Author Archives: Valentina Zupan

Slovenian Words Ending in -L

The final in some Slovenian words in the nominative can be pronounced as U or L. This can be tough to guess for someone who is learning the language, so I will give a few tips when to pronounce the final L as L or as U.

The words where we always pronounce L as U at the end:

  • masculine participles ending in -L in singular: delal [dela], šel [še], živel [žive] …
  • some masculine adjectives ending in -L: vesel [vese], bel [be], debel [debe], topel [topə], mrzel [mrzə], svetel [svetə], cel [ce], votel [votə], gnil [gni], zrel [zre], gol [go]

L pronounced as U:

  • žal [ža] – unfortunately
  • žival [živau̯] – animal, F
  • stol [stou̯] – chair
  • sol [sou̯] – salt, F  
  • fižol [fižou̯] – bean
  • piščal [piščau̯] – whistle, F
  • del (telesa, hiše …) [deu̯] – part of the body, house
  • pekel [pekəu̯] – hell
  • misel [misəu̯] – thought, F
  • zmrzal [zmrzau̯] – frost, F
  • vogal [vogau̯] – corner
  • vol [vou̯] – ox
  • orel [orəu̯] – eagle
  • osel [osəu̯] – donkey
  • plevel [pleveu̯] – weed
  • pepel [pepeu̯] – ash
  • posel [posəu̯] – business
  • smisel [smisəu̯] – meaning, sense
  • pol (picetortekilograma, litra …) [pou̯] – half a pizzacakekilogram, liter(Half of something!)

L pronounced as L:

  • šal [šal] – scarf
  • val – wave
  • predal – drawer
  • kopel – bath, F
  • pokal – cup
  • pomol – pier
  • spol – gender, sex
  • sokol – falcon
  • glagol – verb
  • glavobol – headache
  • zobobol – toothache
  • words of foreign origin: hotel, model, gel, portal, angel, kanal – canal, channel, tunel – tunnel, gol – goal (sport), alkohol – alcohol, skalpel – scalpel, kristal – crystal, simbol – symbol
  • pol (treh, petihsedmih …) – half past two, foursix… (When expressing time!)

ə = semivowel, F = feminine

bel stol [be sto] – white chair

When we change the ending of the noun in different cases we pronounce the letter L in any case.

Žival: Nimam domače živali [živali]. – I don’t have a pet.

Sol: Brez soli [soli] hrana nima okusa. – The food has no taste without salt.

Fižol: Ne maram fižola [fižola]. – I don’t like beans.

Useful Slovenian Phrases for Your Next Trip to sLOVEnia

Whether you visit the Slovenian capital and other picturesque towns, or perhaps the mountains and beautiful lakes in summer, it is fun to know some common everyday phrases and greetings with which you can make a great impression on the local people.

Here’s a list of some of the most commonly used Slovenian phrases for your next trip to Slovenia 😀 :

Slovenian Phrase

English Translation

Ja, prosim. Yes, please.
Ne, hvala. No, thanks.
Hvala lepa./Najlepša hvala. Thank you very much.
Hvala enako. Thanks to you too.
Ni za kaj./Prosim. You’re welcome.
Kako si/ste (formal)? How are you?
Dobro./V redu. I’m fine.
Pa ti/vi (formal)? And you?
Lepo se imej/imejte (formal)! Have a nice day!
Dober dan. Hello.
Nasvidenje. Goodbye.
Živjo. Hi.
Adijo. Bye.
Dober večer. Good evening.
Dobro jutro. Good morning.
Lahko noč. Good night.
Lep dan! Good day!
Imamo rezervacijo. We have a reservation.
Všeč mi je Slovenija/Piran/Bohinj … (the nominative) I like Slovenia/Piran/Bohinj…
Ni mi všeč. I don’t like it.
Oprosti(te), kje je Ljubljanski grad/Zmajski most/pošta …? (the nominative) Excuse me, where is the Ljubljana Castle/Dragon Bridge/post office…?
Koliko stane sladoled/kosilo/razglednica …? (the nominative) How much is an ice cream/lunch/postcard…?
Se vidiva (dual)/vidimo (plural)! See you later!
Samo trenutek. Just a moment.
To je Petra. This is Petra.
Me veseli. Nice to meet you.
Jaz bi kavo/pivo/vino/sok/čaj (the accusative), prosim. I’d like a coffee/beer/wine/juice/tea, please.
Na zdravje! Cheers!/Bless you!
To je zelo okusno. It’s very tasty.
Račun, prosim. The bill, please.
Kako se reče “coffee” po slovensko? How do you say “coffee” in Slovenian?
Kaj pomeni “trgovina”? What does “trgovina” mean?
Koliko je ura? What’s the time?
Ura je tri. It’s three o’clock.
Ali govoriš/govorite (formal) angleško? Do you speak English?
Ja, malo. Yes, a little.
Žal ne. Unfortunately not.
Govorim slovensko/angleško/francosko/nemško/

italijansko/rusko/špansko …

I speak Slovenian/English/French/German/


To je zelo lepo mesto/jezero/morje. This is a very beautiful city/lake/sea.

