How to pronounce Serbian vowels so everyone can understand you

By Danica Gómez Marković

How to pronounce Serbian vowels so everyone can understand you

When it comes to Serbian pronunciation everyone focuses on consonants, but vowels are equally as important. You should first learn to pronounce the Serbian vowels correctly and then focus on the consonants. 

You think Serbian vowels are easy to pronounce? Let’s give it a go.

An underlying problem

Most people learn Serbian through English. This means most beginner lessons are in English. Overall this is not an ideal situation. The best thing would be to learn with someone who knows your mother tongue, can compare it to Serbian, and understand the difficulties you have. 

As per pronunciation of vowels, if your first language is Italian or Spanish, Serbian vowels are a piece of cake for you. But if you strongly rely on English to learn Serbian, it could be a problem. 

I’ve seen it, I’ve heard it. You also have this problem if you’re reading Serbian words that are similar to English as you would read them in English. Check this out:

Four types of accents in Serbian

Before we dive deeper into the vowels, we need to talk about the accent. As carriers of stress in a word, it is essential to pronounce vowels correctly. In the Serbian language, accent usually isn’t marked, so the only way to know how to pronounce the word is to first hear it. 

Syllables are an important player here. A word can be divided into smaller units called syllables. Like this: fan-tas-tic. The word ‘fantastic’ has 3 syllables (fan-tas-tic). Let’s see an example with a Serbian word:



the word we will use further below lekar, which only has two syllables – 


What accents are there in the Serbian language? A word can be stressed in 4 ways:

  • longrising ′
  • shortrising ‵
  • longfalling ⁀
  • shortfalling ‶

While many speakers hear the difference between long and short accents, they don’t hear it between falling and rising accents.

General Guidelines about Word Stress in Serbian

  • Officially the last syllable can never be stressed unless it’s a one-syllable word. Meaning that, for example, you can’t pronounce the word ‘lekar’ as 🔉leKAR but 🔉LEkar. In reality in many dialects across Serbia speakers stress the last syllable.

However, in regions where this is not the case, stressing the last syllable can be seen as a sign of a rural accent. Stressing the last syllable usually doesn’t provoke misunderstandings between speakers.

  • Even the non-stressed syllables can be long or short. If they are long, you’ll probably think the word has two accents, like in 🔉DEvojka. The underlined syllable is not stressed but it’s long.
  • Even though a vowel is always the one to carry the accent in a stressed syllable, you know some Serbian words have no vowels. These are usually one-syllable words and carry an /r/ sound, which is stressed. ‘R’ is considered a semivowel in this case: crn, vrh, prst.

Serbian vowels

Quick rules to remember about Serbian vowels:

  1. There are only 5 of them.
  2. Vowels are pronounced without obstacles. The air you exhale while pronouncing vowels is not hit by your teeth, tongue, or lips. 
  3. They are always pronounced.
  4. You always use your vocal cords to pronounce them.
  5. They are always pronounced the same way.
  6. They can be long and short. In phonetics, a long vowel is marked by: as in the word ‘ideja’ /iděːja/.
  7.  Two successive vowels in the same word always belong to different syllables. You never combine them. What do I mean?

🔉avion -> a-vi-on

🔉vakuum -> va-ku-um

🔉aerodrom -> a-e-ro-drom

Let’s check each vowel and get you ready to practice.


For this sound, we use the letter A or a. The same goes for Cyrillic.

How to pronounce it?

Mouth – wide open

Lips – neutral (don’t do anything)

Tongue – low in the mouth, relaxed

how to pronounce /a/ in Serbian
Practice with me


For this sound, we use the letter E or e in both Latin and Cyrillic. 

How to pronounce it?

Mouth – just a little bit open

Lips – a bit tense toward the back

Tongue – middle height

how to pronounce /e/ in Serbian
Practice with me


In the Latin alphabet, we use the letters I and i, and in the Cyrillic one И and и.

How to pronounce it?

Mouth – you’re almost smiling, BUT show your lower teeth a bit

Lips – stretched and tensed

Tongue – high in the mouth, shifted towards the front

While looking at my face trying to pronounce /i/ I have to notice it’s a great smile face for the photos. Remember it!

how to pronounce /i/ in Serbian
Practice with me


We use the letters O and o, both in Latin and Cyrillic alphabet.

How to pronounce it?

Mouth – open

Lips – rounded, ”o” shape

Tongue – middle height

how to pronounce /o/ in Serbian
Practice with me


In the Latin alphabet, we use the letters U and u, and in the Cyrillic one У and у.

How to pronounce it?

Mouth – just a little bit open

Lips – rounded, tilted forward (“o” shape)

Tongue – middle height, shifted toward the back

Make the same face as if you were to blow a candle. The position for pronouncing /o/ and /u/ is almost the same but with /o/ lips and mouth are more open.

how to pronounce /i/ in Serbian
Practice with me

Tips for the best way to practice pronunciation

To be sure you are pronouncing the best way possible, practice whenever you can and record yourself. This is the only way to hear those little differences between you and native speakers.

Pay attention to the difference between long and short vowels. Exaggerate while you practice. If you should pronounce it long, you make it extra long. 

Play with pronunciation like these guys here. 

This is a joke, of course, but you really should loosen up when it comes to practicing pronunciation. And having fun while doing it is never a bad thing.

The more you listen to the real Serbian language, the more you will be able to understand and talk with people on the street. Following a transcript while listening to the TalkIn’ Serbian Podcast will help you improve your pronunciation skills. When you’re reading and listening at the same time, this happens:

  • Your brain connects sounds and letters.
  • It also creates a new way to interpret written text. You won’t be reading Serbian through your mother tongue anymore! 
  • Your ear is adapting to new sounds, tones, and rhythms of speaking. Next time you pronounce the word wrong, your brain will send you an alert. You will be aware of your mistake, which is the only way to correct it and improve your pronunciation skills. 

Remember, you can’t pronounce words you haven’t heard and you can’t pronounce them well until you hear and read them at the same time. Find all transcripts below.

Want to know more about the Serbian language?

Check out our blog and start learning for free.

Cyrillic - one of your biggest fears when learning Serbian. Find out how much we really use it and if learning it is worth your while.

Were you ever confused in Serbian when you need to ask for "more"? Read more and get a clear image on when to use 'još' and 'više'.

Is Serbian language really hard to learn? Read the post and find out what to expect and how to approach learning Serbian.

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top