Order of Word in Slovene

While learning Slovene, a very intriguing concept to discover and understand  is the syntax or the structure of a sentence. It might seems confusing at first, but one thing that is reassuring is that it follows some rules.

Somehow, I find that sentence structure in Slovene offers a bit more flexibility than in English.

Order of Word

In Slovene syntax, there is a specific rule, known as besedni red – order of word, that concerns some short words in a sentence. Those short words have the 2nd position in a sentence.

The short words that are “targeted” with this rule are: najsem (present, past tense – except for singular third person), bi (conditional) | pronouns in Second (Z2), Third (Z3)and Fourth (Z4) Sklon, se / si (reflective verbs)| je (present, past tense for singular third person), bom (future tense).

Subject (osebek), predicate (povedek), object (predmet) and adverb clause (prislovno določilo). Learn more about Elements of a Sentence in Slovene.

Personal Pronouns – All Skloni (Zx)

For example, “Yesterday, I was doing my homework.” → Včeraj sem delala nalogo4. In English, there would only one version, but in Slovene, we could also say:

1st POSITION 2nd POSITION 3rd POSITION 4th POSITION
Delala SEM nalogo včeraj.
Nalogo SEM  delala včeraj.

As you can see, “sem“, which is one of the targeted short words, is in the 2nd position in all version of the sentence.


More than one targeted short words

If the sentence only has one targeted short word, it automatically takes the 2nd position, but what if the sentence has more than one targeted short words?

DON’T PANIC, there is a chart!

So, here is the besedni red priority chart for the 2nd position in a sentence:

1st PRIORITY 2nd PRIORITY 3rd PRIORITY
sem, bi se / si > Z3 Z4/2  je, bom

Here’s a few example:

1st POSITION 2nd POSITION 3rd POSITION 4th POSITION
Učila SEM SE slovenščino4.
Učila SE BOM slovenščino4.

If we replace “slovenščino4 for its pronoun in Fourth Sklon (Z4), it becomes “jo“, then the order of word changes in the sentence.

1st POSITION 2nd POSITION 3rd POSITION 4th POSITION
Učila SEM SE JO.
Učila SE JO BOM.

I hope I was able to clarify and demystify a bit the concept of sentence structure in Slovene. Just remember that if you happen to use any of the “targeted” short words in the sentence, simply apply the chart of besedni red.

If you have any questions, comments or other helpful tricks, don’t hesitate: contact me and let me know! We are all here to learn and share our knowledge 🙂


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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8 thoughts on “Order of Word in Slovene

  1. Thank you so much for creating this post Anna, this is one area I really struggle with. I will need to spend time studying what you’ve posted to fully get my head around it. You are the first person who has tried to explain this and I really appreciate the effort you’ve made. thank you again,
    Steve

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  2. Wow, this is great! Maybe the next post could be about:

    – More examples of the subject-verb-object pattern, e.g. “Sem se učil slovensko.” And I think in this case even Bom comes in the first position: Bom se učil slovensko.
    – What happens after conjuctions: da, ko, etc. Object pronouns, followed by “se,” seem to always win here. “Mi je povedala, da se je učila slovensko.” and “Mi je povedala, da jo se je učila.” Don’t even make me think about dative pronouns and accusative pronouns in the same sentence… 🙂

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  3. Thanks for the ideas! “Učil se bom slovenščino” is a better version. And with conjunctions, it’s going into “more complex” sentences, so I will try to get to it eventually 😉

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  4. With my limitless interest in Slovene and Slovenia itself; when it is slow at work like now, I love to come to your blog to make notes in Drive and to support my thirst in learning more about Slovenščina.
    I appreciate the work you do a great deal, thank you.

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  5. @wizonesolutions I’m no expert but when you say “Sem se učil slovensko.” that word order is for a question and “Učil sem se slovensko.” is a statement. same with “Mi je povedala, …” Thant should end with ? as in – it’s a question and “Povedala mi je, … ” would be a statement.

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  6. Hey Peter, what you are saying is correct in a certain way. Like “Sem se učil slovenščino (not slovensko) can be statement OR question. Statement: (Jaz) sem se učil slovenščino. OR Question: (A/Ali) sem se učil slovenščino? As for word order, it works for both. 🙂

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