Part Two: Expressing quantities and special wishes

Worst Case Scenario Nr. Two: You have just discovered somewhere;-)how easy it really is to get drinks in Slovenia. So you actually find yourself in a real Slovenian pub, having already decided to risk ordering a beer in Slovenian.

Here we go: A waitress appears and says “Prosim?” or “Izvolite?” and you know this is your cue. You say “Pivo, prosim” (pee-vo) and steal a quick glance at her, awaiting her positive reaction because you have been told before that it would follow immediately.

a) She says “Laško, Union, Tuborg … ?”

b) She says “Točeno?”

c) She says “a big von or a litel von?”*

As if by thunder and lightning, you become aware that life is complicated. Possibly even more complicated than an average tax return.

Let me tell you: It’s not that bad.

So, how do you really order your drinks in Slovenian? Let’s go:


a) First of all, you will have to guess which brand might suit your wishes best. As to Slovenian brands, there are two that are important and the choice between them has political implications, too. They are Laško and Union. Pronunciation: Lush-ko. And: Oo-nee-on. Pronounce the foreign brands as suits you best, at least at this point.

b)Točeno” means “draught/draft beer” and this word should be written on your beverage list as an option with some beers. Pronunciation: Say to-che-no or make a corresponding hand movement.

c) So she wants to know if you … want a big one or a little one (*the question above is actually a courtesy/bad experience of a friend). If you want a little beer (0,3 litre/liter), say “Malo, prosim” (Mah-lo). For the big one (0,5 l), say “Veliko, prosim” (Ve-lee-ko). For the big effect, use your favourite quantity information right at the beginning:

W: Želite, prosim?

You: Veliko Laško pivo, prosim. / You: Malo Union pivo, prosim.


So someone told you you can just walk into a Slovenian pub and say “Kavo, prosim” and you will get a cup of delicious coffee?

Time for a reality check: You won’t. You will be first asked complicated things like:

W: Z mlekom? S smetano?

You see, “Kavo, prosim” means you want a cup of coffee with sugar. To make sure you don’t want, say, milk or cream with it, they will ask you all these questions. Yes, sometimes life’s all work.

So if you do want some milk with it, just say it: Z mlekom.

Pronunciation: Say Z-, make a short pause, and then say mle-com: Z_ mle-com.

If you wish some cream instead, you will again have to do some work: S smetano. (S_sme-tah-no).

W: Želite, prosim?

You: Kavo z mlekom, prosim. / Kavo s smetano, prosim.

Of course you can avoid any trouble by simply ordering a cappuccino or an espresso. Latte macchiato will do, too.


Red or white?

Red: rdeče (r_de-che)

White: belo

W: Želite, prosim?

You: Rdeče vino, prosim. / Belo vino, prosim.

Needless to say you should get a glass of wine. And I am not going to tell you how to order a bottle of wine, I don’t support binge drinking.


Just order from the list (if relevant, make the necessary change from –a to –o) and say “prosim” at the end. In most cases, this should be enough.


6. ADMITTEDLY, you might get hungry soon, what with all this drinking. Use your hands at this point. Or use words like: sandwich, tiramisu, pizza, spaghetti. They will be happy to serve you and I might tell you more about the food some other time.

22 responses to “SLOVENIAN FOR BEGINNERS 2

  • haley

    how do you say the end?

  • alcessa

    “Konec” (pron.: co-nets)

  • Oscar

    Might be a few years too late to ask, but is these 3 “slovenian for beginners” all that you’ve posted?

    • alcessa

      Yes, that’s all. It’s all you need to survive. Well, sometimes 🙂 No?

      • Oscar

        Haha, well. You explain in a fun and interesting way and slovene ain’t an easy language to learn. So I thought that if you had more, I’d love to read it 😛

        • Oscar

          Actually, giving up learning it was what brought me here ;p

          • alcessa

            Yes, it is actually a difficult language: I taught it once to Germans and could well understand their frustrations. I wrote these 3 texts just to show that at least the beginnings are easier than imagined.
            I also wanted to continue describing learnable 🙂 things but somehow got distracted …
            I was told learning courses in Ljubljana (University), made for foreigners simply wanting to learn are really good…

            • Oscar

              I wish I could attend! But I’m going studying computer programming, which as far as I know, is a programme they lack over in Slovenia.
              I did contact the one and only course for slovene here in Sweden, but I am not allowed to join it yet. As it turns out though, they seemed very excited about me actually contacting them and offered me a chance to somewhat participate in the course that starts up after summer.
              But lately I’ve been feeling discouraged to learn and last night I decided to google around for slovene stuff to get some inspiration but basically only found even more discouraging things as “this is why you will never learn Slovene” and so on.

              I have some friends that are counting on me to learn it though, I don’t wanna disappoint them, nor myself!
              It’s a pretty tough situation for me.

