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The biggest secret to learning Serbian

The Biggest Secret to Learning Serbian Language

What is the biggest secret to learning Serbian and how can you improve?

So, you want to learn Serbian?

Well, let me tell you a big secret for learning Serbian: if you apply what you will read in this blog you will be light-years ahead in terms of reaching your goal. And before I go any further, a quick disclaimer: This will sound somewhat complicated, but if that’s the case just remember that MOST things you encounter for the first time seem complicated.

Remember when you first learned how to ride a bike or had to remember your math times tables (i.e. 6 X 7= 42)? Or how about learning how to drive, or your first time learning how to swim…that all seemed complicated too right? With Serbian, it’s kind of the same thing. With constant and correct practice, the right strategy, a relaxed state of mind, and motivation to learn, Serbian will become more and more familiar to you.

In short, don’t get bogged down by the technicality of what I’m about to explain. With time it will come. But it won’t come if you give up before you give yourself the chance to grasp it.

Here are some of my best tips for learning Serbian: 

Okay, so are you ready to read the biggest secret to learning the Serbian Language?

Here it is: Study vocabulary words, such as adjective-noun pairs together and across all the cases (meaning the 7 cases that make up the Serbian Declension System). If you’re wondering “What’s the declension system?” then allow me to briefly explain.

Unlike some languages where a noun-adjective pair exists in one form (i.e. “good man” or “buen hombre” in Spanish) Serbian noun-adjective pairs work a little differently. And for all of you non-grammarians out there, as a reminder an adjective describes a noun.

Serbian Declensions

So let me explain further about declensions. The Serbian Declension System (which is comprised of 7 cases) exists to express meaning. As meaning is expressed across the 7 cases nouns, adjectives, pronouns, and numbers are declined, meaning they change from their original form in accordance with gender, number, and the meaning the speaker wishes to express.

So let’s go back to the big secret for learning Serbian and what this means for studying adjective-noun pairs together across the cases. We can do this by way of example. Let’s take the adjective-noun pair “dobar čovek” which means “good man” in Serbian. If you only learn how to say “dobar čovek” and nothing more, guess what: you have only learned how to say “good man” in 1st case. This is incomplete because “good man” must be “declined” across the 7 cases, which express 7 different meanings.

For example, If I wanted to say “I am a good man” I would say, “Ja sam dobar čovek”. This would be first case or Nominative.

If I wanted to say “I got this from a good man” I would say “Dobio sam ovo od dobrog čoveka”. This is second case or Genitive.

If I wanted to say “I gave this to a good man” I would say “Dao sam ovo dobrom čoveku”. This is 3rd case or Dative.

And there are 7 cases. I think you get the point.

Notice how in each example the adjective-noun pair “dobar čovek” looks different. This is because it has been declined in accordance with the case that expresses the meaning conveyed. This is how the Serbian Declension System works and learning adjective-noun pairs across all 7 tenses will rapidly drive your learning to a higher level.

All 7 Cases

And don’t despair if this sounds complicated. It’s not…if you practice and stay relaxed as you practice. Your brain just needs some time to make the adjustment, but trust that it WILL make it.  Learning Serbian declensions is just like learning your math times tables. Before long you will be a pro.

What’s important to remember though is that learning one case of an adjective-noun pair won’t be very helpful because when you speak in Serbian you will need to navigate through all 7 cases of the Serbian Declension System (which is quite logical, contrary to popular opinion). This is why people get frustrated when learning Serbian. They don’t know how to make sense of this and they learn hundreds of so-called vocab words in 1st case forgetting they need to learn them across all 7 cases.

Fortunately for you, The Ultimate Serbian Online Course at Serbian Language Podcast breaks all of this down in a simple and effective way so you can start speaking like a pro. And this brings us back to the biggest secret to learning the Serbian language: learn adjective-noun pairs together and across the 7 cases. If you make this a habit and stick with it, then you are on the fast track to achieving your goal of speaking Serbian with accuracy, fluency, and style. Learn Serbian. Have fun!

Hi, I’m Cam!


Serbian Blog Contributor

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