Written by: Olivera Tolimir
Knowing how to introduce yourself is essential if you want to speak Serbian with a native speaker. Well, after greeting them, of course.
There are a few ways to introduce yourself, depending on the setting. You wouldn’t use identical words and sentences in a formal conference as with your friend’s friend. We’ll start with the basics and then continue to explain differences based on context.
Oh, na-na, what’s my name?
To avoid people around you thinking you forgot your own name because you don’t understand what they’re asking you, quickly check out one of our previous blog posts where we explained how to ask someone for their name and introduce yourself. In the same place, you can find out how to ask people where they’re from, what they do for a living, and what they like to do in their spare time. To practice your ability to speak Serbian, try to change the following meeting into a formal one (without peeking at the next example)!
To sum it up, an informal meeting can look like this:
You: Zdravo! Ja sam (your name). Kako se ti zoveš?
You: Drago mi je! Odakle si?
You: Čime se baviš?
You: Čime se baviš u slobodno vreme?
A formal meeting would look very similar, but a bit different:
You: Dobar dan! Ja sam (your name). Kako se Vi zovete?
You: Drago mi je! Odakle ste?
You: Čime se bavite?
You: Čime se bavite u slobodno vreme?
The differences between an informal and formal meeting are underlined.
So, now you know how to ask people about themselves, but you still don’t know how to answer those same questions about yourself! We can’t go over every single profession and hobby in this short text, but we can give you samples of the sentences.
Zdravo! Zovem se (your name). Ja sam (your profession) i dolazim iz (your country, city, town, or village). U slobodno vreme (your hobby).
For example, if Marko, a doctor from Austria who likes to fish in his free time, wanted to introduce himself in Serbian, that would sound like this:
Zdravo! Zovem se Marko. Ja sam doktor i dolazim iz Austrije. U slobodno vreme pecam.
Speak Serbian in Variations
If you’ve carefully read our blog 13 Essential Phrases You’ll Need to Speak Serbian, you’ve probably noticed we haven’t mentioned the phrase Dolazim iz… That’s because we wanted to keep it the simplest possible at the beginning of your journey of learning Serbian. Now, if you want to speak Serbian regularly, you should know both ways to say where you’re from.
As you know, you can ask: Odakle si? / Odakle ste? Another common way of asking someone about their country of origin is to ask Odakle dolaziš? / Odakle dolazite? It means Where do you come from? Odakle dolaziš is informal, and Odakle dolazite is formal.
The answer to this question can be either Iz Srbije (from Serbia), Iz Srbije sam (I’m from Serbia), or Dolazim iz Srbije (I come from Serbia).
After the preposition iz, we always use the genitive case. If you forgot about our seven grammatical cases, look them up in another one of our blogs. Simply put, if your country’s name ends in –a, you should change that –a into –e after the preposition iz. If your country’s name ends in a consonant, you should put -a at the end. Look at the following examples:
- Name of the country: Srbija (Serbia) -> ends in -a –> Dolazim iz Srbije.
- Name of the country: Mađarska (Hungary) -> ends in -a –> Iz Mađarske sam.
- Name of the country: Japan -> ends in consonant –> Dolazim iz Japana.
- Name of the country: Alžir (Algeria) -> ends in consonant –> Iz Alžira sam.
If you’re looking to speak Serbian like a Serb, there’s one more variation in introducing yourself you should know. When someone asks you Čime se baviš? (What do you do for a living?), you can answer Ja sam (your profession). But you can also say Bavim se (your field of work, but in instrumental case). The instrumental case is the one ending in -om or -em in the singular.
- Field: medical field (in Serbian: medicina) –> Bavim se medicinom.
- Field: teaching (in Serbian: predavanje) –> Bavim se predavanjem.
- Field: construction (in Serbian: građevina) –> Bavim se građevinom.
- Field: IT, programming (in Serbian: programiranje) –> Bavim se programiranjem.
If your interlocutor would like to know how old are you, they can ask you this question in two different ways (yes, a variation again…). The first one is Koliko imaš godina? / Koliko imate godina? This phrase translates as How old are you? But literally, it means How many years do you have?
The other way of finding out someone’s age is to ask Koje si godište? / Koje ste godište? By asking this, we express our interest in the year a person was born.
Learning to speak Serbian, you should know how to express your age in both ways. So, if someone asks you Koliko imaš godina, you should say Imam (number of years) godina/godine/godinu. If you hear a question Koje si godište, you should say Ja sam (a year you were born) godište.
- Imam 31 godinu. (If the last digit is 1, you should say godinu).
- Imam 32/33/34 godine. (If the last digit is 2, 3, or 4, you should say godine).
- Imam 35/36/37/38/39/40 godina. (If the last digit is 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 0, you should say godina).
- Ja sam 1980. godište.
- Ja sam 1992. godište.
- Ja sam 2001. godište.
“So, how should I introduce myself then?!”
After all these pieces of information, you’re probably asking yourself the question from this subtitle. So, here’s a complete template for introducing yourself in Serbian with all the variations:
- A greeting: Ćao! / Zdravo! / Dobar dan!
- Your name: Ja sam (your name). / Zovem se (your name). / Moje ime je (your name).
- Your age: Imam (your age) godina. / Ja sam (the year you were born) godište.
- Your country: Dolazim iz (your country). / Iz (your country) sam. / Ja sam iz (your country).
- Your profession: Ja sam (your profession). / Bavim se (your field of work).
- Your hobby: U slobodno vreme (your favorite activity).
Did our little guide help you speak Serbian and introduce yourself more confidently? Write us about your experiences!