Bohinjsko jezero (Lake Bohinj)

Want to learn more Slovenian phrases? Try out our self-learning beginner’s online course or take one-on-one Skype lessons with a native speaker!

Neighbourhoods and Locations in Ljubljana

Are you currently an expat living in Ljubljana? Do your Slovenian friends often ask where exactly you live in Ljubljana, and you have no idea how to say that in Slovenian?

Would you like to say in Slovenian that you come from a certain part of Ljubljana, but you struggle because you don’t know which preposition, case or ending to use? (So many things that need to be considered… 🙂 ) Here’s a little help:

  • to express where we are or where we live we need to use the 5th case – the locative: Kje živiš?Živim na Viču. (Where do you live? – I live in Vič.)
  • to express where we come from we need to use the 2nd case – the genitive: Od kod si?Sem z Viča. (Where are you from? – I’m from Vič.)

Slovenian has two pairs of prepositions which have to be used together. These are na – s/z and v – iz, both meaning in – from.

The capital of Slovenia may seem quite small but in fact has many neighbourhoods, so expect people would ask you where exactly you live.

Let’s see how we would say where exactly we are:

1.The neuter gender (declined as adjectives):

Location in Ljubljana Kje (Where) Od kod (Where from)
Trnovo v Trnovem iz Trnovega
Sostro v Sostrem iz Sostrega
Kodeljevo na Kodeljevem s Kodeljevega
Tomačevo v Tomačevem iz Tomačevega

2. The masculine gender:

Location in Ljubljana Kje (Where) Od kod (Where from)
center v centru iz centra
Bežigrad za Bežigradom* iz Bežigrada
Vič na Viču z Viča
Podutik v Podutiku iz Podutika
Rudnik na Rudniku z Rudnika
Šentvid v Šentvidu iz Šentvida
Zalog v Zalogu iz Zaloga

Exception: Živim za Bežigradom. (I live in Bežigrad. Literally: I live behind Bežigrad.) – the 6th case – the instrumental

Center Ljubljane (Ljubljana city centre)

Center Ljubljane (Ljubljana city centre)

3. The feminine gender:

Location in Ljubljana Kje (Where) Od kod (Where from)
Šiška v Šiški iz Šiške
Ježica na Ježici z Ježice
Rožna dolina v Rožni dolini iz Rožne doline
Rakova jelša na Rakovi jelši z Rakove jelše

4. The neuter gender:

Location in Ljubljana Kje (Where) Od kod (Where from)
Štepanjsko naselje v Štepanjskem naselju iz Štepanjskega naselja
Polje v Polju iz Polja

5. The feminine gender (plural):

Location in Ljubljana Kje (Where) Od kod (Where from)
Črnuče v Črnučah iz Črnuč
Dravlje v Dravljah iz Dravelj
Vižmarje v Vižmarjah iz Vižmarij
Prule na Prulah s Prul
Fužine v Fužinah iz Fužin
Moste v Mostah iz Most
Poljane na Poljanah s Poljan
Murgle v Murglah iz Murgel
Jarše v Jaršah iz Jarš
Savlje v Savljah iz Savelj
Vevče v Vevčah iz Vevč
Koseze v Kosezah iz Kosez
Stožice v Stožicah iz Stožic

These city parts are in plural so we also need to conjugate them in plural. For example: Črnuče so daleč. (Črnuče are far.)



Examples of use:

  • Trenutno sem v Šiški. (I’m in Šiška at the moment.)
  • Živim v hiši na Rudniku. (I live in a house in Rudnik.)
  • Katja je iz Črnuč. (Katja is from Črnuče.)
  • Mi živimo v centru. (We live in the city center.)
  • Na Prulah je lepo. (It’s nice in Prule.)
Zmajski most, center (The Dragon Bridge, city center)

Zmajski most, center (The Dragon Bridge, city center)

Slovenian Last Names: “Kako se pišeš?” (What is your last name?)

Slovenian last names have an interesting history of development through time. Last names (priimki) have arisen in the past from professions, trades, associations with nature (animals, trees, birds…), personal characteristics, first names and places where people settled. Slovenians usually have only one last name which they get from their parents (mostly fathers). For example, in Latin America and elsewhere where Spanish and Portuguese are spoken, they have more last names, and in the English speaking countries they also have a middle name. Nowadays’ trend is that particularly women and children have two last names in Slovenia; women keep their maiden name (dekliški priimek) after they get married and some children have last names from both parents.

The Slovenian last names are the same for both males and females, there is no change in endings. So we have, for example, Jana Novak (F) and Peter Novak (M). In Slovenian, we decline first names, but when it comes to last names we decline only male ones, the female last names remain the same in all 6 cases.

It is surprising that there are so many Slovenian last names related to animals, quite common ones are also those that originate from occupations and settlements. My last name, Zupan, is quite common here and is supposed to originate from the word “župan”, “mayor”, but some sources also claim that that last name meant that someone was a farmer. What a combination!

Below, you can see where some Slovenian last names supposedly originate from.

