How to Express Quantities in Slovene – Second Sklon

As I’ve mentioned before, quantity or amount – količina, in Slovene, is expressed with the Second Sklon – Genitive.  The main dilemma with količina is to know which form, ednina (E) or množina (M), to use. as some nouns are only expressed in one form.


Koliko – how much, how many

Koliko means how many or how much.  Frequent use of koliko with other skloni includes:

  • Sklon 1: Koliko je ura? What is the time?
  • Sklon 4: Koliko stanes? → How much does it cost?

Koliko [samostanik]2(E/M)…?

One frequent use of koliko with the second sklon is Koliko [samostanik]2(E/M)…?

  • Koliko časa2(E) imate? How much time do you have?
  • Koliko psov2(M) imate How many dogs do you have?

If you have noticed, čas is in ednina, and pes is in množina.

With the second sklon, some nouns are only expressed in ednina, while others are only used in množina (with other skloni, some nouns can still have ednina, dvojina and množina form).

Here’s a few guidelines:

Only singular – samo ednina

  • šport – such as smučanje (skiing), tenis
  • tekočina – liquid such as kava (coffee), pivo (beer), vino, voda (water)…
  • prah – powder such as sladkor (sugar), moka (flour), sol (salt), poper (pepper)…
  • zelenjava – most vegetables are expressed in ednina such as krompir (potatoe), solata (salad), korenje (carrot), brokoli
    Exceptions: kumara (cucumber), bučka (pumkin), jajčevec (eggplant)… are expressed in množina.
  • others nounssadje (fruit), hrana (food), čas (time), denar (money), dela (work)…

Only plural – samo množina

  • sadje – most fruits are expressed in množina such as jabolko (apple), banana, jagoda (strawberry)…
    Exceptions: (exotic fruits) such as mango, melona, liči, grozdje, ananas… are expressed in ednina.
  • other nouns (that comes in pairs) – such as očala (glasses), vrata (doors), hlače (pants), tla (floors), počitnice (holidays)…

Adverbs that quantify

The noun following quantifying adverbs is always in množina form (EXCEPT if they are only used in singular form!).

Adverbs that quantify are:

  • veliko (a lot), malo (a little), pol (half of), polna (full of)
  • preveč (too much), dovolj (enough), premalo (too little),
  • nekaj (somewhat), manj (less), več (more) and
  • nič (nothing) ⭐ double negation

For example, I need some onions Potrebujem nekaj čebul2(M). / I need some flour Potrebujem nekaj moke2(E).

For nouns that can be used in both ednina and množina, you have to be careful as to what you want to express.
i.e. Pojedla sem nekaj torte2(E) →  I ate up some (slice of) cake VS Pojedla sem nekaj tort2(M) →  I ate up some cakes (many whole cakes, without actual number).

Nouns that quantify

The noun following quantifying nouns can be ednina or množina form, according to the first guideline above.

Nouns that quantify are:

  • kilogram, liter,
  • škatla (box), vrečka (bag),
  • kozarec (glass), skodelica (cup), steklenica (glass bottle),  plastenka (plastic bottle),
  • krožnik (plate), kepica (scoop), lonček (small pot)

For example, I need 1 box of salad Potrebujem eno4 škatlo4solate2.


5 and more

When the amount is more than 5, the noun is in second sklon in its plural form but the conjugated verb is in singular form.
i.e. To sta dve litra1(D) vina2(E)To je pet litrov2(M) vina2(E)

When a general statement is made, using a quantifying noun with a noun, the verb is always conjugated in singular.
i.e. Veliko ljudi2(M) je bogat zajtrk4 / Malo ljudi2(M)pije čaj4.

Knowing how to express quantities will help you greatly, especially when you’re at the stores (koliko vrst2(M) kruha2(E) imate?) – but it is also very useful for composing your own questions and answers when you’re meeting someone new (koliko bratov2(M) imate?).

If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate and contact me and I will be more than happy to help you out with your Slovene!


Discover more Slovene “lessons” that might interest you: Slovene Numbers & Numerals, Slovene Nouns & Pronouns, Slovene Verbs, Slovene AdjectivesSlovene SyntaxSlovenian Idioms.

Let’s learn,
Anna.

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