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JanHenke3

Jan HenkeCzech Republic Prague

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Learning Czech from English

Level 21 · 18234 XP
1234/2000 XP · 61% complete · 766 XP to next level

Crowns: 181/504
35.7% complete · 258 sessions to L2 tree

Skills: 84
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Lessons: 422
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Lexemes: 2362
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Strength: 43%
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Skills by StrengthCrownsDateNameOriginal Order

  • 152288377105.04.2018
    5.005Phrases0 @ 100%110/3 ••• Practice Test out
    a · ahoj · ano · den · dobrou · dobré · dobrý · díky · děkuji · hezký · na shledanou · ne · noc · odpoledne · prosím · ráno · večer · víkend
    18 words

    Hello: Phrases & Introductions

    In this skill we learn how to greet or introduce someone, say our name, say "yes", "no", "please", "excuse me", "thank you", and "I do not understand". After "Jitka" and "Jakub" from the first skill, we get introduced to two more people by name, "Kateřina" and "Matěj". Please do not translate personal names to English in this course.

    Cultural item

    The most common greeting in Czech polite enough to greet complete strangers with during daytime is "Dobrý den!". No single English greeting exactly matches it. The literal translation "Good day!" in most of the English speaking world is for leave-taking, unlike the Czech greeting. "Good morning!" and "Good afternoon!" are both too limited as to period of applicability. In this course we settled on showing "Dobrý den!" translated as "Hello!".

    Grammar bits

    We learn "já jsem" ("I am"). You can use it to introduce yourself:

    • Já jsem Matěj. (I am Matěj.)

    We also learn the ubiquitous word "to". You can use it along with "je" from the previous skill to introduce or point out someone else:

    • To je Kateřina. (That/This/She is Kateřina.)

    Time to get into more Czech sounds.

    Vowels

    This should mostly be a review:

    • a is always like the "a" in "father", never like the "a" in "dad".
    • e is as in "set".
    • i is as in "sit".
    • y is always a vowel, never a consonant, and sounds the same as i.
    • o is as in "gopher" in American English, but without the light w sound which usually follows it, or as in the British pronunciation of "lot".
    • u is as in "put".

    Each vowel has a short and a long form, the long forms generally being written with the accent like the "á" in "máma". The main difference between a short vowel and a long vowel is the length of time spent pronouncing them, except that i and y also undergo a quality change, possibly variable by region:

    • í and ý sound as the "ea" in "seat".

    We do get a new vowel letter:

    • ě always follows a consonant. It is pronounced just like e but changes the pronunciation of the consonant just before it. See the final note below.

    Consonants

    We meet a few more consonants in this skill.

    Many consonants occur in pairs, voiced and unvoiced, like b and p, d and t, z and s, or ž and š. Some consonants are not paired up (like m and n), and some (like r) don't fit into either category too well.

    Voiced

    • b is as in English
    • d is mostly as in English but pronounced with the tongue closer to the teeth.
    • ď is a sound that does not exist in English. It sounds roughly like a d followed by the consonantal English "y", but merged into a single sound. Some of you may want to think about it as a sound between a d and a g.
    • g is as in English (not used much in Czech by spelling, but very common as the voiced pronunciation of k).
    • h is like the "h" in "hotel".
    • z is as in English.
    • ž is like the sound that the "s" makes in "pleasure".

    Unvoiced

    • c represents a sound that doesn't quite exist in English, but it is close to how the "ts" at the end of "cats" sounds. It is much closer to a single sound rather than a sequence of two.
    • č is like the "ch" in "chicken".
    • k and p are as in English, but a bit less explosive.
    • s is as in English.
    • t is as in English, but with the tongue closer to the teeth and less explosive.
    • ť is the unvoiced mate of ď, and is similarly a sound which does not exist in English. It sounds roughly like a t followed by the consonantal English "y", but merged into one sound rather than a sequence of two. (Or try a sound between a t and a k.)

    Other

    • j is like the "y" in "yellow".
    • l is as in English.
    • m and n are as in English.
    • ň is roughly like an n followed by the consonantal English "y", but it is one sound rather than a sequence of two. (Just think Spanish "mañana".)
    • r is lightly rolled, as in Spanish or Italian, or tapped, as in Scots, but never growled.
    • ř is a sound unique to Czech and is a sound the majority of foreigners and some natives find difficult to learn. It's roughly something between r and ž.

    Combinations

    As noted previously, each letter in Czech is usually pronounced independently of any letters which precede or follow it, with important exceptions individually noted in these tips.

    • If a word begins "js", like "jsem", there can be little evidence of the j in its pronunciation.
    • The letter ě is pronounced depending on what consonant it follows. When it follows d or t, the pronunciation changes the consonant to a d' or t' (resp.) followed by a plain e. Compare the sound of "dě" in "děkuju" with that of "de" in "dobrý den", and the sound of "tě" in "Matěj" with that of "te" in "Kateřina".
  • 152288456505.04.2018
    5.005Masculine0 @ 100%210/4 ••• Practice Test out
    další · dům · františek · hrad · jiný · kluk · malý · matěj · mladý · muž · nový · poslední · starý · stroj · strom · ten · velký · zvláštní · člověk · špatný
    20 words

    Descriptions: Masculine

    In this skill we learn a few words to describe people and things and get to see the grammatical gender in action.

    Every noun in Czech has a gender: masculine, feminine, or neuter. Knowing the gender is important for choosing the form of the noun and even other words in the sentence. For inanimate nouns, there is little relation between their gender and their nature. For example "čaj" (tea) is masculine, "káva" (coffee) is feminine, and "mléko" (milk) is neuter. For nouns that refer to people, the grammatical gender and biological sex usually do coincide.

    It may be possible to guess the gender of the noun from its ending:

    • Nouns ending in a consonant are mostly masculine. Early examples include "kluk" (boy), "muž" (man), "chléb" (bread), "čaj" (tea), and the proper names "František", "Jakub", and "Matěj".
    • Nouns ending in -a or -e are mostly feminine. Early examples include "holka" (girl), "žena" (woman, wife), "restaurace" (restaurant), "lžíce" (spoon), and the proper names "Jitka", "Kateřina", and "Žofie".
    • Nouns ending in -o are almost always neuter. Early examples include město (city), "auto" (car), "jablko" (apple), and "maso" (meat).
    • Nouns that end in or are also often neuter. Early examples include "dítě" (child), "letiště" (airport), and "náměstí" (square, plaza).

    Unfortunately, many nouns do not conform. Let's list a few taken from our early skills:

    • Some nouns that end in a consonant are feminine, e.g., "věc" (thing), "sůl" (salt), "mrkev" (carrot), "myš" (mouse), and "postel" (bed).
    • Some nouns that end in -a are masculine, e.g., "táta" (dad) and "turista" (tourist).
    • Some nouns that end in -e are neuter, e.g., "zvíře" (animal) and "vejce" (egg).

    Adjectives

    We encountered our very first Czech adjective in the previous skill as part of the "dobrý den" greeting. This adjective and others like it have endings that depend on the gender of the noun they modify:

    • in masculine, e.g., "dobrý čaj" (good tea)
    • in feminine, e.g., "dobrá káva" (good coffee)
    • in neuter, e.g., "dobré mléko" (good milk)

    The adjectives we will be using in this skill (listed in their masculine forms) are:

    • "dobrý" (good)
    • "malý" (little, small)
    • "mladý" (young)
    • "nový" (new)
    • "starý" (old)
    • "velký" (big, large)

    Demonstratives

    Czech doesn't have articles, so "mladý muž" could be "young man", "a young man", or "the young man", depending on context. Czech has a variety of ways of making clear which is meant when the distinction is important, including the word order. Here we only examine the demonstrative adjective (technically pronoun, but used before its noun like an adjective) that is sometimes used in place of the definite article. This demonstrative has the following forms:

    • "ten" in masculine, e.g., "ten muž" (the/that man)
    • "ta" in feminine, e.g., "ta žena" (the/that woman)
    • "to" in neuter, e.g., "to dítě" (the/that child)

    Demonstrative adjectives and regular adjectives can usually be combined, in that order: "ten starý muž" (the/that old man).

    Pronunciation notes

    The comments below build on the tips provided with the first two skills. Please review them as needed.

    Several new consonants matter in this skill:

    • ch is considered a single letter in Czech and is found after "h" in dictionaries. It is the unvoiced counterpart to h. The sound no longer exists in most dialects of English. Scots has retained it, for example in "Loch Ness".
    • is not a single letter, but this cluster is pronounced like the "j" in "juice". It is the voiced counterpart to č.
    • f is as in English (and an unvoiced counterpart to v).
    • š is like the "sh" in "sheep" (and an unvoiced counterpart to ž).
    • v is as in English. It is voiced.
    • ž is like the sound that the "s" makes in "pleasure". It is voiced.

    The "ti" in "František" gives us an example of another pronunciation interference between letters:

    • In domestic Czech words, when followed by an i or í, d is pronounced like ď, t like ť, and n like ň.

    This skill also includes two more examples of the final consonant devoicing, when a voiced consonant at the end of a word is pronounced as if it were devoiced (unless followed in the stream of speech by another voiced consonant):

    • The "b" at the end of "chléb" gets pronounced as its devoiced mate "p", making the word sound like "chlép".
    • The "ž" at the end of "muž" gets pronounced as its devoiced mate "š", making the word sound like "muš" (moosh).
  • 152288512605.04.2018
    5.005Feminine0 @ 100%220/4 ••• Practice Test out
    dobrá · hezká · holka · jiná · mladá · stará · ulice · věc · špatná · žena
    10 words

    Descriptions: Feminine

    Every noun in Czech has a gender, which can be "masculine", "feminine", or "neuter". Knowing the gender is important because it impacts the form of the noun and even other words in the sentence. For inanimate things, there is little relation between their gender and their nature. For example "čaj" (tea) is masculine, "káva" (coffee) is feminine, and "mléko" (milk) is neuter. For words that refer to people, the grammatical gender and biological sex usually do coincide.

    It may be possible to guess the gender of the noun from its ending:

    • Nouns ending in a consonant are mostly masculine. Other examples include "kluk" (boy), "muž" (man), "chléb" (bread), "dům" (house), "míč" (ball), and the proper names "František" and "Matěj".
    • Nouns ending in -a or -e are mostly feminine. Early examples include "holka" (girl), "žena" (woman, wife), "restaurace" (restaurant), "lžíce" (spoon), and the proper names "Kateřina" and "Žofie".
    • Nouns ending in -o are almost always neuter. Other examples include město (city), "auto" (car), "jablko" (apple), and "maso" (meat).
    • Nouns that end in or are also often neuter. Early examples include "dítě" (child), "letiště" (airport), and "náměstí" (square, plaza).

