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Pronunciation Guide: The Language

Most of the natives you’ll encounter in Croatia will be fluent in at least one other language besides Croatian, usually English, or German or Italian. However, if you try to learn at least a few rudimentary words and phrases in this Slavic variant, you will be richly rewarded for your efforts. Pronunciation is not as difficult as it looks when you’re staring at a word that appears to be devoid of vowels. With a few guidelines and a little practice, you should be able to make yourself understood.

Here are a few useful words and phrases:

Ordering a meal (& paying for it)

English      Croatian     Pronunciation

  • menu:  jelovnik  (yay-lohv-neek)
  • order: naručiti  (nah-roo-chee-tee)
  • waiter : konobar   (koe-noe-bar)
  • I am hungry:  Ja sam gladan.   (Ya sahm glah-dahn)
  • Do you serve food here?          Da li poslužujete hranu ovdje?    (Dah lee poe-sloozh-oo-yay-tay ha-ra-noo ohv-day?)
  • What would you like to order? Što bi ste željeli naručiti?  (Shtoe bee stay zjehl-yay-lee nah-roo-chee-tee?)
  • We would like to order . . .    Željeli bi smo naručiti . . .       (Zjehl-yay-lee bee smaw nah-roo-chee-tee . . .)
  • Table for two (three, four)      Stol za dvoje (troje, četvoro)  (Stall za dvo-ye (troe-ye, chet-voe-roe)
  • We would like to pay.            Željeli bi smo platiti.               Zjehl-yay-lee bee some plah-tee-tee.


English                        Croatian                                  Pronunciation

  • breakfast                   doručak                               doe-roo-chahk
  • lunch                         ručak                                    roo-chahk
  • dinner                        večera                                   veh-chair-ah
  • knife                           nož                                         noezh
  • fork                             viljuka                                  vee-loosh-kah
  • spoon                        žlica                                       zhlee-tsa
  • plate                           tanjur                                   tah-nyoor
  • cold                            hladno                                  hah-lahd-noe
  • hot                              vruće                                     vrooch-eh
  • warm                          toplo                                     toe-ploe
  • sugar                          ećer                                        shay-chair
  • without sugar         bez ećera                              bayz shay-chair
  • salt                             sol                                          soal
  • pepper                       papar                                    pah-pahr
  • bread                          kruh                                      crew
  • pastry                        pecivo                                   pay-tsee-voe
  • meat                            meso                                     may-soe
  • I am a vegetarian.    Ja sam vegetarijanac.    Yah sahm vay-gay-tahr-ee-yah-nahts.


English                                          Croatian                                  Pronunciation

  • white wine                                 bijelo vino                           bee-yeh-lo vee-noe
  • red wine                                      crno vino                             tser-noe vee-noe
  • (fruit) juice                                 sok                                         sock
  • tea                                                 čaj                                          chai
  • coffee                                            kava                                      kah-vah
  • coffee with milk/cream            kava sa mlijekom/vrhnjem                   kah-vah sah ml-yay-kum/ver-nyem
  • ice                                                 led                                          layd
  • lemonade                                    limunada                            lee-moo-nah-dah
  • milk                                              mlijeko                                ml-yay-koe
  • beer (cold)                                  pivo                                       pee-voe
  • brandy (usually homemade)  rakija                                   rah-kee-yah
  • water                                            voda                                      voe-dah

Soups & Starters

English                                                        Croatian                                    Pronunciation

