The Official /int/ How to Learn A Foreign Language Guide Wiki
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Bosnian,Croatian, Serbian and Montenegrin are either dialects of the same language, Serbo-Croatian, or 4 very closely related languages, depending on who you ask. Everyone does agree that the Serbo-Croatian standards have some noticeable similarities and differences

Modal verbs[]

Sentence construction with modal verbs are the only aspect in Serbo-Croatian standards differ from each other grammatically. There is the (verb)+da+(present tense verb) construction, used in Bosnian, Serbian and Montenegrin, and the verb+infinitive structure used, only in Croatian.

I get that this explanation doesn't make it much clearer so here's some examples.

Moram da radim(Serbian+Bosnian+Montenegrin)

Moram raditi(Croatian)

Both of these sentences mean "I have to work"

"Moram" means "I have to","raditi" means "To work" and is in the infinitive, "Radim" is the 1st person singular(Me-form) of raditi.

Ekavian and Ijekavian[]


Serbian is the standard spoken in and around Serbia. The standard has about 10 Million native speakers, and is the most widely spoken. Serbian is the least puristic of the standards, Having significantly more loanwords, Notably from German and Russian. Serbian uses both the Latin Alphabet and Cyrillic script. Serbian uses the verb+da+present tense construction for modal verbs, like with Bosnian and Montenegrin. Serbian is the only Ekavian standard, with all others being ijekavian.

Because Serbian is the most widely spoken standard, most resources teach you Serbian, especially if they use "Serbo-Croatian" to refer to the language. Serbian also has a fair amount of media thanks to its size.


  • Around 10 Million native speakers
  • Alternates between the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets
  • ekavian (the reflex of Old Church Slavonic letter yat is -e-; "child" in Serbian is "dete", "song" is "pesma")
  • More German and Russian Vocabulary
  • Verb + da + present tense sentence structure


Croatian is the second-most widely spoken Serbo-Croatian standard with around 6 million speakers. Croatian is notably more puristic than the other standards,often replacing loanwords with words derived from old slavic, this purism is not always reflected in common speech, and common loanwords are sometimes instead of these puristic words. Croatian also shares a small amount of cognates with Slovene and the West Slavic Languages that are not found in other standards. Croatian always uses the Latin alphabet, and is the only standard that formally never uses Cyrillic. Croatian is also the only standard that uses the Verb + Infinitive sentence structure. Croatian is Ijekavian, just like Bosnian and Montenegrin.

Croatian has a fair amount of resources thanks to it being the second most widely spoken standard and because Croatia is extremely popular with tourists compared to the rest of former Yugoslavia.


  • Around 6 Million native speakers
  • Always uses the latin alphabet
  • ijekavian (the reflex of yat is -ije- or -je-; "child" is "dijete", "song" is "pjesma")
  • More Slovene and Latin Vocabulary
  • Verb + Infinitive sentence structure


Bosnian is third most spoken of the standards with 2-3 Million speakers. Bosnia has a narrow islamic majority, so it has not resisted Islamic influence as hard as the other standards. As a result, Bosnian has slightly more Turkish and Arabic loanwords compared to the other standards. Bosnian officially uses both Latin and Cyrillic, but most Bosnians only use Latin when writing. Bosnian uses the Verb + da + Present tense sentence structure just like Serbian and Montenegrin. Bosnian pronunciation is also Ijekavian, just like Croatian and Montenegrin.

Bosnian is not as widespread as Croatian and Serbian, and has significantly fewer resources than those standards. As a result, it is recommended to learn Croatian or Serbian if you're interested in Bosnian. Although finding resources for Bosnian is doable if you're truly commited. There is a larger amount of Bosnian literature and music than you may expect, which might make putting in that bit of extra effort worth it.


  • 2,5 Million native speakers
  • Mostly uses the Latin alphabet, occasionally uses Cyrillic
  • ijekavian
  • More Turkish and Arabic Vocabulary
  • Verb + da + present tense sentence structure


Montenegrin is the least spoken and has virtually no resources, even compared to other standards. If you're interested in Montenegrin, you're almost certainly better off learning a different standard.

  • 0,3-0,5 Million native speakers depending on criteria
  • Alternates between the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets
  • ijekavian
  • Has 2 additional letters: (Ś[sj],Ź[zj] in Latin) (Ć[sj],З́[zj] In cyrillic)
  • Verb + da + present tense sentence structure

Scripts Serbian cyrillic script Latinica

Standards Bosnian Croatian Serbian Montenegrin

Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Montenegrin Compared Serbo-Croatian Input Material