Za četiri dana na dva dana? or Na četiri dana za dva dana?
Last year I went to Zastražišće on the island Hvar, where my father was born.
I knew that I would see my cousin Ante (who lives in Zastražišće), so before I left home, I bought a present for him.
Kupio sam poklon za njega. I bought a present for him.
So za means “for”. Right?
Well I did indeed meet Ante. As I was leaving, he suggested that I might like to meet him and some friends a few days later in the lovely coastal town of Zavala.
Of course I accepted the invitation, so he gave me the name of the place where they had rooms booked (Pension Šimić), and said …
Idemo za četiri dana na dva dana.
I am top of this language. Got it! They will be going for four days, in two days from now.” [Uh, uh ...]
That was on Tuesday, so on Thursday I drove down to Zavala and checked in to Pension Šimić.
But Ante and his friends did not arrive that night. Strange!
Nor the next night. Even more strange!
So I asked the owner, Mate Šimić, if he knew what was happening. He told me that they were booked to arrive on Saturday. Što se dogodilo?
And indeed, they came on Saturday.
I asked Ante in frustration “Di si bi?”
[I was doing my best to speak the local island dialect, although those of you learning Croatian would know that the official wording is “Gdje si bio?”]
Ante: Ma što je? Rekao sam ti da ću ići za četiri dana na dva dana.
Me: Točno! Onda zašto niste došli u četvrtak? Why didn’t you come on Thursday?
Ante: Kao što sam ti rekao, …………..
Me: Onda zašto niste došli u četvrtak?
After a few cycles of obvious miscommunication, we decided to forget about it, and go and enjoy ourselves fishing and eating and talking and laughing ....
Not until I arrived back in Zagreb a week later did my teacher Mateja (SpeakCro) point out to me that:
za četiri dana means “in four days” (from now) – and not “for four days”!
na dva dana means “for (the duration of ) two days.
It’s somewhat curious and counter-intuitive for the English speaker, isn’t it? Again!
Never mind, there is always an upside …. Because I was there on my own for a couple of days, I went for a walk along the coast in the evenings, and saw the most gorgeous sunset.
This is apparently a very common sight from this part of the island.
Za dvije godine vratit ću se na četiri tjedna.
No, I will not be staying for two years, four weeks from now!
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