• • • Review: Degrees of Adjectives and J-Softening
Read in Easy Croatian:
• Cake is Eaten: Passive Adjectives
Take a look at the following sentences:
John has eaten the cake.
The cake is eaten.
English uses word "eaten" in two contexts — to make a past tense ("present perfect"), but also as an adjective, in the second sentence. Such adjective can be used before the noun:
The eaten cake was delicious.
Such word is called a "passive participle". Croatian has it too, but Croatian makes its past tense with another word — the "past participle". I decided to call this one passive adjective (abbreviation: pass. adj.), since it's a true adjective, one can use it as any other adjective. It's not used to construct any tense in Croatian, it's a completely separate word I didn't explain yet. Some people call it "passive participle", but I opted for the "adjective", to remind you it behaves as any adjective!
Not all verbs have it. Only verbs that have an object in acc. or dat. can have it, and not even all of them do. Verbs that have an obligatory se, e.g. divim se "admire" cannot have a passive adjective, so there's no real counterpart of "admired" in Croatian:
John was admired by Jane. — Sorry! Cannot say it in Croatian, you must rephrase it.
Furthermore, majority of passive adjectives in actual use are from perf. verbs.
Even worse, ways to produce it are not really straightforward. One adds -(e)n or -(e)t the past (= infinitive) stem, but there are some twists...
class present past part. (m, f) pass. adj. a obeć-a-m obeć-a-o, obeć-a-la obeć-a-n i misl-i-m misl-i-o, misl-i-la mišlj-e-n (see below!) n zabri-n-em zabri-nu-o, zabri-nu-la zabri-nu-t (!) 0 tres--em tres--äo, tres--la tres--en jed--em je--o, je--la jed--en plet--em ple--o, ple--la plet--en zarast--em zarast-äo, zaras--la zarašt--en (see below!) peč-em pek--äo, pek--la peč--en (see below!) pi--jem pi--o, pi--la pi--jen zov--em zva--o, zva--la zva--n j/v kup-uj-em kup-ova-o, kup-ova-la kup-ova-n oček-uj-em oček-iva-o, oček-iva-la oček-iva-n d-aj-em d-ava-o, d-ava-la d-ava-n ’j/a grij--em grij-a-o, grij-a-la grij-a-n piš--em pis-a-o, pis-a-la pis-a-n vež--em vez-a-o, vez-a-la vez-a-n i/a drž-i-m drž-a-o, drž-a-la drž-a-n i/jë vid-i-m vid-i-o, vid-jë-la viđ-e-n (see below!)
I'm using here the verb obećam (perf.) "promise" as an example of a-verbs because both its derived forms I'll show are actually used (e.g. pass. adj. obećan "promised"). Forms of the adjective are same as of any other adjective, so it is the use:
Ivan je napisao pismo. "Ivan has written a letter."
Napisano pismo je poslao Ani. "He sent (the) written letter to Ana."
Pomoć je bila obećana. "Help was promised."
Bazen je grijan. "The pool is heated."
Kolač je pečen. "The cake is baked."
To form it, with most of verbs, you just discard -la of the past part. f, restore d or t from present if it was lost in the past, and for most verbs add a -n. However, in the past n-class you usually add a -t, and in past 0-class add -en (or -jen if the root ends on a vowel).
An awkward thing is making passive adj. from i-verbs, i/jë-verbs and some others, since the final consonant cluster undergoes "j-softening"; for example:
čist-jen → čišć-en "cleaned"
lup-jen → lup-ljen "smacked"
otvor-jen → otvor-en "opened"
prat-jen → prać-en "followed"
prim-jen → prim-ljen "accepted, fetched"
sol-jen → solj-en "salted"
spas-jen → spaš-en "saved"
uč-jen → uč-en "learned"
vid-jen → viđ-en "seen"
voz-jen → vož-en "driven"
Unfortunately, some passive adjectives depart from the j-softening rule, and don't change all sounds, but keep a t:
pustila → pušten
zarasla → zarašten
Therefore, I'll list commonly used passive adjectives together with verbs in the Basic Dictionary.
Verbal Nouns (Gerunds)
Gerunds are nouns derived from verbs that stand for action. In English, -ing forms are used as gerunds, as in a sentence "Swimming is healthy". However, English reuses -ing forms to make continuous tenses ("I was swimming") and participles. Croatian has a special word, and it's derived from the passive adjective, by adding -’je, implying yet another j-softening!
