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Have you ever been confused about some Slovenian words that look very similar at first glance, but have a completely different meaning? Probably you know the words jutrojutri and zjutraj, right? »They’re familiar to me and I know their meaning, but right now I just can’t remember which one means what« I often hear from my students on Skype. I have to admit – they really look confusing, especially if you aren’t a native speaker. Most of the time there’s only one letter that is different, but the meaning of the words changes completely.

Here are some examples of similar, yet very different words:

  • jutro (morning) vs. jutri (tomorrow) vs. zjutraj (in the morning)
  • čebela (bee) vs. čebula (onion)
  • omaka (sauce) vs. omara (wardrobe)
  • obala (coast) vs. obara (stew)
  • kokos (coconut) vs. kokoš (hen)
  • trenirka (tracksuit) vs. trenerka (female coach, trainer)
  • nastanitev (accommodation) vs. nastavitev (setting)
  • veselje (joy, pleasure) vs. vesolje (space, universe)
  • videti (to see) vs. vedeti (to know)
  • peti (to sing) vs. piti (to drink)
  • najprej (first, firstly) vs. naprej (forward, ahead)
  • sočen (juicy) vs. sončen (sunny, solar)
  • ne morem (I can’t) vs. moram (I have to, I must)

The latter cause problems for Slovenians as well. They mix them very often.

Can you think of any other similar Slovenian words that leave you in doubt? 🙂 

čebela vs. čebula

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