On the Go: Learn Verbs of Motion in Serbian

A woman doing a cartwheel on a sidewalk.

If you wish to diversify your word bank in a fun and dynamic way, it’s time to dive right into the action. By learning verbs of motion in Serbian, you’ll be able to tell your friends all about your exciting trip or a marathon that you ran. Or, that time you came home after a party and could barely walk.

Ready to start moving? Let’s begin!

Ići and Its Cousins

Among all the verbs of motion in Serbian, ići (to go) is the most common and useful. It allows us to say Idemo! (let’s go), Ideš mi na živce! (you get on my nerves), and plenty more.

So, let’s take a peep at this verb in action. Here’s how to use it in present, future, and past tense.

Present: Idem u školu svaki dan.
(I go to school every day.)

Past: Juče sam išla u školu.
(I went to school yesterday.)

Future: Sutra ću ići u školu.
(I’ll go to school tomorrow.)

A man in a business suit going to work.
On ide na posao 🙂

Verbs of Motion Derived From Ići

So, who are these cousins? Well, in Serbian, there are several verbs derived from ići. They all describe a form of movement, and each is essential for everyday communication. Therefore, you can consider them all a part of a big family.

Now, you may know that Serbian verbs have two verbal aspects — perfective (completed action) and imperfective (ongoing action). For your convenience, we’ll list each verb in both aspects, and we recommend that you memorize them in pairs.

perfective

imperfective

 

doći 

dolaziti

to come

otići

odlaziti

to leave 

proći

prolaziti

to go through

preći

prelaziti

to go across

ući

ulaziti

to enter (to go in)

izaći

izlaziti

to exit (to go out)

stići

stizati

to arrive

To see the difference, take a look at these examples:

Svako jutro odlazim na posao u sedam.
(Each morning, I leave for work at 7 o’clock.)

Jutros sam otišao na posao u sedam.
(This morning, I left for work at 7 o’clock.)

In the first example, we can see an action that occurs every day, so it’s incomplete. In contrast, that action is clearly finished in the second sentence.

Here’s another example:

Izašla sam iz autobusa.
(I went out of the bus.)

Često izlazim sa prijateljima.
(I often go out with friends.)

Irregular Verbs of Motion

Now, the verbs in the first column (ending with -ći) are irregular and, therefore, a tad trickier to conjugate than the ones ending with -ti. So, here are more example sentences with imperfective motion verbs.

 

present

past

future

doći

Želim da dođem na žurku.

(I want to come to the party.)

Došla sam tačno na vreme.

(I came right on time.)

Doći ću sutra ponovo.

(I’ll come again tomorrow.)

otići

Moram da odem odavde.

(I have to leave here.)

Otišla sam iz zemlje.

(I left the country.)

Otići ću iz ovog grada.

(I’ll leave this town.)

proći

On ne može da prođe.

(He can’t go through.)

Miš je prošao kroz rupu.

(The mouse went through a hole.)

On će proći kroz kapiju.

(He will go through the gate.)

preći

Hajde da pređemo ulicu.

(Let’s go across the street.)

Prešli smo preko reke.

(We went across the river.)

Preći ćemo preko mosta.

(We’ll go across the bridge.)

ući

Možete da uđete.

(You can come in.)

Ušli ste bez kucanja.

(You came in without knocking.)

Ući ćete na glavni ulaz.

(You’ll enter at the main entrance.)

izaći

Oni žele da izađu napolje.

(They want to go out.)

Izašli su na terasu.

(They went out on the balcony.)

Oni će izaći na sastanak.

(They will go out on a date.)

To learn how to conjugate both regular and irregular verbs, check out our guides on present, past, and future tense.

Other Common Verbs of Motion

Although ići is the most common verb of motion, there are many other ways to move.

Hodati - to walk

This verb describes the simple act of walking. For example:

Ne umem da hodam na visokim štiklama.
(I can’t walk in high heels.)

Šetati se – to stroll/take a walk

If you’re, however, walking for recreation or fun, this verb covers it.

Volim da se šetam po kiši.
(I love walking in the rain.)

If you’re wondering why šetati se has se, it’s because it’s a reflexive verb. Directly translated into English, it would be something like to walk yourself. As funny as that sounds, many verbs work like that in Serbian.

