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The Serbian Vocative Case: Endings and Usage

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The vocative case endings for the three possible classes of Serbian nouns are given in Table 1 below.

Table 1: The vocative case of Serbian nouns
  Class I
(masculine: ending in a consonant in nominative)
Class I
(neuter: ending in –o or –e in nominative)
Class II
(feminine: ending in -a in nominative)
Class III
(feminine: ending in a consonant in nominative)



'(badly behaved) child’


















When to use the vocative case?

The name vocative comes from the Latin verb vocare which means ‘to call, to voice’. Thus, the vocative case is used when you want to address or call a person (or a thing – metaphorically speaking). 

Some phonological variations in vocative endings 

For Class I masculine nouns, the vocative ends in –e in singular, and –i in plural (which is equivalent to the nominative plural).

  • Please note that nouns ending in the following consonants: k, g, h undergo palatalization (or consonant ‘softening’) before the vocative ending –e. Some examples:
    nominative singular: čovekman drugcomrade’   duhspirit
    vocative singular: čovečehey man družehey comrade dušehey spirit

    However, this rule doesn’t apply to foreign proper names. Examples:
    nominative singular: Dik ‘Dick Greg ‘Greg Bah ‘Bach
    vocative singular: Dik ‘Dick Greg ‘Greg Bah ‘Bach
  • The nouns ending in the following consonants: č, ć, đ, lj, nj, š, ž, have their singular vocative endings in –u, not –e. Some examples:
    mladić-uyoung man muž-uhusband prijatelj-ufriend
    This rule doesn’t apply to proper male names, like: Miloš-e, Uroš-e.
  • The nouns ending in –r can have either endings –e or –u. Examples:
    lekar-e, lekar-udoctor poštar-e, poštar-u ‘mailman’  
  • And finally, another exceptional noun is bratbrother’, which has an irregular vocative ending –o in plural:
    brat-e vs. brać-obrothers’.
  • Most class I neuter nouns have both singular and plural vocative endings equal to their nominatives: -o or -e in singular (e.g. sel-ovillage’, poljefield’) and –a in the plural (e.g. sel-avillages’,  poljafileds’). However, the exception to this rule arises with neuter nouns that denote young persons or animals. Their singular vocative ending is regular: either –o or –e, but their plural vocative ending is either –i, just like Class I masculine nouns, or –ad. With the –ad ending, these nouns behave like collective nouns.

    Table 2: Vocative endings of neuter nouns denoting young persons or animals
    vocative singular momče
    ‘young lad’
    vocative plural -i: momčići
    ‘young lads’
    vocative plural -ad: momčad
    ‘young lads’
  • The following neuter nouns have the vocative plural ending in –o, just like feminine singular nouns:
    vocative singular detechild’        unuče grandchild pilechick telecalf
    vocative plural -o: decochildren unučićigrandchildren pilićichicks teliići calves
  • Most Class II feminine nouns have the vocative singular ending in –o, as indicated above.

    This includes two-syllable proper names (both female and male) which have a long-rising accent on the first syllable in the nominative singular: In the examples below, I indicated a long-rising accent with the capital letters. In the vocative, the first vowel changes to a long-falling accent.
    nominative singular : NAda, MIca (female names) JOva, PEra (male names)
    vocative singular: Miro, Mico Jovo, Pero
  • Most other proper names (both female and male) have the vocative ending in –a, just like the nominative:
    female names:   Larisa, Marija, Vera                   male names:   Nikola, Luka

    However, proper names ending in –ica that are three or more syllables long, have the vocative ending in –e, not –a or –o.
    nominative singular: Marica (female name) Radojica (male name)
    vocative singular: Marice Radojice
  • And finally, male denoting common nouns that belong to this feminine class have either ending in –a (just like the nominative ending) or –o: Examples:
    mušterij-a, mušterij-ocustomer sudij-a, sudij-ojudge


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