Dobrodosli (Welcome) to Croatian language essentials guide. You never know when you’ll need a few expressions when traveling around Croatia.
Knowing a few useful travel related Croatian phrases can be of great help to make your stay more pleasant.
Taking same time to learn some everyday phrases can easily make your stay more enjoyable. The locals will be surprised and happy to hear a foreigner speak Croatian, even if it’s just a couple of words.
You can believe me when I say that they won’t laugh at you! Even if you say something silly, I can assure you they will be proud and honored that you took the time and effort to learn a bit of our language.
It is not my goal to teach you my native language (Hrvatski jezik – Croatian language). But, if you’re like me and enjoy knowing a few words or many languages, this article will be more than enough for basic interaction.
If you actually want to learn to speak Croatian properly then I recommend using Ling App. It’s available for both Android and iOS, and the quick lessons are excellent for whenever you have a few minutes of free time. I’ve been using Ling for some time now to learn Tagalog, and you can just as easily use it to learn Croatian or dozens of other languages.
The goal of this article is to illustrate some basics and teach you a few everyday expressions you will need for:
- Small talk
- Greetings and meeting people
- Asking for directions
- Interacting in restaurants
- Hello – Zdravo
- Goodbye – Doviđenja
- Yes – Da
- No – Ne
- Please – Molim
- Thank you – Hvala
- You’re welcome – Nema na čemu
- Excuse me, or Sorry – Oprostite
- See you later – Vidimo se kasnije
Croatian alphabet pronunciation
You’ll notice Croatian language has some special consonants you won’t find in English. These include Č, Ć, DŽ, Đ, and Ž, but also LJ and NJ. This is approximately how they’re pronounced:
- Ć – as the “tu”in “future” (softer)
- Č – as “ch” in “chop” (harder)
- Đ – as “j” in “join” or “jump” (softer)
- Dž – as “j” in “just” or “jacket” (harder)
- Lj – no corresponding sound in English, but similar to “lli” in “million”, or “li” in “familiar”. You can say “li” instead, or see Youtube for help!
- Nj – like “n” in “menu” or “avenue”, also same as Spanish “piñata” (ñ)
- Š – as “sh” in “ship” or “shack”
- Ž – as “s” in “pleasure”; or French “fromage“, or the name “Jacques”
Here’s are two letters that very often get completely mispronounced:
- C – as “ts” in “cats” or “bats“
- J – as “y” in “young”
Some of these letters and their pronunciation can be a bit strange and even intimidating at first, but if you’re looking to learn a bit of Croatian be sure to remember these. From my experience many foreigners often struggle to pronounce our “C” and “LJ” properly, but if you master these two are you already way ahead.
Many towns, places, beaches, restaurants and names have our “strange” letters, and pronouncing them properly can make a big difference when explaining where you want to go if asking for directions.
Reading Croatian language is incredibly easy once you learn how to pronounce each letter. We have a very phonetic language with very few exceptions to pronunciation.
Simply learning our alphabet will enable you to very accurately pronounce nearly every word with rare mistakes. For comparison, it would take an average person a lot longer to learn how to pronounce English words properly (see: The Chaos poem).
Croatian language basics
English speaking tourists nowadays will be happy to know that most young people speak very good English.
Many people working in tourist offices, travel agencies, hotels, camping sites and restaurants, besides English, also speak Italian and German.
(Croatian: Hrvatski) is a language of the western group of South Slavic languages which is used primarily by the Croats. Croatian is a southern variant inside the Slavic language family. Other languages in this group include Serbian, Bosnian and Slovenian (language spoken in Slovenia).
Croatian and Serbian used to be considered as one language (sometimes called Croatian-Serbian or Serbo-Croatian), but that is no longer the case. Bosnian language was also classified within the general “Serbo-Croatian” group. I wouldn’t recommend mentioning anything even remotely related to Serbian in front of a Croat, as we can be very touchy about that.
From a linguistic point of view, structurally and lexically all these languages are actually so similar that they can be describe as dialectical variants of one language.
- Do you speak English? – Govorite li engleski?
- Does anyone here speak English – Da li itko ovdje govori engleski?
- I understand – Ja razumijem
- I don’t understand – Ja ne razumijem
- Could you speak more slowly, please? – Mozete li malo sporije govoriti, molim vas?
- What’s your name? – Kako ti je ime?
- My name is…. – Moje ime je…
- Where are you from? – Odakle ste?
- I’m from….. – Ja sam iz…
- USA – Amerike
- Canada – Kanade
- England – Engleske
Greetings and meeting people
- Hello – Bok / Zdravo
- Hi, how are you? – Bok, kako si?
- Nice to meet you – Drago mi je upoznati te.
- What’s your name? – Kako se zoveš?
- My name is [Name] – Moje ime je [Ime]
- Where are you from? – Odakle si?
- Good morning – Dobro jutro.
- Good afternoon – Dobar dan.
- Good evening – Dobra večer.
- Have a nice day! – Ugodan vam dan.
- See you later – Vidimo se kasnije.
- Would you like to grab a drink with me? – Želiš na piće sa mnom?
- Where? – Gdje?
