Ordering Food in Serbian: Practical Tips to Sound Like a Native

Ordering Food in Serbian: Practical Tips to Sound Like a Native 1

Photo: Restoran Srbija

Ordering Food in Serbian: Tips for Asking What You Want Like a Native

Dobar dan! Welcome to my blog with free Serbian Lessons for Serbian language learners. To read more about me, visit my presentation page. For frequent updates, follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

Magdalena Petrović Jelić

After you’ve learned how to greet people in Serbian and how to say goodbye, don’t go to another Serbian restaurant without reading these practical tips on asking what you want and ordering food in Serbian!

The summer is approaching, and I’m sure many of you have already planned your holidays in Serbia. For that reason, I believe this is the right moment to help you avoid “the textbook trap” and make sure you won’t sound weird in Serbian restaurants, cafes and shops.

[I recommend reading on a big screen for comparing the two languages in two columns. On mobile, scroll down for Serbian.]

(English)

Many web sites and text books advise you to use expressions “I would like…” and “May I have…” when ordering food in Serbian. If you use these expressions, you will definitely be understood in Serbian restaurants and cafes. You will sound polite, but quite weird.

Because many things that you’ll find in textbooks and tourist manuals, are actually never used in real life.

Reflecting our mentality, our language is straightforward and direct. We rarely use elaborate sentences that don’t actually mean exactly what they say (except if we’re politicians, of course). To be polite, we simply use the plural form of you (Vi) to speak formally and we say exactly what we want.

When the waiter says “May I help you”, we will simply shoot our order in accusative – given that we already know what we want. We don’t even say “Please” when ordering food in Serbian. That would be just too kind for a simple order.

– May I help you?
– A coffee.
or: I will [have] a homemade coffee.
or: To me a homemade coffee, and for my wife a cappuccino.

If we go to a place regularly and we know the waiter well, we might be very informal and say:
– Give me one beer.
(Or anything we want, in the accusative case.)

Saying this, we’re not being impolite, only friendly. The polite variant requires us only to speak in plural to the waiter:
– Give [you plural] me one coffee.

This is also how we ask for our bread and burek at a bakery:
– Give me one bread and two bureks with cheese.

Or as we typically say:
– Do you have burek with cheese? Give me two.

At the farmers’ market, you can ask:
– How much is your tomato? Give me a kilo.

If you’re at a luxury restaurant and want to be nice, you might say:
– Please, a short espresso and a “squeezed orange” [meaning: freshly squeezed orange juice].

The logic behind this is that you don’t have to be too polite if you’re asking for something simple or something you’re paying for.

So, the super-polite “May I have…” is used for additional requests. Like when you need something after the waiter had already served you:
– Excuse me, can I have another glass of water?

We also need to be extra nice when we have an “out-of menu” request, like for example:
– Can I ask you one teaspoon for my son?

(Serbian)

Mnogi sajtovi i knjige vas savetuju da koristite izraze „Voleo bih…“ i „Mogu li dobiti…“ kada naručujete hranu na srpskom. Ako koristite te izrazre, sigurno će vas razumeti u restoranima i kafićima u Srbiji. Zvučaćete ljubazno, ali prilično čudno.

Zato što se mnoge stvari koje ćete naći u udžbenicima i priručnicima za turiste zapravo nikada ne koriste u stvarnom životu.

Naš jezik je prilično otvoren i direktan, što odražava naš mentalitet. Retko koristimo razvijene rečenice koje zapravo ne znače tačno ono što kažu (osim ako smo političari, naravno). Da bismo bili ljubazni, jednostavno koristimo drugo lice množine (Vi) i kažemo tačno ono što hoćemo.

Kada konobar kaže „Izvolite“, jednostavno ćemo ispaliti porudžbinu u akuzativu – pod uslovom da već znamo šta hoćemo. Ne kažemo čak ni „Molim“ kada naručujemo na Srpskom. To bi bilo previše ljubazno ja jednu običnu porudžbinu.

– Izvolite?
– Jednu kafu.
ili: Ja ću domaću kafu.
ili: Meni jednu domaću kafu, a za moju ženu kapućino.

Ako redovno odlazimo na neko mesto i dobro poznajemo konobara, možemo biti vrlo neformalni i reći:
– Daj mi jedno pivo.
(Ili šta god da želimo, u akuzativu.)

Kada tako kažemo, nismo neljubazni, samo se ophodimo prijateljski. Ljubazna varijanta zahteva samo da konobaru govorimo u množini:
– Dajte mi jednu kafu.

Na isti način tražimo hleb i burek u pekari:
– Dajte mi jedan hleb i dva bureka sa sirom

Ili kako tipično kažemo:
– Je l’ imate burek sa sirom? Dajte mi dva.

Na pijaci ovako možete tražiti:
– Pošto vam je paradajz? Dajte mi kilogram.

Ako ste u luksuznom restoranu i želite da budete fini, možete reći:
– Molim vas, jedan kratki espreso i ceđenu narandžu.

Logika koja stoji iza ovoga je da ne morate biti previše ljubazni ako tražite nešto jednostavno ili nešto za šta plaćate.

Tako se superljubazno „Mogu li dobiti…“ koristi za neke dodatne zahteve. Kao kada vam treba nešto nakon što vas je konobar već poslužio:
– Izvinite, mogu li dobiti još jednu čašu vode?

Takođe treba da budemo posebno fini kada imamo neki zahtev „van menija“, kao na primer:
– Mogu li da vas zamolim za jednu kašičicu za mog sina?

