• • • Review: Questions, Part 2
"Generic words" are words like "somewhere", "any", "no one" etc. Together with demonstratives, they are a really useful part of any language. They are related to question-words we have already covered.
Adverb-like generic words
Here are "generic" words that behave as adverbs (that is, do not change according to gender, case, number):
time place destination path ques-
every- uvijëk (!)
I hope you can see kind of a pattern: k- for questions (k-amo, k-ako), ni- for "negative" adverbs, etc.
They don't change in case, gender or number, that is, they are adverbs. Most words in the table are really often-used, for instance:
Auto je negdjë. "The car is somewhere."
Uvijëk pada kiša. "The rain is always falling."
However, in everyday communication, as with the question-words, the distinction of 'place' vs. 'path' vs. 'destination' is not often observed, so you will often hear:
Putovali smo negdjë. (colloq.) "We were traveling somewhere."
Putovali smo nekamo. (Standard, the same meaning)
Quantity adverbs break between countables and uncountables, and have unexpected forms. There's an additional adverb for "reason" which really don't fit into the scheme:
manner quantity reason countable uncountable ques-
"in no way"
"for no reason"
— every- svakako
"in every way"
— any- ikako
The word sve "all, everything" has forms for sg. only and slightly specific case endings:
nom. sve acc. dat. svemu gen. svega ins. svime
Adjective-like generic words
Now, there are more generic words, this time adjectives (words similar to "big", "my"). There are much less such words compared to adverbs:
selection quality possession noun person thing ques-
Another word that could fit into this table is kolik "how big", but there's only a question-word, there's no single adjective "of any size".
Remember that they all change like adjectives, more or less. Some of them we have already encountered.
Ovo je nečiji auto. "This is someone's car."
Netko je bio ovdjë. "Someone was here."
Words netko, itko, nitko, svatko change like tko; likewise, nešto, ništa, išta, svašta change like što, except that some of them end on -a in nom. and acc.
Observe the following curiosity: negative words start with ni- and words meaning "some" on ne-.
Another important word is svi "all people", "everyone" and sve "all things". Really it's just an adjective säv, sva, sve "all", so these are just two gender forms in plural. It's case forms use -em and so instead of the expected -om. It's mainly used in the plural.
Rekäo sam svima. "I told everyone."
Svi će doći. "Everyone will come."
Treba pokositi svu travu. "One needs to mow all the grass." (svu, travu = acc.)
Negation and Generic Words
All of the tables above contain a row with "no-" (negatives). They are used to negate rows "some-", "every-" and "any-". In English, one can negate a sentence by twisting such word:
"Ana has an apple." → "Ana has no apples."
"Ana has some money". → "Ana has no money." or "Ana doesn't have any money."
The 'bad thing' in English is when people make double negations: "Ana doesn't have no money."
But it's the must in Croatian. Every "some-" word must be negated! The words "somewhere", "someone", "somehow", etc. must be negated to "nowhere", "noone", "no way". It means that Croatian counter-parts of "anywhere" etc. are not used in negated sentences. Therefore:
Ana ima nešto novca "Ana has some money".
Ana nëma ništa novca." lit. "Ana doesn't have no money." — Yes. We talk like that all the time.
More examples, for adverbs:
Nigdjë ne mogu naći ključeve. lit. "Nowhere I cannot find keys." = "I can't find keys anywhere."
Nikako ne mogu naći ključeve. lit. "No way I cannot find keys." = "I can't find keys whatever I do."
Unfortunately, there's really no good English translation for nikako; it roughly means, "no way, in no circumstance, in no case".
There is however a non-standard English word "nohow" that has exactly such meaning (check dictionary.reference.com):
"I can't learn this nohow." = Ne mogu nikako ovo naučiti.
Note how this non-standard English sentence is both an exact and literal translation of the Croatian sentence, including a "double negation"!
More examples, for netko vs. nitko and nešto vs. ništa:
Netko je došao. "Somebody came."
Nitko nije došao. lit. "Nobody didn't came." = "Nobody came." Vidim nešto. lit. "I see something." = "I can see something."
Ne vidim ništa. lit. "I don't see nothing." = "I can see nothing."
Please observe that nešto and ništa when used on its own (and declined) mean "something" and "nothing", but when used as adverbs (and not declined) stand for indefinite quantities "some" and "no":
Ana ima nešto. "Ana has something."
Ana ima nešto čokolade. "Ana has some chocolate." (čokolade gen.)
Words nekakäv, nikakäv are adjectives that also have no good English counterparts, but sometimes they are used like English "some" and "no":
Imam nekakve probleme. "I have some problems."
Nëmam nikakve probleme. "I have no problems whatsoever."
The literal translations would be "I have problems of some kind" and "I don't have problems of no kind". Observe nekakäv in the first sentence, and nikakäv in the second one — they have completely opposite meanings!
"Any-" and "-ever"
In English, generic words starting with "any-" (e.g. "anyone") are mostly used in questions, basically emphasizing "at least (one)". However, in positive sentences, "any-" means "no matter which one", "any will do" (e.g. "Anyone can come").
In Croatian, there are no generic words with special meanings in questions: ne- words are normally used meaning "some/any". But there are still special "any" words, and not just one type but three types. They are listed in tables above, but they are not used very often.
Besides them, there are adverbs meaning "whenever", "whoever", etc. — emphasizing that you don't care exactly when, exactly who, etc. There are two kinds of them, one with bilo, one with god — there's really no difference in meaning:
time place destination path manner bilo kad(a) bilo gdjë bilo kamo bilo kud(a) bilo kako kad(a) god gdjë god kamo god kud(a) god kako god
Here are the adjectives:
selection quality posse-
noun person thing bilo koji bilo kakäv bilo čiji bilo tko bilo što koji god kakäv god čiji god tko god što god
Q: Koju košulju želiš? "Which shirt do you want?"
A: Bilo koju. or Koju god. "Whichever."
Beware, in adjectives the first part is a word that normally changes case, gender and number, and bilo or god never changes, e.g. gen. of što god is čega god, etc.
Adverbs and Adjectives of Low Frequency
This is again a name I invented: there are several adverbs and adjectives derived from ne- generic words, that mean "from place to place", "from time to time". While e.g. nekad means "sometime" — perhaps only once — the adverb ponekad means "sometimes" — more than once, but from time to time, with rather low frequency. English has only "sometimes", while Croatian has a fuller set:
adverbs adjectives ponekad "sometimes"
ponegdjë "here and there"
poneki "some, few"
ponetko "some people"
ponešto (similar to nešto)
There's also an adjective pokoji, with meaning similar to poneki. For instance:
Ponegdjë pada kiša. "Rain is falling here and there."
Such adverbs and adjectives are mostly found in literature, newspapers, and are less often used in colloquial speech.
Updated 2014-09-16 (v. 0.4)