    Unfortunately, many nouns do not conform. Let's list a few taken from our early skills:

    • Some nouns that end in a consonant are feminine, e.g., "věc" (thing), "sůl" (salt), "mrkev" (carrot), "myš" (mouse), and "postel" (bed).
    • Some nouns that end in -a are masculine, e.g., "táta" (dad) and "turista" (tourist).
    • Some nouns that end in -e are neuter, e.g., "zvíře" (animal) and "vejce" (egg).

    Adjectives

    We encountered our very first Czech adjective in the second skill as part of "dobrý den" (a polite greeting). This adjective and others like it have endings that depend on the gender as follows:

    • in masculine, e.g., "dobrý čaj" (good tea)
    • in feminine, e.g., "dobrá káva" (good coffee)
    • in neuter, e.g., "dobré mléko" (good milk)

    The adjectives we will be using in this skill (listed in their feminine forms) are:

    • "dobrá" (good)
    • "malá" (little, small)
    • "mladá" (young)
    • "nová" (new)
    • "stará" (old)
    • "velká" (big, large)

    Demonstratives

    Czech doesn't have articles, so "mladá žena" could be "young woman", "a young woman", or "the young woman", depending on context. Czech has a variety of ways for making it clear which is meant when the distinction is important, including the word order. Here we only examine the demonstrative adjective (technically pronoun, but used before its noun like an adjective) that is sometimes used in place of the definite article. This demonstrative has the following forms:

    • "ten" in masculine, e.g., "ten muž" (the/that man)
    • "ta" in feminine, e.g., "ta žena" (the/that woman)
    • "to" in neuter, e.g., "to dítě" (the/that child)

    Demonstrative adjectives and regular adjectives can usually be combined, in that order: "ta mladá žena" (the/that young woman).

    Pronunciation notes

    The comments below build on the tips provided with the first two skills. Please make sure to review them as needed.

    You may notice what appears to be a new vowel:

    • ů is just a different spelling of the long ú. They sound the same. The rule is to spell as ú at the beginning of the word or of the word root following a prefix, and as ů otherwise.

    Several new consonants appear in this skill:

    • c represents a sound that doesn't quite exist in English, but it is very close to the "ts" at the end of "cats". It is, however, closer to a single sound rather than a sequence of two.
    • č is like the "ch" in "chicken".
    • h is like the "h" in "hotel". It is voiced.
    • l is as in English.
    • v is as in English. It is voiced.

    This skill includes an example of a voiced consonant, "v", appearing at the end of a word, "mrkev". Such consonants are typically pronounced as if they were devoiced. The devoiced counterpart of "v" is "f", and so "mrkev" ends up sounding like "mrkef", a word that does not really exist in Czech any other way.

    The "ni" in "kniha" gives us an example of another pronunciation interference between letters:

    • In domestic Czech words, when followed by an i or í, d is pronounced like ď, t like ť, and n like ň.

    We have already seen that what consonant shows up before ě impacts the way the combination is pronounced:

    • When ě follows d, t, or n, the pronunciation changes the consonant to a d', t', or ň (resp.) followed by a plain e.
    • When ě follows any other consonant (excepting m), the consonant the ě is pronounced like the "y" in "yellow".

    And that's why "věc" sounds like "vyec".

  • 152288567905.04.2018
    5.005Neuter0 @ 100%230/4 ••• Practice Test out
    auto · dítě · děvče · hezké · město · nové · staré · víno · zvíře · špatné
    10 words

    Descriptions: Neuter

    In this skill we learn a few more words to describe people and things and get to see the grammatical gender in action.

    Please read the introductory gender notes in the neighboring Masculine skill. We need to save space here.

    Adjectives

    We encountered our very first Czech adjective in the second skill as part of "dobrý den" (a polite greeting). This adjective and others like it have endings that depend on the gender as follows:

    • in masculine, e.g., "dobrý čaj" (good tea)
    • in feminine, e.g., "dobrá káva" (good coffee)
    • in neuter, e.g., "dobré mléko" (good milk)

    The adjectives we will be using in this skill (listed in their neuter forms) are:

    • "dobré" (good)
    • "malé" (little, small)
    • "mladé" (young)
    • "nové" (new)
    • "staré" (old)
    • "velké" (big, large)

    Demonstratives

    Czech doesn't have articles, so "malé dítě" could be "small child", "a small child", or "the small child", depending on context. Czech has a variety of ways of making clear which is meant when the distinction is important, including the word order. Here we only examine the demonstrative adjective (technically pronoun, but used before its noun like an adjective) that is sometimes used in place of the definite article. This demonstrative has the following forms:

    • "ten" in masculine, e.g., "ten muž" (the/that man)
    • "ta" in feminine, e.g., "ta žena" (the/that woman)
    • "to" in neuter, e.g., "to dítě" (the/that child)

    Demonstrative adjectives and regular adjectives can usually be combined, in that order: "to malé dítě" (the/that small child).

    Pronunciation notes

    The comments below build on the tips provided with the first two skills. Please make sure to review them as needed.

    Vowel sequences are not too common in Czech and usually show up in foreign-derived words. The example in "auto" shows that the Czech approach to vowel sequences in the same syllable is to simply glide from the first vowel to the next.

    Several new consonants appear in this skill:

    • c represents a sound that doesn't quite exist in English, but it is very close to the "ts" at the end of "cats". It is, however, closer to a single sound rather than a sequence of two.
    • č is like the "ch" in "chicken".
    • š is like the "sh" in "sheep" (and an unvoiced counterpart to ž).
    • v is as in English. It is voiced.
    • z is as in English. It is voiced.
    • ž is like the sound that the "s" makes in "pleasure".

    This skill also includes examples of the "mě" sequence in "město" and "náměstí". This is a good place to summarize the rules for pronouncing the Czech ě in general. The pronunciation effects of ě depend on what consonant it follows:

    • When ě follows d, t, or n, the pronunciation changes the consonant to a d', t', or ň (resp.) followed by a plain e. Compare the sound of "dě" in "děkuju" with that of "de" in "dobrý den", and the sound of "tě" in "Matěj" with that of "te" in "Kateřina".
    • When ě follows m, the pronunciation effect is as if we replaced the "mě" with "mně". In the end, we get something like a "mñe" sound.
    • When ě follows any other consonant, we do not change the pronunciation of the consonant and just pronounce the ě like a consonantal "y" (the "y" in "yellow") followed by an e.

    Finally, this skill also includes examples of "dí" and "tí" sequences. The rule for those is:

    • In domestic Czech words, when followed by an i or í, d is pronounced like ď, t like ť, and n like ň (whose sounds we know from "děkuju", "Matěj", and "promiňte"). The vowel itself still sounds the same as y or ý.
  • 152288654705.04.2018
    5.005To Be Or Not To Be, Singular0 @ 100%310/4 ••• Practice Test out
    je · jsem · jsi · já · on · ona · ono · slovo · to · ty
    10 words

    To be: Singular

    In this skill we keep on describing objects and living beings, including animals. We learn the missing pieces to complete this table:

    Czech English
    (Já) jsem I am
    (Ty) jsi You are (informal singular)
    (On/Ona/Ono) je He/She/It is
    (Já) nejsem I am not
    (Ty) nejsi You are not (informal singular)
    (On/Ona/Ono) není He/She/It is not

    Czech verbs are usually negated by adding ne- to the front. The irregular "není" is a rare exception.

    The "ty" forms of the pronoun and the verb are informal singular, meaning they are used to address single individuals with whom we are on a first name basis or who are much younger than us.

    Czech subject pronouns are normally optional, so the table shows them in parentheses. Two of these pronouns normally refer to animate subjects, "on" to masculine animates like "muž" and "ona" to feminine animates like "žena". For inanimates/neuters, we can skip the pronoun or use "to". We have seen enough "to" to need a review.

    Pronoun "to"

    Demonstrative "to": "To dítě je malé."

    Here "to" functions as something between the definite article and the demonstrative adjective "that" for singular neuter nouns. For example, + To dítě je malé. (The/That child is small).

    Both "the" and "that" are usually recognized in translations. The course currently does not allow translations with "this" where "the" can be used in English. Czech has another word for "this" when attached to a noun.

    The demonstrative that can be translated as "the" must agree with the gender of the noun it is attached to just like it did in "To dítě je malé.":

    • Ten kluk je malý. (The/That boy is small.)
    • Ta holka je Kateřina. (The/That girl is Kateřina.)

    Introduction "to": "To je Matěj"

    The "to" in introductions like

    • To je Kateřina/Matěj. (That/This is Kateřina/Matěj.)

    does not change to agree with the noun gender.

    Here "to" is usually the first word and is mostly translated as "that" or "this" (never "the"). These introductions are not limited to introducing people by name and can be negative. Either "that" or "this" is usually shown in the best translation, but subject pronouns (he, she, it) are usually also recognized:

    • To je/není malá hruška. (That/This/It is/not a small pear.)

    Make sure you notice the pattern: When "the" makes sense in English, "to" must agree with the noun gender in Czech (and cannot be translated as "this"). When "the" does not make sense, "to" is unchanging across noun genders (and can be translated as "this"). "That" typically works in all translations of "ten", "ta", and "to" in the singular.

    2nd place "to": "Je to malé zvíře."

    We now add a slightly different "to". It is similar to the introduction/pointing kind, but rather than pointing, we are just referencing someone/something previously discussed or understood to be the conversation topic:

    • Je/Není to starý muž. (He is/not an old man.)
    • Je/Není to starý stroj. (It is/not an old machine.)
    • Je/Není to mladá žena. (She is/not a young woman.)
    • Je/Není to malé dítě. (He/She/It is/not a little child.)

    This "to" prefers the second place in the sentence but remains its subject. Again, "the" does not work as a complete subject of the sentence, so our "the" gender agreement rule says that "to" does not change to agree with the noun gender. This "to" is best translated as a subject pronoun (he, she, it), although "this" and "that" are usually also recognized.

    Noun-less "to": "To je velké."

    Our "the" test says that because "the" does not work in English, "to" does not change to reflect the noun gender. Here we have no noun, just an unattached adjective looking for something to agree with, and it only finds the "to", which then reverts to its singular neuter role. As before, "to" can go first or second:

    • Je/Není to nové. (It is/not new.)
    • To je/není nové. (That/This is new.)

    Yes/no questions

    Written Czech yes/no questions often look just like statements ending in a question mark. Compare "Jsi holka? " with "Jsi holka." Spoken questions of this type differ from the corresponding statements in intonation, which should rise at the end for yes/no questions but fall for statements. (Our synthetic voice is bad at this.)

