Serbian Question Words: An Easy Guide

A white question mark on a blackboard representing Serbian question words.

Learning a new language can be joyous and complex at the same time. The moment you think you’ve grasped what’s going on, something new comes up. Luckily, you’re not alone on this path. Even though languages can be complicated, a tremendous amount of joy awaits you once you learn a new phrase or master small talk. So, even if you’re learning Serbian on your own or are attending a course, asking questions is one of the most vital abilities that need mastering. In today’s post, we will walk you through Serbian question words in a simplified and easy-to-master way. 

Serbian question words: The list

Have you ever walked the streets of Belgrade or Novi Sad and heard people say lines such as Koliko je ovo, Gde da dođem, Šta je ovo, and so on? Hearing something you cannot understand while traveling around the country can be scary and discouraging. However, these kinds of situations shouldn’t get to you. 

If you wish to learn Serbian and be able to communicate with the locals, our best advice is to do a little preparation and make yourself open to communication possibilities. Don’t worry if your grammar isn’t perfect from the start. The most important thing is to get talking and pick up grammar as you go.

Therefore, learning the essential question words and how to form questions will go a long way toward preventing miscommunication between you and the locals. After all, questions are what keep the conversation going in any language. Even though it all starts with a ‘hello’ in Serbian, it progresses with different types of interrogation.

Thus, without further ado, here is the ultimate list of question words in Serbian you need to know.

  • ŠTA (what)
  • KADA (when)
  • GDE (where)
  • ODAKLE (where from)
  • ZAŠTO (why)
  • KAKO (how)
  • KOLIKO (how much/how many)
  • KOLIKO DUGO (how long)
  • KOJI (which one)
  • ČIJI (whose)
  • DA LI… (Do you…/Whether)

Serbian question words: Examples

Below, you will find a list of question words in Serbian in the most common examples that will help you build your vocabulary and grasp question formation.

1) Šta je to? 

The English translation of this question is: What’s that? 

2) Kada ti počinje čas?

When does your class start?

3) Gde živis? Gde on živi?

Where do you live?

Where does he live?

4) Odakle si?

Where are you from? 

5) Zašto si tužna? Zašto mi nisi rekla?

Why are you sad?

Why didn’t you tell me?

6) Kako da dođem do Kalemegdana? 

How can I get to Kalemegdan?

7) Koliko imaš godina? Koliko ovo košta?

How old are you?

How much is this?

A man in a pastry shop trying to buy cake while asking questions in Serbian
Koliko je ovo? and Šta je ovo? are probably the two most common questions you will use when shopping.

8) Koliko dugo učiš srpski?

How long have you been learning Serbian?

9) Koji ti je omiljeni film? Koji ti se više dopada?

What’s your favorite movie?

Which one do you prefer?

10) Čija je ovo torba?

Whose bag is this?

11) Da li voliš slatko ili slano pecivo?

Do you like sweet or savory pastry?

Interrogative sentences in Serbian: Putting the Serbian question words in use

Now that you’re familiar with the most common question words in the Serbian language, it’s time to learn to put them into use. Aka, form and ask questions. 

Roughly speaking, there are three main types of interrogative sentences in Serbian:

  1. Yes/no questions,
  2. Wh- questions, and
  3. Indirect type of questions.

1. Yes/no questions

As the name suggests, these questions require a yes or no answer. The two most common ways to ask this type of question in Serbian are using the question word DA LI or question word particle LI.

  • DA LI

The question word da li goes in front of the interrogative sentence. For example,

Da li učiš srpski? (Are you learning Serbian?)

Da li Milica radi? (Does Milica work?)

Therefore, the word order goes as follows: 

DA LI + (subject) + VERB

The subject is optional, as verb formation in the Serbian language makes the person obvious.

Words YES and NO on a crimson wallpaper representing yes/no questions in Serbian.
There are two most common ways to ask a yes/no question in Serbian.
  • LI

Li is a question word particle that we insert after the main verb. 

For instance, you could ask:

Da li si radio danas? or Jesi li radio danas? (Did you work today?)

The two questions mean the same. However, the word order is different. For example, with the question word particle LI, the word order is:

VERB + LI + any other word.

Here are some additional examples:

Jesi li video Sanju danas? (Did you see Sanja today?)

Ideš li u školu? (Do you go to school?)

Hoće li Sofija učiti srpski? (Will Sofija learn Serbian?)

2. Wh- questions

The type of question where Serbian question words are necessary is the so-called wh- questions. These types of questions ask about a specific part of the sentence.

In English, the wh-words, logically, mainly start with wh. On the other hand, the question words in Serbian usually begin with k, like ko (who), koji (which), and koliko (how many/how much). However, other question words start with different letters, like šta (what), zašto (why), where (gde), and so on.

Here are some examples.

Ko je to? (Who’s that?)

Ko to svira gitaru? (Who is playing the guitar?)

Šta studiraš? (What do you study?)

Gde ideš? (Where are you going?)

Koju knjigu čitaš? (What book are you reading?)

Zašto si ljuta? (Why are you angry?)

The word WHY on a pink wallpaper.
Serbs are very communicative and empathetic people, so prepare to use the Serbian question word Zašto quite frequently. Or at least answer these questions. 🙂

As a comparison, the question words in Serbian also stand in front of the sentence, as in English, with the word order being:

QUESTION WORD + VERB (subject) + OBJECT.

A preposition can also precede the question word in Serbian words. This type of question formation isn’t typical for English. On the contrary, people tend to put prepositions at the end of interrogative sentences in English. However, we do it differently with Serbian.

Let’s look at some examples:

Sa kime ideš na koncert? (Who are you going to the concert with?);

Od koga si dobila taj poklon? (Who did you get that present from?).

3. Indirect question types 

Finally, another prevailing type of interrogative sentence in Serbian is the indirect type. This type of interrogative sentence doesn’t have a question mark at the end. However, we do use Serbian question words to form them. 

The indirect question types are declarative sentences with question words DA LI or Serbian wh-words introducing the subordinate sentence. Here are some examples:

  • Indirect questions with the word order same as in yes/no questions:

Ne znam da li ću doći na rođendan. (I don’t know whether ill come to the birthday party.)

Pitam se da li će mi poslati poruku. (I wonder if he’ll text me.)

Ne znam da li je Milena došla na concert. (I don’t know whether Milena came to the concert.)

  • Indirect questions with the word order same as in wh-word questions

Pitam se kada ću kupiti stan. (I wonder when I will buy a flat.)

Nisam sigurna o čemu ću pričati. (I’m not sure what I will talk about.)

Wrapping up Serbian question words

And there you have it. This was the essential guide to Serbian question words and question formations. We recommend you study it a bit and then head to the nearest restaurant to try some of the best dishes in Serbia while ordering and asking questions in Serbian.If you wish to master question formation or any other subject area regarding the Serbian language, don’t hesitate to get in touch with usWe will gladly help. Happy learning!

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