9 Practical Tips for Ordering Food in Serbian

Ordering Food in Serbian: Practical Tips to Sound Like a Native 2
  1.  Say “dobar dan” or “zdravo”, or repeat whatever the waiter has said to you.
  2. Get the waiter’s attention with “Izvinite” (Excuse me). When he/she answers, just ask what you want.
  3. Start a request with “Mogu li dobiti” (May I get). That sounds very polite: “Mogu li dobiti jelovnik?” (Can I get a menu?)
  4. Avoid adding “Molim vas” (please). It sounds fake in the same sentence with “mogu li”.
  5. “Šta biste preporučili?” (What would you recommend?) – a useful question if you want to avoid staring at a menu.
  6. Tell your order in the accusative case, adding -u for feminine gender (jednu kafu i koka-kolu), and changing nothing for masculine (jedan vinjak) or neuter gender (jedno pivo).
  7. Ask for your bill: “Možemo li da platimo?” (Can we pay?)
  8. The waiter will probably hesitate when giving you your change. He’s actually asking you for a tip. You can then approve him not give you your change by saying: “U redu je.” (It’s ok).
  9. Say thank you and goodbye when leaving: Hvala, prijatno

Ordering Food in Serbian:  a Typical Dialogue

Here I’ll share with you a helpful tool for ordering food in Serbian: below you can read a typical dialogue my husband and I have with a waiter. Usually, at our favorite restaurant on the Sava river in Mačvanska Mitrovica: Splav Krug.

(English)

Waiter: Hello! May I help you?

My husband: Just a second, to see what we’ll [have]

Waiter: (Gives us menu) Of course. Something to drink, while you’re waiting?

Me: (To my husband) What will you [have]?

My husband: I’ll [have] a drought beer.

Waiter: Big one (a pint)?

My husband: Yes.

Ja: (To the waiter) Do you have dark beer?

Waiter: We do, Nikšićko and Guinness.

Ja: To me one dark Nikšićko, small.

After 10 minutes…

Waiter: Have you decided?

My husband: Yes: one gourmand hamburger, one regular hamburger and a tomato-cucumber-cheese salad. 

Waiter: (Checking his order) One gourmand hamburger, one regular, one tomato-cucumber-cheese salad.

My husband: (Nods) Yes.

Me: Also, a small plate and a small fork for him (showing my little son), if it’s not a problem.

Waiter: Of course.

Me: Thank you.

(Serbian)

Konobar: Dobar dan! Izvolite?

Moj muž: Samo malo da vidimo šta ćemo!

Konobar: (Daje nam jelovnik) Naravno. Nešto za piće, dok čekate?

Ja: (mužu) Šta ćeš ti?

Moj muž: Ja ću točeno pivo.

Konobar: Veliko?

Muž: Da.

Ja: (Konobaru) Imate crno pivo?

Konobar: Imamo, Nikšičko i Ginis.

Ja: Meni jedno crno Nikšićko, malo.

Nakon 10 minuta…

Konobar: Jeste odlučili?

Moj muž: Jesmo: jednu gurmansku pljeskavicu, jednu običnu pljeskavicu i šopsku salatu.

Konobar: (Proverava porudžbinu) Jedna gurmanska, jedna obična, jedna šopska.

Moj muž: (Klima glavom) Da.

Ja: I jedan tanjirić i malu viljušku za njega (pokazujem na mog malog sina), ako nije problem.

Konobar: Naravno.

Ja: Hvala.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed these tips and that this article will help you ask what you want with confidence and feel comfortable when ordering food in Serbian.

Remember: if you’re unsure how to ask, just say what you need in the accusative case. But you can always add a “molim vas” (please), just in case. It will probably make you feel better, even if it won’t make you sound naturally Serbian.

In this way, you will enjoy your food completely, knowing that you’ve ordered it the Serbian way, and politely.

Introductions in Serbian: NOT what your book taught you!

Introductions in Serbian: NOT what your book taught you! 3

Introductions in Serbian: NOT what your book taught you!

Dobar dan! Welcome to my blog with free Serbian Lessons for Serbian language learners. To read more about me, visit my presentation page. For frequent updates, follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

Magdalena Petrović Jelić

Learn all about the real-life introductions in Serbian: how to say what’s your name, how to introduce yourself and meet others in Serbia. How to say “nice to meet you” or “pleased to meet you”, and how to respond in Serbian language.

 

If you’re talking like this: Kako se zoveš? Ja se zovem … Moje ime je … – Please stop!

This is NOT a natural way of introducing yourself in Serbian! Please, do not ask others “Kako se zoveš”!

We don’t really ask “Kako se zoveš?” when we’re talking to adults!

 

Watch this video to learn how to say what’s your name in Serbian and how to ask others about their names. Also, how to start a conversation with a new girl or guy you’ve just met in Serbia.

/Transcript of the video/

 

Zdravo! Ja sam Magdalena. A ti?

This video is about introductions: how to introduce yourself and how to ask someone else about their name – how to say what’s your name in Serbian.

 

 

What your book taught you about introductions in Serbian

First, let’s see what your book taught you. „Kako se zoveš?“ is a question to ask about someone’s name, „What’s your name?“ or literally „How are you named?“

The verb zvati se means ‘to be named’. It’s the same like in Italian (mi chiamo) or in Spanish (me llamo), in French (je m’appelle), and so on.

„Kako se zoveš?“ is a question about someone’s name.

 

 

Possible answers to the question “what’s your name” your Serbian book gave you are these:

„Zovem se Magdalena.“ „Ja se zovem Magdalena“

„Moje ime je Magdalena“

„Ja sam Magdalena“

 

So, your book taught you three options to say your name in Serbian language: „Zovem se …“, „Moje ime je…“ and „Ja sam…“.

 

Well, first of all, this question „Kako se zoveš?“ or „A kako se ti zoveš?“ is a question we ask children. It’s a kid’s question. We don’t ask adults, grownups, or even teenagers „Kako se zoveš?“ – only little children.

 

The second option to answer, “Moje ime je…”„Moje ime je Bond, Džejms Bond.“

That structure is imported from the English language, I believe, and it’s not natural. We don’t ever use it. We never say „Moje ime je…“

 

It is possible that someone asks: „Kako je vaše ime?“ (How’s your name?) or „Vaše ime?“ But that is in formal situations, like in a hospital, a nurse could ask a patient „Kako je vaše ime?“, or in court. We don’t actually say „Moje ime je…“.