10 most common Slovenian last names from 2015 statistics:

  1. Novak
  2. Horvat
  3. Kovačič
  4. Krajnc
  5. Zupančič
  6. Potočnik
  7. Kovač
  8. Mlakar
  9. Kos
  10. Vidmar

Last names derived from professions and trades

Slovenian last name English translation Origin
Godec musician from the word “godec”
Kmet farmer from the word “kmet”
Kopač digger from the word “kopač”
Kovač smith from the word “kovač”
Kuhar cook from the word “kuhar”
Lončar potter from the word “lončar”
Mlinar miller from the word “mlinar”
Pevec singer from the word “pevec”
Ribič fisherman from the word “ribič”
Šuštar shoemaker from the word “šuštar” which is an old expression for a shoemaker
Žagar sawyer from the word “žagar”

Last names derived from nicknames

Animal last names were supposed to indicate the person’s physical or mental features.

Slovenian last name English translation Origin
Bolha flea from the word “bolha”
Golob pigeon from the word “golob”
Jelen deer from the word “jelen”
Jež hedgehog from the word “jež”
Kos blackbird from the word “kos”
Maček male cat from the word “maček”
Medved bear from the word “medved”
Sraka magpie from the word “sraka”
Volk/Vovk wolf from the word “volk”
Zajc/Zajec rabbit from the word “zajec” which means a rabbit
Zver beast from the word “zver”

Last names derived from status

Slovenian last name English translation Origin
Knez prince from the word “knez”
Kralj king from the word “kralj”
Papež pope from the word “papež”
Škof bishop from the word “škof”
Zupan mayor from the word “župan” which means a mayor

Last names derived from settlements

Slovenian last name Origin
Blatnik from the word “blato” which means mud (swampy regions)
Dolenc from the word “Dolenjec” which is an inhabitant of the Dolenjska region
Dolinšek from the word “dolina” which means a valley
Furlan from the word “Furlanija”  – a region in Italy which is close to west Slovenia
Gorenc from the word “Gorenjec” which is an inhabitant of the Gorenjska region
Hrastnik from the word “hrast” which means an oak
Hribar from the word “hrib” which means a hill
Korošec from the word “Korošec” which is an inhabitant of the Koroška region
Mlakar from the word “mlaka” which means a puddle
Novak from the word “novinec” which means a novice
Potočnik from the word “potok” which means a stream
Ravnikar from the word “ravnina” with means a plain
Smrekar from the word “smreka” which means a spruce

Last names derived from first names

Here you can see the suffix –ič, which is typical for the last names that derive from the first names (mostly father’s names).

Slovenian last name Origin
Gregorčič from the first name “Gregor”
Janežič from the first name “Janez”
Majdič from the first name “Majda”
Pavlič from the first name “Pavel”
Petrič from the first name “Peter”
Primožič from the first name “Primož”
Tomažič from the first name “Tomaž”
Uršič from the first name “Urša”

Last names derived from connections with other nationalities

Slovenian last name Origin
Čeh from the word “Čeh” which means a Czech
Horvat/Hrovat from the word “Hrvat” which means a Croat (it meant a newcomer from Croatia)
Nemec from the word “Nemec” which means a German
Rus from the word “Rus” which means a Russian
Turk from the word “Turek” which means a Turk

Other interesting Slovenian last names

Slovenian last name English translation Origin
Božič Christmas from the word “božič”
Čas time from the word “čas”
Grbec hump/humpback from the word “grba” which means a hump
Hren horseradish from the word “hren”
Jug south from the word “jug”
Mrak dusk from the word “mrak”
Oblak cloud from the word “oblak”
Ocvirk crackling from the word “ocvirek” which means a crackling
Petek Friday from the word “petek”
Potrebuješ you need (the 2nd person singular) it literally means “you need” (“ti potrebuješ”)
Prešeren merry from the adjective “prešeren”
Sever north from the word “sever”
Sluga servant from the words “sluga” or “služabnik” which means a servant
Štrukelj štrukelj (rolled dumpling) from the word “štrukelj”
Vesel/Veselko happy, joyful from the adjective “vesel” which means happy
Vodnik guide from the word “vodnik”
Vodopivec person who drinks water from the words “voda” (water) and “pivec” (drinker)
Zlobec evil person from the adjective “zloben” which means evil

What are the synonyms for the word ‘idea’ in Slovenian?

As with every other language, Slovenian often has more than one way of expressing the same thing – the synonyms (sopomenke). So, the word ‘idea’ can be ‘ideja, ‘zamisel‘ or ‘domislica‘ in Slovenian, and all the three words can be used interchangeably; however, the first one, ‘ideja‘, is the most commonly used, whereas ‘domislica‘ is heard very rarely. You will notice that many Slovenian words which have synonyms are similar to English ones. The following words, for example, are easy to recognise even for non-Slovenian speakers: atmosfera, center, insekt, originaldialekt and so on.

