Definitions

Serbian nouns

Serbian nouns

There are seven cases in Serbian: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, vocative, instrumental and locative. It is commonly mistaken, that locative and dative have the same form, and that morphologically the number of cases is six. The accent is in many examples different in dative and locative: cf. стрâни ('to the site' dative)/ (на) стрáни ('on the site' locative) or (ка) сâту ('to the clock tower')/ (на) сáту ('on the clock').

SINGULAR Class I - Masculine
window
Class I - Neuter
village
Class II - Feminine I
woman
Class III - Feminine II
love
Nominative прозор село жена љубав
Accusative прозор село жену љубав
Genitive прозорa селa женe љубави
Dative прозору селу жени љубави
Instrumental прозор сел жен љубави (or -ју)*
Vocative прозоре село женo љубави
Locative прозору селу жени љубави
PLURAL windows villages women love
Nominative прозори села жене љубави
Accusative прозоре села жене љубави
Genitive прозора села жена љубави
Dative прозорима селима женама љубавима
Instrumental прозорима селима женама љубавима
Vocative прозори села женe љубави
Locative прозорима селима женама љубавима

* In words such as Љубав, when adding -ју at the end. Some words make some changes e.g. Љубав becomes Љубављу or Младост becomes младошћу and Смрт becomes Срмћу

How can you tell which noun belongs to which declension class? Follow these basic rules for classifying nouns in declension classes:

i) If the noun ends in a consonant, most probably it’s a Class I masculine noun (e.g. прозор ‘window’).

ii) If the noun ends in vowels –o, or -e in singular nominative case, it’s a Class I neuter noun (e.g. сел-п ‘village’, пољ-e ‘field’). However, there are some male proper names that end in these vowels, and are classified as Class I masculine noun (e.g. Марко, Раде), not neuter nouns. So, semantics wins!

iii) If the noun ends in –a in singular nominative case, it’s a Class II noun, and these nouns are feminine. There is a small group of male-denoting nouns that also end in –a, (e.g, судија ‘judge’, Стева – male name, газда ‘master, landlord’, господа ‘gentlemen’). But grammatically, these nouns act as feminine. So, forget about their semantics.

iv) The Class III nouns are all feminine and end in a consonant, just like Class I nouns. How then to distinguish Class I masculine nouns from Class III feminine nouns? Class III nouns typically denote abstract objects (e. g. љубав ‘love’, смрт ‘death’, болест ‘illness’, младост ‘youth’).

Gender

In Serbian nouns have three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. The gender is an inherent characteristic of every noun. This means that each noun is masculine, feminine or neuter. Only nouns referring to people or animals can change their gender. In most cases the gender of the noun can be determined according to its ending, but there aren't any strict rules. Masculines are all the nouns which refer to male people or animals, and many more.

Noun endings
Gender Ending Examples
Masculine a consonant (most of the nouns) муж, град, брат
Feminine a vowel (most of the nouns)
а жена, цура, година
a consonant (nouns ending in -ост,ћ and a few more) љубав, старост, помоћ
Neuter always a vowel
о селоо, дрво
е дете, море
и(loanwords) такси

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