 

Another possible question: „A vi ste…?“ (And you are…?) or „A ko ste vi?“ (And who are you?) that would be sort of rude. In this way you’re saying „Who the hell are you?“ Even though it’s formal, it shows despise towards the other person.

 

 

How we actually ask what’s your name in Serbian language

 

So how do we actually meet other people? How do we ask what’s your name in Serbian? There are few possibilities when we are in the situation to ask someone about their name.

 

The 1st situation to use introductions

The first situation how we meet other people is that we normally meet others through someone else. You know, there’s someone you know and someone you don’t know, and that’s how you meet a new person. And what happens is that we just shake hands and say only our names. Only names!

  • Magdalena
  • and the other person says their name, and we shake hands
  • we can end with: Drago mi je.”

 

The 2nd situation to meet someone in Serbia

The second possibility, the second option is meeting someone in a train, which is a bit old-fashioned, like let’s say on a plane, or in a situation where you’re waiting with another person for something to end, and you just start a small talk with them. Or if you’re hitting on a girl!

How this happens? We never approach a person asking about their name. That’s rude, don’t do that!

What we do is that we actually start a small talk. For example, if you’re in a waiting room with someone, first you start a small talk with them, you comment on the weather, on waiting, or anything that’s irrelevant, anything that’s not personal. And then if the person is interested, they will answer, and you will start talking to each other, and then if it gets serious and you see that the other person is really interested in talking to you, you will stop and say: „O, nismo se ni upoznali!“ (Oh, we haven’t even introduced) and then a handshake, „Ja sam Magdalena“, and the other person says their name.

 

The 3rd situation to ask what’s your name in Serbian

The third situation where you can ask someone about their name is when you meet someone that you’ve already met before but you forgot what their name was. Then you will say: „Izvini, kako se beše zoveš?“ (I’m sorry, what was your name again?) In this sentence the word „beše“ shows that we know we’ve heard it before, but we forgot. That’s what the word „beše“ stands for.

And I’m not going to… all right, maybe I could explain a little bit of grammar. That’s one of the very rare situations when we use „imperfekat“ – that’s verb to be in imperfect past tense.

 

All right guys, so please do not ask other people „Kako se zoveš?“, it’s  kind of rude.

Instead, you should offer your name and a handshake. And the other person will accept your handshake and tell their name in return.

After that you can follow with „Drago mi je“. But if the other person first says „Drago mi je“, do not repeat that! Instead, you shouold say „Takođe“ (likewise) or „I meni“ (to me too).

 

Ending a conversation in the Serbian language

There are three other options I want to tell you about today:

„Drago mi je što smo se upoznali“, and you can add some words to that to emphasize and say:

„Baš mi je drago što smo se upoznali“

„Mnogo mi je drago što smo se upoznali“

 

These three variants of one phrase are used at the very end of our conversation, so when we’re leaving. We’ve met someone new, we’ve talked to them, we’ve spent some time together, and then we’re shaking hands and we’re leaving, and we say „Drago mi je što smo se upoznali, ćao, vidimo se, čujemo se“ and other things that you’ve learned in the previous video about saying goodbye.

So that’s how you actually introduce yourself and ask what’s your name in Serbian – or when you don’t ask others about their names.

Thank you for watching the Natural Serbian videos, if you find them useful, if you find this video useful, please share it with your friends on the social networks that you use.

Recent Posts

Greeks and Serbs: What We Have in Common

Greeks and Serbs: What We Have in Common 4

What Greeks and Serbs have in common

Dobar dan! Welcome to my blog with free Serbian Lessons for Serbian language learners. To read more about me, visit my presentation page. For frequent updates, follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

Magdalena Petrović Jelić

As many people from Serbia, I love Greece and I’ve visited this beautiful country many times. That’s why I decided to learn Greek  in the first place – I wanted to talk to the people when I go there.

It is often said that Greeks and Serbs are brothers and friendly nations. Our ties are probably older than the Byzantine period, when we were strongly connected from the top. Greek rulers married Serbian princesses and vice versa.

But I’m not here to talk about history or politics.

Greeks and Serbs also have a similar sense of hospitality and love for good company, food and drink. Our cuisines are similar: they share habits from the Middle East and Mediterranean influences. But they are also quite different: the Greek being more flavored and seasoned, Serbian being more restrictive with the spices.

For example, the famous horiatiki (country salad, as the Greeks call it, or the Greek salad, as we call it) has its counterpart in Serbia: the so-called “šopska salata” (also “srpska salata” in some restaurants). Basic ingredients are the same: tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and cheese. In Serbia we traditionally add sunflower seed oil. In Greece they add olive oil, of course, olives and basil.

But I’m not here to talk about food, either.

What Greeks and Serbs have in common in language

There are many things, but here I’ll focus on three lovely expressions. In the video below I reveal traditional figures of speech, or magic formulas, that will make you sound like a native, and that are used by Greeks and Serbs alike.

If you use these formulaic expressions, that will definitely make you sound naturally Serbian, and you will make the Serbs smile and like you even more.

Also, I’m talking Greek to give you the atmosphere (with subtitles in English). 

Watch the video in Greek or scroll down to read the English translation and explanations.

 

Translation:

Hello and welcome to the Natural Serbian Channel!

Ja sam Magdalena and today I want to talk to you in Greek because I want to tell you about several things that people in Greece and Serbia have in common.

We’re talking about vocabulary, tradition and things like that.

 

If you’ve seen my previous video, you’ve learned that we in Serbia also use the „βρε“, we say bre,

and we believe that it is very much Serbian.

 

We also use the more and mori and correctly, we use it very correctly.

/Mori (μορή) only for women, in complience with the Greek grammar./

 

Also, the ajde or hajde like in Greece, it’s the same.

