I have previously posted about the importance of listening for the ending of nouns to indicate case (Padeži and the endings of nouns). It is equally important to "tune in" to the endings of pronouns and adjectives which refer to the nouns ...
I was talking with my friend Joyce, who is also learning Croatian (online with Mateja at SpeakCro).
I said in frustration "So many endings to learn! There are nouns, pronouns, adjectives, ..."
Well, replied Joyce, "Every grammar book says that the declension of adjectives and pronouns is the same."
"Well that makes things easy, doesn’t it? If we have an adjective (or two) in a sentence as well as a pronoun, if we get the ending of the adjective correct, we just have to put the same ending on any pronoun in that sentence?"
"That sounds right, said Joyce. "Let’s try it ….. perhaps with a possessive pronoun ...."
I formed a few sentences in my head ... checking. "I see! I've got it! 'I have a handbag' is 'Imam torbu' so ‘I have my handbag' is 'Imam svoju torbu'. The ending is -u in both the adjective and the pronoun. Accusative, feminine, singular, of course. Nije teško!"
Joyce: "Give me a try. Er, instrumental, masculine plural… 'I am going for a walk with the black dogs' becomes 'Idem u šetnju sa crnim psima'. So, 'I am going for a walk with their black dogs' is 'Idem na šetnju sa njihovim crnim psima'.
"Lako je! This is easy peasy! I suppose it works for demonstrative pronouns like ovaj, taj, onaj. Well if the book says it does, it must. But just for the exercise ...."
Joyce was excited and butted in: "I’m on a roll, so ….. genitive, masculine, singular …. “She is a friend of the old man” is 'Ona je prijateljica staroga čovjeka'. You might ask 'Which old man?' and I might reply, 'She is a friend of that old man'. Question and answer are 'Kojega staroga čovjeka?', and 'Ona je prijateljica onoga staroga čovjeka.' So, allowing for the change of –oga to –ega in kojega, it works!"
There was no stopping me: "Well let me try with genitiv, ženski rod, množina ....... 'She is the mother of the beautiful girls' is 'Ona je majka lijepih djevojaka'. So 'She is the mother of these beautiful girls' is 'Ona je majka ovih lijepih djevojaka'.
"Wow!" said Joyce. "And no exceptions? That is unusual. I suppose that firstly we should have done the most obvious – nominative, muški, jednina."
Me (unaware of the trap I was falling into): "Too easy! 'The green table is in the kitchen' is 'Zeleni stol je u kuhinji'. So (ho hum ..) 'My green table is in the kitchen' is 'Moji zeleni stol je u kuhinji'".
Mateja had been quiet, watching our progress, until now: "No, that is not correct. It should be 'Moj (not moji) zeleni stol je u kuhinji'".
"Ha, ha!" says Bob. And, with pride because he thinks that he has found a mistake with Mateja’s Croatian: "Mateja, you are forgetting something. Suppose that we know which particular table we are talking about. Then, instead of using the adjective 'zelen', we uses 'zeleni'. And so, instead of saying 'moj', we surely say 'moji'."
"Well, I’m sorry", said Mateja, "but with nominative, muški rod, jednina, you just don't put the “i” on personal pronouns. In this case, we use moj (not moji), or naš (not naši), ovakav (and not ovakvi) and so on".
Joyce: "Do you mean that, despite what the grammar books say, the endings on pronouns and adjectives do not always correspond!?"
"Well, they do in all cases except nominative, muški rod, jednina", said Mateja.
"Joj! Why didn’t someone tell me that before?" I exclaimed. I was almost angry. "I’ve made this mistake – and been corrected - so often, but was always confused about why I was wrong.
Why don’t the books point out this exception? Once you learn something, right or wrong, it is so difficult to un-learn it."
"Well" said Mateja, "My new book will do just that. Thanks."
Bob: "Hvala. Usput ..... moj veliki brod je tu, vaša lijepa kuća je tamo, i naše zeleno polje je onama".
So, testing testing ....
Her new car is black. .........
Their green table has six legs. ..........
This is our big brother. ........
Click here to go to Aha! Croatian: A ROAD MAP