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.

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.

Subject
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.

Predicate
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.)

Object
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 & Numerals, Slovene Nouns & Pronouns, Slovene Verbs, Slovene AdjectivesSlovene SyntaxSlovenian Idioms.

Let’s learn,
Anna.

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 počute 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 & Numerals, Slovene Nouns & Pronouns, Slovene Verbs, Slovene AdjectivesSlovene SyntaxSlovenian Idioms.

Let’s learn,
Anna.

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 & Numerals, Slovene Nouns & Pronouns, Slovene Verbs, Slovene AdjectivesSlovene SyntaxSlovenian Idioms.

Let’s learn,
Anna.