It’s only that we in Serbia we use hajde like Greek άντε and έλα, both are hajde

 

The other things, what are they? Do you know? Or you don’t? Write me about that.

I will tell you what I’ve noticed.

 

I won’t tell you about many terms in the medicine that we use, like:

pedijatar, psihijatar, ginekolog, stomatolog and so on.

(pediatrician, psychiatrist, gynecologist, dentist)

There are plenty of them and all the world uses them, not only in Serbia.

 

Neither will I talk about many Turkish words that we have in common, for example:

το δέρτι dert

το μεράκι merak.

(These are words for special feelings only the Balkans and Middle East will understand completely, try and google them 🙂 )

 

What I find interesting is something from the tradition.

It’s what I told you in the beginning, I told you:

«Καλώς ορίσατε» (Welcome)

 

And what will you answer to that? You will say:

«Καλώς σε βρίκαμε» (May we find you well)

 

The same formula exists in Serbia as well.

And from all the languages that I’ve learned, I haven’t seen that anywhere,

only in the Greek and the Serbian language.

 

In Serbian we say: „Dobro došao“ – „Βolje vas našao“, for masculine.

/Welcome! – May I find you even better, in even better situation than I’m in. Basically, you wish me well, and I wish you even better./

For the femenine gender, it’s different: „Dobro došla“ – „Bolje vas našla“.

All right? That’s in the singular. And in the plural, we have:

„Dobro došli“ – „Bolje vas našli“.

(Welcome! May we find you even better.)

 

It’s very nice, very traditional to say this.

Dobro došao – Bolje vas našao (masculine gender)

Dobro došli – Bolje vas našli (plural) 

Dobro došla – Bolje vas našla (femenine gender)

 

And today I’ll tell you about one more formula.

It’s the… what do we say for Easter in Greece?

We say:

«Χριστός ανέστη!» (Christ resurrected)

And what do we answer?

«Αληθώς ανέστη.» (He truly did resurrected)

Isn’t it so?

What do we say in Serbia? We say: „Hristos voskrese“ and we answer „Vaistinu voskrese“.

In the Greek language we use katharevousa (καθαρεύουσα)

to say this, and in the Serbian language we use something

that is like katharevousa in the Serbian language.

And these are the words that we don’t use generally, only in this formula do we use them:

Hristos voskrese! – Vaistinu voskrese!

 

We go even further, and for Christmas we say something  similar:

Hristos se rodi! – Vaistinu se rodi! (Chirst is born – He truly is born)

 

All right? These are the things that I wanted to tell you today and I hope that you liked it.

Maybe you knew it, did you know that? Or didn’t you? I’m interested to learn that.

Leave comments so that we see how many of you are watching us from Greece.

OK? Share as well, it goes without saying, and help me spread the word about the Natural Serbian.

How could we put it? Fisika? Servikos? Serviki? Natural Serbian language. Isn’t it so? Naturally Serbian!

Recent Posts

Speak Serbian like a real Serb! 12 ultimate Serbian phrases no textbook will teach you

Speak Serbian like a real Serb! 12 ultimate Serbian phrases no textbook will teach you 5

Speak Serbian like a real Serb! 12 ultimate Serbian phrases no textbook will teach you

 

Dobar dan! Welcome to my blog with free Serbian Lessons for Serbian language learners. To read more about me, visit my presentation page. For frequent updates, follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

Magdalena Petrović Jelić

If you want to speak Serbian like a real Serb, you must know that you can’t rely on textbooks. Why? Because they often teach you phrases that are never used in real life. And they don’t teach you what is actually used everyday. Read on to learn useful phrases and words that will make you sound like a real Serb.

 

Among the first phrases that you’ve learned when you started learning Serbian were:

 

– Kako se zoveš?

– Ja se zovem Magdalena.

– Drago mi je.

– I meni.

 

As I explained in this post about introductions, that’s not what we do in real life. Once you start hanging out with the Serbs, you’ll probably notice that we actually don’t use these phrases, almost at all!

A Serb will just stick out a hand saying his name.

The other Serb will than shake his hand and simply say his name in return.

They might just smile.

If they continue to say „Drago mi je. – I meni“, they’re being extra polite or very happy for meeting each other.

 

Read on to learn a few expressions that we use daily in Serbia and yet that I’ve never seen in a textbook for foreigners.

 

„De si!“

We do say „Zdravo“ and „Ćao“ informally speaking, but we will regularly say just „De si“, especially to a dear friend whom we haven’t seen for a while.

„De si“ or „Di si ti“ or „Ej, de si“ are all variations of „Gde si (ti)“ meaning „Where are you“.

Saying this, we are not actually asking the person where have they been, we’re just saying: „Hi, it’s good to see you again.“

 

 

 

„Bre!“

Bre is an ultimate word you must know and learn how to use. It can’t be translated to many other languages, and yet we use it daily. What is it, then? It’s an emphatic word, an intensifier. We can add it to virtually any phrase thus adding an emotional component to it, like: „De si bre ti?“ „Kako si, bre?“

We said that bre doesn’t translate to many other languages, but the Greeks can understand this little word perfectly because they also use a variant of it (βρε or ρε). The Modern Greek Dictionary correlates it to the Turkish word bre or bire. However, etymologysts say that „bre“ has its origin in ancient Greek adjective μωρός (moros, meaning: foolish, stupid). We’re talking about the same word from which the term moron originated. It lost this negative meaning long time ago, though.

 

„More bre!“

When we want to jokingly show anger or express a mocked threat, we will combine these two words, even though they’re basically the same: as previously explained, „bre“ originated from „more“ (vocative of moros). In the Serbian villages you can also hear the feminine form of this Greek word: mori – used only when addressing to a female.

