People also ask Google: How do Croatians Greet Each Other?

By 27 February 2021
How do Croatians greet each other?
How do Croatians greet each other?

February 27, 2021 – How do Croatians greet each other? Saying hello isn't always as straightforward as it could be in any language. But, in Croatian, there's no need to be apprehensive. The rules are easy to master. Until you enter the minefield of personal space intrusion. Oh, and the thing with the eyes...

If you're asking how do Croatians greet each other, you're probably considering greeting a Croat in their own language. Bravo! By and large, Croatians are bilingual or multilingual. They mostly learn and speak English to an excellent standard. Why do they do this?

Well, Croatians are more than aware that 1.5 billion people in the world speak English. That's 20% of the world's population. They use the English they learn in business, tourism and when they travel or go abroad to work or live. Croatians are also more than aware that only around 4 million people live in their country. By comparison, very few people in the world speak Croatian.

That's why it's particularly impressive to a Croat if you make an effort to greet them in the same way Croatians greet each other. You're making your first tiny step in the Croatian language. And you're showing respect. Needless though your efforts probably are, they will be met with appreciation by the Croatians you greet. They will also be met by a return greeting in Croatian. Let's do the simple stuff first. You can be proficient at this in under 5 minutes.

How do Croatians greet each other? Dobar dan

How do Croatians greet each other? Dobar dan

The standard greeting in Croatian is 'Dobar dan'. This means 'Good day'. You will actually hear 'Dobar dan' at any time of day.

If you go in the supermarket at 9am, the person on the checkout may say 'Dobar dan' to you, even though it is morning. This is not only because 'Dobar dan' is such a standard greeting, but it's also because they've been working since 6am. While you were sleeping. It definitely feels like 'dan' to them.

Whether or not the 'dan' is indeed 'dobar', you will have to ascertain from looking at their face. But, it's actually irrelevant if their day or your day is good or not. You say 'Dobar dan'. It's the standard greeting.

If a Croatian says 'Dobar dan' to you, the correct reply is, of course, 'Dobar dan'. If this is not your first meeting, or if you know the person you're greeting, this will probably be followed by 'Kako ste?' (formal) or 'Kako si?' (informal). This means 'How are you?' The standard reply is 'Dobro' (OK/Good), closely followed by 'a vi?' (formal) or 'a ti?' (informal). That means 'And you?' But, we're jumping ahead of ourselves a little.

If it is the morning, the standard Croatian greeting should change to 'Dobro jutro'. Obviously, this means 'Good morning.'

If it is the evening, obviously you change to 'Good evening'. The Croatian for 'Good evening' is a little contentious.

You'll notice that the word 'Good' in the morning and daytime greeting is not spelled the same. That's because each noun in Croatian has a gender. Like in French or German, there are three genders for Croatian nouns – male, female, neutral (don't call this third one 'non-binary' or 'bisexual', Croatians don't find that funny)

It's 'Dobar dan' because the word 'dan' is male. It's 'Dobro jutro' because the word 'jutro' is neutral.

The word 'večer' is feminine. The correct way to say 'Good evening' in Croatian is, therefore 'Dobra večer'. But, that's not altogether how do Croatians greet each other in the evening.

In place of 'Dobra večer', you can also hear 'Dobro večer', 'Dobro veče' and 'Dobar večer'. For simplicity's sake, just stick to the correct 'Dobra večer' and you'll be fine.

Other variations of these standard greetings remove the 'Good' altogether. So, you'll definitely hear 'jutro', 'dan' and 'večer' or 'veče'. This actually makes them slightly less formal. These would be usually be expressed between people who are familiar with each other – a work colleague, someone you share a house with, the lady in the store who saw you a hundred times before.

If you're meeting someone for the first time, stick to 'Dobar dan', 'Dobro jutro' or 'Dobra večer'

How to greet in Croatian in a formal way
men-1979261_640.jpgHow do Croatians greet each other? Formal greetings are a whole other ballgame

There are some circumstances in which more formality is required if you're greeting in Croatian. The best example would be when you start writing a letter or email to someone you don't know, such as in an application for a job.

In this instance, you would start the letter or email with the word 'Poštovani'. In letter writing, this is used in place of the English word 'Dear'. But, it probably more closely translates as 'Greetings' but formal. The word for 'dear' is 'dragi' or 'draga', but this more applies to 'dear to me', rather than the opening of formal communication.

If you're writing a letter or email, begin with 'Poštovani'. You use this word to address your letter to a man or to multiple people. If you don't know if the recipient of your letter or email will be a man or woman, 'Poštovani' is perfect – you're covered because it addresses multiple people.

If you know for sure that the recipient of your mail will be a lady, then use 'Poštovana. As with 'Dobra večer', you can see the word has changed to have an 'a' on the end. 'A' denotes a feminine noun or that you are addressing a female in Croatian.

