“Da” means yes in Serbian, just like in all other Slavic languages. If you spend some time with someone who is Serbian and have the opportunity to listen to them talking in their native language, you will hear that they tend to use the word “da” a lot. Often in jest, they say that “Yessing” (dakavica) is a serbism.
What are all the purposes of the word “da” in the Serbian language?
1) Da (yes in Serbian)
“Da” оr “Да” is a word that has many usages in Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian, but especially in Serbian. “Da” is a conjunction of sorts with no real meaning in itself.
As we already said, “Da” means yes. However, there are many other uses of this word in Serbian language.
2) Da as a word which connects 2 verbs
Da (yes in Serbian) can be used to connect verbs as well. If the two verbs have the same subject, then “da” is optional. “Želim da idem“. “Желим да идем”. (I want to go). So, da can also mean “to” when used together with a verb. It works like this. In this context, “da” can be translated as such.
“Da” is used more in Serbian and can come across as more casual if used in Bosnian or Croatian. The same sentence without using da would be “želim ići“, where idem is the first person singular form of the infinitive ići, meaning “to go”. If the two verbs have different subjects, then “da” is always used.
The Serbian language has two ways of expressing actions, with the infinitive form of a verb, or otherwise. In English, people would say, “I have to work” and “I have to be working”, while in Serbian “I have to work” would be literally translated as “Ja moram DA radim” and “I have to be working” as “Ja moram raditi”.
3) To form questions
The word da, other than just being used as yes in Serbian, also can be part of a question.
So, “Da li si išao u školu? ” or “Да ли си ишао у школу?” (Cyrillic) means: “Did you go to school?”
“Da li” is the most common way to form questions in Serbian.
In the Serbian language, da can also be used in conditional sentences.
Example: “Da sam imao više para, išao bih na more.” “Да сам имао више пара, ишао бих на море.” If I had more money, I would go to the sea.
When used in a sentence like this: Da____, bi______, da means “if”. If this were so, this would happen.
Synonyms for da (yes in Serbian)
The meaning and definitions of yes in Serbian aren’t the easiest things to learn, right? So, let’s talk about synonyms you can use to get around those confusing phrases.
- “U redu” or “У реду” (all right)
- “Veoma dobro” or “Веома добро” (very well)
- “Naravno” or “Наравно” (of course)
- “U svakom slučaju” or “У сваком случају” (by all means)
- “Sigurno” or “Сигурнo” (sure)
- “Apsolutno” or “Aпсолутно” (absolutely)
- “Zaista” or “Заиста” (indeed)
- “Jel tako?” or “Jел тако?” (Right?)
More slang ways to say yes in Serbian
Da, da — use it when you want to emphasize that you understand what the other person is talking about. It’s the same thing as “Da, razumem te” (Yes, I understand you) but shorter.
Može — This means yes in slang or “It can be done” if you want a more literal translation.
Ok — the same as in the English language
Aha — means yes in informal speaking
Ma da… — This is the interesting one. Serbians use this phrase when don’t trust in something that the other person is talking about. It can be translated as “yeah, right.”
Ooo da — Serbian use this one when they want to emphasize something that they will do with pleasure or honor. For example, when one Serbian guy is asked by his friend to be their best man at the wedding, the answer would be “Oooo da”. Get it?
Da bre — the same thing as Naravno (of course) but in a more informal way of speaking
Hajde or Ajde — Serbians usually use this phrase to answer questions like this: Hoćeš li da gledamo film? (Would you like to watch a movie?). The answer would be “Hajde” or we can shorten it to “Ajde.”
Kako da ne (common way to say yes in Serbian but it also be a “no“)
Many Serbian people keep on saying “Kako da ne” in regular conversation. When trying to translate it into English, Google picks it up as Croatian and gives the incorrect translation “how yes no.” That is the incorrect and context-unaware translation.
“Kako da ne” translates to two completely different phrases based on the tone used.
When used in a sarcastic way, it means “yeah, ok” or “yeah, right.” or more literally “no.” Used in a non-sarcastic tone, it means “of course” which might be a bit strange at first to someone learning Serbian. How could the words “how”, “yes”, and “no” form a phrase like “of course?” Well, only Serbians know how to make an expression like that.
If I were to roughly translate the use of it here, it would probably translate to something like “could.” When one takes these things into account, the literal translation is no longer “how yes no” but rather “how could no.” This translation is obviously not correct but it is much more correct than the previous “how yes no” translation. One has to tie in the words together to make them sound more clear and grammatically correct in English.
The grammatically correct literal translation in English would be “how could I not?”, which is basically a more beautiful way of saying “of course.”
I guess Serbian is just a more poetic language than English :p
If you liked this quick Serbian lesson and want to learn more, you could use some language learning apps such as the Ling app.