87 Common Noun Suffixes

• • • Review: Penultimate Stress

There's a number of common suffixes to create nouns; I will introduce some of them here. Adding them is not a regular process and meanings can be sometimes unexpected.


Croatian sometimes expresses "ground", "area" (as in "playground") with the suffix -līšte (the ī is always long), attached to the infinitive verb base; for instance:

verb-lište noun
čìstim "clean"čistilīšte "purgatory"
grādim, grádio "build"gràdilīšte "building site"
igram "play"igralīšte "playground"
klīžem, klízao "ice-skate"klìzalīšte "ice-skating rink"
pàrkīram, parkírao "park (a car)"parkìralīšte "parking lot"
šēćem, šétao "walk"šétalīšte "promenade, esplanade"

Unfortunately, this is not regular, you cannot just attach -lište to any verb, a limited number of verbs use this suffix to make "places" noun! Certain derived nouns have specific meanings:

kazalište "theater"
sveučilište "university"

Nouns on -ište are similar but derived a bit differently:

dvorište "(court) yard"
skladište "warehouse"

Of course, all of them are n-nouns!

Specific buildings or rooms are expressed often with the suffix -onica (sometimes shortened to -ona), and -na:

čekaonica "waiting room" (čekam "wait")
čitaonica "reading room" (čitam "read")
fotokopiraonica "photocopy shop" (fotokopiram "photocopy")
igraonica "playroom" (igram "play")
ljëkarna "pharmacy" (lijëk "medicine"), also apoteka
slastičarnica "ice cream, cake shop"
učionica "classroom" (učim "learn")
voćarna "fruit and vegetables shop" (voće "fruit")

Forms with just -ona are more common in Bosnia and Serbia (čekaona, učiona, etc.).


The suffix -āč is frequently, but not always, used (notice that -a in the suffix does not disappear) to derive "actors" from verbs:

kujem, kovao "forge" → kovāč "blacksmith"
plivam "swim" → plivāč "swimmer"
pjëvam "sing" → pjëvāč "singer"
vozim "drive" → vozāč "driver"

Regardless of the stress of base verb, all such derived forms always have the penultimate stress and a long last syllable (e.g. vòzāč).

The suffix -āš is similar to the previous one, however it's used to derive players of sports and traditional instruments (from nouns and sometimes verbs):

"to ski"skijam (verb)skijaš

For certain traditional instruments, -āš is also used:

"mandolin"tambura, tamburicatamburaš

Again, regardless of the stress of the base word, they have the penultimate stress (e.g. košàrkāš) – therefore I haven't marked stress in the examples above since it's the same in all words.

The word sportaš is a generic "sportman", "athlete". Words kartaš "card player" and more specific pokeraš "poker player" are also used.

For most modern instruments, the suffix -ist is used:


Again, regardless of the stress of the base word, the stress is always penultimate but the last syllable is short (e.g. gitàrist) – therefore I again haven't marked stress in the examples.

All words like plivač, nogometaš are masculine, to make feminine forms, append -ica to them (plivačica, nogometašica). The stress moves on the syllable before the suffix -ica in the Standard system and it shortens if it was long: košarkàšica.

A very similar suffix is -ār, used by many nouns to produce "workers", "makers" from other nouns:

bràva "lock" → bravār "locksmith; precision metal worker"
kīp "statue" → kipār "sculptor"
kòrmilo "rudder" → kormilār "helmsman"
meso "meat" → mesār "butcher"
postòla "shoe" (Čakavian) → postòlār "shoemaker"
pošta "post" → poštār "postman, mailman"
riba "fish" → ribār "fisherman"
slika "picture, painting" → slikār "painter"
stōl "desk, table" → stolār "carpenter" (lit. "table-maker")
ura "clock; hour" (Čakavian, Kajkavian) → ùrār "watchmaker"
zīd "wall" → zìdār "mason, bricklayer"
zūb "tooth" → zùbār "dentist"

Note that although postola is used only in Čakavian, the derived postolar is a perfectly Standard noun; a similar case is ura.

This suffix is attached to some verbs as well:

čūvām "guard, keep" → čùvār "warden, guardian"
kuhām "cook" → kuhār "cook, chef"
vlādām "rule, reign" → vlàdār "ruler"

Todo: explain stress of such nouns.


The suffixes -ina is used to derive name of "meat" from an "animal" name. Before it's added, nominative endings are discarded, but neuter nouns that add -t in cases other than nom. and acc. add it here as well:

pile (gen. pileta) "chick" → piletina "chicken"
tele (gen. teleta) "young calf" → teletina "baby beef"
june (gen. juneta) "calf" → junetina "veal"
govedo "cow, bull and similar animals, disregarding gender" → govedina "beef"
janje (gen. janjeta) "lamb" → janjetina "mutton", "lamb meat"

For some animals (not in neuter gender), -etina is used to make nouns sounding like piletina:

svinja "pig" → svinjetina "pork"
pura "turkey" → puretina "turkey meat"
konj "horse" → konjetina "horse-meat"
srna "roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)" → srnetina "venison"

Updated 2013-05-10


gregniedt said...

Just discovered this blog today... hope you will update it again soon, it's a great resource. Hvala! :)

sarochka said...

Thanks! Great blog. In my university course, I was taught (by a non-native speaker) that there are four different terms for "aunt" and four different terms for "uncle" depending on whether it's on the maternal side or the paternal side, and whether it's by blood or by marriage.

In practice, do Croats use just one term to refer to uncle in all four cases (my dad's brother, my dad's sister's husband, my mom's brother, my mom's sister's husband)? It seems like my Croatian friends would just use one term to describe all four types of uncle.

Daniel N. said...

I discussed all such names here: http://basic-croatian.blogspot.com/2009/08/54.html

In practice, it depends on the region. As you probably know, Croats use in real life, esp. in their families, a mixture of dialect (their local speech/language), and what they hear on TV and in school (the Standard Croatian).

I know about these terms:

* stric = Dad's brother = his wife is strina
* ujak = Mom's brother = his wife is ujna

* tetka = Dad's or Mom's sister = her husband is tetak

tetka is informally just teta, as otac "father" is informally tata "Dad"

the informal word for stric vary by region as shown above :)

In coastal regions, stric and ujak are replaced by barba or dundo (in Dubrovnik) and those words are used as colloquial variants as well.

The colloquial variants of tetka (always teta) and stric (vary by region) are used instead of gospodin and gospođa by children and when talking to children.

I actually should include this in the text above, as this clarifies the situation.

br Daniel

Anonymous said...

My husband is Croatian and I wanted to learn croatian some free phrases and I read something.
Learning the Croatian language will connect your with the Croatia culture. This blog post is very helpful too.

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