    Pronunciation notes

    • "Dlouhý" presents the one two-vowel sequence frequently found in domestic words, "ou", pronounced by gliding from one vowel to the next.
    • "Had" is another example of the final consonant devoicing. The devoiced counterpart of "d" is "t", so "had" sounds like "hat" (the English "hut").
    • "Není" is an example of a domestic word with a "ní" sequence. The second n gets pronounced like ň, the sound we needed to pronounce "město" or "náměstí".
    • "Ovce" presents a mixed voiced/devoiced consonant cluster. (Remember "kde"?) The last consonant is devoiced, so the preceding "v" gets pronounded as its devoiced mate "f", and the word sounds like "ofce".
  • 152288743205.04.2018
    5.005To Be Or Not To Be, Plural0 @ 100%410/4 ••• Practice Test out
    jsme · kluci · malé · malí · muži · my · velcí · velké · vy · ženy
    10 words

    Descriptions: Plural

    We continue describing objects and living beings, but this time in groups. We need to know the plural forms of the Czech be verb and a few plural personal pronouns:

    Czech English
    (My) jsme We are
    (Vy) jste You are (plural/formal singular)
    (Oni/Ony/Ona) jsou They are
    (My) nejsme We are not
    (Vy) nejste You are not (plural/formal singular)
    (Oni/Ony/Ona) nejsou They are not

    The "vy" forms of the pronoun and the verb both formal singular and plural, meaning they are used to address single individuals whom we should show respect as well as groups of individuals.

    Two of the plural third-person pronouns are normally used to refer to animate subjects only, "oni" to masculine animates like "muži" and "kluci" and "ony" to feminine animates like "ženy" and "holky". This contrasts with English, where "they" can easily refer to frosted flakes. For inanimate or neuter subjects we usually rely on our favorite Czech word, "to".

    Nouns

    We learn a few plural nouns:

    Czech English
    muž > muži man > men
    kluk > kluci boy(s)
    strom > stromy tree(s)
    pomeranč > pomeranče orange(s)
    žena > ženy woman > women
    holka > holky girl(s)
    hruška > hrušky pear(s)
    restaurace restaurant(s)
    dítě > děti child(ren)
    zvíře > zvířata animal(s)
    jablko > jablka apple(s)
    vejce egg(s)

    This sampling previews some of the plural formation possibilities in Czech:

    • Animate masculine nouns ending in a consonant in the singular often append -i to form the plural, e.g., we get "muži" and "kluci". Note the written consonant shift from "k" to "c" before the -i ending.
    • Inanimate masculine nouns usually append -y or -e to form the plural, e.g., we get "stromy" and "pomeranče".
    • Feminine nouns ending in -a in the singular form the plural by replacing the -a with -y, e.g., "ženy" and "hrušky".
    • Feminine nouns ending in -e/ě in the singular stay that way in the plural, e.g., "restaurace" (restaurant/restaurants).
    • Neuter nouns ending in -o in the singular form the plural by replacing the -o with -a, e.g., "jablka".
    • Some neuter nouns ending in -e/ě in the singular form the plural by replacing the -e/ě with -ata, e.g., "zvířata"; others do not change, like "vejce" (egg/eggs).
    • The plural of the neuter "dítě" (child) shows that things are not always what they seem in Czech. Instead of the expected (but non-existent) neuter "díťata", we get the feminine plural "děti”.

    Adjectives

    In the plural, adjectives like "mladý" and "velký" differ in endings between the genders. For the masculine gender, the endings reflect the animate vs inanimate status:

    • in animate masculine, e.g., "mladí muži" (young men)
    • in inanimate masculine, e.g., "velké stromy/pomeranče" (big trees/oranges)
    • in feminine, e.g., "mladé ženy" (young women)
    • in neuter, e.g., "malá zvířata" (small animals)

    The consonant shift from "k" to "c" also impacts the animate masculine adjective before the ending. Thus we get "velcí kluci" (big boys).

    Demonstratives

    The Czech demonstrative that is sometimes used where the definite article could go in English has the following plural forms (which again differ between animate and inanimate masculine nouns):

    • "ti" in animate masculine, e.g., "ti muži" (the/those men)
    • "ty" in inanimate masculine, e.g., "ty pomeranče" (the/those oranges)
    • "ty" in feminine, e.g., "ty ženy" (the/those women)
    • "ta" in neuter, e.g., "ta zvířata" (the/those animals)

    Pronoun "to" (again?)

    Remember the non-neuter uses of "to" and our "the" test? The same thing happens in the plural:

    • To ne/jsou velké hrušky. (Those/These are/not large pears.) ["The" does not work, so "to" does not change for the gender and the number of the noun. "They" is also acceptable.]
    • Ne/jsou to hrušky. (They are/not pears.) [Again, "the" does not work, so "to" does not change. The subject pronoun is preferred for the 2nd place "to". "Those" and "these" are acceptable.]
    • Ty hrušky ne/jsou velké. (The/Those pears are/not large.) ["The" is possible, so "to" must agree with the gender and the number of the noun.]

    Keep in mind

    Because the singular neuter "dítě" switches to the feminine "děti" in the plural, the correct forms get some getting used to:

    • Kde je to malé dítě?
    • Kde jsou ty malé děti? [Kde jsou ta malá díťata? would be wrong.]

    The pronunciation of "děti" may be as challenging as that of "dítě". We had our first example of the "dě" sequence (pronounced as "ďe", where "ď" is roughly a "d"+"y" sequence merged into one sound half-way to "g") in "děkuju", and "ti" sounds like it does in "František" (where the "t" makes a "ť" sound, roughly a "t"+"y" sequence merged into one sound half-way from "t" to "k").

  • 152288874705.04.2018
    5.005Questions 10 @ 100%510/4 ••• Practice Test out
    automobil · chlapec · co · dívka · hoch · jak · jaký · jméno · kde · kdo · která · které · který · manžel · manželka · manželé · mašina · nebo · osoba · proč · veliké · veliký · vysoká · vysoké · vysoký · čí
    26 words

    Questions 1

    In this skill, we focus on asking questions about people, animals, and objects, both those that can be answered just yes/no, and those requesting more information using question words like the English "which".

    Yes-no questions

    English usually uses word order (in addition to rising terminal intonation when speaking) to distinguish yes-no questions from statements. Czech often doesn't do this, instead relying on intonation in spoken Czech and leaving the question mark at the end of the sentence as the only written hint.

    For example, "Jsi kluk?" looks just like "Jsi kluk.", while the usual English word order in the question "Are you a boy?" clearly differs from that in the statement "You are a boy."

    In "Je František vysoký?", we see that the usual Czech word order for yes-no questions does involve a sort of inversion: The verb goes first. It just was not obvious in "Jsi kluk?" because of the dropped subject pronoun (ty).

    Personal pronouns normally are dropped in yes-no questions, and including them gives some meaning nuance:

    • Jsi nový student? (Are you a new student?)

    is the neutral way of asking,

    • Jsi nový student ty? (Are you a new student?)

    emphasizes that now your situation is of interest (perhaps we have just mentioned some other new student),

    • Ty jsi nový student? (You are a new student?)

    may express surprise similar to the English statement question, and

    • Jsi ty nový student?

    (which matches the neutral English question word for word) is a strangely affected and marginal word order in Czech. There are other, more acceptable order permutations in Czech, but let’s move on.

    Question-word questions

    The English question words (a.k.a. the wh-words) have their counterparts in Czech, e.g., "kdo" (who), "co" (what, as in what thing), "kde" (where), "jak" (how), "proč" (why), "jaký" (what, as in what kind of), "který" (which), and "čí" (whose).

    These words typically start their questions in Czech, much like in English, and the overall word order is also similar:

    • Kdo je ta zvláštní holka? (Who's that strange girl?)
    • Kdo jsou ti kluci? (Who are those boys?)
    • Co je to? (What is it/that?)
    • Kde jsem? (Where am I?)
    • Jak starý jsi? (How old are you? [asked of a male])
    • Proč je to malé? (Why is it small?)
    • Jaký muž je Matěj? (What kind of man is Matěj?)
    • Jaká je Kateřina? (What is Kateřina like?)
    • Jaké je to město? (What is that city like?)
    • Která holka je Jitka? (Which girl is Jitka?)
    • Čí pes to je? (Whose dog is it?)

    You may have noticed that some of the question words change form:

    • "Jaký" and "který" behave like regular adjectives and change endings depending on gender and number, so we may get "jaká", "jaké", "která", "které". Similar to the consonant shifted "velcí" and "staří", the animate masculine forms are "jací" and "kteří".
    • None of the remaining question words change their endings for now.

    New words of note

    This skill introduces three adjectives that do not change their endings with gender: "další" (another/the next), "poslední" (last), and "zvláštní" (strange, odd). Because of their ending, these belong in the class called the soft adjectives. (Yes, the regular ones like "velký" are hard adjectives.) The interrogative "čí" also behaves like a soft adjective.

    This skill introduces a new masculine animate noun "manžel" (husband). It has an odd plural, "manželé", which is also grammatically masculine animate and may mean "husbands" or "husband and wife".

    Pronunciation notes

    • The new adjective "hezký" (pretty/handsome for people and nice for objects) and the new noun "otázka" (question) contain the same voiced/devoiced consonant cluster. The final consonant in the cluster ("k") is devoiced, and because the final consonant rules, the preceding "z" gets devoiced into an "s", and the words end up sounding like "heský" and "otáska".
    • The cluster in "kdo" (who) ends in a voiced final consonant, so the outcome is the opposite, voicing the "k" into a "g" and resulting in "gdo" as the pronunciation. (We saw this with "kde" in the intro skill.)
  • 152347872211.04.2018
    5.005Plural0 @ 100%520/4 ••• Practice Test out
    chlapci · další · dlouhé · dny · dobrá · dobrý · dobří · domy · dívky · děvčata · hezcí · hezký · hoši · hrad · hrady · jiná · jiné · jiný · jména · krátké · lidé · mašiny · mladé · mladí · mladý · města · noci · noví · nový · ona · osoby · poslední · slova · stroj · stroje · stromy · ta · tady · ten · teď · ti · ulice · velicí · veliká · veliké · velká · vysocí · věci · věty · zvláštní · člověk
    51 words

    Plural

    In this skill we build on our knowledge of forming the plural forms of nouns and adjectives to describe people and things.

