The horrors of Serbian/Croatian/Bosian hit you one after another: cases, verb aspect, and conjugations…
And then at some point, probably later in the process, the bizarre and seemingly random distinctions between više and još will also start to get on your nerves. These words can be translated, variously, as “more”, “even more”, “yet”, “any more”, “still”, etc. But be careful! While there is some overlap in the words that translate them into various contexts in English, they are not interchangeable.
This can cause a lot of confusion. Worse, there are quite honestly no quality, easily-understandable grammar guides out there for foreign learners of Serbo-Croatian (though I do recommend a few quality communicative guidebooks and one OK grammar textbook that doesn’t address this issue). So, in consultation with several of my Italki teachers, I’ve put together a little guide to još (још) vs više (више) for those learning Serbian, Croatian, or Bosnian. (I worked with Serbian teachers, but for these two words the use is the same in Croatian and Bosnian.)
- The Key Conceptual Difference Between Još and Više
- Doing Something Still: Još
- Still Not Doing Something: Još
- Comparatives; Doing Something More (Than...): Više
- Not Doing Something (Any) More: Više
- Use Još with Comparative Adjectives
- Practice: Untangle the Differences in Još and Više in these Sentences
The Key Conceptual Difference Between Još and Više
We’ll look at the many specific uses of these words below, but the key to keep in mind is that još shows a continuation of what is already happening and više tends to indicate change.
Još = something is continuing; there is still something, or there is still not something
Više = something is changing; there is more, even more, not any more of something
Personally, I remember this distinction visually by imagining the V from više splitting things apart like a wedge through time. If you have a better mnemonic strategy, add it in the comments!
Doing Something Still: Još
In positive sentences, još is used to talk about things that happened in the past and are still happening. You can also use još uvek, which means exactly the same thing.
Imam još igrice u kompjuteru. — I still have games in my computer.
Imam još uvek igrice u kompjuteru. — I still have games in my computer.
Sometimes the English translation of još is “more”, but the sense is still that of something in the past that is continuing into the present or future, and remaining just as it was.
Verovatno ostajem još nekoliko meseci u Švici. — I’m probably staying a few more months in Switzerland.
Still Not Doing Something: Još
In negative sentences, još or još uvek are used to talk about something that you haven’t done in the past and will continue to not do in the present or future.
Još uvek nisam gledao film. — I still haven’t watched the film.
Još ne znam šta radi. — I still don’t know what he does for work.
Comparatives; Doing Something More (Than…): Više
You can use više in a positive sentence to talk about doing something more than something else.
Ponekad plešem sambu ali više sviram na koncertima. — Sometimes I dance samba but I play concerts more.
Likewise, you can use više to talk about liking something more than something else.
Volim kafane ali više volim jazz koncerte. — I like taverns, but I like jazz concerts more.
And you can have more of something.
Imam više problema od tebe. — I have more problems than you.
You use više when comparisons (of nouns) are involved.
Imam više igrica u kompjuteru. — I have more games on my computer (more than someone else, or more games than other apps, or more games than before).
But you’ll go right back to još if you’re not comparing anything.
Imam još igrica u kompjuteru. — I have more games on my computer (not just the ones you know about, but I’m not comparing those to anything).
Not Doing Something (Any) More: Više
In negative sentences, više can be used to talk about things that you once did but no longer do.
To me ne iznenađuje više. — That doesn’t surprise me anymore.
You can also use više to show what you no longer have.
Nemam više srpkinju, pa je život jadan. — I don’t have a Serbian girl anymore, so life is terrible.
Use Još with Comparative Adjectives
Because Serbian is an endlessly vexing funhouse disaster, you use još — and not the više that you might expect — with your comparative adjectives (when you tack –iji, –ija, –ije on to adjectives) and adverbs.
Ja sam jadan ali ti si još jadnija. — I’m pitiful, but you’re even more pitiful.
Sve će biti još gore. — Everything will be even worse.
Pričaš španski još bolje od mene. — You speak Spanish even better than me.
Practice: Untangle the Differences in Još and Više in these Sentences
Think you’ve got it all down? Compare the following, and see if you understand the distinction. Hover over or click on the footnotes for the answers.
Imam više devojaka.1I have more girlfriends.
Imam još devojku.2I still have a girlfriend.
And compare the following negative sentences:
Nisam više u Francuskoj.3I’m not in France anymore (I was there, but I left).
Nisam još u Francuskoj.4I’m still not in France (I wasn’t there, and I’m still not there).
Now it’s your turn. What do you have more of? What do you still have? What do you not have or do any more? What have you never had or done? Check your answers through classes or free language exchanges with natives (sign up with this link on Italki and you and I both get credits for a class — thanks!). Good luck. I’m going for a well-deserved rakija.
Notes [ + ]
|1.||↑||I have more girlfriends.|
|2.||↑||I still have a girlfriend.|
|3.||↑||I’m not in France anymore (I was there, but I left).|
|4.||↑||I’m still not in France (I wasn’t there, and I’m still not there).|