              • alcessa

                Well, maybe I can offer you a bit of … orientation: I know 2 Germans who simply decided they wanted to learn Slovene, so they did. Full stop. Meaning: they learned all the lists and rules, they tried to read and speak whenever possible and because of their strong motivation (which was not hampered by a lot of soul-searching as to why exactly they are doing it) they got really far.
                People I taught Slovene all have some connection to Slovenia: mostly, their partners or parents are Slovenes. They already had some bits of Slovene and were unhappy to find out those were not really correct – even though I told them successful communication is nowadays as important as correct language use. It is, believe me. You start communicating (in writing or speaking) and if you keep an open mind, you can always make it better. That’s just about all.

                Funny thing is I considered learning Swedish for quite some time (because we spend almost all our holidays in Sweden, since what feels like ages :-)) but then didn’t, for a simple reason: the pronunciation is too strenuous for a non-talented Slovenian throat 🙂 and speaking is what I wanted. Slovene is much … flatter and monotone in comparison to Germanic languages, maybe it’d be easier for you.
                I decided to learn French instead. My French pronunciation is terrible, but I need it to read books, so 🙂 Also, we want to discover Finland before returning to Sweden annually 🙂

              • alcessa

                Before I forget: there’s an online learning course, too (haven’t tried it out, but it looks good):

              • Oscar

                Couldn’t find any reply button to your post, so I’ll just reply to my last post.
                I keep on bumping into Slovenians considering, or that has been considering learning Swedish! In fact, my “Slovene teacher” who has been helping me the last 6 months, speaks very good swedish and I invited her to stay here for a week or so the comming summer, to practise her Swedish. (She keeps on saying that she can’t speak it very good, even though I know, and constantly tell her that, she is doing great, and so I had to come up with a way of proving it to her ;))
                And I think you’re right about the pronunciation, first time I visited Slovenia I spent a whole evening trying to teach some friends saying ‘Sju’. Although, Slovene isn’t too easy regarding the pronunciation either.

                I don’t know really the reason to why I decided learning Slovene though. I had basically never noticed the country until I met a slovenian girl online one year ago. And now I’m sitting here, trying my best to learn this foreign and beautiful language I heard her speaking.

                Well, I see that my post aint leading anywhere.. I tend to speak too much xD
                What kept you going with French at hard times?

              • Oscar

                I’ve seen this page before aswell. I havn’t looked around too much though. As far as I’ve seen there’s only a few pages of words in the so called Kids’ corner. But maybe you need to sign up to get more.

  • fatou2002

    moralo bi biti >oo-nee-on> in ne oo – ni – on , če ne bo unajon

  • alcessa

    @Oscar: It’s OK to share thoughts and experiences, no? 🙂 As a translator I have to keep my working languages all polished up and ready to go day by day. I started learning French for personal reasons, because I like it and with the hope of being able to read it one day. So I don’t really care how well I am doing, whether one day the French will understand me and so on. I only want to enjoy myself.
    The worst part of it was the class: I tended to ask questions, to show my enthusiasm too much and didn’t worry all the time, so they disliked me for being so positive about it 😦 Well, I have decided to attend another class, maybe things’ll be okay there. And maybe I’ll learn not to talk about the things I found out, like: on the internet. Or ask questions about grammar.
    Village people! You can never make them happy.

    • Oscar

      “So I don’t really care how well I am doing, whether one day the French will understand me and so on. I only want to enjoy myself.”

      I’m not sure I’ve ever really looked at it this way. Maybe I should. But I’m afraid the thought of never making it, if I’m not doing good enough, is too much for me.
      I recognize the last part regarding asking questions; I’ve always been very curious about how things work and why they work as they do (which might be one of the many unknown reasons to why I can’t let go of Slovene, since it is, for me, a very complicated language and a tough nut to crack.)
      Fortunately I’ve always been praised for asking much and my Slovene “teacher” is very tolerant.

      I hope the new class will work out better for you though, French is a very beautiful language!
      Zelo je lepa 😉

      • Oscar

        Correction: But I’m afraid that the thought of never making it, if I’m not doing good enough, might be too much for me.*

        • alcessa

          Well, this is the first time I have decided to let go (I’ll be 40 this year): I mean linguistically. I lOVE it. It still means that I put in a lot of work, if I find time, but it is all for the love of it. And when I don’t manage to learn anything new, I try to imagine how I would explain things to ze French or I simply don’t think about it at all…

          Oh, before I forget, I also bought myself a CD-ROM course (French), they also have the Slovene one:

          Don’t know about its quality but the French software is pretty good.
          You know: for German words around it, there is Google Translate 🙂

          Ja, francoščina je lepa 🙂

          Med vänlig hälsning, alcessa

  • Oscar

    Well, thanks for taking your time talking to me! You’ve cheered me up a bit and I’ll continue reading slovene.
    You’re a very nice and lovely person! 🙂

    Hvala, tack! 🙂

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