Synonyms are words of the same part of speech (verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs), and below, there are a few examples of Slovenian synonyms for a host of English words.

advertisement reklama, oglas
atmosphere atmosfera, ozračje
bird ptica, ptič
building stavba, zgradba
capital glavno mesto, prestolnica
car avto, avtomobil
centre center, središče
contact stik, kontakt
continent celina, kontinent
dialect dialekt, narečje
envelope ovojnica, kuverta
flower roža, cvetlica
genre žanr, zvrst
girl punca, dekle
hairstyle pričeska, frizura
husband mož, soprog
idea ideja, zamisel, domislica
information podatek, informacija
insect žuželka, insekt
inspiration navdih, inspiracija
joke šala, vic
joy radost, veselje
lawyer odvetnik, advokat
moon luna, mesec
necklace ogrlica, verižica
news novica, vest
original izvirnik, original
Pacific Pacifik, Tihi ocean
plane letalo, avion
pressure tlak, pritisk
shine lesk, sijaj
soil zemlja, prst
structure struktura, zgradba
talent talent, dar
team ekipa, moštvo
text besedilo, tekst
theatre teater, gledališče
thing stvar, reč
trap past, zanka
trick zvijača, ukana, trik
wife žena, soproga
naked gol, nag
nervous živčen, nervozen
private privaten, zaseben
selfish sebičen, egoističen
smart, intelligent pameten, bister, inteligenten
spicy pikanten, pekoč
violet vijoličen, vijoličast

* the masculine form of the adjective

always vedno, zmeraj
at the same time hkrati, obenem
great sijajno, odlično, krasno, čudovito, super
here tu, tukaj
just (now) pravkar, ravnokar
last year lani, lansko leto, prejšnje leto
later pozneje, kasneje
many times dostikrat, velikokrat, mnogokrat
never nikoli, nikdar
next time naslednjič, prihodnjič, drugič
next year naslednje/prihodnje/drugo leto
now zdaj, sedaj
tonight nocoj, danes zvečer
usually običajno, ponavadi
to control nadzirati, nadzorovati, kontrolirati
to drive, to ride voziti se, peljati se
to teach učiti, poučevati

Example sentences

  1. Naš avto/avtomobil je nov. – Our car is new.
  2. Pogosto se vozim/peljem s kolesom. – I often ride a bicycle.
  3. Imam zanimivo idejo/zamisel. – I have an interesting idea.
  4. Lani/Lansko leto smo bili v Aziji. – We were in Asia last year.
  5. Nocoj/Danes zvečer gremo na koncert. – We are going to the concert tonight.
  6. Simon uči/poučuje matematiko. – Simon teaches mathematics.

Hungry for more Slovenian synonyms? Check them here.

The Feminine Nouns Ending in a Consonant

Slovenian has three grammatical genders: feminine, masculine and neuter. The feminine nouns usually end with –a, the masculine with a consonant and the neuter ones with –o or –e. However, there is a feature, where feminine nouns can also end with a consonant – the same as masculine nouns. That includes all nouns that end with –ost, –ev and –ast in singular, and some other nouns which are complete exceptions.

Feminine nouns that follow the basic rule and end with –a in singular, are declined in accordance with the first feminine declension – that means they have an ending –e in the genitive (for example: slika – slike). But the feminine exceptions which end with a consonant in singular, are declined according to the second feminine declension – they get an ending –i in the 2nd case, the genitive (for example: noč – noči).

Also, the feminine exceptions have the same ending in dual and plural (excluding nouns that end with –ev), which is –i: noč – noči (dual) – noči (plural). The ordinary feminine nouns have an ending –i in dual and –e in plural: slika – sliki (dual) – slike (plural).

Below, the feminine exceptions are arranged in 4 groups:

Feminine nouns ending in –ev

Slovenian English
breskev peach
cerkev church
odločitev decision
podkev horseshoe
trgatev grape harvest

Feminine nouns ending in –ost

Slovenian English
kost bone
mladost youth
modrost wisdom
norost craziness, madness
starost age

* But: ‘most‘, ‘bridge‘ is of the masculine gender

Feminine nouns ending in –ast

Slovenian English
last property, possession
past trap
pošast monster
rast growth
strast passion

Other feminine exceptions

Slovenian English
bolezen disease
dlan palm (hand)
jed dish
jesen autumn
kad bathtub
klet basement
klop bench
kopel bath
korist benefit, advantage
laž lie
ljubezen love
luč light
miš mouse
misel thought
moč power, strength
nit thread, strand
noč night
obrt craft, trade
obrv eyebrow
pamet sense, brains
peč furnace
perut wing (birds)
pesem song
pest fist
pomlad spring
pomoč help
pot path
reč thing, matter
skrb worry, care
sled trace
smer direction
smet dirt
smrt death
snov matter, material
sol salt
stran page, side
stvar thing
vas village
vest ‘conscience’ and ‘news’
vrv rope
zavest consciousness
zver beast
zvrst genre
žival animal

A tip on how to help you memorise the feminine exceptions is as follows: if you learn these words with an adjective or pronoun before the words, it will be easier to recognise the correct gender of nouns, since the adjectives and pronouns in singular always end with –a for the feminine gender, with a consonant for the masculine gender and with –o (before the letters c, j, č, š and ž also with –e) for the neuter gender.

Some examples:

  • lepa vas – beautiful village
  • tista luč – that light
  • moja odločitev – my decision
  • nora misel – crazy thought
  • okusna jed – tasty dish
  • morska sol – sea salt
  • spletna stran – website
  • poletna noč – summer night
  • peneča kopel – bubble bath

Common Grammatical Mistakes in Slovenian

Slovenian grammar is not one of the easiest, not even for the native speakers who commonly make mistakes while speaking or writing. The standard Slovenian language is therefore quite different from the spoken language that you will usually hear on the streets.

