How do the endings of regular nouns change, depending on case, in sentences?
The endings of regular masculine nouns are different from those of regular feminine nouns and regular neuter nouns.
Wow! When I decided to summarise the declension of regular nouns, little did I realise how complex things are!
In a word, the declension of regular masculine nouns is un-summarizable. There are so many variations on the “regular” that I don’t even know any longer whether the declensions of some nouns are variations of the regular, or irregular!
But’s let’s kick on, and explore some of the jungle ……..
The declension of nouns refers to how we change them (usually by changing their endings) to indicate their role in sentences – that is, the case.
In the post Nouns: Declension categories, all the nouns in any one category have similar endings when declined – and these are different from the endings of the nouns in any other category.
In that post, the so-called “regular nouns” are listed as category 1. These include: (1(a)) muški rod; (1(b)) ženski rod; and (1(c)) srednji rod.
Even the regular nouns have some irregularities of declension.
Here is my modification of the universal table of regular noun endings usually presented in textbooks. I hope my version is more clear than others?
The endings of regular nouns from case to case, singular and plural, for muški rod, ženski rod, and srednji rod nouns.
Footnote (1): Some neuter nouns (nominative singular) end with –o (selo, vino), and some with –e (more, sunce).
Footnote (2): The ending for animate nouns is different from that for inanimate nouns.
Footnote (3): In the masculine singular vocative case, the suffix is –e if the end of the noun (singular, nominative) is a “hard” consonant, but –em is used if the noun ending is one of the “soft” consonants c, ć, č, š, đ, dž, lj, nj, j.
Footnote (4): In the instrumental case, singular, of masculine and neuter nouns, the ending –om is used if the end of the noun (singular, nominative) is a “hard” consonant, but –em if the noun ending is one of the “soft” consonants c, ć, č, š, đ, dž, lj, nj, j.
Surprise, surprise, there are a few little variations from noun to noun - especially masculine nouns – as indicated in footnotes (3) and (4). Surprise, surprise, there are other types of variations not indicated in this table, but which I will talk about below.
I suspect that this table with noun endings for all genders, singular and plural, in all cases, has been designed to save space and cost in textbooks. It is the universal table – everything in one place.
I find it useful to visualise the endings by considering separate tables for each of the genders. So, below are separate tables for Category 1a (muški rod), 1b (ženski rod) and 1c (srednji rod). In each sub-category, I give examples of the declination of various nouns to illustrate variations.
1a. Regular masculine nouns: the nominative singular form of the noun ends in a consonant.
This table, particular to standard masculine nouns, shows, for each case, in both singular and plural, the standard endings .....
The standard endings for declination of regular masculine nouns.
And following are the declensions of a few regular masculine nouns - specifically chosen to illustrate variations from noun to noun.
The differences depend upon whether (i) the noun refers to an animate or inanimate object, (ii) the end is a “hard” or “soft” consonant, (ii) whether the noun is monosyllabic or polysyllabic, and (iv) if the ending is –ac.
Zid (wall) and kraj (end, region) are monosyllabic inanimate masculine nouns. Because they are monosyllabic, in all cases in the plural there is an infix. Zid has a “hard” consonant end, and the infix is –ov. Kraj, with its “soft” consonant end, takes the infix –ev. And compare the vocative singular declension of the two nouns. And the instrumental singular.
Djed (grandfather) and muž (husband) are monosyllabic animate masculine nouns. In all cases in the plural, djed (“hard” consonant) has infix –ov, while muž (“soft” consonant) has infix –ev. Compare also the endings in vocative and instrumental singular. And compare the accusative singular endings for djed and muž (both animate) with those for zid and kraj (inanimate).
Some (some, only some) polysyllabic masculine nouns with a as the second-last letter, such as muškarac (man), lanac (chain), starac (old man), nokat (fingernail or toenail), pas (dog) have a so-called “fleeting a” when declined: in all cases, singular and plural, except genitive plural, the a is omitted.
The noun pas is monosyllabic, but declines as a polysyllabic noun: it does not take the –ov infix. If you ask me why that is, you will be wasting your breath!
The “fleeting a” is also lost in declension of the singular cases of some monosyllabic nouns (that have infix –ov or –ev in the plural), and by some polysyllabic nouns that decline as though monsyllabic:
(*) “Fleeting a” does not flee in accusative singular for inanimate noun.
But there is even more complexity! (Of course, as there is in all languages).
Some words decline as per the standard table, but if that results in a particular combination of letters, we change the letters!
I will never come to grips with all of these variations. My only hope is that some of them “stick” through experience and familiarity.
For now, here are the basic reasons behind a few of the variations from the endings in the basic table for regular masculine nouns (at top). Perhaps I will add to this list when I graduate from Basic Croatian level 1.
1. Sibilarizacija (Sibilarization)
When you decline a noun using the standard endings (table at top), watch out if you get k, g, or h in front of an i in a word. In front of i, k changes to c, g changes to z, and h changes to s.
[I prefer to think of these changes as -ki → -ci, -gi → -zi, -hi → -si]
For example, in declination of a few masculine nouns:
junak (hero): Plural nominative (junaki) becomes junaci.
bog (god): Plural dative (bogima) becomes bozima.
duh (ghost, spirit): Plural nominative (duhi) becomes dusi.
2. Palatalizacija (Palatalization)
In situations where k, g, or h would appear in front of an e in a word. Then sometimes….
-ke → -če, -ge → -že, -he → -še
For example: junak: Singular vocative (junake) becomes junače.
But, plural accusative junake remains junake. [Don’t ask me!]
bog: Singular vocative (boge) becomes bože.
duh: Singular vocative (duhe) becomes duše.
And sometimes, -ce → -če, -ze → -že
For example: zec (hare): Plural nominative (zecevi) becomes zečevi.
knez (prince) Singular vocative (kneze) become kneže.
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