Written by: Olivera Tolimir

An apple a day keeps the doctor away!

Except when it doesn’t.

There are days when not even a crate of apples can help. You feel exhausted and only wish to curl up in bed with a cup of tea. When even your favorite blanket doesn’t help, and the headache gets stronger every minute, it’s time to visit a doctor!

Going to a doctor’s office isn’t anyone’s favorite thing. No matter how pleasant the doc is, it’s not fun.

On top of that, can you imagine going to a doctor’s office and speaking Serbian with him? You’re unsure about the language and keep asking yourself: “What if they don’t understand me and prescribe me the wrong therapy?!”

To prevent the above situation from happening to you in Serbia, we’ve prepared a list of 19 useful Serbian phrases to use at the doctor’s office!

Arriving at the Doctor’s

  • Da li imate zakazano?

The first thing a nurse will ask you at the reception is if you have an appointment. Below you can see how to answer this question while speaking Serbian perfectly.

  • Da, imam zakazano kod doktora ________________. / Ne, želim da zakažem termin kod doktora __________________.

If you have an appointment, you should use the first option (yes, I have an appointment with the doctor + the doctor’s name).

If you don’t have an appointment yet, use the second option (no, I’d like to schedule an appointment with the doctor + the doctor’s name).

  • U čemu je problem?

When the doctor sees you, their first question will be where’s the problem, which means you should tell them your symptoms.

Explaining the Symptoms

  • Imam glavobolju / Boli me glava.

There are two ways you can tell the doctor about your migraine while speaking Serbian.

The first one is to say: “I have a headache”, while the second one means: “My head hurts.”

  • Boli me grlo. / Boli me zub. / Boli me stomak. / Bole me leđa.

Speaking of the verb to hurt, here are some more examples of painful body parts.

Boli me grlo. – My throat is sore.

Boli me zub. – My tooth hurts.

Boli me stomak. – My stomach hurts.

Bole me leđa. – My back hurts.

Pay attention to the form bole in the last example. It’s the third-person plural of the verb boleti (to hurt). We use the plural form in this example when speaking Serbian because the noun leđa (back) is one of the pluralia tantum nouns.

  • Začepljen mi je nos.

This phrase means My nose is stuffy. If you share it with your family doctor, he’ll send you to the ORL’s office.

  • Teško dišem.

Unfortunately, we could hear the sentence I’m breathing heavily too often during the covid-19 pandemic. We hope to hear less of it in the future!

  • Teško zaspim. / Loše spavam. / Imam nesanicu.

While learning to speak Serbian, you’ll often bump into synonymous words and sentences. The three sentences above represent a good example.

I sleep badly. / I have insomnia.

It’s important not to translate teško as heavily in this context, since the sentence would gain the opposite meaning! Sleeping heavily in English means someone sleeps well and can’t wake up easily. When you speak Serbian and say, Teško zaspim, it means you have trouble falling asleep!

  • Imam mučninu. / Muka mi je. 

There’s also more than one way to tell your doctor you’re not feeling well while speaking Serbian: I’m feeling nauseous. / I’m feeling sick.

  • Povraćao sam. / Povraćala sam.

This sentence translates as I’ve been throwing up.

There are two different forms depending on gender. Males use the first, and females second option.

  • Uganuo sam članak / Uganula sam članak.

I sprained my ankle.

If you already know that noga means leg in Serbian, you’ll be happy to hear you can also say Uganuo sam nogu / Uganula sam nogu.

When speaking Serbian, you can use the words leg and arm to mark hand, foot, and ankle.

Doctors Speaking Serbian

After explaining your symptoms, a doctor will ask you additional questions. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Koliko dugo se tako osećate? / Koliko dugo to traje? / Otkad imate te simptome?

These sentences have very similar meanings:

How long have you been feeling that way? / How long does it last? / Since when do you have these symptoms?

It’s usually the doctor’s first question, so your answer can sound like:

Nedelju dana (For a week).

Od prekjuče (Two days ago).

Traje već godinama/mesecima (It lasts for years/months now).

  • Da li pijete neke lekove?

Do you take some medicine? A doctor needs to know this, so he doesn’t prescribe you a remedy that doesn’t go well with your regular ones.

  • Da li ste alergični na nešto?

Are you allergic to anything? It’s a crucial question because a specific medicine can be fatal in the case of an allergy.

You can answer by saying, Alergičan / alergična sam na: antibiotike, prašinu, ambroziju, kikiriki… (I’m allergic to antibiotics, dust, common ragweed, peanuts, etc.).

  • Da li Vas (ovo) boli?

Does this hurt? A doctor will ask you this while pressing a potentially problematic body part.

A Doctor’s Advice

A bottle of medicine in a wooden stand with rose petals
A doctor will often prescribe you some medicine

While focusing on speaking Serbian properly with your doctor, you might not even realize the medical examination has come to an end!

In the end, your doctor will explain the next steps or prescribe you a medicine, and give you advice.

  • Uradićemo dodatne analize.

We’ll run some more tests. It’s what the doctor says when they’re still unsure about the cause of their patient’s health issues.

  • Prepisaću Vam lek.

I’ll prescribe you some medicine. It’s the most usual end of the medical appointment.

  • Treba da prestanete da pušite.

You should quit smoking. It’s the obvious (and also, the best) advice if you have lung issues but still enjoy your cigarettes.

  • Treba zdravije da se hranite.

You should eat more healthily. One more obvious, yet useful piece of advice for most of us, modern people!