From my observation I have noticed quite a few mistakes the native Slovenian speakers make, which probably wouldn’t be noticed by someone who doesn’t speak the language, but would be quickly noticed by someone who pays more attention to this.

Often noticed mistakes

1. Usage of the accusative instead of the genitive case when negating verbs

The 2nd case, the genitive (rodilnik), is a case of a negation. But more and more it is common to hear it being replaced with the 4th case, the accusative (tožilnik), when negating active verbs.

Examples – Slovenian Examples – English
Affirmative Vidim stole/Jano. I see chairs/Jana.
Negative – correct (The genitive) Ne vidim stolov/Jane. I don’t see chairs/Jana.
Negative – wrong  (The accusative) Ne vidim stole/Jano. I don’t see chairs/Jana.

Also, when it comes to the personal pronouns in different cases, the personal pronouns in the genitive are sometimes replaced with the personal pronouns in the accusative when negating verbs:

Examples – Slovenian Examples – English
Affirmative Vidim jo. I see her.
Negative – correct (The genitive) Ne vidim je. I don’t see her.
Negative – wrong  (The accusative) Ne vidim jo. I don’t see her.

2. Mixing the infinitive and the supine

Beside the infinitive (nedoločnik), Slovenian also has the supine (namenilnik), which is used only with the verbs of motion (for example: iti – to go, peljati se – to ride, hoditi – to walk, teči – to run). The infinitives end with –ti or –či, and the supine is formed by omitting the vowel ‘i’ from the infinitive. Even if the latter should be used only in certain occasions, it is used almost all the time. I wonder how come Slovenians like omitting the vowels so much!

So instead of saying ‘midva se morava učiti‘, most of people would say ‘midva se morava učit‘ (we both have to learn).

Examples with the supine:

Slovenian English
Zvečer grem teč. I’m going for a run in the evening.
Pojdi pogledat, kaj se dogaja! Go see what is happening!

Examples where the supine shouldn’t be used but it often is:

English I started cycling. We can’t park here.
Correct (The infinitive) Začela sem kolesariti. Tukaj ne smemo parkirati.
Wrong (The supine) Začela sem kolesarit. Tukaj ne smemo parkirat.

Example where the supine should be used but it often isn’t:

English Go tell her.
Correct (The supine) Pojdi* ji povedat.
Wrong (The infinitive) Pojdi ji povedati.

* ’Pojdi’ is the imperative form of the verb of motion ‘iti’, ‘to go’.

3. My favourite: Wrong use of the prepositions ‘s’ and ‘z’ (with)

Prepositions ‘s‘ and ‘z‘ both mean ‘with‘, and no matter how simple the rule is, especially native speakers keep mixing them. The easiest way to use the correct preposition is by ear; the pronunciation of the preposition and noun has to sound fluent, almost like a single word.

There is also another, more school rule to memorise when to use ‘s’ or ‘z’. The words starting with the consonants from this sentence, »TA SUHI ŠKAFEC PUŠČA« (This dry pail is leaking), are used with the preposition ‘s‘. With all the other consonants plus vowels we use ‘z‘. So simple!

with mother with Vesna with Peter with Simon
Correct z mamo z Vesno s Petrom s Simonom
Wrong s mamo s Vesno z Petrom z Simonom

4. Wrong use of the pairs of prepositions ‘na – s/z’ and ‘v – iz’ (to – from)

In the Learn Slovenian Online course there is also an explanation when to use these 2 pairs of prepositions, ‘na – s/z‘ and ‘v – iz‘, which both mean ‘to (or ‘in’) – from‘ and have to be used always together. The pair ‘na – s/z’ is used with the countries and regions that end in -ska (or –ška), smaller islands and some places. It is also used when you put something on a surface. The pair ‘v – iz’ is used for most of the geographical names and places, and when you put something into something.

Pair ‘na – s/z’

Slovenian English
Grem na Dansko/Japonsko. I’m going to Denmark/Japan.
Prihajam z Danske/Japonske.* I come from Denmark/Japan.

* Here the preposition ‘iz‘ is often used, which is incorrect.

Pair ‘v – iz’

Slovenian English
Potujem v Brazilijo. I’m travelling to Brazil.
Sem iz Brazilije. I’m from Brazil.

More examples:

škatla (box):

into the box from the box
v škatlo iz škatle


to the park from the park
v park iz parka

pošta (post office):

to the post office from the post office
na pošto s pošte

miza (table):

on the table from the table
na mizo z mize

5. The dual use and confusion

A wonderful feature of the Slovenian language is dual – a grammatical number used for two objects or people. Students who learn Slovenian say to me that it is not so easy because it doesn’t exist in most of other languages, but I would say: »Do you think dual is difficult? Wait until you get to know cases.« Anyway, I realised the dual is a hard nut to crack even for Slovenians; when it comes to two things of the masculine or mixed gender it all works fine, but nothing works when we have two things of the feminine or neuter gender.

Examples of a beautiful dual:

Slovenian – Dual English
Masculine Otroka sta vesela. Two children are happy.
Feminine Punci sta prijazni. Two girls are kind.
Neuter Okni sta odprti. Two windows are open.

