (not adjectives!) that correspond to English -odd. They are formed only from ‘round’ numbers, such as:

desetak ten-odd
dvadesetak twenty-odd
stotinjak hundred-odd

Such numbers behave like 10, 20 and 100 – i.e. like quantity adverbs – G-pl is used with them, and the whole phrase behaves as neuter singular:

Desetak ljudi je na plaži. Ten-odd people are on the beach.

The third type are nouns derived from smaller numbers using -ica and -ka (the derivation is not regular, forms must be remembered):

1 → jedinica
2 → dvojka
3 → trojka
4 → četvorka
5 → petica
6 → šestica
7 → sedmica
8 → osmica
9 → devetka
10 → desetka

They mean e.g. ‘digit two’, or colloquially, something with the number on it, e.g. a playing card, bus or tram – depending on the context:

Čekat ću šesticu. (colloq.) I’ll wait for a number 6 tram.

However nouns derived from 1, 3 and 4 have special meanings as well:

jedinica unit
trojka three-person team
četvorka four-person team

(English sometimes uses a noun for the three-person team, taken from Russian: troika. You see it’s almost identical to Croatian.)

For two-person teams (and other two-item groups), the common word is par pair.

The fourth type are nouns for ‘x-year-olds’ (i.e. boys/girls, men/women, but occasionally other animals, even some products). They are derived from the ‘compounding forms’ with appended godišnji by further appending -njak (m) and -njakinja (f). As with the most other male/female pairs, the male form is also generic/default:

Četverogodišnjaci vole trčati. Four-year-olds like to run. (i.e. Four-year-old kids)

The fifth type are compound adjectives and adverbs derived with -struk, standing for multiplicity:

Multiplicity adjectives
jednostruk one-fold, single-layer
dupli (colloq.)
trostruk triple
četverostruk fourfold
peterostruk 5-fold
šesterostruk 6-fold
... ...
deseterostruk 10-fold
... ...
dvadeseterostruk 20-fold
stostruk 100-fold
multiple, manifold

As you can see, they are derived from numbers in a specific way – from ‘compounding forms’, but for numbers 5 and over, there’s extra -ero- inserted between the ‘compounding form’ and the suffix -struk.

While all these words are really used, some, like jedanaesterostruk 11-fold are very rare. All these words are adjectives, for example:

Razgovarali smo s trostrukim prvacima Europe. We talked to three-time European champions. (lit. ‘triple champions of Europe’)

The adjectives mnogostruk and višestruk are very common.

All these adjectives, in neuter form, are used as adverbs too, so you can tell how many times something is better:

Novi mobitel je dvostruko bolji. The new cellphone is twice better.

Novi mobitel je duplo bolji. (colloq., the same meaning)

Instead of dvostruk, the colloquial word dupli is very common in speech.

(the rest is coming soon)

5 Easy Croatian: 90 Number-like Words N A  DL  G 24 I V There are several types of compound words derived from numbers. The first type are derived adjectives of ...

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