However, all passive adjectives end either in -n (most of them) or -t, and the result is, by the softening rules:
-n + ’je → -nje
-t + ’je → -će
A gerund is always a neuter noun. In some books you can read that they always end on -nje. This is really an over-simplification. Let's see how gerunds in various verb classes look:
class present pass. adj. gerund a obeć-a-m obeć-a-n obeć-a-nje i misl-i-m mišlj-e-n mišlj-e-nje n poto-n-em poto-nu-t* (!) poto-nu-će 0 tres--em tres--en tres--enje jed--em jed--en jed--enje plet--em plet--en plet--enje zarast--em zarašt--en zarašt--enje peč--em peč--en peč--enje pi--jem pi--jen pi--jenje zov-em zva--n zva--nje j/v kup-uj-em kup-ova-n kup-ova-nje oček-uj-em oček-iva-n oček-iva-nje d-aj-em d-ava-n d-ava-nje ’j/a grij--em grij-a-n grij-a-nje piš--em pis-a-n pis-a-nje vež--em vez-a-n vez-a-nje i/a drž-i-m drž-a-n drž-a-nje i/jë vid-i-m viđ-e-n viđ-e-nje
Since n-verbs are almost always perfective, it's hard to find examples having both passive adjective (which is used mostly with perf. verbs) and verbal nouns (used mostly with impf. verbs). The above example is purely formal: potonuće is a real word, but potonut is not really. It's just used as a formal step to make a verbal noun.
Unfortunately, for a word that's quite hard to derive (since passive adjectives are really complicated!), gerunds are quite often used words. Similar to participles, some gerunds acquired a special meaning and are used as general nouns, without reference to an action (but still can be used meaning an action, if one really wants). For instance:
imanje "estate, lands possessed"
pečenje "roast, baked meat"
zvanje "occupation, profession"
There is no other word for "question" in Croatian except the gerund-with-a-shifted-meaning pitanje.
Since gerunds indicate action, they are almost exclusively derived from impf. verbs. Words like piće "drink" were also once gerunds. One use of gerunds is in sentences like (remember: all gerunds are plain neuter nouns like more, since they end on -e):
Plivanje je zdravo. "Swimming is healthy."
Volim plivanje. "I like swimming."
Pušenje je zabranjeno. "Smoking is prohibited."
Phrase zabranjeno pušenje is very often seen everywhere. It's an interesting combination of a passive adjective (zabranjen from zabranim "ban") and a gerund (pušenje from pušim "smoke"). A famous Bosnian rock band is named after the phrase.
Another use of gerunds is to describe "purpose" of things, with preposition za "for":
Imam knjigu za čitanje lit. "I have a book for reading." = "I have a book to read."
Ovo je štap za pecanje. lit. "This is a rod for fishing." = "This is a fishing rod."
There's overlap with infinitives, and one can sometimes hear:
Imam knjigu za čitati.
Zabranjeno je pušiti.
We need to examine one more thing: since a gerund stands for action, one may attach other nouns or prepositional phrases to it as to a verb, but there is a fine point I'm going to illustrate by examples:
Pušim duhan. "I'm smoking tobacco" (duhan acc.)
→ Pušenje duhana je... "Smoking of tobacco is..." (duhana gen.)
Vozim se vlakom. "I'm traveling by train." (vlakom ins.)
→ Voženje vlakom je... "Traveling by train is..." (vlakom ins.)
Šećem šumom. "I'm walking through forest." (šumom ins.)
→ Šetanje šumom je... "Walking through forest is..." (šumom ins.)
Pomažem ocu. "I'm helping (my) father." (ocu dat.)
→ Pomaganje ocu je... "Helping (my) father is..." (ocu dat.)
Spavam u šatoru. "I'm sleeping in (a/the) tent." (šatoru dat.)
→ Spavanje u šatoru je... "Sleeping in (a/the) tent is..." (šatoru dat.)
I hope you get it. Direct objects (that is, nouns in acc.) are always put to gen. when appended to gerunds, and everything else stays the same! This is yet another use of the genitive case.
There are nouns similar to gerunds derived with -nja from some verbs:
šetnja "walk" vs. šetanje
vožnja "drive" vs. voženje
They are often preferred to gerunds, but exist only for a few verbs.
Updated 2014-05-15 (v. 0.4)