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Slovenian, or the Slovene language, is part of the group of South Slavic languages. So, if you want to learn Slovenian and already speak a Slavic language, you will most likely find the language easier to acquire than someone how has no experience with the language family. Another player is previous experience learning languages. Generally, polygots have developed a process for picking up a new language, consciously or unconsciously which makes adding further languages to their tally easier.

In short, on a subjective scale of language learning difficult, I rank Slovenian as pretty difficult, 7 out of 10 on my imaginary scale.

Reasons it can be challenging to learn Slovenian

The Slovene language has some features uncommon to most other languages. These are cases and the grammatical number dual.

Cracking the ‘Cases’

In Slovenian there are six cases. This means noun endings change, usually depending on the preceding preposition. Russian is an example of another language which features cases.

Here is an example of all six cases, and the three grammatical numbers, for the word ‘frog’.

Case Singular Dual Plural
1st žaba žabi žabe
2nd žabe žab žab
3rd žabi žabama žabam
4th žabo žabi žabe
5th pri žabi pri žabah pri žabah
6th z žabo z žabama z žabami

That is 18 variations for 1 noun, which, especially for an English speaker completely unfamiliar which the concept of cases, is intimidating.

Frog with sunglasses ready to learn Slovenian
Image Credit: Bill Collins

Singular, Plural, Dual

In addition to singular and plural, Slovenian uses the grammatical number dual. This can be explained as follows.

Grammatical Number Use
Singular Used for one person
Dual Used for two people; both male, both female, or male and female
Plural Used for more than two people

I would be interested in hearing thoughts from native speakers and anyone trying to learn Slovenian, or who has already learnt the language. What was your experience like, what approach did you take, and how difficult a language do you think it is to learn?

The content for this post is created using samples from our Slovenian e-book.

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  1. I am a native Slovene speaker and I believe the language isn't as hard to learn as it is to completely master it. It is impossible to understand it and speak properly without an education in the subject. Not a single native speaker speaks the language without grammatical mistakes – which are not noticed in everyday conversation but would give a Slovene teacher quite a headache.
    I plan on studying it in the future.

  2. I'm married to a Slovenian man . I've been living in SLovenia for couple of months now. The grammar is science fiction but to understand what people say I guess you can manage with practice and with time.. Then you learn to communicate not perfect slovenian but .. just so people understand what you what to say…

  3. […] I won’t lie, they are not so simple, also Slovenians sometimes incorrectly decline nouns (mostly in spoken language). But anyway, we will understand you in every case, even if you don’t decline properly. Cases are known also in other languages, such as Latin, Sanskrit, Russian (and other Slavic languages) Icelandic, Finnish. So, if you come from any of these language group, you probably know what I am talking about. In one of the previous blog posts we introduced an example of all 18 declinations for the word ‘frog’. […]

  4. I'm American, living in Slovenia, and studying the Slovene language. Now, to be fair, I'm not someone who is considered a great language learner. But with that said, this language is tough. I mean, really tough. It's like a stinking jig-saw puzzle every time I'm forming sentences or trying to understand someone.

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