 

„Hajde!“

This is an imperative, inviting form meaning „Come on“, „Let’s go“ or „Let’s do something“. Hajde for you singular, hajdemo for the first person plural and hajdete for the second person plural. That’s the „official“ form, but you will frequently hear it without the inicial h (ajde, ajdemo, ajdete), or (h)ajmo, (h)ajte, or simply aj. You might hear older population saying even hajdemote or ajdemote.

This word appears in a similar form in the Greek language as well (άντε). We got it from the Turkish word haydi or hadi. Obviously, it is widespread on the Balkans and you should definitely start using it.

 

„Marš!“

This little word, obviously borrowed from French „marche“ (march, walk away, in imperative mood) is used as a non-vulgar curseword. You can use it to say „Go away“, „leave me alone“, or „stop kidding me“ in a pretty harsh and rough way. It is often combined with other cute little words like „Marš bre“ or „More marš“ or even „More marš bre“, or with some serious cursewords. We often even make it even shorter, depriving it of vowels: mrš! Bear in mind that it is never polite but it is used jokingly among close friends.

 

„E znaš?“

Your textbook probably taught you how to use „da li“ or only the particle „li“ to form a question. In the first case, you will just put the interrogative words „da li“ in front of the sentence, and you will get a yes-or-no answer: „Da li voliš da čitaš?“ – „Da“ or „Ne.“ In the second case you will start with the verb and add the interrogative particle „li“ to it: „Voliš li da čitaš?“ – „Da“ or „Ne“. These are the most formal ways of asking questions. When talking informally however, we will frequently say just jel (je l’) or el or even e instead of „da li“, and that’s how we ask a question: „El ideš?“ One more word correlates to this: many less educated people will frequently use jer (which actually means ’because of’) instead of jel to form a question. Beware, this is not correct, but don’t be confused when you hear it around!

 

„Si dobro? Ćeš vode?“

My dear students, I know that the clitics and the word order have been a pest, but that’s how our language works. Now, the information you’re about to read can be considered as an upgrade of your jump-around-with-the-clitics skills. Yes, the rule says that the little words such as short forms of the auxiliary verb biti (to be) are dependent and always tend to stick to the second position in a clause. However, if you consider the way we actually speak, you will notice that we frequently start our colloquial questions with the clitics themselves: „Si dobro?“ (formally: „Jesi li dobro / Da li si dobro?“, Are you all right?), „Si učila?“ (formally: „Jesi li učila? / Da li si učila?“, Did you study?). With the verb biti, it happens only in the questions, though. But this applies to another auxiliary verb, hteti (to will)and you will hear: „Ćeš vode?“ (formally: „Hoćeš li vode?“, Do you want some water). In the Central and Southern Serbia, even the future tense will start the sentence with the clitic: „Ću da dođem“ (formally: „Doći ću“, I will come), „Će idemo“ (formally: „Ići ćemo“, We will go).

 

„Si mi dobar?“

I’m sure you’ve learned the difference between adverbs and adjectives. You know that adverbs describe verbs, and that „Moj brat je dobro“ means „My brother is fine“, while adjectives describe nouns and „Moj brat je dobar“ means „My brother is (a) good (man)“. Therefore, the simple question „Kako si?“ (How are you?) should be answered with „Dobro sam“ (I’m fine). If you say „Dobar sam“ (m) or „Dobra sam“ (f), it means „I’m (a) good (person)“ or „well-behaved“. However, once you start hanging out with the Serbs, you will hear them using exactly the adjectives here! „Jesi dobar?“ or „Jesi dobra?“ meaning „How are you, are you fine?“ It’s probably a bit confusing, but that just the way some people like to say it!

 

„Izvol’te“

You’ve probably learned the imperative forms izvoli for second person singular or izvolite for you plural or you formal. These words are used for offering something (food or drinks, for example), or for inviting someone politely to enter into your home. However, we will frequently use the shortened plural form izvol’te even when addressing to a close friend.

 

„Šetaj!“

Remember the verbs „šetati se“ (to go for a walk) and „odmarati se“ (to have a rest) and their reflexive pronoun „se“ that compulsively jumps around the sentences, obsessed with the second position? These are reflexive verbs, and our grammar insists on that; yet it seams that the native speakers don’t feel them to be reflexive at all! You’re not doing anything to yourself, nor is something hapening to you, so they are frequently used actively, without the reflexive pronoun. You will often hear your Serbian friends saying šetam or odmaram, without „se“. If you happen to hear „Šetaj“, be sure that you’ve done something wrong, as it is a bit less agressive expression than „marš“, but with the same meaning: „Go away!“

 

 

Have you noticed other discrepancies between your textbook and the way we actually speak? I’ve listed only a few, and I dare you to find more! Make your own list of the phrases that will help you speak Serbian like a Serb.

 

5 Non-Serbian words that will help you speak Serbian like a real Serb

I know, it sounds CRAZY, right? How can you possibly use NON-Serbian words to sound more SERBIAN?

Well, some words have SUPERPOWERS. 🙂

In this video I talk about 5 special words. We use them every single day. And they are so deeply rooted in the Serbian language that most Serbs consider them Serbian. 

Scroll down to read the transcript.

Transcript:

 

Hello and welcome to the Natural Serbian Course.

Ja sam Magdalena, and today I want to teach you very important and widespread interesting little words. Now, why are they important and widespread, and why are they interesting?

Because, first, they are emotional words, and second, they are NOT Serbian even though I bet 80 or 90 percent of the Serbs would swear that these words are Serbian. But they’re not!

I’m going to teach you how to use these words the Serbian way, and I’ll explain where they came form.

 

 

BRE!

 

Bre is really an important word you must know and probably you should even learn how to use it.

We can’t translate it to many other languages, probably only in Greek. So, what is it? It’s an emphatic word, an intensifier. It’s used also for to addressing to people in an intense way, like we’re calling for attention.

We can add it to virtually any word or phrase and in that way we’re adding an emotional component to any statement, like:

 

„De si bre ti?“ „Slušaj bre!“ „Čekaj bre!“ „Šta to bre radiš?“

(Where are you?)  (Listen!) (Wait!) (What are you doing?)