    Nouns

    Recall our initial observations for nouns:

    • Animate masculine nouns ending in a consonant in the singular often append -i to form the plural, e.g., we get "muži" and "kluci". Note the written consonant shift from "k" to "c" before the -i ending.
    • Inanimate masculine nouns usually append -y or -e to form the plural, e.g., we get "stromy" and "pomeranče".
    • Feminine nouns ending in -a in the singular form the plural by replacing the -a with -y, e.g., "ženy" and "hrušky".
    • Feminine nouns ending in -e/ě in the singular stay that way in the plural, e.g., "restaurace" (restaurant/restaurants).
    • Neuter nouns ending in -o in the singular form the plural by replacing the -o with -a, e.g., "jablka".
    • Some neuter nouns ending in -e/ě in the singular form the plural by replacing the -e/ě with -ata, e.g., "zvířata"; others do not change, like "vejce" (egg/eggs).
    • The plural of the neuter "dítě" (child) is the feminine "děti”.

    We introduce the following plurals:

    Czech English
    had > hadi snake(s)
    pták > ptáci bird(s)
    táta > tátové dad(s)
    turista > turisti tourist(s)
    učitel > učitelé teacher(s)
    autobus > autobusy bus(es)
    hotel > hotely hotel(s)
    stroj > stroje machine(s)
    loď > lodě ship(s)
    mrkev > mrkve carrot(s)
    postel > postele bed(s)
    věc > věci thing(s)
    auto > auta car(s)
    nádraží train station(s)
    rajče > rajčata tomato(es)
    sedadlo > sedadla seat(s)

    Let’s now expand our plural noun formation guidance:

    • Animate masculine nouns ending in -tel in the singular append to form the plural, e.g., we get "učitelé". (Feminine or inanimate masculine nouns ending in -tel do not follow this rule, so we have "postele" and "hotely".)
    • Animate masculine nouns ending in -a in the singular often append -ové to form the plural, e.g., we get "tátové". But nouns ending in -ista usually replace the -a with -i (in informal, colloquial settings) or (in writing or formal speech), so we get "turisti" or "turisté".
    • Inanimate masculine nouns append -y or -e to form the plural. The choice depends on the consonant the singular noun ends in. We get "autobusy", "hotely", and "stromy", but "pomeranče" and "stroje". Let’s start keeping track of what consonants go with the -e; we have "č" and "j" for now; a pattern will emerge.
    • Feminine nouns ending in a consonant in the singular append -e or -i to form the plural. We get "mrkve", "postele", "lodě", and "věci". Note the deletion of the inside "e" on the way from "mrkev" to "mrkve", which does not impact "postele".
    • Neuter nouns ending in in the singular remain the same in the plural, e.g., "nádraží".

    Consonant shifts

    Recall the written consonant shift from "k" to "c" before the -i/í endings: That is how we went from "velký kluk" to "velcí kluci". We now repeat the same shift in getting from "pták" to "ptáci". But we also encounter new written shifts from "h" to "z" and from "r" to "ř". That’s how we go from

    • "dlouhý had" to "dlouzí hadi"
    • "dobrý/chytrý učitel" to " dobří/chytří učitelé"

    Pronunciation

    Keep in mind that while the -i/í endings do not change the spelling of any "d", "t", or "n" they follow, the pronunciation will change as if they were spelled "ď", "ť", or "ň". Pay attention to the sound of the following adjectives: mladí, čistí, špatní. The consonants just before the -í sound very different from how they do in mladý, čistý, špatný.

  • 152348232612.04.2018
    5.005Food0 @ 100%600/4 ••• Practice Test out
    chce · chceme · chcete · chléb · chtějí · cukr · hlad · hruška · hrušky · jablko · jedí · jí · jím · jíst · jíš · kuře · káva · kávu · mají · maso · mléko · má · mám · máme · máte · máš · mít · nejedí · nejí · nejím · nejíme · nejíš · nemají · nemá · nemám · nemáme · nemáte · nemáš · nepije · nepijete · nepiješ · nepijou · nepiju · nesnáší · nesnáším · nesnášíme · pije · pijete · piješ · piji · pijou · pijí · pivo · polévka · polévku · potřebuju · pít · raději · rád · ráda · rády · sýr · sůl · tu · vajíčka · velkou · voda · vodu · čaj · žízeň
    70 words

    Food: Accusative

    Please read the introductory paragraphs on cases and the summary of the adjective endings in the nominative and the accusative in the neighboring Animals skill. We needed to conserve room here.

    Masculine animate nouns

    No new masculine animate nouns appear in this skill.

    Masculine inanimate nouns

    Hrad pattern

    Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    hrad hrad hrady hrady
    cukr cukr cukry cukry
    hlad hlad - -
    chléb chléb chleby chleby
    sýr sýr sýry sýry

    Stroj pattern

    Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    stroj stroj stroje stroje
    čaj čaj čaje čaje

    Feminine nouns

    Žena pattern

    Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    žena ženu ženy ženy
    hruška hrušku hrušky hrušky
    káva kávu kávy kávy
    polévka polévku polévky polévky
    voda vodu vody vody

    Ulice pattern

    Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    ulice ulici ulice ulice

    No new nouns following this pattern appear in this skill.

    Píseň pattern

    Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    píseň píseň písně písně
    žízeň žízeň žízně žízně

    The noun žízeň that appears in this skill in the singular accusative form does not follow the previously introduced feminine patterns. The official declension paradigm word for žízeň is píseň (song). It will show up much later in the course, but let’s include the table to start building awareness of this complication.

    Věc pattern

    Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    věc věc věci věci
    sůl sůl soli soli

    Neuter nouns

    Město pattern

    Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    město město města města
    jablko jablko jablka jablka
    maso maso masa masa
    mléko mléko mléka mléka
    pivo pivo piva piva
    vajíčko vajíčko vajíčka vajíčka

    Zvíře pattern

    Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    zvíře zvíře zvířata zvířata
    kuře kuře kuřata kuřata

    The newly introduced kuře (chicken) is actually the official declension paradigm word, so we will switch to it for the remaining rows of the tree.

    Náměstí pattern

    Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    náměstí náměstí náměstí náměstí

    No new nouns following this pattern appear in this skill.

    A few extra verbs

    As you can imagine, the Czech verb endings will also supply lots of information. For now, let's not try to organize them into systematic classes of patterns. Instead, here is a table of the present tense forms for the five new verbs that appear in this skill. The subject of the verb (even if it is an omitted subject pronoun) determines the verb ending by its number (singular vs plural) and person (first, second, or third). That's it. The present tense is not impacted by the gender of its subject in Czech.

    Person eat have drink need stand want
    jím mám piju, piji potřebuju, potřebuji snáším chci
    ty jíš máš piješ potřebuješ snášíš chceš
    on, ona, ono pije potřebuje snáší chce
    my jíme máme pijeme potřebujeme snášíme chceme
    vy jíte máte pijete potřebujete snášíte chcete
    oni, ony, ona jedí mají pijou, pijí potřebujou, potřebují snášejí, snáší chtějí
    infinitive jíst mít pít potřebovat snášet chtít

    The "infinitive" forms are only shown to help you find the verbs in dictionaries.

    The Czech verb shown for "eat" is mostly used to describe the consumption of food by humans or for humanized animals, such as pets. Its only standard form in the 3rd person plural jedí is a source of trouble for those Czechs who incorrectly think that it should be “jí“. One day the standard may change, but we are not there yet.

    Note the dual 1st person singular endings -ju /-ji and 3rd person plural endings -jou /-jí. The first member in each pair is more informal and the second is bookish or even prissy. The dual 3rd person plural endings -ejí / are typically comparable in terms of formality.

    As noted previously, almost all verbs in Czech form negatives by being prefixed with ne-. For example, we can say Kateřina nepije. (Kateřina doesn’t drink.) The 3rd person singular form není will remain the only exception we deal with for a while.

    The verb shown in the "stand" column would be close to "tolerate" when used without negation. But it is almost always used as a negated verb best translated as "cannot stand":

    • Nesnáším hrušky. (I can't stand pears.)
  • 152348125912.04.2018
    5.005Animals0 @ 100%620/4 ••• Practice Test out
    hledají · hledám · hledáme · hledáte · hledáš · honíš · husa · husy · kachna · kachny · koně · koza · kozy · kočka · kočku · kráva · krávu · krávy · lišku · lišky · malého · medvěd · medvědy · moucha · mouchu · mouchy · myš · myši · nehledají · nehledám · nevidí · nevidím · nevidíš · nevidět · osel · osla · osli · pavouci · pavouk · pavouky · pes · prasata · prase · psa · psi · ptáci · ptáka · ryba · ryby · slepice · ten · toho · tu · velkou · velká · velké · velkého · velký · vidí · vidím · vidíte · vidíš · vidět · vlk · žerou · žrádlo
    66 words

    Animals: Accusative

    Above this row of the tree, we were dealing almost exclusively with the verb "be" and with nouns and adjectives in the nominative case. That would only take us so far. Maybe we could talk about what or who something or someone is, what something or someone is like, or (to some extent) where something or someone is. But if we are ever going to move from states to actions, we will need more verbs and more cases.

    Simply put, the case is a grammar category that provides information on the function of the word (usually a noun, adjective, pronoun, or numeral) relative to the other words around it. In English, much of this information comes from the position of the word. Czech is one of the languages with a fairly free word order, and other clues are needed.

    The nominative case is used to "name" the subject of a verb, i.e., the "doer" of whatever action is being described. When we say František je vysoký. (František is tall), "František" is in the nominative case. (So is "vysoký".) If František eats something instead of just being tall, he will still be in the nominative, but what he eats will be in a different case.

    The accusative case is mostly used to mark the object of a verb, i.e., the target of the action, and often without preposition. Whatever František is eating normally ends up in the accusative.

    To tell the accusative from the nominative, we need to pay attention to the endings, just like we did when making the plural.

    Demonstrative adjective forms

    Singular

    Case M an. M in. F N
    Nom. ten ten ta to
    Acc. toho ten tu to

    Plural

    Case M an. M in. F N
    Nom. ti ty ty ta
    Acc. ty ty ty ta

    Hard adjective endings

    Singular

    Case M an. M in. F N
    Nom.
    Acc. -ého -ou

    Plural

    Case M an. M in. F N
    Nom.
    Acc.

    Soft adjective endings

    Singular

    Case M an. M in. F N
    Nom.
    Acc. -ího

    Plural

    Case M an. M in. F N
    Nom.
    Acc.

    Masculine animate nouns

    Kluk pattern

    Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    kluk kluka kluci kluky
    medvěd medvěda medvědi medvědy
    osel osla osli osly
    pavouk pavouka pavouci pavouky
    pes psa psi psy
    pták ptáka ptáci ptáky
    vlk vlka vlci vlky

    Muž pattern

    Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    muž muže muži muže
    kůň koně koně koně

    Masculine inanimate nouns

    No new masculine inanimate nouns appear in this skill.

