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Serbian (BCS): syntax - Моји пријатељи желе да остану на вечери.

Discussion in 'Other Slavic Languages' started by vatrahos, Mar 17, 2011.

  1. vatrahos

    vatrahos Senior Member

    American English
    Hello, I'm just starting to learn Serbian and I'm wondering a little about syntax. Could I just try a single sentence in several forms and you can correct me wherever syntax seems wrong?


    1) positive statement

    Моји пријатељи желе да остану на вечери.

    2) negative statement

    Моји пријатељи не желе да остану на вечери.

    3) positive question

    - Да ли твоји пријатељи желе да остану на вечери?
    - Је ли твоји пријатељи желе да остану на вечери?
    - Желе ли твоји пријатељи да остану на вечери?
    (which is most common in Serbian?)

    4) negative question
    Зар не жели твоји пријатељи да остану на вечери?

    perfect past

    1) positive statement

    Наши пријатељи су се упознали.

    Упознали су се наши пријатељи. (is this also a possible syntax?)

    2) negative statement

    Наши пријатељи нису се упознали.

    3) positive question

    - да ли су се наши пријатељи упознали?

    - Јесу ли се наши пријатељи упознали?
    - Упознали ли су се наши пријатељи?
    (which is most common in Serbian?)

    4) negative question

    Зар нису се наши пријатељи упознали?


    1) positive statement

    - Зваћу те сутра.
    - Ја ћу да те зовем сутра.
    - Сутра ћу те звати.
    - Сутра ћу да те зовем.

    2) negative statement

    - Нећу да те зовем сутра.
    - Нећу те звати сутра.

    3) positive question
    - Да ли ћеш ме звати сутра?

    - Да ли ћеш да ме зовеш сутра?
    - Хоћеш ли ме звати сутра?
    - Хоћеш ли да ме зовеш сутра?
    - Звати ли ме ћеш сутра?
    (which is most common in Serbian?)

    4) negative question
    Зар нећеш да ме зовеш сутра?
    Зар нећеш ме звати сутра?

    As I understand it, Serbian likes to avoid the infinitive (whereas Croatian prefers it), using "da" instead. So would that make "Доћи ћу сутра" more of a Croatian form and "ја ћу да доћем сутра" more of a Serbian form? Or are both common in Serbian?

    Thanks for your help
  2. Duya Senior Member

    Not in WR world
    You got most of it right. Corrections and clarifications inline, in red, where applicable:

    1) In colloquial speech, jel' is often used as a tag for all sorts of questions, even when it is not grammatical, as in your example. In those cases, it is inevitably shortened to jel' (and never je li). Je li (jel') is grammatical only in cases where the response would involve verb je, as copula or auxiliary:

    Je li on visok? On je visok. :tick:
    Je li on znao? On je znao. :tick:
    Jel' on može da dođe? (colloq.) On može da dođe. :cross:

    In this context, your sentence would sound "Jel' tvoji prijatelji žele...", and it would be a natural utterance.

    2) This is difficult to answer shortly. We may have (a couple of) threads on the subject, which I'm lazy to search at the moment. Generally, in Serbian infinitive sounds more formal, and is indeed more used in formal writing and literature, but it really depends on tense and context.

    When used with future tense, da+present may (or may not :)) have connotation of speaker's willingness to perform the action, while infinitive is more unmarked (simple statement of fact), similar to English (dying) distinction of will vs. shall. That is especially the case in negative sentences:

    Ja ću doći. = I shall come.
    Ja ću da dođem. = I will come. (or, I want to come).
    Ja neću doći. = I will not come.
    Ja neću da dođem. = I don't want to come.

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