Croatian, like most other Slavic languages, has a rich system of inflection. Pronouns, nouns, adjectives and some numerals decline (change the word ending to reflect case, i.e. grammatical category and function), while verbs conjugate for person and tense. As in all other Slavic languages, the basic word order is SVO; however, due to the use of declension to show sentence structure, word order is not as important as in languages that tend toward analyticity such as English or Chinese. Deviations from the standard SVO order are stylistically marked and may be employed to convey a particular emphasis, mood or overall tone, according to the intentions of the speaker or writer. Often, such deviations will sound literary, poetical or archaic.
Nouns have three grammatical genders (masculine, feminine and neuter) that correspond to a certain extent with the word ending, so that most nouns ending in -a are feminine, -o and -e neuter and the rest mostly masculine with a small but important class of feminines. Grammatical gender of a noun affects the morphology of other parts of speech (adjectives, pronouns and verbs) attached to it. Nouns are declined into 7 cases: Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative, Vocative, Locative and Instrumental.
Verbs are divided into two broad classes according to their aspect, which can be either perfective (signifying a completed action) or imperfective (action is incomplete or repetitive). There are seven tenses, four of which (present, perfect, future I and II) are used in contemporary standard Croatian, with the other three (aorist, imperfect and plusquamperfect) used much less frequently – the plusquamperfect is generally limited to written language and some more educated speakers, while aorist and imperfect are considered stylistically marked and rather archaic. Note, however, that some non-standard dialects make considerable (and thus unmarked) use of those tenses.
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