Nazvati + accusative case, telefonirati + dative case
What is the case of nouns following particular verbs?
Mary is Australian. Suppose that Mary wants to call her brother Ivan (by telephone) ….
She says “I will call my brother”.
In this English sentence, in what case is “my brother”? It looks like the direct object of the verb “to call”, so we might conclude that “my brother” is in accusative case.
So (correspondingly) in Croatian, Marija would say “Nazvat ću mog brata Ivana”.
Or perhaps, after she had called her sister Ivanka on another day, “Nazvala sam moju sestru Ivanku”.
Yes, accusative case again.
But suppose that Marija decided to use the verb telefonirati, instead of nazvati …….
Then she would say: “Telefonirat ću mom bratu Ivanu”.
and “Telefonirala sam mojoj sestri Ivanki.”
!!!!!!!!!! As you can recognise, she now puts her brother and sister in dative case!
So what’s going on? Well, nothing odd through Croatian eyes – it just seems odd through English-speaking eyes (or ears).
It just happens that in Croatian, nouns and pronouns following the verb nazvati (to call) go in the accusative case. For example:
Koga zoveš? Who are you calling?
Nazvat ću nekoga. I will call somebody.
Ivan je nazvao Mariju. Ivan called Marija.
Zovem ga. I am calling him.
But nouns and pronouns following the verb telefonirati go in the dative case. For example:
Komu telefoniraš? Who are you calling?
Telefonirat ću nekomu. I will call somebody.
Ivan je telefonirao Mariji. Ivan called Marija.
Telefoniram mu. I am calling him.
When I declare frustration (again) to my teacher Mateja (SpeakCro Language Center) she tells me “Oh, it’s simple …….. You just translate telefonirati as “to make a call to ….” Then the word “to” tells us that the following noun goes in the dative case. Like …
I will give the apple to somebody. Dat ću jabuku nekomu.
She gave the cheese to Marija: Dala je sir Mariji.
OK, so the examples above I could re-translate as follows:
Komu telefoniraš? To whom are you making a call?
Telefonirat ću nekomu. I will make a call to somebody.
Ivan je telefonirao Mariji. Ivan made a call to Marija.
Telefoniram mu. I am making a call to him.
Ona zove sestru. Ona telefonira sestri.
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay.
I have one more question for Mateja, similar to many others that I have asked her: “How can I know that I should translate nazvati as “to call ….”, but telefonirati as “to make a call to ….. .”
You would surely be surprised (sarcasm is thick here) at her two-part answer: “Firstly, you need to stop trying to translate everything back into English. Secondly, that is just the way it is, and you need to familiarize yourself with the way things are in the Croatian language.”
Where have I heard that before!?
And yes, of course I now realise that I simply must familiarize myself with which case nouns follow each transitive verb. More examples …..
Koga si pitala? Pitala sam učitelja. I asked my (male) teacher.
Koga oni čekaju? Čekaju sestru Nevenku. They are waiting for their sister Nevenka.
or, …….. They are awaiting their sister Nevenka.
Komu si pomagao? Pomagao sam Ivanu. I gave help to Ivan. (or, I helped Ivan).
Komu ste pokazali sobu? Pokazali smo sobu sestrama. We showed the room to (our) sisters.
How long will it take me to familiarize myself with the cases of nouns that follow each verb? I am not sure, but I think that there are more verbs in the Croatian language than there are people in Croatia!
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