    Feminine nouns

    Žena pattern

    Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    žena ženu ženy ženy
    husa husu husy husy
    kachna kachnu kachny kachny
    kočka kočku kočky kočky
    koza kozu kozy kozy
    kráva krávu krávy krávy
    liška lišku lišky lišky
    moucha mouchu mouchy mouchy
    ryba rybu ryby ryby

    Ulice pattern

    Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    ulice ulici ulice ulice
    ovce ovci ovce ovce
    slepice slepici slepice slepice

    Věc pattern

    Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    věc věc věci věci
    myš myš myši myši

    Neuter nouns

    Město pattern

    Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    město město města města
    žrádlo žrádlo žrádla žrádla

    Zvíře pattern

    Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    zvíře zvíře zvířata zvířata
    prase prase prasata prasata

    A few extra verbs

    As you can imagine, the Czech verb endings will also supply lots of information. For now, let's not try to organize them into classes of patterns; there will be plenty of that later. Instead, here is a table of the present tense forms for the four new verbs that appear in this skill. The subject of the verb (even if it is an omitted subject pronoun) determines the verb ending by its number (singular vs plural) and person (first, second, or third). That's it. The present tense is not impacted by the gender of its subject in Czech.

    Person look for chase see eat*
    hledám honím vidím žeru
    ty hledáš honíš vidíš žereš
    on/a/o hledá honí vidí žere
    my hledáme honíme vidíme žereme
    vy hledáte honíte vidíte žerete
    oni/y/a hledají honí vidí žerou
    infinitive hledat honit vidět žrát

    *Please note that the Czech verb shown for English "eat" is only applicable in standard Czech if the eater is an animal. Using it to describe the consumption of food by humans is rather coarse.

    The "infinitive" forms are only shown to help you find the verbs in dictionaries.

  • 152348443812.04.2018
    5.005Prepositions: Accusative0 @ 100%710/4 ••• Practice Test out
    dívat · dívám · díváte · františka · jídlo · kateřinu · matěje · muže · myslet · myslí · myslíme · na · nedíváme · nemyslet · nemyslí · nestarají · nestarám · nestaráme · nestaráš · nečekat · nečekám · nečekáme · o · poslední · posledního · pro · se · stará · starám · staráme · zajímá · zajímám · čekají · čekat · čekáte · čekáš · ženu · žofii
    38 words

    Prepositions for the accusative case

    This skill introduces the accusative forms of the four first (proper) names we have in the course:

    Nom. Acc.
    František Františka
    Matěj Matěje
    Kateřina Kateřinu
    Žofie Žofii

    Accusatives of a few regular nouns are also introduced:

    Nom. Acc.
    divadlo divadlo
    jídlo jídlo
    muž muže
    žena ženu

    Like in English, Czech prepositions often work with and affect the meaning of verbs. In contrast to English prepositions, the Czech ones always come before the noun (or noun phrase) they apply to. The challenge in learning prepositions in Czech (and other foreign languages) is that they often defy expectations based on one's native language: A preposition different than what is expected is used, one is used when one was not expected, or one is not used when one is expected.

    Accusative is one of the most common cases used with Czech prepositions. Three prepositions for the accusative are introduced in this skill: na, pro, and o. Other prepositions can be used with the accusative, but we are not quite ready for them at this stage.

    Na

    When used with the accusative, na often brings a sense of the direction to the action described by the verb toward the object. Three example verbs are introduced to demonstrate the accusative use of "na":

    Person wait for look at think about
    čekám se dívám myslím
    ty čekáš se díváš myslíš
    on/ona/ono čeká se dívá myslí
    my čekáme se díváme myslíme
    vy čekáte se díváte myslíte
    oni/ony/ona čekají se dívají myslí, myslejí
    infinitive čekat dívat se myslet

    The "infinitive" forms are only shown to help you find the verbs in dictionaries.

    The three English verbs each come with a different preposition. Čekám na Kateřinu. is "I am waiting for Kateřina.", while Dívám se na Kateřinu. is "I am looking at Kateřina."

    The verb particle se in that last example is our first encounter in this course with this challenging word. We cannot omit it with this particular verb. "Dívám na Kateřinu." is an improperly constructed sentence, even if it can be understood readily. The main challenge for foreign learners is that the se wants to be in second place, after the first unit of meaning in the sentence, whether the first unit is expressed in one word or through a complex clause. See the following additional examples of placing se:

    • Ona se dívá na Matěje. (She is looking at Matěj.)
    • Ta nová holka se dívá na Matěje. (The new girl is looking at Matěj.)
    • Kdo se dívá na Matěje? (Who is looking at Matěj?)
    • Na Matěje se díváme my. (We are looking at Matěj.)
    • Proč se nedíváte na Františka? (Why aren't you looking at František?)

    A minor added wrinkle is that the conjunctions a (and) and ale (but) as well as independent utterances pre-pended (usually) with a comma do not count as a unit of meaning when se is looking for its second place. So we would need to say

    • Ale on se dívá na Žofii. (But he is looking at Žofie.)
    • Ano, a ona se dívá na Kateřinu. (Yes, and she is looking at Kateřina.)

    Na is also used with one other case, to be covered later in the course.

    Pro

    Pro quite closely resembles the English preposition "for", which also frequently is how pro gets translated. The core meaning of pro is related to the notion of purpose, reason. For example, To maso je pro psa. is "That meat is for the dog." This preposition is always used with the accusative case.

    O

    When used with the accusative, o is somewhat similar to na in that it links the object to the verb through a meaning related to direction or target of the verb's action. Many different ways of translating this preposition exist and need to be learnt case by case.

    Two verbs are introduced to demonstrate the accusative use of o:

    Person care about be interested in
    se starám se zajímám
    ty se staráš se zajímáš
    on/ona/ono se stará se zajímá
    my se staráme se zajímáme
    vy se staráte se zajímáte
    oni/ony/ona se starají se zajímají
    infinitive starat se zajímat se

    The "infinitive" forms are only shown to help you find the verbs in dictionaries.

    Both of these verbs come with the particle se we encountered above.

    O is also used with one other case, to be covered later in the course.

  • 152348312212.04.2018
    5.005Thou25 @ 75%720/2 ••• Practice Test out
    františku · kateřino · matěji · přítel · přítelkyně
    5 words

    Vocative

    This short skill brings our only more sustained effort at learning the vocative case in this course.

    Remember that when Fratišek's name appears as the subject of a verb, it is in the nominative case: František pije mléko. (František drinks milk.). When František appears as the object of a verb, his name is often in the accusative case: Františka nevidím. (I cannot see František.). (If you have yet to take the Prep. A skill, just derive the accusative form of František from our kluk paradigm, while dropping the e.)

    If we want to call František by name, we will use his name in the vocative case: Františku, proč nepiješ vodu? (František, why aren't you drinking water?).

    We will only learn the vocative for the four proper names we have in the course:

    Nom. Acc. Voc.
    František Františka Františku
    Matěj Matěje Matěji
    Kateřina Kateřinu Kateřino
    Žofie Žofii Žofie

    However, even this is a good start for self-study. We are unlikely to be addressing other than masculine animate and feminine genders anyway, and the four names show the vocative endings for our four major declension paradigms in those genders:kluk, muž, žena, and ulice.

    Formal vs informal address (again)

    Recall that the ty forms of verbs and pronouns are used for addressing single individuals with whom we are "on a first name basis" or who are much younger than we are. Conversely, the vy forms are used both when addressing single individuals in more formal contexts and when addressing groups rather than individuals.

    In Czech, the level of informality when using the ty address goes beyond just using the first name. Intermediate situations in which the vy forms are used along with the first name are possible. This is how most moderators on Czech (and other Slavic) forums at Duolingo approach their interaction with the users. In Czech, both ty and vy forms can occur with the first name address.

    In terms of grammar, the vy address of single individuals presents something of an inconsistent blend. Verbs (in the only tense we know for now, the present) and personal pronouns take on the plural forms, but adjectives remain singular. An example is in order. Kateřino, (vy) jste krásná. (Kateřina, you are beautiful.) uses the plural jste but singular krásná, whether the optional vy is included or omitted.

    New nouns

    Two new nouns are introduced in this skill.

    The masculine animate přítel (friend) follows the soft-consonant paradigm muž with some deviations in the plural. We will see a few more masculine animate nouns ending in -tel later, and they all behave this way.

    The feminine přítelkyně (also friend, but always a female) declines like ulice.

  • 153980369317.10.2018
    5.005Questions 20 @ 100%810/2 ••• Practice Test out
    jací · jakého · jaký · kdy · kniha · knihu · koho · které · který · kteří · časopis
    11 words

    Questions with the accusative case

    Yes-no questions

    Yes-no questions (i.e., those that can be answered with yes or no) are formed with the accusative just as they are with the nominative.

    For example, Díváš se na Žofii? means "Are you looking at Žofie?".

    Question-word questions

    When we are asking about the verb object in the accusative, the question words that look like adjectives (jaký, který, and čí) have to be put in their accusative forms. These will follow the hard (jaký, který) or soft (čí) adjective paradigms:

    Hard adjective endings (summary)

    Case M an. M in. F N
    Nom. sg.
    Acc. sg. -ého -ou
    Nom. pl.
    Acc. pl.

    Soft adjective endings (summary)

    Case M an. M in. F N
    Nom. sg.
    Acc. sg. -ího
    Nom. pl.
    Acc. pl.

    The Czech question words are typically used to start the questions even in the accusative (and other applicable cases), except that if any preposition is associated with the question word, the preposition must come first. For example, "Which girl are you looking at?" is Na kterou holku se díváš?

    The accusative of kdo (who) is koho. Co (what) remains unchanged between the nominative and the accusative.

    A few more examples:

    • Co chceš? (What do you want?)

    • Na koho se dívá ta dívka? (Who's that girl looking at?)

    • O čího koně se staráte? (Whose horse are you looking after?)

    • Pro kterého psa potřebují to žrádlo? (Which dog do they need the food for?)

    • Jaká jablka chce? (What kind of apples does she want?)

    Additionally, this skill introduces the question word for "when", which is kdy. This word is not necessarily related to the accusative case.

    • Kdy to potřebuješ? (When do you need it?)
  • 152348665612.04.2018
    5.005Personal Pronouns0 @ 100%820/4 ••• Practice Test out
    chápat · ho · je · jeho · jej · ji · já · nepotřebovat · ni · nás · ně · něho · něj · ty · vás
    15 words

    Personal pronouns

    An earlier skill introduced the nominative forms of the Czech personal pronouns. We have been using them as subjects of sentences, although in that function they are often omitted. If we are to use the personal pronouns in the verb object position, we have to learn their forms in other cases. In this skill, we are tackling the accusative.

