Conditional Mood of Verbs in Croatian

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Welcome to our Croatian course for beginners! Today we`re going to talk about the Conditional (Subjunctive) Mood.

In English, we can say, "I would have done it if I could," "I would have come if I had found the time." Similarly, in Croatian, there is an equivalent structure in which one part of the sentence contains a condition upon which the affirmation or negation depends.
For example:
Ako bi jučer ovako lijepo vrijeme bilo, došli bismo (If the weather had been so nice yesterday, we would have come).

Using the Conditional Mood

- Expressing Hypothetical Situations:
The conditional mood is often used to talk about hypothetical or unreal situations. For example:
Da sam bogat, putovao bih po svijetu ("If I were rich, I would travel the world")
expresses a hypothetical scenario that may not be true.

- Making Polite Requests:
In Croatian, it is polite to use the conditional mood when making requests or asking for favors. For example:
Molim Vas ako biste mi mogli pomoći. ("Could you please help me?")
The use of "biste li mogli" is a polite way to ask for help.

- Expressing Wishes:
Wishes and desires are often conveyed using the conditional mood. For instance:
Volio/la bih da si ovdje. ("I wish you were here.")

- Conditional Clauses:
Conditional sentences consist of an "if" clause (the condition) and a main clause (the result). The if-clause is usually in the conditional mood. For example:
Da sam znao/znala, došao/la bih. ("If I had known, I would have come.")

- Expressing Uncertainty:
The conditional mood can be used to express uncertainty about an action. For example:
Možda bih trebao da ih mrzim, ali ne mogu ("Maybe I should hate them, but I can not")
where "bih trebao" is in the conditional mood to convey uncertainty.

As you can see above, in Croatian (as in some other Slavic languages), the so-called "aorist" of the verb "biti" is used for this purpose. It indicates the potentiality of both the condition and the result depending on it. The subjunctive/conditional mood is formed using these forms and the past participle that we already know from the past tense. Let`s look at these forms:
Ja (I): bih
Ti (You, informal): bi
On/Ona/Ono (He/She/It): bi
Mi (We): bismo
Vi (You, formal or plural): biste
Oni/One (They): bi

Now let`s see how it works in the following example:
(Ja) bih došao / došla (I would have come)
(Ti) bi došao / došla (You would have come)
(On / Ona / Ono) bi došao / došla / došlo (He / She / It would have come)
(Mi) bismo došli / došle (We would have come)
(Vi) biste došli / došle (You all would have come)
(Oni/One) bi došli / došle (They would have come)

Negation is formed by adding the particle "ne" before the aorist form:
(Ja) ne bih došao / došla (I would not have come)
(Ti) ne bi došao / došla (You would not have come)
(On / Ona / Ono) ne bi došao / došla / došlo (He / She / It would not have come)
(Mi) ne bismo došli / došle (We would not have come)
(Vi) ne biste došli / došle (You all would not have come)
(Oni/One) ne bi došli / došle (They would not have come)

When forming a question, you can use the particle "li.". In this case, the auxiliary verb "biti" in the aorist form should be at the beginning of the sentence:
Biste li me nazvali? - Would you have called me?
Bih, nazvao bih - Yes, I would have called.

In summary, it`s extremely interesting and necessary if you want to express your thoughts correctly and confidently in Croatian, as talking about past events is one of the important aspects of spoken language. Therefore, we recommend paying attention to this material and invite you to the next lesson in our Croatian language course for Beginners. Good Luck