Being able to give an opinion and discuss important topics is a goal that every language learner aspires to. In addition, many language learners strive to be able to effectively use a foreign language to share information, discover new things and persuade others.
However, your ability to accomplish such things is affected by the words and phrases that you choose to say. If you are able to use the right ones in the right situations, you’ll come across as bright and interesting, while saying inappropriate words and phrases can put people off. That is why having a deep and extensive knowledge of their appropriate use is vitally important. Therefore, this article will teach you some of the words and phrases that will help you make a great impression when having a conversation or giving a speech in Serbian.
So, let's start our journey through one of the world’s most beautiful languages!
Asking about Opinions
Sometimes, when starting a conversation, you might want to hear about the other person’s opinion on a particular topic. It’s always a great idea to show interest in your partner and make them feel as though their thoughts are valuable to you, being that we always appreciate those who show interest in us.
Here is one way to ask about opinions:
- Šta misliš (mislite) …? What do you think...?
- Šta misliš, hoće li danas padati kiša? Do you think that it will rain today?
Apart from misliti (to think), Šta collocates with such verbs as smatrati (to consider) and pretpostavljati (to suppose), which sound more formal when compared to misliti and smatrati.
A second way to ask about opinions is: Da li (do) + present tense verb + something.
A third way is to use: Kako (how) + reflexive verb se + verb + something. Here are some examples:
- Da li misliš da će se sutra prolepšati vreme? Do you think that the weather will get better tomorrow?
- Da li pretpostavljate da bi trebalo da im dopustimo da otvore vrata prodavnice? Do you suppose that we should allow them to open a shop?
- Šta misliš (mislite) o …? What do you think about...?
- Šta misliš o njegovom novom drugu? What do you think about his new friend?
- Каko se odnosiš (odnosite) prema...? How do you feel about...?
- Kako se nosite s problemom o usvajanju dece iz inostranstva? How do you feel about the problem of adopting foreign children?
- Po tebi (Vama) kako …? What’s your opinion...? (in this case, the word "opinion" is omitted).
- Po tebi, kako će da prođe na ispitu? What is your opinion, will he pass this exam?
You can also ask about opinions in the following ways:
- Po tebi, on/ona će položiti ispit?
- Po tvom mišljenju on/ona će položiti ispit?
- Misliš li da će on/ona položiti ispit?
Finally, you can try to sound important and clever by asking someone's opinion like this:
- Kakvo je Vaše mišljenje po tom pitanju? What is your opinion concerning this question? (in this case, we use Vaše instead of tvoje, which makes it sound more formal).
Giving an Opinion
Once you have found out what your companion thinks and have listened to their ideas, you should express your own thoughts.
The easiest way to do this is just to say:
- Po meni … In my opinion ...
- Po meni, tvoj pas je veći od mog In my opinion, your dog is bigger than mine.
You can also say:
- Deluje mi (čini mi se) da … It seems to me that ... (we use the dative form of the pronoun here).
- Deluje mi da će padati kiša. It seems to me that it will be raining.
- Ja mislim / smatram / pretpostavljam, da... I think / consider / suppose that ...
- Ja mislim da ti dobro govoriš srpski. I think you speak Serbian well.
- Ja mislim da se moda jako brzo menja. I think fashion changes very quickly.
- Koliko ja znam... As far as I know...
- Koliko ja znam, Marija više ne živi u Srbiji. As far as I know, Maria doesn't live in Serbia anymore.
If you want to ask the other person what they think after you have just expressed your own opinion, you can simply ask:
- А ti? / А vi? And you? (the most common way)
- Mislim da je povrće zdravo, а ti? I think that vegetables are healthy, and you?
- Po meni, sutra ćemo imati test, а po tebi? In my opinion, we are going to have a test tomorrow, and what do you think?
Everybody likes when people agree with their ideas and opinions, so you shouldn’t keep quiet if you like something your partner has just said. In order to let someone know that you agree with them, we use the following phrases:
- (To je) tačno It's true.
- Istina Truth.
- Tako je That’s right.
- Upravo tako Exactly.
- U pravu si / ste You are right.
- Slažem se (sa tobom / s vama) I agree (with you).
- Apsolutno That's absolutely right (strong confirmation of someone's opinion).
- I ja tako mislim I think so too.
- Možda Maybe; perhaps.
- Mislim da da I think so.
- Verovatno Possibly.
- Moguće Probably.
- Nema sumnje There is no doubt.
- Ne sumnjam da… I don't doubt that ….
- Svakako Certainly.
- Naravno Of course.
If we disagree and decide to make it obvious to our partner, we might say:
- Nije tačno That's not true.
