Common English Words In Serbian

Do you ever feel frustrated because you think you don’t know enough Serbian words to keep the conversation going? Learning Serbian can be daunting, we agree. Speaking it can be a nightmare in itself. But what if we told you that your knowledge of English could help you with your Serbian?

Today’s your lucky day! English words are pretty common in modern Serbian. Knowing which of them you can use in a conversation with Serbs will boost your confidence. We’ve prepared a comprehensive overview of the most frequently used English words in Serbian for you. You’ll also get some tips on how you can use them in everyday conversations.

Zgrabite čips i đus i pročitajte ovaj blog!

Grab some chips and orange juice and read this blog post! 

Why Are There So Many English Words In Serbian?

Did you know that English is the No1 second language taught in Serbian schools? Kids start learning English in Grade 1 in primary schools, while some even begin learning it in kindergartens. It’s unavoidable in our lives from an early age, so we’re rather used to its presence. Moreover, it’s the leading language on the Internet, TV, sport, music, and in the tech world.

Nowadays, there are modern professions that took root so quickly that Serbian vocabulary couldn’t keep up the pace with them. This resulted in accepting and using English words to convey their meaning. For instance, this is typical of the IT industry, the corporate business world, marketing, and advertising.

However, English words in Serbian date much further in the past. Both the English and Serbian language belong to the Indo-European language family. Once upon a time, there was a hypothetical ancient Proto-Indo-European language, which linguists consider to be the ancestor of modern European languages. Check how Serbian and English words evolved from the same roots here.

How To Write English Words In Serbian?

Now here comes the easiest part. You already know how to pronounce English words, right? Phonemic orthography is predominant in Serbian, which means that each letter corresponds to a certain sound. 

Thanks to Vuk Stefanović Karadžić, the reformer of the Serbian language, you just need to write the word the way you say it (e.g. weekend becomes vikend, jam becomes džem). So basically, we transcribe loan words. Simple as that!

Common English Words In Serbian

Here’s the part you’ve been patiently waiting for – a list of English words in Serbian that you can use in everyday interactions, at work, at home, and in your free time. So let’s get this going.

The -ER Nouns

You already know that nouns ending in -ER in English denote a profession or an agent in a sentence. Well, in Serbian, you’ll also find a lot of them borrowed from English:

  • plejmejker – playmaker
  • teniser – tennis player
  • trendseter – trendsetter
  • dispečer – dispatcher
  • gejmer – gamer
  • frilenser – freelancer
  • reporter – reporter

Business World

People sitting at their laptops around the table and working
English words are pretty common in the business world in Serbia.

Ko je vaš tim lider? (Who’s your team leader?)

Želeo bih da razgovaram sa menadžerom. (I’d like to speak to the manager.)

Language purists roll their eyes when they hear sentences like the ones above. Corporate English loanwords have been sprouting for the last 10-15 years, even though they have some counterparts in Serbian (tim lider is vođa tima, while menadžer could be rukovodilac, direktor, upravnik).

These words are usually used in companies that collaborate with English-speaking countries. So, it would be a tiresome process to translate every single one of them on a daily basis. However, they comply with the rules of Serbian declinations (don’t forget about the cases).

Here are some other words you may encounter in an office:

  • advertajzing – advertising
  • biznismen – businessman
  • budžet – budget
  • kopirajter – copywriter
  • eksport – export (Serbian counterparts: izvoz – noun, izvoziti – verb)
  • import – import (Serbian counterparts: uvoz – noun, uvoziti – verb)
  • rejting – rating 
  • slogan – slogan

Computing/IT

Da li si ubacio fajl u odgovarajući folder? (Did you add the file to the appropriate folder?)

Ne radi internet. Restartuj modem i ruter. (The Internet isn’t working. Restart the modem and router.)

This is your time to shine. You can lead whole conversations relating to computers and modern internet technologies solely in English, and Serbs will understand what you’re saying.

These are some of the words that are frequently used:

  • bajt – byte
  • fajl – file
  • folder – folder
  • haker – hacker
  • hardver – hardware
  • laptop – laptop
  • modem modem
  • monitor – monitor
  • ruter – router
  • sajt, vebsajt – website
  • skener – scanner
  • softver – software

Sport

Fudbalski meč je prekinut zbog huligana kada je sudija svirao ofsajd

(The football match was stopped because of the hooligans when the referee whistled offside.)

Novak Đoković je legendarni teniser. Njegov servis, ritern, forhend i bekhend su savršeni.

(Novak Djokovic is a legendary tennis player. His serve, return, forehand, and backhand are immaculate.)