 

So you can add it anywhere, to any statement or word.

The thing with this little word is that many Serbs identify their national feelings with it. And that’s why you’ll see different Serbian brands containing this word, like the website “Srpski bre” with useful information on Serbian language and grammar.

Well, guess what, the word “bre” is not even Serbian. The Greeks can understand it perfectly because they also use it (they say βρε or ρε). Etymologysts say that „bre“ originates from the ancient Greek adjective μωρός (moros, meaning: foolish, stupid). We’re talking about the same word from which the term moron originated.

Nowadays, it doesn’t have such a negative meaning. In modern Greek it simply means “a baby”.

So, it’s not a bad word, it’s just a way of saying, to express yourself.

 

 

MORE!

 

Here we come to the next word, more, which is actually the same. You know, more is the vocative form of this same adjective moros and that vocative form “more” gave us “bre”.

What’s interesting is that in Serbia we combine these two words, even though they’re the same. We don’t feel tha they’re the same, so we can say: More bre!

And these words are very emotional. We can use them to jokingly show anger or express a threat, or a mocked threat. We can use it with irony or seriously.

And I must say that bre is really widespread in Serbia, while more is felt I think nowadays even a little bit obsolate, a bit old. You would associate it more to an older person from a village using it.

And villages (in central and south Serbia) are also the place where you can hear the Greek femenine form of this word: mori (used only when addressing to a female). Yes, you can also use this word in Serbia. But it’s not very widespread nowadays, it’s somewhat old, as I said.

 

 

HAJDE!

 

The next word is also something that we have in common with the Greeks, but both nations got it from the Turks. It’s a Turkish loan word. And we use this word in Serbia as a verb. In Serbian it’s a defective verb that only has the imperative forms.

As with all other verbs, we have three imperative forms: for you singular, for we, and for you plural. So, that’s why we have these three forms:

 

Hajde (ti), for you singular,

hajdemo (mi), for the first person plural (we) and

hajdete (vi), for you plural or you formal.

 

These are, let’s say, the formal forms of this word. We use it to say „Come on“, „Let’s go“ or „Let’s do something“, let’s do anything that the verb that follows proposes. Usually it’s combined with the conjunction “da” and another verb in the present tense, like:

“Hajde da gledamo film” (Let’s watch a movie)

“Hajde da se šetamo” (Let’s go for a walk)

 

We also have colloquial forms, without the inicial h sound, and we say

ajde, ajdemo, ajdete.

Or we can shorten them even further, and get ajmo, ajte, or hajmo, hajte, or simply ajd or aj.

So, when you hear “aj” or “ajd”, it comes form “hajde”.

And in this short form this word is combined with many other words, like:

 

“aj zdravo”, “aj dođi”, “aj daj mi to”.

(bye) (come here) (give me that)

 

It’s an inviting word. And obviously, it is widespread here on the Balkans and you should definitely start using it, if you’re not already.

 

 

ALO!

 

And here we will jump to the English language. We also have a word that originates from the English language that we use like this: Alo! Halo!  Obviously, it comes from the English Hallo and Hello.  We do use it to answer the phone, but we also use for calling someone to their senses

Alo, čoveče, šta to radiš?

(Hey, man, what are you doing?)

 

Usually without the h sound, only „alo“.

 

 

MARŠ!

 

And the final word that I’m going to teach you today is obviously borrowed from French: Marš!

It comes from „marcher“, French word for “to march, to walk”, in imperative mood.

How it came to us? Well, it came through the army. First it was used in the Youslavian army as a command: napred marš! (march forward)

Nowasays it’s used as a non-vulgar curseword. It’s a bad word. And we use it to say „go away“, „leave me alone“, or „stop kidding me“. It can be pretty harsh and rough, but we also can use it jokingly and not offensively. Even though it’s never polite, it can be used among friends as a joke.

However, it can also be combined with some serious cursewords, that I’m not going to mention here today, but also with other cute little words on our today’s list, like:

„Marš bre“ or „More marš“ or even „More marš bre“.

And what’s very, very interesting with this word is that we often make it even shorter, depriving it of vowels, and we say: mrš!

 

 

Combining the words to speak Serbian like a real Serb

 

Now, as I said, many of these little words can be combined together, and especially bre, which is a joker word: you can put it enywhere. So we can have:

 

More bre! Alo bre! Marš bre!

 

* * *

Good, you’re all set now. You know all the really, really important little emotional words that actually don’t have a specific meaning, but are very very effective in conveying how we feel. And will help you to speak Serbian authentically.

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10 Ways to Say Goodbye in Serbia

10 Ways to Say Goodbye in Serbia 6

How to Say Goodbye in Serbian

Dobar dan! Welcome to my blog with free Serbian Lessons for Serbian language learners. To read more about me, visit my presentation page. For frequent updates, follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

Magdalena Petrović Jelić

If you check how to say goodbye in Serbian in a phrase book or a dictionary, you’ll easily find the translation: “doviđenja”. But that’s hardly the only word we use when saying goodbye. There are actually more expressions that we can say when parting with different people and in different situations, formal or informal. Just like we use many different expressions to say hello.

In this video I will teach you how to say goodbye in Serbian, in more than 10 ways.

You’ll learn what to say to your Serbian friends when leaving, and if you can say “Zdravo” both to greet them and to say goodbye.  You’ll learn both formal and informal expressions we commonly use to say goodbye in Serbian.

Transcript:

 

What do you say to your Serbian friends when leaving?

Šta kažeš svojim prijateljima kada odlaziš?

Do you say zdravo both to greet them and as a goodbye?

 You

Welcome to the Natural Serbian Course, the best place to learn real Serbian.

Zdravo svima! Ja sam Magdalena i danas ću vas naučiti 10 načina da se oprostite na srpskom.

