33 Ordinals, Other Numbers and Dates

• • • Review: Numbers and Time

I will show you more kinds of numbers in Croatian.


Now let's focus our attention to so-called ordinal numbers, called so because they are used to order things. In English, they are "first", "second"... All ordinal numbers in Croatian are normal adjectives, except there is no gradation — no "the firstest". For numbers 1-20, the ordinals are:

1 prvi
2 drugi
3 treći
4 četvrti
5 peti
6 šesti
7 sedmi
    8 osmi
9 deveti
10 deseti
11 jedanaesti
12 dvanaesti
20 dvadeseti

For bigger numbers, the pattern is:

21 dvadeset i prvi or dvadesetprvi
22 dvadeset i drugi or dvadesetdrugi
23 dvadeset i treći or dvadesettreći
30 trideseti
40 četrdeseti
100 stoti

The ordinal drugi also means "other". Don't forget it's an adjective, and it changes as one. If it's used standalone (as many adjectives can be), it means "others":

Drugi su otišli prijë mene. "Others left before me."
Drugi auto je brži. "The other car is faster."


One thing the ordinal numbers are used for in Croatian is for dates. In Croatian, number of a year is an ordinal.

Bilo je to trideset i druge. lit. "It was in the thirty-second (year)." = "It was in thirty-two."

Croatian uses ordinal numbers for days, but also for the months. Normally people would say:

Rođen säm petog osmog. lit. "I am born on the fifth of the eigth." = "I am born on the fifth of August." (August = the eigth month)

Both petog and osmog are genitives of adjectives peti and osmi.

In the Croatian practice, ordinal numbers are abbreviated to just number + a period, so it's usually written:

Rođen säm 5. 8.

There are also Croatian names of months, used chiefly in the more "elevated" style:

Rođen säm 5. kolovoza.

As with ordinal dates, the name of the month must be in genitive.

The names are (those ending on an -a are a-nouns, others mi, plain vanilla):


The third column are colloquial names that sometimes heard but are not Standard (they are common in Bosnia and Serbia). The whole phrase with a date is always in gen.sg.:

Otišao säm u mirovinu prvog trećeg tisućudevetstoosamdesetdruge godine. "I went into retirement on the 1st of March, 1982."

Check also the above examples. All words after mirovinu are in genitive.

When talking about things that happen sometimes in a month, u + dat. is used, as for places:

U osmom (mjësecu) idemo na odmor. "We go to vacation in August."

Other Cardinal Numbers

Cardinal number nula "zero" behaves as every a-noun does and it has, as expected, f gender. Counted nouns come after it in gen.pl.

The suitable ordinal is nulti.

There are big numbers as well. Sometimes groups of thousands are divided by space, and sometimes with a period (.), decimal parts by a comma (,):

1000 tisuća f
1 000 000 milijun mi (1.000.000)
1 000 000 000 milijarda f
1 000 000 000 000 bilijun mi
1018 trilijun mi

All these numbers are declined as any other noun. However, all them are sometimes used "frozen" in the accusative case:

Imam tisuću dolara. "I have (a) thousand dollars."
Tisuća dolara je mnogo. "(A) thousand dollars is a lot." (tisuća = nom.)
Tisuću dolara je mnogo. (tisuću = acc.)
Imam milijun dolara. (milijun = acc. & nom.)
Milijardu dolara je mnogo.

The acc. is always used in ordinals of type 1690th or 65845538th.

All these numbers demand counted nouns in gen.pl.

Imam milijun dolara.

Croatians count always in thousands, never in hundreds, therefore 1700 is always:

Tisuća i sedamsto (cardinal)
Tisuću i sedamstoti (ordinal)

Never "17 hundreds".

Fractions and Multiples

The next groups of numbers are fractions. They are all a-nouns, and demand a counted noun in the gen.sg., the same as čaša vina "a glass of vine."

1/2 polovica
1/3 trećina
1/4 četvrtina

All fractions except 1/2 are formed as an ordinal + na.

For 1/2, there are often used words pola and pol, that don't change in case but behave really strange:

Pola zemlje je moje. (moje = nom.sg.n)
Mojih pola zemlje je mnogo. (mojih = gen.pl.)

There are multiples: there are adverbs and adjectives for multiplicity:

1 jedanput "once"; jednostruk "single"
2 dvaput "twice"; dvostruk "double"
3 triput "thrice"; trostruk "triple"
4 četiriput; četverostruk
5 petput; peterostruk

Word put can correspond to English "time": drugi put "another time", "second time".

Numbers make more composite words, cardinals use them same scheme as in četvero-struk: e.g. četveroslojan adj. "four layered".

Ordinals make composites as well, quite simply from their nom.sg.n forms: prvoklasan adj. "first-class"; trećerođen "third-born", etc.

There's an adverb jednom "once".

People often use adjectives dupli "double" and trodupli "triple" instead of dvostruk and trostruk, and their nom.sg.n forms meaning "twice" and "thrice", but it's not preferred in the standard.

Case Forms for Numbers 2-4

As I stated before, there are forms for different cases for numbers 2-4. They not really frequent in everyday use:

case2 1+1 34
m, nfm, nf m, n, fm, n, f
nom. dvadvijë obaobjë tričetiri
dat./ins. dvamadvjëma objëmaobjëma trima(četirima)
gen. dvajudvïju obajuobïju triju(četiriju)

Some forms are quite archaic nowadays, I have put them into parentheses. With declined words you should use nouns in the corresponding plural case:

Razgovarala säm s dvijë prijateljice. (not declined, dual)
Razgovarala säm s dvjëma prijateljicama. (declined, ins. pl.)

Both sentences have the same meaning: "I was talking with two girlfriends", but the second sentence is seldom found in everyday conversation or occasional writing.


Francesco said...

odlično, hvala ti od strane jednog Njemca koji uči taj jezik.

pixy said...

So how would you write the date using the full name of the month? What case is it in?

Daniel N. said...

In genitive. I thought it was obvious, but I will state it explicitly above.

Therefore, today is 7. listopada 2012.

lp daniel

pixy said...

Cool, it's clear now, thanks for your patience.

Daniel N. said...

Nema na čemu.

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