Learning the gender of every Croatian noun takes time. But, if you remember 'a' means female, you're on your way. It's easy to remember – it's near impossible to think of a Croatian female name that doesn't end in 'a' – Marija, Vedrana, Mia, Ema, Lucija, Lana, Sara, Petra, Ana.

'Poštovani' is not only used in written Croatian. You will hear it spoken and it is used in formal situations. Back to the supermarket. When the staff want to warn you the store will soon close, you'll usually hear one of them start their call over the tannoy system with 'Poštovani kupci' (dear/greetings shoppers).

You may also hear poštovani used in combination with the standard greetings. “Poštovani i dobar dan” This is a quite formal and flowery use of language.

Another formal greeting in Croatian, but less formal than 'Poštovani', is 'Zdravo'. This is more commonly used among older generations of Croatians. One slightly less formal than Zdravo is 'Pozdrav'. Pozdrav is kind of in the middle of formal and informal, but if you use it in a formal setting, nobody will mind at all. Like some other Croatian greetings, pozdrav is also used to end a dialogue, to say goodbye. Sometimes, when used as a denotation of parting, pozdrav is shortened to 'poz'. Poz is extremely informal. You would only ever say 'Poz' to a friend.

How do Croatians say hello to their friends? How to greet someone in Croatian informally?


swedishchefbork.pngThe famous catchphrase of the Swedish chef character from The Muppets is "börk, börk, börk". This isn't actually a word in Swedish. To you, this may sound similar to how your Croatian friends greet each other casually with the word "bok". To them, it doesn't (not least because the Croatian 'r' is rolled and pronounced much more strongly than in English). Don't compare your Croatian friends with the Swedish chef. They will think you're an idiot and not at all funny.

The standard way to say 'Hi' to a friend in Croatian is 'Bok'. This is a very informal greeting.

You wouldn't say it to the lady in the supermarket or store unless you know them and have spoken several times before. Similarly, you wouldn't say it to your elders, your boss or your friend/girlfriend's parents, unless they first say 'Bok' to you. After you're greeted with 'Bok', you know you're in safe 'Bok' territory with this person.

This is actually a pretty good line to follow in many ways when both greeting a Croatian and when using the Croatian language generally. Want to know if you can downgrade your 'a vi?' (formal) to 'a ti?' (informal). An older Croatian will decide when you are acquainted well enough to call them 'ti' and they will tell you. Following someone else's lead is also the essential way of dealing with the physical aspects of greeting someone in Croatian.

Ask a Croatian where the word 'Bok' comes from and many won't have an answer. It's unique to Croatia. Though the language used in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost identical to Croatian, they don't say 'Bok' in those countries (unless you are a Croat living in Bosnia and Herzegovina and you are greeting another Croat).

The Croatian word for God is 'Bog'. It would be a very good guess to assume that the word 'Bok' is a shortened version of an old Croatian greeting that contained the word God - 'God be with you', 'God bless you'. Many now archaic greetings using the word God can be found in almost every language within the Christian world. Indeed, Croatians still use religious text in greetings to this day. If you want to greet a nun or a priest in Croatian, you will always say 'Hvaljen Isus' or 'Hvaljen Isus i Marija' (Thanks be to Jesus or Thanks be to Jesus and Mary).

Other informal Croatian greetings

Croatians have many different and creative ways to greet their friends. Translating some of these is difficult. Recognising them as actual words is no easier.

The 'Dalmatian grunt', as intensely featured in TCN's great video series, is one you might learn to recognise. But, it may not be worth trying to master it yourself. In many instances, it sounds similar to the cry of a large sea mammal that is in distress.

seal-1347886_640.jpgHow do Croatians greet each other? Dalmatian is a tricky dialect to master

Similarly, you might hear a rather startling abbreviation of 'Hey!'. Hey is Croatian is 'Hej' (the letter j in Croatian is pronounced like y is in English). Hej is quite often shortened to 'Ej', although this is sometimes slightly harder in meaning.

For instance, your friend might say 'Hej' to you as a greeting and it will be delivered with a smile and softly spoken (well, as softly spoken as Croatian gets). But, if someone wants you to stop doing something that is dangerous, foolish or annoying, they might more sternly say 'Ej!'