    The nominative and accusative forms of the personal pronouns are listed in the following table:

    Nom. Acc. w/o prep. Acc. after prep.
    mě, mne mě, mne
    ty , tebe tebe
    on (animate) ho, jeho, jej něho, něj
    on (inanimate) ho, jej něj
    ona (sing.) ji ni
    ono ho, je, jej ně, něj
    my nás nás
    vy vás vás
    oni, ony, ona (pl.) je

    Several things to keep in mind:

    • The accusative forms of some of the pronouns differ depending on whether or not a preposition precedes them.
    • Some of the forms can only appear in the second position in the clause (like the verb particle se). These "clitics" are the forms listed in italics. Using these outside of the second position is an error, except when a higher priority second-place item, such as the verb particle, pushes the pronoun to the right. Using the two-syllable alternatives to the clitics in the second position tends to be emphatic, sometimes to the point of clashing with the ordering in the rest of the sentence, and thus also an error.
    • Several forms are in parallel use for some of the pronouns. In general, the forms given first are more common.
    • Several forms (e.g., ho, je/, and jej/něj) appear in more than one row of the table. Their meaning depends on context.
    • The pronoun to in the meaning of "it" is used much more frequently than ono in the same meaning in all cases. The accusative of to is also to.

    A few examples:

    • Máš mě rád? (Do you like me?)
    • Stará se o mě. (She is taking care of me.)
    • Nesnáším tě. (I can't stand you.)
    • Ta polévka je pro tebe. (That soup is for you.)
    • Vidíte ho? (Can you see him/it?)
    • Jeho nevidím. (I can't see him.)
    • My jej potřebujeme. (We need him/it.)
    • Čekají na něho. (They are waiting for him.)
    • Kde na něj čekají? (Where are they waiting for him/it?)
    • Potřebujou ji? (Do they need her?)
    • Myslím na ni. (I am thinking about her.)
    • Ženy ho chápou. (Women understand it/him.)
    • Ženy je chápou. (Women understand it/them.)
    • Ženy jej chápou. (Women understand it/him.)
    • Díváme se na ně. (We are looking at it/them.)
    • Dívám se na něj. (I am looking at it/him.)
    • Kateřina je nesnáší. (Kateřina can't stand them/it.)

    The emphasized it in the English translations above is intended to draw attention to the forms of the Czech ono that many native speakers appear to have lost their ability to use actively, to the point of repeatedly arguing in our forums that those English translations cannot be correct. They most definitely can. Consider the following conversation fragment:

    A: Její auto je velmi špinavé. (Her car is very dirty.)
    B: Opravdu? Kde ho vidíš? (Really? Where do you see it?)

    The allegedly only correct translation of "ho" as "him", i.e., "Where do you see him." would make zero sense here. Also note that "auto" happens to be neuter even in Czech, so our example did not contain any gender shifts to confuse us, as would happen with nouns like "kniha" (book).

  • 153980598917.10.2018
    5.005Possessive Pronouns0 @ 100%830/4 ••• Practice Test out
    chlapce · dívku · jeho · jejich · její · jejího · moje · moji · mou · má · mé · mého · mí · můj · naše · našeho · naši · neslyší · náš · svoje · svoji · svou · svá · své · svého · svůj · tvoje · tvoji · tvou · tvá · tvé · tvého · tví · tvůj · vaše · vašeho · vaši · váš
    38 words

    Possessive pronouns

    The Czech possessive pronouns are rather more challenging than their English counterparts. Let’s start with the similarities and even one simplification: In Czech, there is no difference between the pronoun used for “This is my dog.” and “This dog is mine.” Much like in English, the grammatical person, number, and in the third-person singular also the gender of the possessor (whoever does the owning) will result in the distinction between the Czech versions of “my”, “your”, “his”, “her”, “its”, “our”, and “their”. As one might expect, the singular and plural (and formal/informal) versions of “your” exist in Czech.

    However, the endings of these pronouns generally depend on the gender and number of the possessed entity and on the case in which the possessed entity occurs in the clause. Thus the pronoun in “My dog is big.” will differ from those in “My dogs are big.”, “My cat is small.”, and even “I see my dog.”

    Possessive pronouns můj, tvůj, and svůj

    These three pronouns always change their endings in lockstep. Learn one, and you will know all three. Replace the “m” in the following table entries with “tv” or “sv” to obtain the forms of tvůj and svůj. For example, would produce tví or sví. The meanings of these pronouns are as follows:

    • Můj corresponds to the English “my” or “mine”.
    • Tvůj corresponds to the English “your” or “yours” if the possessor is singular and referred to informally.
    • Svůj very loosely corresponds to the English “own” and indicates the possession by the subject of the clause. This is the pronoun we would use to translate “I love my dog.”

    Summary of possessive pronouns můj, tvůj, and svůj

    Gender Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    M an. můj mého moji, mí moje, mé
    M in. můj můj moje, mé moje, mé
    F moje, má moji, mou moje, mé moje, mé
    N moje, mé moje, mé moje, má moje, má

    Several things to keep in mind:

    • The “gender” in the table is the grammatical gender of the thing being possessed. It does not matter what gender the possessor is.
    • Multiple (two) choices exist for several gender/number/case combinations. The forms given earlier are generally more common.
    • The form mého and (where two choices are provided) the forms given second share their endings with the hard adjective paradigm. For example, the feminine singular accusative mou predictably follows the ending of velkou. However, the masculine form “mý“ that could be expected from velký does not exist.
    • Many of the forms appear in multiple portions of the table.

    It gets easier from here.

    Possessive pronouns náš and váš

    These two pronouns always change their endings the same way. Learn one, and you will know both. Replace the “n” in the following table entries with “v” to obtain the forms of váš. The meanings of these pronouns are as follows:

    • Náš corresponds to the English “our” or “ours”.
    • Váš corresponds to the English “your” or “yours” if the possessor is either singular and referred to formally or plural.

    Summary of possessive pronouns náš and váš

    Gender Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    M an. náš našeho naši naše
    M in. náš náš naše naše
    F naše naši naše naše
    N naše naše naše naše

    Several things to keep in mind:

    • The “gender” in the table is the grammatical gender of the thing being possessed. It does not matter what gender the possessor is.
    • Many of the forms appear in multiple portions of the table.
    • The endings follow the non-adjectival entries in the previous table.

    Possessive pronoun její

    This pronoun means "her" or "hers".

    Summary of the possessive pronoun její

    Gender Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
    M an. její jejího její její
    M in. její její její její
    F její její její její
    N její její její její

    Things to note:

    • The “gender” in the table is the grammatical gender of the thing being possessed.
    • The endings follow the soft adjective paradigm.

    Possessive pronouns jeho and jejich

    The last two possessive pronouns are jeho (his or its) and jejich (their or theirs). Both are refreshingly easy to deal with because they do not change their form at all. Even better, this will remain so even as we learn the remaining Czech cases.

  • 153981209918.10.2018
    5.005Colors0 @ 100%910/3 ••• Practice Test out
    barva · bílá · modrá · oblíbený · světle · tmavě · zelená · černá · červená · žlutá
    10 words

    Colors

    This is a relaxing skill to introduce a handful of Czech adjectives to describe colors. All of these adjectives follow the hard adjective paradigm. The following table summarizes their masculine nominative forms.

    English Czech
    white bílý
    black-and-white černobílý
    black černý
    red červený
    purple fialový
    brown hnědý
    blue modrý
    orange oranžový
    pink růžový
    gray šedý
    green zelený
    yellow žlutý

    The skill also introduces the hard adjective oblíbený (favorite), the feminine noun barva (color) that declines like the žena paradigm, and two adverbs, světle (light) and tmavě (dark), so we can talk about the colors using sentences like Moje oblíbená barva je zelená, ale auto chci světle modré. (My favorite color is green, but I want a light blue car.).

    You may notice sentences of the type

    • Jejich dům má žlutou barvu.

    This is a fairly common way of saying "Their house is yellow." in Czech, and you may notice that Czech speakers of English like to use it even in English, "Their house has yellow color."

  • 153981339218.10.2018
    5.005Present 10 @ 100%920/4 ••• Practice Test out
    dělat · jmenovat · kam · milovat · nenávidět · nést · odkud · počítat · psát · spát · stárnout · číst
    12 words

    Present 1: Introduction to present tense

    Verb classes for present tense

    In this skill we start organizing the present-tense forms of Czech verbs. There are five classes of verbs based on their singular 3rd person ending. They should make the rest of the verb conjugations in the present tense predictable:

    Class 1 2 3 4 5
    Stem- nes- stár- kupu- sp- děl-
    -end -e -ne -je
    u nu ju, ji ím ám
    ty neš ješ íš áš
    on/a/o e ne je í á
    my eme neme jeme íme áme
    vy ete nete jete íte áte
    oni/y/a ou nou jou, jí í ají

    Native Czech speakers sometimes use the mnemonic “žene je bída” (poverty compels them) to remember the five verb classes, but most of them conjugate their verbs by heart.

    Note the dual endings in the 3rd class for the 1st person singular and the 3rd person plural. We have kupuju vs kupuji and kupujou vs kupují. The forms listed first are more informal than those listed second. Similarly behaving verbs include (going by the 3rd person singular) existuje, jmenuje se, miluje, obsahuje, pamatuje, and respektuje. (If we ignored the more formal endings in the 3rd class and just worked with the informal ones, we could actually collapse the first three classes into one.)

    Czech has only one present tense, which may correspond to present simple, present continuous, present perfect continuous, and present perfect in English. A few examples:

    • To nečteme. (We do not read that.)
    • Jakou knihu čteš? (What book are you reading?)
    • Dělám čaj. (I am making tea.)
    • Proč to děláš? (Why do you do it?)

    Motion verbs: jde, jede, nese, vede

    This is our first encounter with a few members of a tricky verb group, the verbs of motion. The core meanings are as follows:

    3rd pers. sg. infinitive English
    jde jít go (by foot), walk, come
    jede jet go (by vehicle/animal), ride, drive, come
    nese nést carry, bring from, take to
    vede vést lead, bring from, take to

    The "infinitives" are only shown to help you find the verbs in dictionaries. These Czech verbs contain information on the means of the movement but not on its direction. The opposite applies to many of the English verbs used in translations.

    While for many verbs in this skill the Czech present tense can easily correspond to both simple and continuous present tense in English, the motion verbs are less forgiving. In their core movement meaning, they are restricted to single, one-directional actions as opposed to repeated, habitual, multi-directional movement activities. This makes the English simple present ill-suited for translating them. Until we get introduced to the habitual motion counterparts of these Czech verbs, let's stick to the present continuous translations when movement is being described. For example, in

    • Kam jdou? (Where are they going?)
    • Odkud jedeš? (Where are you coming from?)
    • Odkud nesete ty věci? (Where are you bringing those things from?)
    • Kam nesete ty věci? (Where are you taking those things to?)
    • Vedu děti do školy. (I am taking the kids to school.)

    the use of the simple present in English would imply scenarios inconsistent with the nature of the Czech verbs.

