Serbian present tense, verb conjugation

In this lesson we will learn how to conjugate Serbian verbs in present tense. Verb is the basis of any language, and the learning process should begin from it. First of all we will consider conjugation of regular Serbian verbs, and in the next lesson we will consider modal and irregular verbs.

Verb conjugation in the present tense

There are 3 conjugations in Serbian language, and there are subgroups in each of them.

Conjugation 1

Verbs that end in [-i] with pronouns On,Ona (he, she), and in [-e] with Oni, One, Ona (they). There are subgroups in this conjugations in the present tense: verbs that have infinitive endings [-iti] and [-eti].

Group [– iti]

RADITI – to do/to work

Ja radimI do/work
Ti radYou do/work
On, ona radiHe, she does/works
Mi radimoWe do/work
Vi raditeYou do/work
Oni, One, Ona radeThey do/work

Group [-eti]

SEDETI – to sit

Ja sedimI sit
Ti sedišYou sit
On, ona sediHe, she sits
Mi sedimoWe sit
Vi sediteYou wit
Oni, one, one sedeThey sit

Conjugation 2

Verbs that end in [-a] with On, Ona, and [-aju] with Oni, One, Ona.

Group [–ati]

PITATI – to ask

Ja pitamI ask
Ti pitYou ask
On, ona pitaHe, she asks
Mi pitamoWe ask
Vi pitateYou ask
Oni, one, ona pitajuThey ask

ZNATI – to know. Let’s conjugate this verb with negation

Ja ne znamI don’t know
Ti ne znYou don’t know
On, Ona ne znaHe, She doesn’t knows
Mi ne znamoWe don’t know
Vi ne znateYou don’t know
Oni, One, Ona ne znajuThey don’t know

Conjugation 3

Verbs that end in [-e] with On, Ona, and [-u] with On, Oni, One. Most of verbs of this group have irregular stem.

In this conjugation there is consonant change before ending:

K – Č,

G – Ž,

H – Š,

S – Š,

Z – Ž,

ET – EĆ

Group [-ati]

How to identify the Conjugation 3 if there is subgroup [-ati] in the Conjugate 2 too? Here is the answer: If you see one of these consonants that (K,G,H,S,Z,T) before ending in infinitive form – this is conjugation 3:

KAZATI – to say, change Z – Ž, stem KAŽ-;

PISATI – to write, change S – Š, stem PIŠ-;

ZNATI – to know, no change, this is verbs from Conjugation 2, not 3!

Let’s conjugate KAZATI – to say:

Ja kažemI say
Ti kažYou say
On, Ona kažeHe, she says
Mi kažemoWe say
Vi kažetiYou say
Oni, One, Ona kažuThey say

Group – [-ovati]

This group exists in all Slavic languages (if I am not mistaken), at least exists is in Polish and Russian languages.

In Serbian present tense, we must cut off –OVATI and add –UJ to form the stem. Look at the conjugation of the verb. Also

PUTOVATI – to travel, stem PUTUJ

Ja putujemI travel
Ti putujYou travel
On, ona putujeHe, she travels
Mi putujemoWe travel
Vi putujeteYou travel
Oni, one, ona putujuThey travel

Group [-sti]

This is a special subgroup in this conjugation that consists mostly of irregular verbs.

JESTI – to eat, stem JED-

Ja jedemI travel
Ti jedjYou travel
On, ona jedeHe, she travels
Mi jedemoWe travel
Vi jedeteYou travel
Oni, one, ona jeduThey travel

Interrogative form

The interrogative form in Serbian language is built by adding DA LI before verb:

Da li ja igram? – Do I play? (igrati – to play)

Da li on putuje? – Does he travel? (putovati – to travel)

Da li oni vole? – Do they love? (voleti – to live)

And so on. But this form is not used with question words (see below).

Memorize these question words:

Šta? – what?

Ko? – who?

Gde? – where?

Kada? – when?

Zašto? – why? what for?

Koliko? – how much? how many?

If there is a question word in front of verb, you don’t need to add “da li”. As well as in English.

Examples

Zašto ti učiš Srpski? – Why do you learn Serbian?

Da li studirate u univerzitetu? – Do you(Vi) study in the university?

Ko to kaže? – Who says that?

Zašto pitaš? – Why do you ask?

Da li ti zaboraviš mnogo kada učiš Srpski jezik? – Do you forget a lot when you learn Serbian language?

Da li živeš u Beogradu? – Do you live in Belgrade?

Ona čita knjigu – She reads a book

On radi u prodavnici – He works in a store

Maria pije kafu – Maria drinks coffee

Ti pevaš veoma dobro – You sing very well

Ova olovka piše lošo – This pencil writes bad

Studiramo Engleski jezik u univerzitetu – We study English at university

Zašto ne odgovorite na moje poruke? – Why you don’t answer my messages?

Zašto jedeš tako mnogo jabuke? – Why do you learn so many apples?

Vocabulary

govoriti – to speak

učiti – to learn

studirati – to study

zaboraviti – to forget

odgovoriti – to answer

raditi – to do/work

pisati – to write

pitati – to ask

živeti – to live

čitati – to read

pevati – to sing

piti – to drink

kazati – to say

jesti – to eat

univerzitet – university

mnogo – much/many

jezik – language

knjiga – book

prodavnica – store

kafa – coffee

dobro – well

lošo – bad

jabuka – apple

poruka – message

tako – so

olovka – pencil

Exercises

Use appropriate form of verbs in present tense

  1. Ja _____________________da Srpski jezik nije težak (MISLITI – to think) – I think that Serbian language is not difficult
  2. Moja majka _________________ u školi (RADITI – to work) – My mom works at school
  3. Šta ti ______________? (CRTATI – to draw) – What are you drawing?
  4. Mi _________________ muziku često (SLUŠATI – to listen) – We listen to music often
  5. Učiteljica ________________ na školske table (PISATI – to write) – The teacher writes on the blackboard
  6. Mi __________________ jabuke svaki dan (JESTI – to eat) – We eat apples every day
  7. Da li ____________________ u Beogradu? (ŽIVETI – to live) – Do you (ti) live in Belgrade?
  8. Mara _____________ kafu (PITI – to drink) – Mara drinks coffee
  9. Ona ________________ veoma dobro (PEVATI – to sing) – She sings very good
  10. Naši roditelji ne ________________ Engleski (GOVORITI – to speak) – Our parents don’t speak English
  11. Zašto ne _______________ to? (PAMTITI – to remember) – Why don’t you remember it?
  12. Kada _______________________, mi _________________ mnogo slika (PUTOVATi – to travel, SLIKATI – to take a picture) – When we travel, we take a lot of pictures
  13. Dragan i Nevena _________________ veoma lepo (PLESATI – to dance) – Dgaran and Nevena dance very nicely
  14. Koliko godina ________________ Srpski jezik? (Učiti – to learn) – How many years have you been learning Serbian?

Answers:

1: mislim; 2: radi; 3: crtaš; 4: slušamo; 5: piše; 6: jedemo; 7: živeš; 8: pije; 9: peva; 10: govore; 11: pamtiš, 12: putujemo; slikamo, 13: plesaju, 14: učiš

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