Essential Croatian Phrases for the First-Time Traveller

May 31st, 2013

If you’ll be travelling to Croatia or any Croatian-speaking country, these basic phrases will get you by.

Croatian Greetings & Politeness

·         Hello (informal): Bok (bohk).

·         How are you? (informal/formal): Kako si? (KAH-koh see?)/Kako ste? (KAH-koh steh?).

·         Nice to meet you: Drago mi je (DRAH-goh mee yeh).

·         Thank you: Hvala (HVAH-lah)

·         Excuse me: If you are trying to catch someone’s attention, say oprostite (oh-PROHS-tee-teh); if you’re apologising, say pardon (par-DON) instead.

·         Goodbye (formal/informal): Do viđenja (doh vee-JEH-nyah)/Do viđenja (doh vee-JEH-nyah) – or you can just repeat Bok.

Croatian Necessities

As always, if you’re going to take the phrase approach I recommend a few phrases to everyone, as they will be consistently necessary for anyone who hasn’t actually learned the Croatian language. This isn’t a knock against those who don’t have the time or energy to learn a language more completely – it’s just a fact.

For example, if you’re only armed with phrases, you’re going to need this one frequently when your tiny arsenal of language fails you: “Do you speak English?” In Croatian, that’s Govorite li engleski? (goh-VOH-ree-teh lee EN-gless-kee) if you need to be formal and Govoriš (li) engleski? (goh-VOH-reesh (lee) EN-gless-kee) if you’re being informal. In other situations, you might do better to say “I don't understand,” which is ne razumijem (neh rah-ZOO-meeyehm).

To shout Help!, use Upomoć! (OO-poh-mohch). To shout for the police, use policija! (poh-LEE-tsyah!).

On the other end of the emergency spectrum, to ask “Where is the toilet?” say Gdje je WC? (gdyeh yeh weh-tseh?). This actually refers to the “WC” or water closet, which is a bit more common in Croatia than elsewhere.

Here’s one I often forget to suggest to people, actually: “Can you show me on the map?” How useful will that be! To say it, use možete li mi pokazati na zemljovidu? (MOH-zheh-teh lee mee poh-KAH-zah-tee nah ZEH-mlyoh-vee-dooh). Believe me, sometimes just having a finger point something out on the map is much more effective than trying to parse Croation in a busy street!

As always, this is just a beginning. Even if all you intend to do is use phrases to get by while in Croatia, you’ll need a lot more than these. However, in my travel experience these few phrases are actually the bare minimum – if you know these, and have some basic mime skills, you’ll be fine.

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