A few weeks ago we discussed some of the reasons why you should consider learning Croatian here in Zagreb. Getting started is often the hardest part when learning a new language. Luckily, whether you’re on holiday in Croatia, and just need a few useful expressions to find your way around, or you’re about to take the plunge into learning Croatian for the first time, there are lots of simple phrases you can learn to get started. With these useful Croatian phrases under your belt, you can charm your hosts, impress your family, and wow your Croatian teacher!
1. Hello / Hi = Dobar dan / Bok
First impressions make a huge difference, so it’s always worth learning how to greet your teacher, friend, or host in their native language. In Croatian, the more formal way to greet people is to say dobar dan (doh-bahr dahn), but you can also use the more informal bok with friends and family.
2. Yes / no = da / ne
Like the Russians, Croatians use the word da for ‘yes’. ‘No’, meanwhile, is ne.
3. How are you? = Kako ste?
We all like being asked how we’re doing, so be sure to memorise the Croatian phrase kako ste (kah-kho steh?). You’ll probably receive the answer dobro (good) or even the English word ‘OK’.
4. Please / Thank you = Molim / hvala
It never hurts to learn how to say please and thank you in another language! Even if you order your meals in English, your waiter will definitely appreciate you saying molim (moh-lim) and hvala (hvah-lah) to them!
5. Sorry = Oprostite
Foreigners in Croatia often get told off by locals for apologising too much, but knowing how to say oprostite (op-rohs-tee-teh) is still important.
6. Where is the _________ ? = Gdje je _________ ?
Finding your way around is a lot easier when you can ask the nearest passerby in their own language. This is a useful phrase that you can combine with a variety of different things. We’ve outlined a few examples below.
Gdje je toalet? (gdyeh yeh to-ah-let) = Where is the toilet?
Gdje je bankomat? (gdyeh yeh ban-koh-maht) = Where is the ATM?
Gdje je Hotel Marina? (gdyeh yeh Hotel Marina) = Where is Hotel Marina?
Gdje je autobusni kolodvor? (gdyeh yeh aut-oh-buhs-ni kohl-oh-dvor) = Where is the bus station?
7. I need ________ = Trebam _________
Sometimes you’re not looking for a place, but for something. That’s when this phrase comes in handy. Here are a few examples:
Trebam sobu (treh-bahm sob-hu) = I need a room
Trebam ručnik (treh-bahm ruch-neek) = I need a towel
Trebam olovku (treh-bahm oh-lof-khu) = I need a pencil
Trebam lijek za bolove (treh-bahm lee-yekh za bol-oh-veh) = I need pain reliever
8. Can I have the bill? = Račun, molim!
In a busy bar or restaurant, sometimes it’s easier to ask the waiter for the bill in Croatian. This phrase is pronounced rah-chuhn, moh-lim!
9. Help! = Upomoć!
This is a word every traveller hopes they’ll never have to use. Still, it pays to be prepared, so memorise the Croatian word for ‘help’. As with the letter ć is pronounced ‘ch’, so this word sounds like oo-poh-mohtch.
10. I’m allergic to _________ = Alergičan sam na ________
Ordering and buying food can be tricky when you have an allergy, particularly if you’re in a foreign country. Use the phrase alergičan sam na (ah-lerr-gi-chan sam na) to let people know what you can’t eat. Here are a few examples:
orašaste plodove (orr-ash-as-te plod-o-vhe) = nuts
gluten = gluten
mliječne proizvode (mlee-yech-ne proy-ee-zvod-he) = dairy
If you’re vegetarian, you can use the phrase ja sam vegetarijanac (ya sam vege-tarry-ya-nats).
11. I don’t speak Croatian. Do you speak English? = Ne pričam hrvatski. Da li znate engleski?
The majority of Croatians speak pretty good English, and if you ever find yourself in a situation where you feel more comfortable speaking in English, use this useful Croatian phrase to check if the other person understands. Note that the Croatian letter č is pronounced ‘ch’, so this phrase is pronounced Ne pree-tcham hrvatski. Dah lee znah-teh eng-les-kee?
12. Goodbye / bye = Doviđenja / bok
Last but not least, before you leave, say goodbye to your hosts. Use the formal doviđenja (doh-vee-jeh-nyah) or the informal bok.