Written by: Olivera Tolimir

Genitive is the most complex of Serbian cases. It holds more than twenty possible meanings.

This case comes in handy when we talk about location, time, quality, quantity, and origin… Today, we’ll explain the common confusion about whether to use the preposition od in specific situations.

The preposition od translates in various ways, but its most common English counterparts are from and of.

When Talking about The Origin

If you’d like to explain the origin of something, use the preposition od. For example:

  • Dobila sam poklon od mame. (I got the gift from mom.)
  • Stiglo nam je pismo od Marka. (We got a letter from Marko.)
A man and a woman exchanging a gift wrapped in a green paper with a yellow bow.
(Serbian cases made easy: Try saying, "I received a gift from my brother" in Serbian!)
Try saying, “I received a gift from my brother” in Serbian!

Do the same thing to describe the material something is made of. For example:

  • Kuća je napravljena od drveta. (The house is made of wood.)
  • Najviše volim tortu od čokolade. (I prefer chocolate cake.)
  • Majica je meka jer je napravljena od pamuka. (The shirt is soft because it’s made of cotton.)

You can do the same when talking about authorship, but there’s a slight difference. In this case, you can sometimes use both versions – with the preposition od or without it. For example:

  • Roman “Tvrđava” (odMeše Selimovića. (The novel The Fortress by Mesa Selimovic.)
  • Poema “Stražilovo” (odMiloša Crnjanskog. (The poem Strazilovo by Milos Crnjanski.)

This rule applies when we pin the author’s name directly to the title, like in the examples above. If you’d like to put some words between, it’s better to omit the preposition.

If you’d like to say whose is something, you can also use or omit the preposition. For example:

  • Ovo je soba (odmoje sestre. (This is my sister’s room.)

When Talking about the Location

We often use Genitive to describe location since it pairs with prepositions between, above, below, in front of, behind, etc. But speaking of the Serbian preposition od, you should remember we always use it when explaining something to the left or right of another object.

For example:

  • Fotelja je levo od stola. (The armchair is to the left of the table.)
  • Vrata su desno od prozora. (The door is to the right of the window.)

When Describing Things

As mentioned in the previous blog post about Serbian cases, some cases are synonymous. It means that, in specific contexts, we can use two different Serbian cases to say the same thing. A great example of this occurrence is Genitive and Instrumental.

For example:

  • majica kratkih rukava (a short-sleeveed shirt; a T-shirt)
  • majica dugih rukava (a long-sleeved shirt)
  • haljina divnih boja (a dress with wonderful colors)

If you’re unsure how to say this using Instrumental instead of Genitive, check out the blog post Serbian Cases Made Easy: Instrumental & the preposition s(a).

In examples like these, we don’t use the preposition od!

To learn more about Serbian cases, check out our online courses for learning Serbian!