- To nije istina That’s not true (literally: That’s not truth).
- Niste u pravu / Nisi u pravu You’re not right.
- Grešite / Grešiš You’re wrong.
- Ne slažem se sa tobom/sa Vama I don't agree (with you).
- Ne mislim tako I don't think so.
- Ne, naprotiv No, it's the other way around.
- To je besmisleno! That's nonsense!
- To je glupost! That's dumb!
- Da li si poludeo / poludela? Are you crazy or something?
Other, more sophisticated ways to disagree are:
- Ne delim Vaše (tvoje) mišljenje po tom pitanju I do not share your opinion concerning this question.
- Moram da se ne složim s Vama (s tobom) I have to disagree.
Lack of Understanding
If you didn't understand what your partner said, say something. Otherwise you might have a misunderstanding. Here are some suggestions for what you could say:
- Ponovi molim te / ponovite molim Vas? Would you please repeat that?
- (Izvini/izvinite) nisam razumeo / razumela (Excuse me) I didn't understand.
- Šta si rekao/rekla (Šta ste rekli)? What did you say?
- Da li bi mogao/mogla da ponoviš sporije (Da li biste mogli da ponovite sporije)? Could you speak more slowly, please?
- Šta imaš/imate u vidu? What do you mean?
- Kako to misliš/mislite? How do you mean? (Literal translation)
- U kom smislu? In what sense?
- Šta to znači? What does that mean?
- Da li si siguran/sigurna (Da li ste sigurni)? Are you sure?
Sometimes we can be very surprised by something that we just found out. In such cases, we would definitely say something along the lines of:
- (To je) nemoguće! It’s impossible!
- Teško je poverovati u to That's hard to believe.
- Šta to govoriš/govorite ?! What did you say?!
- Šališ se/Šalite se? Are you joking?
Or, we could use some more colloquial phrases:
- Ma daj! Oh, come on!
- Ma idi! Oh, come on!
- Zezaš me? Are you kidding me?
- Daj! This is the imperative form of the verb dati (to give). However, ma daj is a phrase that is used to express surprise.
- Idi This is the imperative form of the verb ići (to go). However, ma idi is a phrase that is also used to express surprise.
If you would like to show your indifference to a particular problem or topic, here are some phrases that you can use:
- Svejedno mi je I am indifferent to it.
- Ne interesuje me I'm not interested.
- Briga me za to I don't care about this.
- Baš me briga za to I really don’t care about this.
- Briga me šta ljudi pričaju I don't care what people say.
- Nevažno (you can also say: “nebitno”) mi je It's not important for me.
Changing the Subject
After that saying something like the phrases above, you might want to change the subject. Here are some tips on how to do that:
- Ne želim da pričam o tome I don't want to talk about it.
- Ne bih sad o tome I would not like to talk about it now.
- Promenimo temu Let's change the subject.
- Pređimo na drugu temu Let's talk about something else.
- Prestani s tim Stop with that.
- Dosta (o tome) That's enough (of this).
Providing Guidance in a Speech or Story
If you are going to tell someone a story or give a speech on a particular topic, you might need certain words to help guide your listener through your talk:
- Kao prvo Firstly.
- Kao drugo Secondly.
- Kao treće Thirdly.
- Na početku (you can also say: na startu) In the beginning.
- U zaključku: In conclusion.
- Hoću da ti/Vam skrenem pažnju na ovaj problem I want to draw your attention to this problem.
If you want to prove your point, it’s always helpful to state that something is a common opinion or a well-known fact:
- Svi znaju da... Everybody knows, that ...
- Očigledno je da It's obvious that ...
- Bez ikakvih sumnji, to je važan problem Undoubtedly, it's an important problem.
- Opšte je poznato da… It's widely known that ...
Before I finish, I would like to tell you an interesting fact: young Serbian people enjoy using English words a lot. It is for this reason that when they want to change the subject, they usually show you the palm of their hand, smile and say “Talk to the hand” in English. Just so you know, this phrase is very informal and translates to Pričaj s rukom in Serbian.
Please, only use this phrase with close family and friends. Don’t use the English phrase “talk to the hand” when speaking with grandparents because most of them don’t speak English and won’t understand you.
So, I am happy to say that you’ve now just learned words and phrases that are going to make your conversations in Serbian much more varied and interesting. The only thing you should do now is find a language partner and practice all of the phrases that you’ve just learned.
If you need any more help, please feel free to contact me. I’ll be willing to help you.
Also, I would like to read your comments. Please, write them in the “Discussion” section below. Thank you for reading and happy Serbian learning!