Deformation of dual:

Slovenian – Dual English
Masculine Otroka sta vesela. (Everything works fine!) Two children are happy.
Feminine Punce sta prijazne.* Two girls are kind.
Neuter Okna sta odprta.* Two windows are open.

* Many times the feminine gender, dual is simply replaced with the feminine gender, plural (-e ending).

* The neuter gender is often mixed with the masculine endings in dual.

Mistakes are usually made while speaking, a little bit less when writing. Apparently, there are too many ending combinations to memorise, and people use what sounds more handy to them. But I still have hope for the correct dual use in the future.

Some more examples on dual:

Two girls went to the cinema. two houses (F) two suns (N)
Correct Punci sta šli v kino. dve hiši dve sonci
Wrong Punce sta šle v kino.* dve hiše* dva sonca

* Again, the dual endings are replaced with the plural.

I really wonder what Slovenian will look like in a couple of decades. Who knows. Language is alive and is changing rapidly. Sometimes even mistakes become a rule in time. If you are interested in learning Slovenian (with no mistakes listed above of course), try our online course or private Skype lessons.

The Greatest Slovenian Poet France Prešeren

The 8th February is a Slovenian cultural holiday, called Prešeren Day (Prešernov dan). It is when Slovenians celebrate the anniversary of the death of our greatest poet France Prešeren (3 December 1800, Vrba – 8 February 1849, Kranj). On the same day the Prešeren Award (Prešernova nagrada) is given to two prominent Slovenian artists.

Prešeren is now renowned as the greatest Slovenian poet of all time, but it was not always like that. During his lifetime he wasn’t well known at all, but after his death he became famous and a real national hero, which is not an isolated case. We have seen this many times in the history of mankind.

He was way ahead in thinking for that time, so he often struggled with the then narrow-minded society. France Prešeren was a lawyer and poet who preferred to work independently, in the spirit of freedom. He created in the 19th century, the time of Romanticism (romatika), which was an era of expressing emotions, glorification of beauty, imagination and abstract thinking, a movement completely opposite to Realism.

Prešeren’s portrait

Prešeren’s portrait

Prešeren could easily be compared with other artists of that time. His collection of poems was remarkable. He mainly wrote poems (pesmi), sonnets (soneti), ballads (balade), ghazals (gazele) and romances (romance). All his works were written in the Bohorič alphabet (bohoričica) which was a little bit different from the modern Slovenian alphabet.

His famous works include:

  • Zdravljica (A Toast)
  • Sonetni venec (A Wreath of Sonnets)
  • Krst pri Savici (The Baptism on the Savica)
  • Povodni mož (The Water Man)
  • Sonetje nesreče (Sonnets of Misfortune)
  • Turjaška Rozamunda (Rosamund of Turjak)

All the works, except Zdravljica (written in 1844), are gathered in the collection of poems, called Poezije, Poems, which was published in 1847. Zdravljica couldn’t be published due to the censorship. Back then Slovenia (historically Carniola) was a part of Austrian Empire, and Prešeren wrote about national freedom and united Slovenia in Zdravljica what they obviously saw as inconvenient and therefore refused to include it in the Poems. However, the 7th stanza of Zdravljica became the Slovenian national anthem in 1989 in the Socialist Republic of Slovenia.

Sonetni venec, A Wreath of Sonnets (1833), was Prešeren’s another great work which was dedicated to his unrequited love for Julija Primic. It talks about love towards Julija and a homeland. It consists of 15 sonnets, where the last line of one sonnet begins the next. The last sonnet, called Magistrale or the Master Theme, is composed of first lines of all previous 14 sonnets, which, if read downwards, gives a name of his muse, Julija.

Dedicated to Prešeren's muse, Julija Primic; 'PRIMICOVI JULJI' (To Julija Primic) – a dedication composed of initials of each line (the acrostic). In the present-day Slovenian it would be 'PRIMIČEVI JULIJI'.

Dedicated to Prešeren’s muse, Julija Primic; “PRIMICOVI JULJI” (To Julija Primic) – a dedication composed of initials of each line (the acrostic). In the present-day Slovenian it would be “PRIMIČEVI JULIJI”.

Krst pri Savici (originally Kerst per Savici), The Baptism on the Savica (1836), is Prešeren’s epic-lyric poem dedicated to his friend Matija Čop who drowned in the Sava River. The poem is composed of a sonnet dedicated to Matija Čop, Introduction (Uvod) and The Baptism (Krst).

Introduction talks about the battle between the Christians and pagan Slavs. The leader of the latter is Črtomir, a brave hero, who fights against a violent Christianisation. The leader of Christians is Valjhun – the winner. The last part, The Baptism, is more lyric and emotional. Main characters are Črtomir and his love Bogomila. At her wish he finally let himself baptise at the famous Savica waterfall (slap Savica).