If you're causing offense or being rude and someone wants you to desist or check yourself, they might actually say 'Hallo' or 'Alo'. Yes, 'Hello' is an English word that Croatians have adopted into their own language. And in Croatian, it doesn't mean hello. You might hear the word 'Hallo' or 'alo' used to attract the attention of a waiter or barman. More often, you'll hear the word 'Sorry' used to get a waiter or barman's attention. 'Sorry' is another English word adopted by Croats. And, again, in Croatian, it doesn't mean 'sorry'. If you said 'sorry' to an English or American barman, they might wonder if you're about to inform them of the affair you're having with their wife or of the drink you've spilled. To say sorry in Croatian, you say either 'Zao mi je' (I'm sorry to hear that) or 'Oprosti mi' (Forgive me). The correct way to get a waiter's attention in Croatian is actually to say 'izvinite' (Excuse me). All waiters will recognise this, but some of your Croatian friends around the restaurant table might give you a weird look if you say it, depending on where they are from. That's because truly correct Croatian sounds more like Serbian to some Croatians than the modern language or local dialect they use.

The lowest grade of 'Hej' that you need to recognise as a friendly or informal greeting is one employed by people from Bosnia. They might greet you with the monosyllabic 'Eeeeeeeee'. The exact number of e's in this greeting is influenced by regional dialect, the closeness of friendship, how long it's been since the greeter saw you and how much alcohol they've had to drink. As this is a common greeting for those originally from Bosnia, it is very common to hear 'Eeeee' throughout the streets of Zagreb.

How do Croatians greet each other informally? Ćao

Ćao is more often than not how you'd say 'Hi' in Italian. Traditionally, the second language of many Croatians in the coastal regions was this language. As a result, Ćao has entered the Croatian language and is now a perfectly normal way of saying Hi, especially if you're on the coast. Indeed, it is also commonly used by young people in Zagreb. However, 'Ćao' is also the definitive way to say 'Hi' in Serbia. To some in the east of Croatia, to some in Zagreb, and moreover, to some older people who are not from coastal regions, 'Ćao' is Serbian, not Italian, and therefore rather frowned upon. Such persons prefer more distinctly Croatian greetings.

How do Croatians greet each other? Where are you?

binoculars-1209011_640.jpgHow do Croatians greet each other? Where are you?

The most charming and initially unusual greeting you will receive from a Croatian friend is that they will ask you where you are. 'Gdje si?' is 'Where are you?' in Croatian. You won't often hear that as a greeting. Because this is an informal greeting between friends, it is usually shortened. In Dalmatia, they say 'Di si?'. In other parts of Croatia, they say 'De si?' (specifically, in Primorje, Zagorje and some in Zagreb). Bosnians pronounce it 'Đe si?' (pronounced Dje si). So, in Zagreb, you'll hear all three.

The correct response to a Croatian asking you where you are is to ask them also where they are. Yes, it's completely self-evident where you both are. You're looking at one another. That's not the point. Just say 'De si ti?' in reply and be done with it. If your logic takes over and you instead reply 'Evo me' (I'm here), you're breaking the rules of the game. But, as this is an informal greeting between friends, your pal will recognise you are an idiot foreigner, forgive you instantly and smile.

How to physically greet someone in Croatia

woman-888406_640.jpgHow do Croatians greet each other? Shake a paw


A handshake upon your first meeting with someone is pretty standard, just as it is anywhere in the English-speaking world. Just as you do elsewhere, you must look the person you're shaking hands with directly in the eye as you do so. Anything other than direct eye contact may be met suspiciously or as rudeness on your part. It's the same everywhere, so just do it.

How do Croatians greet each other? Watch the eyes!

It's also very good practice for later that evening. If you can master the hand-coordination-whilst-looking-elsewhere required for a greeting, you're well on your way to being able to take part in Croatian toast. In a bar or at a party, when a toast is made and you clink glasses and say 'cheers!', you similarly have to look your co-cheerer directly in the eye.

This is much more difficult to do if you are worried about spilling your full pint during the clink because Croatian custom demands you take your eyes off the golden prize. The way around this is to have a sneaky sip before the toast, so you don't spill any. But, actually, you're supposed to toast before the first sip. Ah well, you'll just have to figure that one out yourself.

Kissy, kissy, free hugs

How do Croatians greet each other? A hug is sometimes part of the exchange. Deal with it.

The minefield of kisses and hugs in Croatian greetings has been covered by TCN before. Some people kiss, some people hug. Some do both. Some kiss once, some kiss twice. In Serbia, they kiss three times. In France, they all kiss – sometimes once, twice or three times, depending on the region.

This invasion of personal space is usually quite horrifying to the more reserved British gentleman, particularly if a French man you don't know dives in to kiss you upon first meeting. In Croatia, the only kissing that goes on between men in greeting is between good friends, so relax, no worries.

Kisses and hugs as a part of greeting in Croatia are generally informal, but not always. And, as some indulge in this while others don't, the golden rule is to follow someone else's lead. So, pay attention to body language and the side of the face which is offered. Start passive, then respond. Problem solved.

How do Croatians greet each other? Let them take the lead

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