    Note how Czech distinguished whether the "things" were being brought from somewhere or taken to somewhere despite not changing the verb itself.

    Other verbs

    This is the list of the other (non-motion) verbs introduced in this skill:

    3rd pers. sg. infinitive English
    bydlí bydlet live, reside
    čte číst read
    dělá dělat do, make, work
    existuje existovat exist
    jmenuje se jmenovat se be called, one’s name is
    kupuje kupovat buy
    končí končit end
    miluje milovat love
    mluví mluvit speak
    nenávidí nenávidět hate
    obsahuje obsahovat contain
    pamatuje si pamatovat si remember
    píše psát write
    pláče plakat cry, weep
    počítá počítat count
    poslouchá poslouchat listen
    prodává prodávat sell
    respektuje respektovat respect
    říká říkat say, tell
    spí spát sleep
    stárne stárnout age
    vědět know
    vyrábí vyrábět make, produce
    začíná začínat begin, start
    znamená znamenat mean
  • 153989491118.10.2018
    5.005Family 125 @ 75%930/4 ••• Practice Test out
    bez · beze · chlapců · dcera · dětí · jejích · jich · · kateřiny · malých · matka · mladou · mladého · mnoho · mojí · mých · našich · naší · nich · ní · otec · rodina · si · svojí · svých · syn · tvojí · tvých · · těch · vašich · vaší
    32 words

    Family 1: Genitive

    This skill introduces a very important Czech case, the genitive. It is used for objects of some verbs and with a few prepositions and occurs in constructions with nouns/noun phrases (often to show ownership), adverbs of quantity (like mnoho), and most numbers. Think of this as the equivalent of the English expressions with "of", such as "the color of your eyes" and "a lot of water". We are going to need to add lots of genitive forms:

    Demonstrative adjective forms

    Case/Num. M an. M in. F N
    Nom. sg. ten ten ta to
    Acc. sg. toho ten tu to
    Gen. sg. toho toho toho
    Nom. pl. ti ty ty ta
    Acc. pl. ty ty ty ta
    Gen. pl. těch těch těch těch

    Hard adjective endings

    Case/Num. M an. M in. F N
    Nom. sg.
    Acc. sg. -ého -ou
    Gen. sg. -ého -ého -ého
    Nom. pl.
    Acc. pl.
    Gen. pl. -ých -ých -ých -ých

    Soft adjective endings

    Also use these with the possessive její (her/hers).

    Case/Num. M an. M in. F N
    Nom. sg.
    Acc. sg. -ího
    Gen. sg. -ího -ího -ího
    Nom. pl.
    Acc. pl.
    Gen. pl. -ích -ích -ích -ích

    Masculine noun endings

    Case/Num. kluk muž hrad stroj
    Nom. sg. - - - -
    Acc. sg. -a -e - -
    Gen. sg. -a -e -u -e
    Nom. pl. -i -i -y -e
    Acc. pl. -y -e -y -e
    Gen. pl.

    Feminine noun endings

    Case/Num. žena ulice ovce
    Nom. sg. -a -e -e
    Acc. sg. -u -i -i
    Gen. sg. -y -e -e
    Nom. pl. -y -e -e
    Acc. pl. -y -e -e
    Gen. pl. - -

    Note the insertion of "e" in the Gen. Pl. of the žena paradigm for words that would end in a consonant followed by "k" or "r" ("babiček", "matek", "sester").

    Neuter noun endings

    Case/Num. město kuře náměstí
    Nom. sg. -o -e
    Acc. sg. -o -e
    Gen. sg. -a -ete
    Nom. pl. -a -ata
    Acc. pl. -a -ata
    Gen. pl. - -at

    Personal pronouns

    Nom. Acc. w/o prep. Acc. after prep. Gen. w/o prep. Gen. after prep.
    mě, mne mě, mne mě, mne mě, mne
    ty , tebe tebe , tebe tebe
    on (an.) ho, jeho, jej něho, něj ho, jeho, jej něho, něj
    on (in.) ho, jej něj ho, jeho, jej něho, něj
    ona (sg.) ji ni
    ono ho, je, jej ně, něj ho, jeho, jej něho, něj
    my nás nás nás nás
    vy vás vás vás vás
    oni, ony, ona (pl.) je jich nich

    The forms in italics can only appear in the second position; their two-syllable alternatives in that position are emphatic.

    Possessive pronouns

    Recall that jeho (his/its) and jejich (their/theirs) do not change in any case, and that její (her/hers) declines like a soft adjective. The other, more challenging possessive pronouns are summarized below:

    Possessive pronouns můj, tvůj, and svůj

    Gender M an. M in. F N
    Nom. sg. můj můj moje, má moje, mé
    Acc. sg. mého můj moji, mou moje, mé
    Gen. sg. mého mého mojí, mé mého
    Nom. pl. moji, mí moje, mé moje, mé moje, má
    Acc. pl. moje, mé moje, mé moje, mé moje, má
    Gen. pl. mých mých mých mých

    Possessive pronouns náš and váš

    Gender M an. M in. F N
    Nom. sg. náš náš naše naše
    Acc. sg. našeho náš naši naše
    Gen. sg. našeho našeho naší našeho
    Nom. pl. naši naše naše naše
    Acc. pl. naše naše naše naše
    Gen. pl. našich našich našich našich

    New verbs

    Some verbs take genitive objects:

    Person be afraid of ask respect
    se bojím se ptám si vážím
    ty se bojíš se ptáš si vážíš
    on/ona/ono se bojí se ptá si váží
    my se bojíme se ptáme si vážíme
    vy se bojíte se ptáte si vážíte
    oni/ony/ona se bojí se ptají si váží
    infinitive bát se ptát se vážit si

    The "infinitive" form is only shown to help you find the verb in dictionaries.

    The word si is another verb particle. Similar to se, it occurs in the second position and bumps words like and ho to the right:

    • Vážíme si tě. (We respect you.)
    • Beru si ho. (I'm marrying him.) [Accusative object, forms like žere.]
    • Bereme se. (We are getting married.) [Always plural.]

    Prepositions bez and beze

    These mean "without". The version beze is used almost exclusively with and mne. Beze mě is "without me" and bez jejího auta is "without her car".

    Mnoho

    This adverb corresponds to "many" or "a lot of". Note the singular verb:

    • Je tam mnoho dětí.
  • 154011795821.10.2018
    5.005Clothing0 @ 100%1010/3 ••• Practice Test out
    bota · kalhoty · košile · nosit · oblečení · ponožka · sukně · svetr · triko · šaty
    10 words

    Clothing

    New nouns

    The skill is designed mostly to extend the course vocabulary with a number of nouns. Most of the new nouns are regular in that they decline as paradigm nouns we have already dealt with. Refer to the Family 1 skill Tips & Notes for a summary.

    Czech Gender Declination English
    bota F žena shoe
    bunda F žena jacket
    kabát M in. hrad coat
    klobouk M in. hrad hat
    košile F ulice shirt
    oblečení N náměstí clothes
    oblek M in. hrad suit
    ponožka F žena sock
    sukně F ovce skirt
    svetr M in. hrad sweater
    šperk M in. hrad jewel, gem
    triko N město tee shirt

    Plural-only nouns

    In this skill we encounter two nouns that always take on the plural form, even when they are referring to a single item of clothing: kalhoty (pants, trousers) and šaty (dress, dresses). Only from context can we figure out whether a single dress (pair of pants) or multiple dresses (pairs of pants) are being referred to.

    Unlike the fashion industry English term “pant”, the Czech “kalhota” is very rare and refers to a “pant leg”. It is still useful to be aware of this singular “kalhota” to help us remember the declination according to the plural portion of the žena pattern.

    Likewise, the Czech “šat” is very rare nowadays and refers to “clothing” in general rather than to “a dress”. It can serve as a reminder to use the plural hrad declination for šaty.

    Oblečení

    The word oblečení corresponds to the English “clothing” or “clothes”. Like “clothing”, it usually occurs in the singular and carries a mass meaning despite the singular form and agreement.

    Nosí

    This skill also introduces a new verb that corresponds to “wear”, which in the third person singular form is nosí (a regular 4th class verb). Among other things, it is used to describe habitual wearing or not wearing of clothing items, not the present situation of wearing something. For example

    • Kateřina nosí moji košili. (Kateřina wears my shirt.)

    does not mean “Kateřina is wearing my shirt.” in the sense of “Kateřina has my shirt on.” We will need to wait for more grammar before we can talk about what someone is currently (not) wearing.

    The new verb is related to the previously introduced nese, which describes the non-habitual, single-event, goal-oriented action of carrying something somewhere:

    • Kam neseš ty klobouky? (Where are you carrying/taking those hats?)

    These two verbs form a motion verb pair, one definite and single-event focused, the other indefinite and dealing with habitual or repetitive activity. One of the other meanings of nosí is a habitual, repetitive activity of carrying something.

    We will return to motion verbs later in the course.

  • 154013928321.10.2018
    5.005Demonstratives25 @ 75%1020/4 ••• Practice Test out
    lidé · nepoznávat · poznávám · tamten · tato · tento · tito · toto · člověka · žena
    10 words

    Demonstratives

    This skill introduces a few Czech demonstratives. In Czech grammar books, they are actually called demonstrative pronouns. Whatever the name, they are used both as adjectives (along with nouns) and as pronouns (instead of nouns). We have already encountered one of them, the very common demonstrative ten. Let's review its forms across all four genders, both numbers, and all three cases introduces thus far:

    Forms of ten

    Case/Num. M an. M in. F N
    Nom. sg. ten ten ta to
    Acc. sg. toho ten tu to
    Gen. sg. toho toho toho
    Nom. pl. ti ty ty ta
    Acc. pl. ty ty ty ta
    Gen. pl. těch těch těch těch

    Recall that ten may at times correspond to the English definite article. But let's not try simply sticking in a form of ten for every English "the", or we will be producing terribly unnatural sentences. Czech does not really have articles and often expresses (in)definiteness through nothing but word order.

    Back to the demonstratives. When used as a demonstrative, ten corresponds to English "that" or "that one" (in pronomial use), adjusted to "those" or "those ones" as appropriate. Examples: ti malí kluci is "those little boys" and Ty nechci! means "I don't want those!".

    In this skill, we deal with four more Czech demonstratives: two more for "that" (tamten and tamhleten) and two for "this" (tento and tenhle). All of them behave much like ten when it comes to forms but do not double as the definite article. To figure out the forms of tamten and tamhleten from those of ten, we just prepend tam- or tamhle- to the appropriate form of ten. For forms of tento and tenhle, we append -to or -hle to the form of ten.

