How to write a formal letter in Slovene

Nowadays, a lot of formal communication is made through emails or letters, either for job application or any official request. Knowing how to properly write a formal letter is thus very important. 

Standard Format of Formal Letter

Above is a template of the elements in a formal letter. I will explain them one by one. Keep in mind that the red dot represents a space line.

1. Your full name is written as follow name (ime) and surname (priimek).

  • Irma Novak

2. Your address (naslov) is written in two lines, the first line is street address while the second line is the postal code and the city. (Under your address, you can also add your phone number and email.)

  • Slovenčeva ulica 1
    1000 Ljubljana

3. Place (kraj) and date (datum) refer where and when the letter was written. Be aware that dates have a specific format. (Check How to Say Dates and Times in Slovene – Part 1 for more details.)

  • Ljubljana, 28.  2. 2021

4. Recipient’s name (prejemnikov naziv) can be a person or place name, depending on the nature of your letter.

  • Janez Mklavž or
  • Rolli Shop D.O.O. or
  • Upravna Enota Kranj

5. Recipient’s address (prejemnikov naslov) is written in two lines as well.

  • Celovška cesta 18
    1000 Ljubljana

6. Zadeva is where you state the subject of your letter.

  • Zadeva: Prijava na razpis za delovno mesto učiteljice (Subject: Application for a job vacancy as teacher)
  • Zadeva: Prošnja za reklamacijo (Subject: Request of complaint)

7. Spoštovani is the conventional greeting for letters (it means “dear”) and it is followed by a comma (,) or an exclamation (!). Don’t forget to start with capitals if your greeting ends with an exclamation. You can also add in the recipient name (with title) if you know it.

  • Spoštovani gospod Janez Miklavž,
  • Spoštovana gospa Marta Miklavž,

8. Content (vsebina) is where you write paragraph(s). The content will depend on the nature of your letter, but usually introduce yourself or explain why you are writing. If it is for a job application, aim for 140-150 words, not too long. 

9. S spoštovanjem with a comma (,) is a standard way for the final greeting (it means “with respect”). Other final greetings that you can use are:

  • Lep pozdrav (without comma (,))
  • Lepo Vas pozdravljam. (with an period (.))

10. Signature (podpis) is your handwritten signature, if it is an actually printed letter.

11. Your full name again.

12. Priloge is where you list the attachments that are included.

  • Priloge:
    – življenjepis (resume)
    – priporočilo (recommendation letter)
    – fotokopija diplome (copy of diploma)

Personally, I am not a big fan of formal letters, as I’m never sure how to get it started and what to write… (Yes, I blog, but it’s a lot more friendly). So I hope that this post was able to demystify the “how to write a formal letter in Slovene” or at least, a standard template, because what to write as content… that’s a different and unique story.

Reported Speech in Slovene

Reported speech is quite simple in Slovene. A good example as to how it is used, would be: the teacher says something and afterward, a fellow student asks you what did the teacher and you would tell him by using reported speech.

Different punctuation will have different reported speech.

Declarative Sentence – Trdilna Poved

Sentence that ends with a period ( . ) is a declarative sentence. It is used to formulate a fact, an opinion, an feeling and much more. To report a declarative sentence, the word “da” is used.

For example,
Domen : “Vesel sem.” (Domen : “I am happy.”)
Domen pravi, da je vesel. (Domen said that he is happy.)

The verb praviti (to say, to tell) can be replaced by similar verbs, such as

  • reči (to say)
  • povedati (to tell)
  • dejati (to say, to tell)
  • odgovoriti (to answer)

For example,
Peter : “Pes je lačen.” (Peter : “The dog is hungry.”)
Peter je rekel, da je pes lačen. (Peter said that the dog is hungry.)

Interrogative Sentence – Vprašalna Poved

Sentence that ends with a question mark ( ? ) is an interrogative sentence. Obviously, it is used to ask questions. To report an interrogative sentence, a question word is used.

For example,
Mina : “Ali ste lačni?” (Mina : “Are you hungry?”)
Mina vpraša, ali/če smo lačni. (Mina asks if we are hungry.)

Depending on the context, different question words can be used, such as

  • kdo (who)
  • kdaj (when)
  • kje (where)

For example,
Teresa : “Kdaj pridete?” (Teresa : “When are you coming?”)
Teresa vpraša, kdaj pridemo. (Teresa asks when are we coming.)

Requesting, Commanding Sentence – Velelna Poved

Sentence that expresses a request or a command can end with an exclamation mark ( ! ) or a period ( . ), it all depends on the tone. To report requesting or commanding sentence, the word “naj” is used.