- How? – Kako?
- Can you help me find…? – Možete li mi pomoći pronaći…?
- Excuse me, do you know where is…? – Oprostite, znate li gdje je…?
- Is it far from here? – Je li daleko odavde?
- Which way is…? – Koji je put do…?
- I’m lost. – Izgubljen sam (male), izgubljena sam (female).
- How do I get to…? – Kako dođem do…?
- Where is the nearest…? – Gdje je najbliže…?
- Can you show me on the map? – Možete li mi pokazati na karti?
- Is this the right road to…? – Je li ovo pravi put do…?
- Where can I find a taxi? – Gdje mogu naći taksi?
- I’m looking for… – Tražim…
- Can you give me directions to…? – Možete li mi dati upute za…?
- Is it on the left/right? – Je li lijevo/desno?
- Which bus/train goes to…? – Koji autobus/vlak ide za…?
- Are we going in the right direction? – Idemo li u pravom smjeru?
- How far is it to…? – Koliko je udaljeno do…?
- Do I need to turn left/right? – Trebam li skrenuti lijevo/desno?
- Where is your restroom? – Gdje vam je WC (ve-se)?
- Where is the nearest beach? – Gdje je najbliža plaža?
- Where is the nearest restaurant? – Gdje je najbliži restoran?
- Where is the nearest bar? – Gdje je najbliži kafić?
In the restaurants
- Do you have a menu? – Imate li jelovnik?
- What do you recommend? – Što preporučujete?
- I would like to make a reservation. – Želio bih rezervirati.
- Is there a table available? – Imate li stol?
- Can I see the wine list? – Mogu li vidjeti vinsku kartu?
- Beer, please – Pivo, molim.
- Wine, please – Vino, molim.
- May I have a glass of water, please? – Mogu li dobiti čašu vode, molim vas?
- Glass of water, please – Čašu vode, molim.
- What’s the special today? – Koje je dnevno jelo?
- I’m a vegetarian. – Ja sam vegetarijanac (male), Ja sam vegetarijanka (female).
- How spicy is this dish? – Koliko je ovo jelo ljuto?
- I’d like to order [dish]. – Želim naručiti [jelo].
- Can I have it with/without [ingredient]? – Mogu li dobiti sa/bez [sastojka]?
- Is tap water safe to drink? – Je li voda iz slavine sigurna za piće?
- Could you please bring the bill? – Možete li mi donijeti račun, molim vas?
- Bill, please – Račun, molim.
- How much is the total? – Koliko ukupno iznosi?
- Do you have any desserts? – Imate li desert?
- Do you have icecream? – Imate sladoled?
- Can I take the leftovers with me? – Mogu li ponijeti ostatke sa sobom?
You don’t need to be a math genius to learn numbers in Croatian. In fact, numbers in Croatian are probably the easiest thing to learn. Below is quite literally all you need to know to be able to say any number in my language.
- 1 – Jedan
- 2 – Dva
- 3 – Tri
- 4 – Četiri
- 5 – Pet
- 6 – Šest
- 7 – Sedam
- 8 – Osam
- 9 – Devet
- 10 – Deset
- 11 – Jedanaest
- 12 – Dvanaest
- 13 – Trinaest
- 14 – Četrnaest
- 15 – Petnaest
- 20 – Dvadeset (2 & 10 – dva & deset)
- 21 – Dvadeset jedan (2, 10, 1)
- 22 – Dvadeset dva (2, 10, 2)
- 30 – Trideset (3 & 10; tri & deset)
- 31 – Trideset jedan (3 & 10 & 1)
- 100 – Sto
- 131 – Sto trideset jedan
- 1,000 – Tisuću
- 10,000 – Deset tisuća
- 1,000,000 – Milijun
- Help! – Pomoć!
- Call the police! – Pozovite policiju!
- Call an ambulance! – Pozovite hitnu pomoć!
- Fire! – Požar!
- I need assistance. – Trebam pomoć.
- Is there a hospital nearby? – Ima li blizu bolnica?
- Please call a doctor. – Molim vas, pozovite doktora.
- My car broke down. – Auto mi se pokvario.
- I’ve been robbed. – Opljačkan/na sam.
- Can you please help me find my way? – Možete li mi molim vas pomoći pronaći put?
- I can’t find my child. – Ne mogu naći svoje dijete.
- I’m feeling very ill. – Osjećam se jako loše.
- It’s an emergency. – Hitno je.
Should I learn Croatian as a traveler?
Croatia has a population of less than 4 million, so don’t expect to be able to speak our language with too many people outside our country. But, exactly because there are so few speakers is why we are pleasantly surprised when someone takes the time to learn a few words. Knowing a few basic Croatian words and phrases can make your apartment owners or restaurant waiters far more pleasant to deal with!
Most people in Croatia can understand and speak English, so you should have no trouble getting around or communicating even without being able to speak Croatian. This is especially true in tourist places, as vast majority of tourist workers are able to speak English well. Some may be able to speak German or Italian as well, but don’t expect it.
Hopefully my quick introduction to Croatian language will be helpful during your visit. To learn more Croatian be sure to check my useful Croatian phrases article too!