as you guys know, I’m currently attending a Slovene course and of course, I’m learning a lot of different things and discussing different topics as well. The other day in class, we talked about how some of the Slovene grammar was quite strange and almost “illogical”. After some thoughts, it is actually true, but also interesting and it can make it easier to remember.
Five Cats Sleep
To show it, I will just use a random example, such as “five cats sleep“. As you know, Slovene has three genders: masculine, feminine and neutral. Obviously, cats can only be male (m) or female (ž).
- 1 mačekm / mačkaž spi (One cat sleeps).
- 2 mačkam / mačkiž spita (Two cats sleep).
- 3/4 mačkim / mačkež spijo (Three/four cats sleep).
- 5 mačkovm / mačkž spi (Five cats sleep).
As you can see, when the amount reaches 5 (and more), the verb is conjugated in singular. That’s in Present tense.
There is another particularity with the participle used in Past tense and Future tense.
- 1 mačekm / mačkaž je spal / spala (One cat slept).
- 2 mačkam / mačkiž sta spala / spali (Two cats slept).
- 3/4 mačkim / mačkež so spali / spale (Three/four cats slept).
- 5 mačkovm / mačkž je spalo (Five cats slept).
Even more strangely, when the amount reaches 5 (and more), the participle changes into its neuter form. Even if the subject is masculine or feminine.
Of course, it also works when a quantifying adverb, such as veliko (a lot), dovolj (enough) nekaj (some), is used instead of a specific number.
- Veliko študentov2(M) ima avto (A lot of students have a car).
- Nekaj ljudi2(M) je pilo kavo (Some people drank coffee).
BONUS – Večina (most) and polovica (half) can function as a noun or as a quantifying adverb.
- Večina1 je čokolado (Most eats chocolate).
- Večina žensk2(M) je čokolado (Most women eat chocolate).
But be careful in Past and Future tense.
- Večina1 je jedla čokolado (Most ate chocolate).
- Večina žensk2(M) je jedlo čokolado (Most women ate chocolate).
It’s so fun to discover some “strange” grammatical rules, because of the “illogic”, it is easier to remember. I’m sure there are many more. Can you think of any, or some that you found especially weird? Please share them with me!
Discover more Slovene “lessons” that might interest you: Slovene Numbers & Numerals, Slovene Nouns & Pronouns, Slovene Verbs, Slovene Adjectives, Slovene Syntax, Slovenian Idioms, Slovene Adverbs.
Let’s discover together,