Hajde da džogiramo ujutru.

(Let’s go jogging in the morning.)

Serbs are hardcore sports fans. Although they enjoy watching and commenting on all types of sports, football and tennis have a special place in their hearts. It could be the reason why the majority of English words regarding these sports are used in Serbian.

Nevertheless, there are English words in Serbian related to a wide variety of sports and activities: 

  • aperkat – uppercut
  • aut – out
  • bekhend – backhand
  • bejzbol – baseball
  • boks – boxing
  • dubl – double
  • derbi – derby
  • džoging – jogging
  • džudo – judo
  • forhend – forehand
  • fudbal – football
  • gol – goal
  • huligan – hooligan
  • meč – match
  • ofsajd – offside
  • singl – single
  • smeč – smash
  • sport – sport
  • sprint – sprint
  • tenis – tennis
  • tajmaut – timeout
  • vaterpolo – waterpolo

Film

Films aren’t immune to English loanwords. The word film itself is borrowed from English. You’ll hear that your favorite actor had an interview (intervju) for a magazine about their latest role in a musical (mjuzikl). Sketch (skeč), video (video), and jury (žiri) also fall into this category.

Music

Bili smo na rok koncertu. Bend je bio sjajan, a frontmen je bio glavni na stejdžu. Baš je harizmatičan!

(We were at a rock concert. The band was great, and the frontman ruled the stage. He’s so charismatic!)

Although there’s a Serbian word for a stage (bina), stejdž found its place in our vocabulary. The majority of music genres are transcribed into Serbian, so we have bluz (blues), džez (jazz), pank (punk), and rok (rock).

Everyday Life

Bukirali smo stan u Beogradu. (We’ve booked an apartment in Belgrade; Serbian counterpart – rezervisali smo

Baš ti je dobar autfit! (Your outfit is so good! Serbian counterpart – Baš ti je dobra odevna kombinacija!)

Da li imaš neki hobi? (Do you have a hobby?)

Hajdemo u šoping! (Let’s go shopping! Serbian counterpart – Hajdemo u kupovinu!)

As you can see from the above, English words are omnipresent in ordinary dialogues. You can use them in almost every situation.

We suggest you remember these words too:

  • bojkot – boycott
  • dil – deal
  • džemper – jumper
  • džins – jeans (usually referring to the material, not only the trousers)
  • džip – jeep
  • džungla – jungle
  • folklor – folklore
  • humor – humor
  • imidž – image (fashion and style related)
  • kauč – couch
  • keš – cash
  • koledž – college
  • kontejner – container
  • kviz – quizz
  • lift – lift; elevator
  • pidžama – pajamas
  • sef – safe (a box with locks)
  • smog – smog
  • stajling – styling
  • tabu – taboo
  • traktor – tractor
  • vikend – weekend
  • šou – show

Food and Drinks

Girls holding drinks in their hands and laughing in a nightclub
English words can help you order a drink at a Serbian bar

All roads in Serbia lead to talking about food. And drinks, too. When you’re in a pub (pab) or a bar (bar), you can order brandy (brendi), gin (džin), and a cocktail (koktel) or two. Add some fries or chips (čips) with ketchup (kečap) on the side if you’re drinking beer. Crackers (krekeri) or a sandwich (sendvič) will also do. If you aren’t into alcohol, get some freshly squeezed grapefruit (grejpfrut) or orange juice (đus*).

*we use the term đus for orange juice only

Means of Transportation

Good luck getting a taxi (uhvatiti taksi) during the rush hour in Belgrade. Look around. Maybe you’ll catch a tram (tramvaj) or a trolleybus (trolejbus).

Da li ovde staje tramvaj broj 7? (Does the tram No7 stop here?)

Idem na posao trolom broj 29. (I go to work by trolleybus No29.) 

Slang

Btw, nisam ti pričala kako je bilo kul sinoć u klubu.

(Btw, I haven’t told you how cool it was last night at the club.)

Slang (sleng) is where all the word borrowing started in the modern Serbian language. While older generations disapproved of this trend strongly, millennials were the first to embrace it. Today, we can hear that something is trash (treš) and cringe (krindž) and that somebody is an outsider (autsajder).

Is There An End In Sight?

This is just the beginning. We hope this article helped you gain an insight into how many words you can already use while in Serbia. If you want to learn Serbian, one of the easiest ways to do this is to start with the most common English words used in our language. Understanding them can help you feel more confident in your conversations with native speakers. Feel free to explore other combinations of English and Serbian words and phrases. If you need any help, contact us, and check our online lessons.

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