If you omit the reflexive pronoun se, this verb changes slightly in meaning and usage. Specifically, it requires an object. For instance:

Šetam psa svako jutro.
(I walk my dog every morning.)

In this case, you’re not merely taking a walk; you’re walking your dog.

A man taking a walk with headphones on his ears, listening to a podcast about verbs of motion in Serbian.
On se šeta i uči srpski 🎧

Trčati – to run

Do you love running? Then, you can say:

Obožavam da trčim.
(I love running.)

Or, if you’re not exactly an early bird (ranoranilac), you may say:

Opet sam trčala na autobus.
(I ran to catch the bus again.)

On the other hand, if you’re really ambitious, you might say:

Trčaću maraton u aprilu.
(I’ll run the marathon in April.)

By the way, do you know what it means when someone says Sve trčim? Although the literal translation is I’m running to do it, it actually means the opposite — No way I’ll do that!

For example:

Sister: Pomozi mi da uradim domaći, molim te!
(Help me do my homework, please!)

Brother: Sve trčim!
(No way!)

Bežati – to run away

In contrast, if you’re running away from something, the verb bežati covers it. For example:

Bežala sam od psa lutalice
(I was running away from a stray dog.)

On a different note, cutting classes in Serbian is bežati sa časova. So, many moms and dads have said to their children:

Ne smeš da bežiš sa časova.
(You mustn’t cut classes.)

Vratiti se – to come back

Whenever you go somewhere and come back, this verb will come in handy. For example:

Sinoć smo se vratili sa odmora.
(We came back from our vacation last night.)

Just like šetati se, this verb is also reflexive and requires se. If you use it without the pronoun, you’ll get a different meaning — to give back something. For instance, if you’ve borrowed money from someone, you might say:

Vratiću ti novac sutra.
(I’ll give you the money back tomorrow.)

Voziti (se) – to drive/have a ride

Similarly, this verb can go with se, or without:

  • Voziti – to drive
  • Voziti se – have a ride

The difference is quite simple. In the first case, you’re the driver. In the second one, you’re just having a ride in a particular vehicle.

Here are the examples:

Svaki dan vozim auto.
(I drive my car every day.)

Volim da se vozim tramvajem.
(I like to have a ride on a tram.)

A girl riding on a bus.
Ona se vozi ali ne vozi autobus 🚌

Putovati – to travel

Do you like to travel? Then, you can say:

Prosto obožavam da putujem.
(I simply love traveling.)

Or, if you have plans already:

Putujem u Kanadu sledećeg meseca.
(I’m traveling to Canada next month.)

Advanced Verbs of Motion

Once you master the more basic verbs of motion, it’s time to spice up your word bank with advanced ones. After all, you’re not always just going somewhere. Sometimes, you’re rushing.

Juriti – to rush

Svako jutro jurim na posao.
(I rush to work every morning.)

A train running really fast.
Voz juri 🚂

Puziti - to crawl

Beba puzi po podu.
(The baby is crawling on the floor.)

Vući se - to drag one's feet

Mom: Prestani da se vučeš. Zakasnićeš u školu.
(Stop dragging your feet. You’ll be late to school.)

Son: Spava mi se 😴
(I’m sleepy.)

Teturati se – to totter

Posle trećeg pića, počeo je da se tetura.
(After the third drink, he started tottering.)

Skitati – to wander around

This verb is about those times when you go out and do nothing special. For instance, that includes spending time with friends, going to a cafe, and simply walking around.

Nisam radila ništa posebno. Ceo dan sam skitala.
I did nothing special. I spent the whole day wandering around.

Keep Moving Forward: Practice Verbs of Motion in Serbian

Of course, knowing how to say you went, left, or came back to some place is essential for any language learner. By mastering the verbs of motion in Serbian, you’ll up your fluency and become a more confident speaker.

So, follow this guide, come up with your own examples, and use them in conversations.

Finally, if you want more practice, our pre-intermediate course covers verbs of motion and lots more. Get it now and study Serbian in your free time at your own pace!

One Response

  1. A very common and useful one I didn’t see on the article was krenuti/kretati! I was really puzzled the first time I found it and then I found out that it’s used really often in Serbian.

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