This site uses cookies and by using this site you are consenting to this.Find out how to manage your settings. Learn more

I understand


We will make you wanna explore Croatia

More and more people around the world are choosing to learn Croatian as a foreign language. The reasons are many and varied: some need it for business, others are visiting the country as tourists or want to find out about their Croatian roots and there are also instances of families wishing to relocate to Croatia. By learning the language, they are making it much easier for themselves when they first arrive and smoothing their path to fit into the life and culture of the country.

Main article photo: "Ćakula - small talk, chit chat" by Iva Kustić Komlinović


Standard Croatian is štokavski. In addition, two other dialects exist in the Croatian language, namely kajkavski and čakavski. Thus we can say that the Croatian language has three dialects, with 57% of native speakers using štokavski, 31% using kajkavski and 12% čakavski.
Different dialects are spoken in different parts of the Croatian Republic. Each dialect has its own particular phonetic, grammatical and structural characteristics. Each dialect was named according to the word they use for the interrogative pronoun ‘what’. Thus in the štokavski dialect the word for ‘what’ is što, in kajkavski it is kaj and in čakavski it is ča.

Each different dialect has its own characteristic way of speaking but they are all interpretations of the old Slavic sound jat (ĕ), thus:
jekavsko-ijekavski (je/ije) is generally specific to the štokavski dialect, while ekavski (e) is the kajkavski equivalent and ikavski (i) the čakavski counterpart. For example, milk is written as mlijeko, mleko and mliko in štokavksi, kajkavski and čakavski respectively.

The štokavski dialect is used across the greater part of Dalmatia, Slavonia and the Dubrovnik area.

Slavonija - štokavski dialect

Photo by: Zoran Rudec

The kajkavski dialect covers Zagorje, Prigorje, Međimurje and Gorski Kotar.

Hrvatsko zagorje - kajkavski dialect

Photo by: Irena Trkulja

The čakavski dialect is used in Istria, Primorje and parts of Dalmatia (around Split) as well as on the islands and in parts of Lika.

Istria - čakavski dialect

Photo by: Daniela Soldo


The differences between the dialects can be minimal but they are discernible. Phonetically it comes down to the position of the sounds:


l at the end of a word becomes o (l→o) radil – radio
h becomes v, j or is dropped suh→suv, snaha→snaja, hrast→rast
ao is pronounced o/a (ao→o/a) rekao → reko, reka


č/ć → it is difficult to differentiate between
these in the kajkavski dialect
lj/nj becomes l,j zemla, kojn
u gains the sound v učitelj→vučitel, uho→vuho


dž becomes ž džep→žep
đ becomes j mlađi → mlaji
lj becomes j ljudi → judi
m becomes n jesam → jesan


Our small place (town):
štokavski: Naše malo mjesto.
kajkavski: Naše malo mesto.
čakavski: Naše malo misto

What is your child doing?:
štokavski: Što radi tvoje dijete?
kajkavski: Kaj dela tvoje dete?
čakavski: Ča dela tvoje dite?

The flower is below the window:
štokavski: Cvijet je pod prozorom.
kajkavski: Cvet je pod oblokom.
čakavski: Cvit je pod ponistrom.

Tell it to me in two or three words:
štokavski: Reci mi to u dvije-tri riječi.
kajkavski: Reci mi to u dve-tri reči.
čakavski: Reci mi to u dvi-tri riči.

I said that the shoe-lace had come undone:
štokavski: Rekao sam da se odvezala vezica na cipeli.
kajkavski: Rekel sem da se odvuzlal žniranec na cipeli.
čakavski: Reka san da se odrišila špigeta na postoli.

Are you coming?:
štokavski: Hoćeš doći?
kajkavski: Buš došel?
čakavski: Ćeš doć?

We are going to work:
štokavski: Idemo na posao.
kajkavski: Pemo na posel.
čakavski: Idemo na posa.

I intended that for you:
štokavski: To sam ti namijenio.
kajkavski: To sem ti namenil.
čakavski: To san ti naminija.

The world has gone to pot:
štokavski: Svijet se pokvario.
kajkavski: Svet se pokvaril.
čakavski: Svit se pokvarija.

What a beautiful girl:
štokavski: Kako je lijepa ova djevojka.
kajkavski: Kak je lepa ova puca.
čakavski: Ča je lipa ova šinjorina.

I can’t change anything:
štokavski: Ne mogu ništa promijeniti.
kajkavski. Ne mrem niš promeniti.
čakavski: Ne moren ništa prominit.


The Croatian Language School is the only dedicated school of Croatian language training in the UK. The School offers classes in London and via Skype to students anywhere in the world. The Croatian Language School also welcomes students from all around the world to join its numerous immersion courses held each year in different locations in Croatia.

Participants of Croatian Language School 2015.

Photo by: Croatian Language School

This year you can study Croatian language in the beautiful coastal town Zadar in June!


Photo by: Luka Papić Photography


Did you find anything for yourself? Contact us for more information or any other help!




Destination guides