For example,
Mami : “Pospravi igrače!” (Mommy : “Clean your toys!”)
Mami mi je rekla, naj pospravim igrače . (Mommy told me to clean your toys.)

Depending on the tone, the verb reči (to say) can be replaced by other verbs, such as

  • svetovati (to advise)
  • prositi (to ask)

For example,
Učitelj : “Prosim, pospravi igrače.” (Teacher : “Please, clean your toys.”)
Učitelj me je prosil, naj pospravim igrače. (The teacher asked me to clean my toys.)

Reported speech can be really fun to use and they are also very easy to practice. Once you mastered it, you will be able to express yourself more freely! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate and let me know!

Discover more Slovene “lessons” that might interest you: Slovene Numbers & NumeralsSlovene Nouns & PronounsSlovene VerbsSlovene AdjectivesSlovene SyntaxSlovenian IdiomsSlovene Adverbs.

Let’s learn Slovene,

Conjunctions in Slovene

Same as in English, conjunctions – known as vezniki, are used in Slovene to connect clauses or sentences in a way that they would make senses together. These words do not change form, and are not affected by gender, numbers or cases.

Conjunctions in Slovene are divided into two groups : priredni (coordinating) and podredni (subordinating). Depending on the context, they can be put at the beginning or in the middle.

Coordinating – Priredni Vezniki

Coordinating conjunctions are used to connect two clauses that are grammatically equal, like two nouns, two verbs or two independent clauses…

  • In (and) , ter (then)
    Moram kupiti kruh in mleko ter sir – I have to buy bread and milk then cheese.
  • Samo / le (only)
    Vsi jejo torto, samo Tina ne – All eat cake, only Tina doesn’t.
  • Ampak / toda / vendar (but, however)
    Miha nima brata, ampak ima sestro – Miha doesn’t have a brother but has a sister.
  • Kot (like)
    Zame si kot sestra – You are like a sister to me.
  • Ali (or)
    Gremo na desno ali na levo – We go right or left?
  • Torej / zato (therefore)
    Mira je noseča, torej ne pije alkohola – Mira is pregnant, therefore she doesn’t drink alcohol.

Subordinating – Podredni Vezniki

Subordinating conjunctions are used to connect a subordinating clause – a clause that cannot stand alone.

  • Ko (when/as)
    Jedli bodo, ko bodo lačni – They will eat when they will be hungry.
  • Ker (because)
    Rada jem temno čokolado, ker je grenka – I like to eat dark chocolate because it’s bitter.
  • Kar (since)Kako dolgo je bilo, kar si šel v šolo – How long has it been since you went to school?
  • Da (that)
    Recimo, da  imaš prav – Let’s say that you are right.
  • Če (if, in case)
    Če imaš preveč časa, lahko študiraš slovenščino – If you have too much time, you can study Slovene.
  • Čeprav (Although, though)
    Prišel je, čeprav pozno – He came, although late.

Multi-Words Conjunctions

Sometimes, a combination of conjunctions are treated as a whole – without a comma between them.

  • Namesto da (instead of)
    Namesto da bi ostal zunaj, lahko prideš noter – Instead of staying outside, you can come inside.
  • Zato ker (because)
    Zato ker nisem pričakovala, sem bila res presenečna – Because I was not expecting, I got really surprised.
  • Kljub temu / kljub temu da (despite that / despite the fact that)
    Kljub temu da je bilo veliko snega, sem šla v službo – Despite the fact there was a lot of snow, I went to work.
  • Medtem ko (while)
    Medtem ko otroci spijo, kuham kosilo – While the children are sleeping, I’m cooking lunch.
  • Potem ko (after)
    Potem ko je Tilen naredil domače naloge, je šel domov – After Tilen did his homework, he went home.

It might seems a lot a first, but there are actually more… 😛 Do not panic, just take it one at the time. Conjunctions are actually kind of fun to use as it helps connecting clauses together. It is actually a very good practice for your Slovene! If you have any questions, or others conjunctions that you would like me to add, just let me know!

Discover more Slovene “lessons” that might interest you: Slovene Numbers & NumeralsSlovene Nouns & PronounsSlovene VerbsSlovene AdjectivesSlovene SyntaxSlovenian IdiomsSlovene Adverbs.

Let’s learn Slovene,

Punctuation in Slovene

How to use punctuation – ločilo, is pretty obvious, as it is the same in most language. But the main problem is how to say them… Personally, I think that it is very important to know how to say punctuation – and soon you will know why.

