Anna’s tricks about Skloni

As we know, Slovene is a very precise language and its grammar can seem very complex and complicated. But if you are able to find a way of thinking that can help you detangle it, then everything will be much easier. I know that everyone’s way of logic is different, so this might work for you… or not.

In this post, I’m just going to attempt to show you what’s going in my mind when I see a sentence in Slovene – my personal algorithm to determine which sklon is being used. (This post is not about endings, as I’ve already mentioned tricks by comparison in my posts about each sklon).

Keep in mind that all elements of a sentence can be an important clue of some sort but to decide which sklon to use, I focus on two: verbs and prepositions.


Clue – Verbs

The first element that I like to look for is the verb, which are the action words used to describe what the subject is doing, because it is present in most sentence.

Is the verb used biti (to be)?

  • If the answer is yes, then it is in first sklon.
    For example, Jaz sem Anna1 (I am Anna).
  • Bonus: If the verb biti is used in negative, it is also in first sklon.
    For example, Nisem Anja1 (I am not Anja).
SKLON 1 Verbs postati (to become), ostati (to stay), imenovati se (to be named) are in first sklon.
  • If the answer is no, then go to the next question.

Is the verb negative (-) or affirmative (+)?

  • If the answer is negative, then it is in second sklon.
    For example, Nimam psa2 (I don’t have a dog).
SKLON 2 Verbs bati se (to be afraid of), dotakniti se (to touch), lotiti se (to start working), najesti se (to appease one’s hunger), napiti se (to appease one’s thirst), spomniti se (to remember), veseliti se (to be glad) are specific to the second sklon.
  • If the answer is affirmative, then it is in third or fourth sklon.

Is the object of the verb direct or indirect?

  • If the object is direct, it usually comes right after the verb, then it is in fourth sklon.
    For example, Imam knjigo4 (I have a book)
  • If the object is indirect, which indicates to whom something is done, then it is in third sklon.
    For example, Knjigo4 dam prijatelju3 (I give a book to my friend).
SKLON 3 Verbs čestitati (to congratulate), čuditi se (to wonder), lagati se (to lie), obljubiti (to promise), odpovedati (to cancel), opravičiti se (to excuse), pomagati (to help), pridružiti se (to join), telefonirati (to phone), smejati se (to laugh), zaupati (to trust) are specific to the third sklon.

Clue – Prepositions

Another relevant indicator that you can easily point out are prepositions, because most of them are specific to one sklon. Although, some prepositions can be used with different skloni, which I will to clarify.

If the preposition is specific to one sklon, then it is quite straightforward, you just need to remember them.

SKLON 2 Prepositions blizu (near), brez (without), iz (from), izmed (among), izven (out of), izza (from behind), mimo (passing by), (nasprosti (opposite of), od-do (from-until), okoli (around), okrog (around), poleg (beside), preko (across), sredi (in the middle of), zaradi (because of), zraven (beside) are specific to the second sklon.
SKLON 3Prepositions k/h (to), kljub (despite), proti (against, toward) are specific to the third sklon.
SKLON 4Prepositions skozi (through), čez (across) are specific to the fourth sklon.
SKLON 5Prepositions o (about), ob (at), pri (beside) are specific to the fifth sklon.

Some prepositions are associated with more than one sklon, in that case, you will need to paid attention to the verb used as well as the context.

The preposition v (into, to, in, at) and na (on, at, in) can be fourth or fifth sklon.

  • If the preposition is used with a movement verbs and the context is a destination, then it is in fourth sklon.
    For example, Grem v šolo4 (I go to school).
Movement verbs can be hoditi (to walk), iti (to go), priti (to come), teči (to run), voziti (to drive)…
  • If the preposition is used with a verb without movement and the context is a position or location, then it is in fifth sklon.
    For example, Sem v šoli5 (I am in school).
Verbs without movement can be biti (to be), čakati (to wait), ostati (to stay)…

The preposition pred (before), pod (under), za (behind), nad (above), med (in between) can be fourth or sixth sklon.

  • If the context is a destination, then it is in fourth sklon.
    For example, Letalo se je dvignilo nad oblake4 (The plane has raised above the clouds).
  • If the context is a position or location, then it is in sixth sklon.
    For example, Irma se rani nad kolenom6 (Irma wounds herself above the knee).
  • Bonus: If za means “for”, then it is the fourth sklon.
    For example, Marko ima darilo4 za Anno4 (Marko has a gift for Anna).

Beside the context, the meaning can also help you decide which sklon to use.

The preposition po can be fourth or fifth sklon.

  • If po means “for”, then it is in fourth sklon.
    For example, Grem v pekarno4 po kruh4 (I go to the bakery for bread).
  • If po means “around”, then it is in fifth sklon.
    For example, Nik potuje po svetu5 (Nik travels around the world).

The preposition s/z can be in second or sixth sklon.

  • If s/z means “from”, then it is in second sklon.
    For example, Nina je s Ptuja2 (Nina is from Ptuj).
  • If s/z means “with”, then it is in sixth sklon.
    For example, Grem v šolo4 z avtobusom6 (I go to school with bus).

This is just the method that I use to analyze which sklon to use or to know which sklon is being used. And I hope that it help clarify the Slovene skloni, even a little bit.

What about you? What’s going on in your mind when you see a sentence in Slovene? Is your algorithm similar to mine or completely different? Or maybe other elements that can be added? I am quite curious, so please share it with me! And if you have any questions or comments, do let me know!

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