I’m Magdalena and today I’ll teach you how to say goodbye in Serbian in 10 different ways

 

Let’s start from the most formal way of saying goodbye:

 

1)            Doviđenja.

It actually means “until seeing (you next time)”. Sometimes another word is put in the middle of it, and we get do skorog viđenja, and it means “until I see you soon again”, but that’s mostly written in letters or emails, and it’s kind of obsolete, so we don’t really use it that much, but you can write it.

 

2)           Prijatno

Doviđenja is usually combined with another word, with another formal farewell: prijatno, which means “pleasantly”. So, you can use it to say that something is pleasant: “Ovde je prijatno”, (it’s pleasant here). And we also use it to say “have a nice meal, bon appetit”: Prijatno!

It’s also used to say have a pleasant day/evening/whatever.

A tip is to combine these two words: Doviđenja, prijatno! When someone says “Doviđenja”, you can answer with “Doviđenja” or “Prijatno”, or you can combine them to “Doviđenja, prijatno” and be double-polite.

 

3)          Zbogom

You might have seen zbogom in a book, but it’s old-fashioned and it’s not used nowadays. It means “may god be with you” or “travel with god”. If you use it, people will think that you’re leaving for good and never want to see them again, or that you’re extra religious. So, only if you want to sound like that, you can use “zbogom”.

 

4)           Uzdravlje

If you have a chance to talk to old people, you can hear them use uzdravlje, or aj uzdravlje („to health, go to health, to our health“) as another old way of saying goodbye in Serbian. It is also another possible toast, in addition to živeli, which is in some regions also used as a farewell interjection. So, you can hear „uzdravlje“, „živeli“, „živeo“, „živio“ as a farewell as well.

 

Informal ways to say goodbye 

 

5)           Zdravo, ćao

In the previous video, you’ve learned zdravo and ćao. These are used informally both as hi and bye. However, when leaving, we tend to combine them with „aj“ (which is a word I will explain in one of my next videos). So, when leaving, we will say: Aj zdravo. Aj ćao.

 

6)            Vidimo se

To finish an informal conversation with a friend or family, we can and often do say Vidimo se (see you, literally: we see each other), since we know that we’ll meet soon again.

 

7)           Čujemo se

However, if we intend to talk to them on the phone first, we will say Čujemo se. It means: “we hear each other” or “I’ll talk to you on the phone”.

 

And these two are usually combined with any word telling time, such as večeras, sutra, prekosutra, kasnije, za vikend, u petak, i tako dalje (tonight, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, later, on the weekend, on Friday, etc). There are plenty of combinations, whenever you plan to see or call someone, you can just say that day or date.

Čujemo se večeras! (talk to you tonight)

Vidimo se prekosutra! (see you the day after tomorrow)

Čujemo se večeras, pa se vidimo sutra. (talk to you on the phone tonight, and then see you tomorrow)

 

Both of these goodbye phrases are used also in the future tense, so you can say: čućemo se, videćemo se (we will hear each other, we will see each other).

 

8)            Uživaj!

We also have an informal variant of „prijatno“, and that is: Uživaj! (for you singular) and Uživajte! (for you plural) It literally means „enjoy yourself“ or „enjoy yourselves“

 

Many times you will hear a combination of these phrases, so for example you will hear:

„Hej, aj ćao, čujemo se, uživaj!“

 

9)            Laku noć

When we’re leaving late at night, we will always say Laku noć, formally and informally. In any kind of situation, „laku noć“ is safe to use. It follows shaking hands as well as a good-night kiss with your partner, so just use „laku noć“ whenever it’s late at night and you’re leaving to go to sleep.

Now, if you want to be nice and answer nicely to this phrase, you will say: Laku noć i lepo spavaj (good night and sleep tight/nicely).

 

10)          And lastly, if you want to be mischievous a little bit and to make a joke, you can answer Jele te bube celu noć! (let the bugs bite you all night).

 

***

 

To summarize, we’ve learned 10 phrases you can say when leaving or parting with your friends in Serbia:

  1. Doviđenja
  2. Prijatno
  3. Zbogom
  4. Uzdravlje! Živeli!
  5. Aj zdravo! Aj ćao!
  6. Vidimo se, videćemo se
  7. Čujemo se, čućemo se
  8. Uživaj! Uživajte!
  9. Laku noć i lepo spavaj
  10. Jele te bube celu noć!

 

***

 

A ti? Kako se ti opraštaš od svojih prijatelja? How do you part from your friends?

And do you know how to greet your friends in different occasions? Learn 10 ways to say hello in this page.

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More than ”10 Ways to Say Hello in Serbia”

More than ”10 Ways to Say Hello in Serbia” 7

More than “10 Ways to Say Hello in Serbian”

Dobar dan! Welcome to my blog with free Serbian Lessons for Serbian language learners. To read more about me, visit my presentation page. For frequent updates, follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

Magdalena Petrović Jelić

As I’m writing this, it’s been more than a year since we made and published this video about different ways to say “hello” in Serbian language. And it still brings many people to this website.

„Natural Serbian“ was such a great idea. It was fun to make, and…

Surprisingly exhausting!

Because I’m a teacher, not a YouTuber!

But I think the concept was good, and I’ll get back to it once I get tired of making these serious learning materials.

 

Publishing this video has brought me valuable insights:

  1. There are lots of idle kids on YouTube, and
  2. I’m getting old!

 

Seriously, some comments people left made me realize new things about how we say hello in Serbian:

1.Shortened greetings that I mentioned in the video (‘bro jutro, ‘bar dan and ‘bro veče) are something my grandmother, and sometimes my father used to say. It’s almost vanished!

2. „Pozdrav“ actually became much more common in the last 10 years. It sneaked into our spoken language from the written form, and now it is actually quite common – especially among the young.