I’m sure Slovenians also remember Prešeren’s first and most famous ballad Povodni mož (The Water Man). Urška is a beautiful and conceited woman whom nobody could resist. In the Old Square (Stari trg) in Ljubljana there is a Sunday ball where Urška rejects all the candidates who want to dance with her. An evening is slowly approaching. Suddenly she beholds a mysterious man who asks her for a dance. She agrees and they begin to dance and spin faster and faster (a dramatic peak), until both disappear in the whirlpool of the Ljubljanica River. Nobody has ever seen Urška or The Water Man again.

The monument of France Prešeren in Prešeren square (Prešernov trg), Ljubljana. Above him is his muse who holds a bay sprig. Prešeren square is a modern meeting point and a place of happening and people-watching.

The monument of France Prešeren in Prešeren Square (Prešernov trg), Ljubljana. Above him is his muse who holds a bay sprig. Prešeren Square is a modern meeting point and a place of happening and people-watching.

France Prešeren’s poetry is not some of the easiest to comprehend as, I think, we all realised in high school. It is written in older Slovenian and it has a different grammatical structure that can easily give you a headache. But we have to admit he was, despite his more or less unfortunate life, a poetic genius of that time.

When to use Plural instead of Dual in Slovenian

Slovenian is one of the rare languages that has the grammatical number dual – it is used specifically for two objects or persons. But there are, ironically, also exceptions where we use plural instead of dual for two things. These are even body parts, biological functions, things like parents, pieces of clothing and footwear (pairs), and some other objects, such as earrings, ‘uhani’. Nevertheless, we can still use dual for pairs, but only when we want to emphasise two things.

Gender Singular Dual – used only when emphasized Plural – used for pairs English
                                              EVEN BODY PARTS
F noga nogi noge legs
F roka roki roke arms
N uho ušesi ušesa ears
N oko očesi oči eyes
F rama rami rame shoulders
N lice lici lica cheeks
M uhan uhana uhani earrings
                                         BIOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS
M starš starša starši parents
                                PIECES OF CLOTHES OR FOOTWEAR
F rokavica rokavici rokavice gloves
F nogavica nogavici nogavice socks
M rokav rokava rokavi sleeves
M čevelj čevlja čevlji shoes

F = feminine, N = neuter, M = masculine



Examples of use:

OČI (eyes)

Plural: Maja ima lepe oči. – Maja has beautiful eyes.

Emphasized:  Naprezal je obe očesi. – He strained both eyes.

ROKE (arms)

Plural: Kako nežne roke imaš! – What soft hands you have!

Emphasized: Luka si je poškodoval obe roki. – Luka injured both his arms.

UŠESA (ears)

Plural: Bolijo me ušesa. – My ears hurt.

Emphasized: Bolita me obe ušesi. – Both my ears hurt.

LICA (cheeks)

Plural: Sonja ima rdeča lica. – Sonja has red cheeks.

Emphasized: Sonja ima obe lici rdeči. – Sonja has both cheeks red.

UHANI (earrings)

Plural: Kako lepi uhani! – What beautiful earrings!

Emphasized: Izgubila sem oba uhana. – I lost both earrings.

ROKAVICE (gloves)

Plural: Zebe me v roke. Potrebujem rokavice. – My hands are freezing. I need gloves.

Emphasized: Obe rokavici sta raztrgani. – Both gloves are ragged.

ROKAVI (sleeves)

Plural: Rokavi so predolgi. – Sleeves are too long.

Emphasized: Oba rokava sta predolga. – Both sleeves are too long.

STARŠI (parents)

Plural: Moji starši so doma. – My parents are home.

Emphasized: Oba starša sta doma. – Both parents are home.

ČEVLJI (shoes)

Plural: To so zimski čevlji. – These are winter shoes.

Emphasized: Oba čevlja je vrgel proč. – He threw away both shoes.

When we use a dual to emphasise two things, we usually use the word ‘obe’ (F, N) or ‘oba’ (M), meaning ‘both’. Number two can also be used for emphasizing two things (dve očesi, dve nogi, dva uhana). We also need to conjugate verbs in dual and adapt adjectival or pronominal endings to the number of a noun:

Plural: Copati so topli. – Slippers are warm.

Dual: Oba copata sta topla. – Both slippers are warm.

Timeless Slovenian Movies For Young People

Quite a few unforgettable Slovenian films have lived on until the present day. Evergreen kids movies, such as Kekec, Poletje v školjki and Sreča na vrvici, have not fallen to the wayside. Furthermore, the younger generations nowadays know these nostalgic films that we grew up with well. And not just my generation, but even many generations before. Yes, some of the films are quite old now.

If you learn Slovenian, watching movies can be a fun way to do so, or listening to Slovenian music. All of the following films are available in the Slovenian libraries with English and Slovenian subtitles.

Slovenian Youth Films

Poletje v školjki (A Summer In a Sea Shell) – 1986

Directed by: Tugo Štiglic

Cast: David Sluga – Tomaž , Kaja Štiglic – Milena

A summer story takes place in Piran and Portorož – the Slovenian seaside towns. Tomaž is a rebellious teenager who lives with a mom in Piran. His father is very busy and lives in Ljubljana, so they barely see each other. To forget about the family issues a little, Tomaž spends a lot of time outside with his company. One day he meets Milena, a girl he immediately falls in love with. Two rival groups of friends – one from Piran and the other from Portorož, constantly tease each other. Also, somebody is stealing the shells, but who might that be?