  • Swiss chard boiled with potatoes    blitva sa krumpirom        bleet-vah sa kroom-peer-om
  • sausage                                                     kobasica                                koe-bah-see-tsa
  • goat cheese                                              kozji sir                                  koezh-yee seer
  • Zagorje potato soup                             juha od krumpira na zagorski način     yoo-ha ode kroom-peer-ah nah zah-gore-ski na-cheen
  • spicy sausage from Slavonia              kulen                                       koo-len
  • bean and veggie soup from Istria      manetra                                 mah-nay-strah
  • mixed salad                                              mijeana salata                    mee-yeh-shah-na sa-lah-tah
  • hard sheep’s cheese with olive oil from Pag                                  paki sir            pahsh-kee seer
  • smoked ham                                             prut                                         per-shoot
  • stuffed red peppers                                punjene paprika                 poon-yen-ay pah-pre-kah
  • shish kabob                                            ražnijiči                                 rahz-nyee-chee
  • spicy seafood/fish stew with paprika                                               riblji paprika/fis paprika            reeb-lyee pah-pre-kash/fish pah-pre-kash
  • hams                                                          unka                                        shoon-kah


English                                                                 Croatian                      Pronunciation

  • fish stew                                                            brodet/brodetto     bro-debt/bro-debt-toe
  • black risotto made with squid ink, olive oil, onion, and garlic         crni rižot                  tser-nee ree-zhote
  • Istrian egg pasta in a special twisted shape                               fuži      foo-zhee

Pronunciation Guide

All letters are pronounced.

c                sounds like “ts” in cats

č                sounds like “ch” in chew

ć                sounds like “tu” in picture

đ                sounds like “dj” in adjunct

g                sounds like “g” in god

j                 sounds like “y” in your

š                sounds like “sh” in shut

ž                 sounds like “z” in azure

e                sounds like “e” in bet

i                 sounds like “ee” in meet

o                sounds like “o” in dog

u                sounds like “oo” in loot

r                is trilled

Basic Vocabulary

English                                          Croatian                                        Pronunciation

  • yes                                                da                                                 dah
  • no                                                 ne                                                  nay
  • good                                            dobro                                          doe-broe
  • bad                                               loe                                                losh-eh
  • I don’t know.                            Ne znam.                                    Nay znahm.
  • I don’t understand.                 Ne razumijem.                         Nay ra-zoo-mee-yem.
  • to                                                  do                                                 doh
  • from                                              od                                                 ode
  • day                                               dan                                               dahn
  • week                                            tjedan                                          tyay-dahn
  • month                                          mjesec                                         myes-ets
  • year                                              godina                                        goe-dee-nah
  • why                                              zato                                              zah-shtoe
  • where                                           gdje                                              gd-yay
  • when                                            kada                                            kah-dah
  • how                                              kako                                            kah-koe
  • early                                             rano                                             rah-noe
  • late                                               kasno                                          kahz-noe
  • behind                                         iza                                                 ee-zah
  • in front of                                    ispred                                          ee-spread
  • turn/go . . .                                  vratite se/okrenite/idite        vrah-tee-tay say/oh-kray-nee/ee-dee-tay . . .
  • left                                                 lijevo                                           lee-yay-voe
  • right                                              desno                                           days-noe
  • straight ahead                            ravno                                           rahv-noe
  • street                                             ulica                                            oo-lee-tsah
  • square                                           trg                                                tur-ig-ah
  • next to                                          pored                                           poe-red
  • there                                              tamo                                            tah-moe
  • map                                               karta                                           kar-tah
  • I would like to buy a ticket. Želio/Željela bih kupiti kartu?            Zhel-ee-ol/Zhel-yay-lah bee koo-pee-tee kar-too?
  • ticket                                           (putna) karta                            (poot-nah) kar-tah
  • one-way ticket                          jednosmjema karta               yed-nose-myair-na kar-tah
  • round-trip ticket                      povratna karta                        poe-vraht-nah kar-tah
  • ticket                                           ulaznica (for movies, museum)               oo-lahz-neetsa
  • Where is the . . . ?                     Gdje se nalazi . . . ?                 Ga dyay say nah-lah-zee . . .
  • bank                                              banka                                            ban-ka
  • beach                                            plaža                                              plah-zha
  • church                                          crkva                                             tserk-vah
  • drugstore                                     ljekarna                                       lee-yay-car-nah
  • market                                           tržnica                                           terzh-nee-tsa
  • museum                                        muzej                                             moo-zay
  • park                                               park                                               park
  • police station                             policijska postaja                    poe-leets-ee-ska poe-shta-ya
  • post office                                    potanski ured, pota                  poe-stan-skee oo-raid, poe-shtah
  • tourist office                               turistički ured
  •                                                        too-ree-steech-kee oo-raid
  • train station                                željeznička stanica/postaja centra (if central station in town, then željeznički kolodvor)     zhel-yay-zneech-kee stah-nee-tsa/poe-stah-ya tsen-trah (zhel-yay-zneech koe-loe-dvoar)
  • bus station                                  autobusna (if central station in town, then autobusni kolodvor)               ow-toe-boos-nah (ow-toe-boos-nee koe-loe-dvoar)
  • airport                                          zračna luka                                 zrach-na loo-kah
  • taxi stand                                     taksi stajalite                             tahk-see stye-ya-lees-tay
  • exchange office                          mjenjačnica                              myay-nyats-nee-tsa
  • exchange rate                             tečajna lista                              tay-chai-nyah leest-ah
  • Where can I find a (good) . . . ?                                                   Gdje mogu naći (dobrog) . . . ?            Gd-yay moe-goo nah-chee (doe-broeg) . . . ?
  • dentist                                          zubara                                           zoo-bah-rah
  • doctor                                           liječnika                                       lee-yaych-nee-kah
  • hospital                                       bolnicu                                         bole-nee-tsu