Here’s a little anecdote from my English class when I was a child.

So, it was a nice sunny day and it was also dictation day… My understanding of English was not as great back then, and I could remember was hearing the teacher saying mid-sentence “comma” and “comma“… Naive as I was… I wrote down “comma” every single time.

Of course, afterward, I realized that “comma” was not an exact word in the sentence, but a punctuation.

Therefore, to avoid embarrassment during dictation… Here they are:

  • Pika → period ( . )
  • Vprašaj → question mark ( ? )
  • Klicaj → exclamation point ( ! )
  • Vejica → comma ( , )
  • Podpičje → semicolon ( ; )
  • Dvopičje → colon ( : )
  • Narekovaj → quotation marks ( » «,  „  “ )
  • Tri pike → ellipses ( … )
  • Pomišljaj → dash( – )
  • Vezaj → hyphen ( – )
  • Oklepaji → parentheses, brakets ( (   ), [   ] )

Punctuation names might not seem very important, but they are actually crucial, especially during dictation! So, if you do have the spare time, do try to learn them! If you have any questions or comments, let me know!

Discover more Slovene “lessons” that might interest you: Slovene Numbers & NumeralsSlovene Nouns & PronounsSlovene VerbsSlovene AdjectivesSlovene SyntaxSlovenian IdiomsSlovene Adverbs.

Let’s learn,

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:

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:

sem, bi se / si > Z3 Z4/2  je, bom

Here’s a few example:

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.

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 & NumeralsSlovene Nouns & PronounsSlovene VerbsSlovene AdjectivesSlovene SyntaxSlovenian Idioms, Slovene Adverbs.

Let’s learn,

Elements of a Sentence in Slovene

A very interesting part of learning a new language, is to know how to make sentences that make sense. Sentence structure in Slovene follows a few guidelines, but I think that it might offer more freedom than English.

The concept of sentence syntax can be quite complex to explain, so we will go one thing at the time to avoid confusion. We will start by the elements of a sentence – stavčni člen.

Elements of a Phrase

In Slovene, there are mainly 4 elements in a sentence: subjectosebekpredicatepovedekobjectpredmet and adverb clauseprislovno določilo.

By themselves, the elements of a sentence don’t mean much, but once put together… TADAMM!! The magic of forming a sentence happens.

A subject, osebek, is a noun or phrase in the First Sklon (kdo1, kaj1)that controls the verb in the clause. In a more complex sentence, it can have more than one subject.

A predicate, povedek, is the part of the sentence that contains a verb (glagol) that is controlled by a subject, describing what a subject is doing. It can be in present tense, past tense, future tense and more. (To learn more, check out the Slovene Verbs.)

An object, predmet, is influenced by the subject and it can be direct (Fourth Sklon), indirect (Third Sklon) or introduced by a preposition (Check Slovene Nouns & Pronouns to learn more about the preposition related with skloni).

In Slovene, the object answers to different question words that are skloni related: koga2, česa2 | komu3, čemu3 | koga4, kaj| o kom5, o čem5 | s kom6, s čim6.

Adverb clause
An adverb clause, prislovno določilo, adds information to sentence by asking questions for time (kdaj), place (kje, kam, kod), cause (zakaj) or ways (kako). There are more situation, but learning those will be a good start.

Now that we have covered the main elements of a sentence, we can start playing around with them.

Please note: Subject (osebek), predicate (povedek), object (predmet) and adverb clause (prislovno določilo).

For example, “The cat plays with a mouse outside.” → Maček se igra z mišjo6 zunaj. In English, there would only one version, but in Slovene, we could also say:

  • Maček se zunaj igra z mišjo6.
  • Zunaj se maček igra z mišjo6.

Is there a rule? That would be another lesson.

The concept of phrase structure can sometimes be quite confusing and I hope that I didn’t confuse you even more. But I think that by going step-by-step and listening to Slovenians, we can learn a lot from it.

If you have any questions, comments or tricks, don’t forget to let me know!

Discover more Slovene “lessons” that might interest you: Slovene Numbers & NumeralsSlovene Nouns & PronounsSlovene VerbsSlovene AdjectivesSlovene SyntaxSlovenian Idioms, Slovene Adverbs.

Let’s learn,

Which Slovene Question Words to Use

If you’re already familiar with Slovene, you might have noticed that different Slovene question words have the same translation in English. However, in Slovene, they are not always interchangeable as they are used under specific situations.

Kje and kam (where)

Kje and kam both mean where, but in Slovene, they are used in different contexts: one indicates a position while the other points at direction and movement – which is not specified by the word where in English.