The theme song for the movie, Prisluhni školjki (Listen to a shell), performed by Jani Golob, is a timeless hit that can still be heard on Slovenian radio stations. It reminds me to the sea every time I hear it. You can watch the full film on YouTube.

The second part of the film, Poletje v školjki 2, takes place in Ljubljana, two years later.

Sreča na vrvici (Hang on, Doggy!) – 1977

Directed by: Jane Kavčič

Cast: Matjaž Gruden – Matic, Nino de Gleria – Rok, Mitja Tavčar – Črni blisk

An eponymous book was written by Vitan Mal. The theme song, performed by Marjeta Ramšak, Sreča na vrvici (Luck on a string), was written by the famous Slovenian writer Svetlana Makarovič.

A little boy Matic, who lives with his mom in Ljubljana, is spending summer holidays mostly with his friends. His father is working in Libya. One day Matic gets an interesting and unexpected offer to play a leading role in a film. He accepts the offer and at the end of the shooting, they offer him a Newfoundlander, named Jakob. Matic becomes very attached to him, but because Jakob is pretty big and causes some problems to the residents of the blocks of flats, there is the question whether to keep it or not. Matic’s mom decides to publish an ad, and give the dog to the family with a big yard. But Matic and his friends are very crafty and drive away every potential buyer…

Trilogy Kekec:

Directed by: Jože Gale

Location of filming: The Gorenjska region (northwest of Slovenia)

1. Kekec – 1951

Cast: Matija Barl – Kekec, Frane Milčinski – Kosobrin, France Presetnik – Bedanec, Zdenka Logar – Mojca

The story for the film is based on the novel Kekec nad samotnim breznom by Josip Vandot. The first part of this trilogy is in black-and-white. The film Kekec also won the Golden Lion in the Venice Festival in 1952. A well-known song from the film, Kaj mi poje ptičica (What does a bird sing to me), was written by Frane Milčinski – Ježek.


Mojca is an orphan who serves a wicked man, called Bedanec, high up in the mountains. One day she meets Kosobrin, an old herbalist, who takes her with him, and saves her from Bedanec’s trap. But Bedanec wants the girl back. He ties Kosobrin to the tree. Kekec, who is a shepherd and a very brave and naughty boy, saves Kosobrin. Bedanec doesn’t like this, and obviously his next victim is none other than Kekec. Bedanec also desperately wants to find out for the path that leads to Kosobrin’s house, which is a big mystery. Even though Bedanec is so evil, it doesn’t mean he is completely fearless. He is afraid of one thing in particular. And Kekec knows what it is. How will all this end?

2. Srečno Kekec (Good Luck, Kekec) – 1963

Cast: Velimir Gjurin – Kekec, Ruša Bojc – Pehta, Blanka Florjanc – Mojca, Martin Mele – Rožle

The second part of the trilogy is the first ever Slovenian colour film.

Kekec goes for a shepherd to a country family. Be becomes a friend with Rožle and Mojca. Mojca is blind. One day she meets Pehta, a mountain herbalist, who seems a little bit scary. Mojca trusts her, and because she doesn’t see anything, Pehta seduces her and takes her to her place. Mojca is scared, but Kekec and Rožle are already on their way to save her. Rožle is very shy, so he escapes before Kekec manages to save Mojca. When Mojca says that Pehta knows a cure for her eyes, Kekec decides to find Pehta, and get eyedrops one way or another. Here a real adventure begins. Will Kekec finally soften Pehta and get eyedrops for Mojca?

Kekčeva pesem (Kekec’s song)

Kdor vesele pesmi poje
gre po svetu lahkih nog,
če mu kdo nastavi zanko,
ga užene v kozji rog.

Jaz pa pojdem in zasejem
dobro voljo pri ljudeh.
V eni roki nosim sonce,
v drugi roki zlati smeh.

Bistri potok, hitri veter,
bele zvezde vrh gora,
grejo z mano tja do konca
tega širnega sveta.

Jaz pa pojdem in zasejem
dobro voljo pri ljudeh.
V eni roki nosim sonce,
v drugi roki zlati smeh.

3. Kekčeve ukane (Kekec’s Tricks) – 1968

Cast: Zlatko Krasnič – Kekec, Leopold Bibič – Bedanec, Jasna Krofak – Mojca, Boris Ivanovski – Rožle

In the last part, evil Bedanec is back. He is a cruel hunter. A wise man Vitranc warns him about this, but he is completely deaf to this. Bedanec makes traps for the animals, but friendly and joyous Brincelj takes them away. Unfortunately his joy is over, when Bedanec finds and kidnaps him. Mojca and Rožle observe all this and run away. They tell Kekec what happened. Kekec and shy Rožle find Bedanec’s cabin, and try to save Brincelj. But exactly then Bedanec returns. Kekec manages to escape, while Rožle becomes a Bedanec’s prisoner from now on. Mojca is worried, because Kekec and Rožle are not home yet, so she decides to look for them. She finds a cavern where Vitranc resides. Meanwhile Kekec is searching a way to free his friends. Bedanec, as usually, digs a trap for the animals, and ironically, at the end, ends up in it himself – as a wise proverb says.