In this post I'll describe the structure of simple sentences. I have a serious problem - English is, in a sense, a very peculiar language. Regarding the sentence structure, most languages of the world are not so rigid as English is. In fact, even Mandarin Chinese is (in this aspect) more similar to Croatian. Germanic languages (English included) and French are somewhat different from the bulk!
Let's take a look at a simple sentence:
English: I am eating an apple.
Croatian: Ja jedem jabuku.
However, in Croatian, the subject pronoun ja "I" is almost always ommited:
One says ja... only in very special circumstances!Some words: jedem "am eating"; jede "is eating"; jabuka "apple".
There are some verbs that are called "0-argument" (don't worry about technical terms for now) - they really don't have a subject, because it's how they are. In English, such verbs have a "dummy pronoun" it:
English: It rains.
In Croatian, you cannot use any subject with such verbs - there are no dummy pronouns!
There are some "2-argument" (or "transitive") verbs than have a subject and (mostly optional) object:
English: Iva is drinking water.
Croatian: Iva pije vodu. (pije "is drinking"; voda "water")
In English, this is the only word order. This is the normal order for Croatian, but sometimes people use other word orders:
Croatian: Iva vodu pije.
Croatian: Vodu Iva pije.
Croatian: Vodu pije Iva.
Croatian: Pije Iva vodu.
Croatian: Pije vodu Iva.
These variants are used when someone wants to emphasize some words.
If we use a pronoun as the subject, we get:
English: She is drinking water.
Croatian: Ona pije vodu.
Croatian: Pije vodu. (this is the most common)
Croatian: Vodu pije.
There are some verbs that have a subject and two objects (they are called "ditransitive" or "3-argument"). One such verb is dajem "give". One can shuffle words in such English sentences a bit, but must insert a word to. In Croatian, there are so many possibilities that I'm not going to list all:
English: Iva is giving Ana an apple.
English: Iva is giving an apple to Ana.
Croatian: Iva daje Ani jabuku. (daje "is giving")
Croatian: Iva daje jabuku Ani.
Croatian: Ani Iva daje jabuku.
Croatian: Jabuku Ani daje Iva.
Again, first possibilities are most common in Croatian. If you use a pronoun (e.g. she) for the subject, you usually drop it in Croatian.
There's usually no possibility for confusion when shuffling words in Croatian sentences, since subject, direct and indirect object are in different cases. So when one finds a noun in the "subject case" wherever in a sentence, that's the subject. The same goes for object(s). Therefore, it's important to learn the so-called cases.