  • Kje is used for specific location, usually used with the fifth sklon.
    i.e. Where are you now Kje ste zdaj?
  • Kam is used for destination, usually used with fourth (destination is a place) and third sklon (destination is a person).
    i.e. Where are you going for holidaysKam greste na potovanje? 

Koliko, Kako and kakšen (how)

The word how in English is used for different question, such how much, how many (koliko), how to (kako), how is (kakšno) and so on. Koliko is used with amounts and quantities, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

Kako and kakšen are both used to describe or ask for description and they can easily be confused.

  • Kako is used to describe a feeling, a condition or how to do something.
    i.e. How are you → Kako ste? / How are you feeling today→ Kako počutite danes? / How to learn Slovene → Kako se učiti slovensčino?
  • Kakšen is used to describe things, person, places or objects.
    i.e. How is the dress → Kakšna je obleka? / How was the trip → Kakšen je bil izlet?

    The answer to kakšen is often with adjectives, that can go by level. For example, lep (pretty) < lepši (prettier) < najlepši (prettiest).

Kateri and Kakšen (which and what kind)

Kateri (which) and kakšen (what kind) don’t exactly have the same translation in English, but somehow, they can be quite confusing. To know which to use, the key is in what kind of answer are you expecting.

  • Kateri is usually used for multiple choice answer
    i.e. Which handbag is prettier? The blue one → Katera je najlepša torba? Modra.
    In this example, the answer could be have been red, black, brown or any color available.
  • Kakšen is usually used for a more detailed answer, to describe 
    i.e. What type of handbag are you looking for? Small and classic  Kakšna torba iščete? Mala in clasičšna.
    In this example, the answer could have been the description of any kind of possible handbag.

At first, it is not always obvious to decide which question word should be use, but the more you practice and listen how Slovenians speak, it will slowly become more clear!

If you have any question, be sure to contact me!

Discover more Slovene “lessons” that might interest you: Slovene Numbers & NumeralsSlovene Nouns & PronounsSlovene VerbsSlovene AdjectivesSlovene SyntaxSlovenian Idioms, Slovene Adverbs.

Let’s learn,

General Question Words in Slovene

Whether you’re learning Slovene seriously or just for fun, knowing how to express questions, vprašanje, is essential. It also makes conversation a lot more interesting.

A or Ali

Using the short word Ali or A is an easy way to formulate a yes or no questions in Slovene | i.e.  Can you repeat, pleaseA lahko ponovite, prosim?  / Do you like to eat apple A radi jeste jabolko?

Question Words in General

Same as in English, Slovene uses different general and basic question words at the beginning of the sentence

  • kaj (what)| i.e. What are you doing here → Kaj delate tukaj?
  • kdo (who) | i.e. Who is your friend → Kdo je tvoj prijatelj?
  • kje (where)| i.e. Where do you live → Kje živite?
  • kako (how)| i.e. How are you today→ Kako ste danes?
  • kdaj (when)| i.e. When do you have your birthday → Kdaj imate rojstni dan?

    Kdaj is used to express dates and time.

    How to Say Dates and Times in Slovene
  • kateri (which) | i.e. Which bus is the right one → Kateri avtobus je pravilen?
  • čigav (whose) | i.e. Whose car is silver → Čigav avto je siv?
  • koliko (how much, how many) | i.e. How much time do you have → Koliko časa imate?

    Koliko is used to express amounts and quantities.

    How to Express Quantities in Slovene – Second Sklon
  • zakaj (why)| i.e. Why is the sky blue → Zakaj je nebo modro?

Of course, there are more ways to formulate questions, but being familiar with those will be a good start. 🙂

As you learn the language, you will start to notice that some question words have the same translation in English, but are differently used in Slovene, such as

  • kje and kam (where),
  • kako and kakšen (how) and
  • kateri and kakšen (which).
Slovene is a very precise language and some Slovene question words are used with specific situation.

Which Slovene Question Words to Use

While learning the Slovene grammar, you will realize that some question words will help you identify which of the six grammatical cases is used. Sometimes, you will notice that the questions words are written differently. I will cover that in a future post.

Once you know which question words to use, formulating a question in Slovene shouldn’t be too complicated! At some point, it can even become fun as you will be able to express yourself easier! 🙂

If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to ask me and I will try my best to give you an answer!

Discover more Slovene “lessons” that might interest you: Slovene Numbers & NumeralsSlovene Nouns & PronounsSlovene VerbsSlovene AdjectivesSlovene SyntaxSlovenian Idioms, Slovene Adverbs.

Let’s learn,