English                                          Croatian                                        Pronunciation

  • entry                                            ulaz                                              oo-lahz
  • exit                                               izlaz                                              eez-lahz
  • toilets (men)                              toilets/WC (muskarci)         moosh-kar-tsi
  • toilets (women)                        toilets/WC (žene)                    zhe-neh
  • police                                          policija                                       poe-lee-tsee-yah
  • prohibited                                  zabranjeno                                zah-brah-nyay-noe


English                                                 Croatian                                      Pronunciation

  • I am sick.                                            Bolestan sam/bolesna sam.          Boe-less-than sahm/boe-less-nah sahm.
  • I need a doctor.                                Potreban mi je liječnik.      Poe-tray-bahn mee yay lee-yaych-neek.
  • fever                                                    groznica                                   growz-nee-tsa
  • headache                                            glavobolja                              glah-voe-bowl-yay
  • stomachache                                     bol u trbuhu                           bowl oo ter-boo
  • dentist                                                zubar                                         zoo-bar
  • I have a headache.                           Imam glavobolju.                Eee-mom glah-voe-bowl-yoo.
  • I am allergic to . . .                           Alcrgičan/allergična . . .    Ah-lure-gee-chan/ah-lure-geech-nah . . .
  • antibiotics                                       sam na antibiotike                   sam ahn-tee-bee-oh-teek
  • antibiotic                                         antibiotic                                     ahn-tee-bee-oh-teek
  • penicillin                                         penicillin                                     peh-nee-tsee-leen
  • aspirin                                              aspirin                                          ah-spee-reen
  • I am on medications for (asthma/diabetes/epilepsy).                Pijem lijekove protiv (astme, dijabetesa, epilepsije).  Pee-yem lee-yay-koe-vay pro-teev (ast-may, dee-yah-bay-tay-sah, ep-ee-lep-see-yeh).
  • virus                                                   virus                                          vee-roos


English                                    Croatian                        Pronunciation

  • bridge                                   most                            most
  • church                                   crkva                           tserk-vah
  • island                                    otok                             oh-toke
  • lake                                        jezero                           yeh-zeh-roe
  • old town                              stari grad                  star-ee grahd
  • ruins                                      rue vine                       roo-sheh vee-neh
  • sea                                          more                            moe-reh


English                                    Croatian                        Pronunciation

  • How much/ How many?  Koliko?                      Koe-lee-koe?
  • a little                                   malo                            mah-loe
  • a lot                                       puno                            poo-noe
  • enough                                 dosta                           doe-stah
  • (too) expensive                  (pre) skupo                (pray) scoo-poe

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