3. Some kids mentioned „eee!“ – but it’s not a greeting, I don’t give them that. It’s only an interjection, like “hej”.

4. If you have very patriotic friends, they will want you to know one more greeting: „Pomoz’ bog“ or „Pomaže bog“ (meaning “May God help you”). But it’s very, very old and its usage nowadays can only be intentional and not spontaneous.

 

Saying hello – basics first!

If you’ve just started learning Serbian, you should first take a look at this newer video to learn basic Serbian greetings and expressions, and then continue with the old video for more advanced and fun greetings.

(The transcript is still under the second video.)

Now you’re ready to go beyond the common “Dobar dan”, “Zdravo” and other basic Serbian greetings.

 

 

In this video I give you 10 different greetings we use in Serbia and explain when to use which.

Transcript:

 

How do you greet people in Serbia? How should you answer to their greetings? What should you say if you meet someone twice in one day?

Welcome to the Natural Serbian Course, the best place to learn real Serbian.

 

Ja sam Magdalena i danas ću vas naučiti 10 načina da kažete „zdravo“ na srpskom.

I’m Magdalena and today I’ll teach you 10 ways to say hello in Serbian.

 

The most common ways to say hi in Serbian 

Let’s start with the greetings I’m sure you already know. Dobro jutro, dobar dan, dobro veče.

You know what they mean: dobro jutro (good morning), dobar dan (good day or good afternoon), dobro veče (good evening). But do you know exactly when to say which?

  • Dobro jutro – is a greeting we say when we wake up and until about 10 or 11 AM. Do not say „Dobro jutro“ late, because if you say it late, we’ll know that you woke up late.
  • Dobar dan – After about 10 or 11 o’clock, you can start saying „dobar dan“, in formal situations and use this greeting throughout the day, until:
  • Dobro veče – When do we start using „Dobro veče“? Well, it depends on the season, because once when it starts getting dark, you can safely start saying „Dobro veče“. So, in winter it will be about 5 or 6 pm, and in summer it will be after 7 or 8 pm.

These three greetings are sometimes shortened, so you can also hear:

bro jutro, ‘bar dan, ‘bar veče or ‘bro veče.

The three greetings are formal, and „Dobro jutro“ is both formal and informal, so we use it every day in our family: „Dobro jutro!“ after waking up.

 

Informal Serbian greetings

Serbian informal greeting is Zdravo! It actually means „healthy“, so you’re wishing someone good health when you say it.

We also use Ćao! which borrowed from italian (ciao), like in many languages.

You can even double those: „Zdravo zdravo!“ „Ćao ćao!“, and we usually do that with acquaintances. We just acknowledge them in the street, to whom we do not intend to say anything more than a simple greeting.

 

Pozdrav! This is a greeting that actually means ‘a greeting’, „Pozdrav“. It’s usually used by men, mostly in writing, in emails, chats or messages. Often written as „poz“ or „pozzzz“ for an extra emphasis. However, some people also say it, especially to a group: Pozdrav svima! (hello everybody) Pozdrav, ljudi! (hello people). And, again, it’s mostly men who use it.

 

And here comes my favorite:

It’s just one simple question used as a greeting among friends and family: „De si!“ If we translate it literally, it means „where are you”. However, if we want to ask someone where they are, we will use the full form: „Gde si?“, the full word „gde“. And, on the other hand, if we want to say a greeting (like: where are you, I’m so happy to see you, where have you been for so long), then we will say „de si“, without the initial sound „g“: „de si“ or „di si ti“.

We can say „de“ or „di“.

In some regions, like Montenegro and Bosnia, you will also hear „đe si!“, „đe“.

This greeting is often combined with „ti“, or „de ste vi“, or with „bre“, or with personal names or nicknames.

So, we’ll get: „De si ti!“ „De si bre!“ „De si bre ti!“ „De si bre ti, Marija!“

This simple question-greeting implies that you haven’t seen someone for a while, that you’ve missed them and that you’re happy to see them again. I will say it to a friend I haven’t seen for a few days or weeks, but I will also say it to my son after his nap. It is very used and very widespread.

 

Advanced Serbian greetings

Now, I’m gonna give you an extra insider tip: If you meet someone again the same day, do not repeat the same greeting! If you say „dobar dan“ and after a few hours „dobar dan“ again to me, I would think „Wow, this person doesn’t even remember that we’ve already met today.“ You can say something like „O, opet ti!“ (oh, it’s you again) which is quite informal. Obviously, you will say „o, opet vi“ if you’re addressing to more than one person, or even if you’re addressing formally to someone.

If you’re entering a store or a post office again, you can say „izvinite, opet ja“ (excuse me, it’s me again). You can also be formal with „Dobar dan / Dobro veče još jednom“ (Good day/evening once again).

And the last greeting, and my personal favorite, is „Treći put častiš“. This means: „if we meet for the third time, you’re buying me a drink“. That’s something we’ll always say if we accidentally meet a friend for the second time in the street, and there’s almost a small competition who will say this first: „Ha, treći put častiš“ (Ha, you’re buying me a drink next time that we meet).

However, it doesn’t actually happen that we really do meet for the third time and that we actually have that drink, but it’s a really common thing to say.

 

And to summarize, let’s list all the greetings we use in Serbian:

  1. Dobro jutro – ‘bro jutro
  2. Dobar dan – ‘bar dan
  3. Dobro veče – ‘bar veče, ‘bro veče
  4. Zdravo – zdravo svima – zdravo zdravo
  5. Ćao – ćao ćao
  6. Pozdrav! Pozdrav svima! Pozdrav, ljudi!
  7. De si! De ste vi! Di si ti! Di ste!
  8. Opet ti! Opet vi! Opet ja! Izvinite, opet ja.
  9. Dobar dan još jednom! Dobro veče još jednom!
  10. Treći put častiš

***

A ti? Kako ti pozdravljaš svoje prijatelje? How do you greet your friends?

Now that you know many options for saying hello in Serbian, you’re ready to continue to this page and learn 10 different expressions for saying goodbye.

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