    Forms of tamten

    Case/Num. M an. M in. F N
    Nom. sg. tamten tamten tamta tamto
    Acc. sg. tamtoho tamten tamtu tamto
    Gen. sg. tamtoho tamtoho tamté tamtoho
    Nom. pl. tamti tamty tamty tamta
    Acc. pl. tamty tamty tamty tamta
    Gen. pl. tamtěch tamtěch tamtěch tamtěch

    The forms of tamhleten follow the same pattern as those of tamten. Both of these demonstratives mean "that", except tamhleten has a shade of "that...over there" and requires that whatever is being referred to be visible to the speaker.

    A few examples from the skill:

    • Znám tamtoho hocha a tamten dům. (I know that boy and that house.)
    • Tamto jméno neznáme. (We do not know that name.)
    • Počítá tamhlety osly. (He is counting those donkeys over there.)

    Forms of tento

    Case/Num. M an. M in. F N
    Nom. sg. tento tento tato toto
    Acc. sg. tohoto tento tuto toto
    Gen. sg. tohoto tohoto této tohoto
    Nom. pl. tito tyto tyto tato
    Acc. pl. tyto tyto tyto tato
    Gen. pl. těchto těchto těchto těchto

    The forms of tenhle follow the same pattern as those of tento. Both of these demonstratives mean "this", but tento is quite formal and tenhle informal. Both are standard Czech.

    Forms of takový, takovýto, and takovýhle

    All three of these words can mean "such". The two ending -to and -hle can also often mean "like this", while the variant without those endings often means "like that". All three translations are usually possible.

    The declensions are easy to figure out: Just decline "takový" as a hard adjective, and append "to" or "hle" after the hard adjective ending as appropriate.

    Some examples:

    • Takové auto potřebujeme i my! (Even we need a car like that!)
    • Proč chceš znát takováto slova? (Why do you want to know words like these/such words?)
    • Takovýchhle přátel mám málo. (I have few friends like these.)
  • 154014501721.10.2018
    5.005Adverbs25 @ 75%1030/4 ••• Practice Test out
    asi · dobře · doma · domů · dost · hodně · jen · ještě · jinam · jinde · mléka · možná · málo · nejdřív · nikam · nikde · nikdy · někam · někde · někdy · opravdu · pomalu · potom · pryč · příliš · rychle · sem · stále · tak · také · tam · téměř · určitě · · velmi · všude · vůbec · vždy · zase · zřídka · úplně · často · špatně
    43 words

    Adverbs

    Adverbs modify other parts of the sentence, usually verbs, but also adjectives, nouns, or even other adverbs. Adverbs typically express manner, place, time, frequency, degree, level of certainty, etc., answering questions such as how?, when?, where?, or even how much? and how many?.

    Good news! Adverbs don't change their endings based on gender, number, person, etc. – they keep their form no matter what. The only exception is gradation, i.e. quantifiable adverbs also have “more” and “most” forms, but we won’t deal with that until much later.

    Adverbs of time/frequency

    These adverbs tell us when or how often something happens. In Czech, these questions are “kdy?” and “jak často?“ respectively.

    Czech English
    vždy always, every time
    stále always, all the time
    často often, frequently
    někdy sometimes, sometime
    zřídka seldom, rarely
    nikdy never

    Adverbs of place

    Most Czech spatial adverbs make a distinction between position and direction. When asking about position, we use the question word “kde?” – where (at)?, whereas the direction question word is “kam?” – where (to)?. For example:

    • Kde jsi? – Where are you?
    • Jsem doma. – I’m (at) home.
    • Kam jdeš? – Where are you going?
    • Jdu domů. – I’m going home.
    Kde? Kam? English
    tam tam there
    tady sem here
    někde někam somewhere
    všude všude everywhere
    jinde jinam elsewhere, somewhere else
    nikde nikam nowhere
    pryč pryč away
    doma domů at home (place) / home (direction)

    Adverbs of quantity and degree

    We can use the question word “kolik?” – how much/many? to ask for adverbs of quantity. Adverbs of degree (e.g. almost) do not have a simple question word.

    When an adverb of quantity modifies a noun, the noun must be in the genitive case. Study the following examples:

    • Pivo, hodně piva, málo piva . – Beer, a lot of beer, little beer.
    • Voda, příliš vody, dost vody. – Water, too much water, enough water.
    • Chlapci, hodně chlapců, málo chlapců. – Boys, many boys, few boys.
    Czech English
    hodně many, much, a lot of
    málo few, little, not enough
    dost enough, quite
    příliš too, too much
    velmi very
    úplně entirely, totally, completely
    téměř almost
    vůbec at all, actually

    The adverb “vůbec“ is a little tricky. In negative statements, where it’s used the most, it means “(not) at all”, while in positive sentences its meaning varies between “actually”, “in fact”, “really”, or “exactly”.

    Adverbs derived from adjectives

    This is the most productive group of adverbs. We can theoretically create an adverb out of any adjective. In English we usually do this by adding the “-ly” suffix (e.g. nice -> nicely). In Czech we usually replace the adjective “-ý/-í“ ending with “-e” or ““, while applying a regular sound change (for example, “-rý” becomes “-ře“). Some adverbs, however, use a different ending. Some of the previously mentioned adverbs belong to this category, too, for instance “málo“, as it is derived from the adjective “malý” – “small”.

    Czech adjective English adjective Czech adverb English adverb
    dobrý good dobře well, correctly
    špatný bad, wrong špatně badly, poorly, wrong(-ly)
    rychlý fast rychle fast, quickly
    pomalý slow pomalu slowly
    určitý definite určitě definitely, surely

    A large number of Czech adjectives end in “-ný” or “-ní”. All these change to “-ně” when they become adverbs. For example (don't worry if you don't know some of these yet):

    • pěkný -> pěkně (nice -> nicely)
    • smutný -> smutně (sad -> sadly)
    • zvláštní -> zvláštně (strange -> strangely)

    Other adverbs

    And finally, an assortment of adverbs that don’t readily fit into any category.

    Czech English
    tak so
    jen only
    already, anymore, yet
    ještě still, (not) yet
    asi probably, perhaps
    možná maybe, possibly
    opravdu really, truly
    také also, as well
    potom then, later
    zase again
    nejdřív (at) first, initially

    The adverbs “už” and “ještě” may prove a little difficult to handle as they don’t have exact English equivalents. They correspond better to the Spanish "ya" and "todavía" or German “schon” and “noch”, respectively. Chances are your third languages could prove more helpful for mastering this in Czech than English will. Study the following examples:

    • Už jsem doma. (positive statement) – I’m already at home.
    • Už jsi doma? (question) – Are you (at) home yet? (“already” would also work here).
    • Už to nechci. (negative statement) – I don’t want it anymore.
    • Ještě jsem tady. (positive statement) – I’m still here. (I haven’t left yet.)
    • Ještě jsi doma? (question) – Are you still (at) home?
    • Ještě to nemám. (negative statement) – I don’t have it yet.
  • 154014946321.10.2018
    3.033Numbers 150 @ 50%1123/5••• ••• Practice Test out
    druhé · dva · dvě · hodina · jeden · jedna · jedno · jedné · půl · stačit · tři · tři čtvrtě · z · čtvrt
    14 words

    Numbers 1

    This skill is our first introduction to Czech numerals.

    Cardinal numerals one to four

    These behave as if they were adjectives. They normally precede nouns and real adjectives. They decline (change in form depending on case). The first two cardinals (for “one” and “two”) are gendered.

    One: Jeden

    Knowing the forms of the demonstrative ten is enough to figure out those of jeden (“one”). Compare

    Case/Num. M an. M in. F N
    Nom. sg. ten ten ta to
    Acc. sg. toho ten tu to
    Gen. sg. toho toho toho

    with

    Case M an. M in. F N
    Nom. jeden jeden jedna jedno
    Acc. jednoho jeden jednu jedno
    Gen. jednoho jednoho jedné jednoho

    These forms of jeden are followed by singular adjectives and nouns when the association is direct, just like in English: "one sister" will be jedna sestra. On the other hand, "one of my sisters" will be jedna z mých sester.

    A few examples:

    • Mám jednoho bratra. (I have one brother.)
    • Slyšíme jeden z jejich strojů. (We can hear one of their machines.)
    • Potřebujou jedno velké prase. (They need one large pig.)

    Two: Dva

    The declension of dva (and the closely related oba, "both") contains some of the remnants of the dual that Czech used to have in addition to its singular and plural, so it is something of an oddball.

    Case M an. M in. F N
    Nom. dva dva dvě dvě
    Acc. dva dva dvě dvě
    Gen. dvou dvou dvou dvou

    A few examples:

    • Jsme dva. (There are two of us.)
    • Jsou tam dva žluté stromy. (There are two yellow trees there.)
    • Kde je matka těch dvou dětí. (Where is the mother of those two children?)
    • Která z těchto dvou žen je jeho dcera? (Which of these two women is his daughter?)

    Note the order: demonstrative, numeral, adjective(s), noun--much like in English: Hledáme matku těch dvou malých děvčat. (We are looking for the mother of those two little girls.)

    Three, Four: Tři, Čtyři

    Neither tři (three) nor čtyři (four) depends on gender:

    Case Three Four
    Nom. tři čtyři
    Acc. tři čtyři
    Gen. tří, třech čtyř, čtyřech

    The genitive forms ending in -ech are informal, although they have been officially recognized as standard forms.

    A few examples:

    • Mám tři psy a tři kočky. (I have three dogs and three cats.)
    • Jsem matka tří dětí. (I am a mother of three children.)
    • Jsem otec třech dětí. (I am a father of three children.)
    • Která z těchto čtyřech dívek je jeho sestřenice? (Which of these four girls is his cousin?)

    Ordinal numerals first to fourth

    English Czech
    first první
    second druhý
    third třetí
    fourth čtvrtý

    The first four ordinals look and behave like regular adjectives. První (first) and třetí (third) work like soft adjectives, while druhý (second) and čtvrtý* (fourth) decline like hard adjectives. Note that, while in English the definite article or a possessive adjective often precedes the ordinal numeral, in Czech the ordinals can and often do go without such determiners.

    A few examples:

    • Jsi moje první láska. (You are my first love.)
    • Kupujeme svého druhého koně. (We are buying our second horse.)
    • Jím už třetí hrušku. (I am already eating my third pear.)
    • Čekají čtvrté dítě. (They are expecting their fourth child.)

    Telling the time

    The skill also uses the cardinal and ordinal numerals to show common Czech expressions for telling the time. The new word hodina declines like žena and means "hour" or "o'clock". For example, with the cardinals we get:

    • Je jedna hodina. (It is one o'clock.)
    • Jsou dvě/tři/čtyři hodiny. (It is two/three/four o'clock.)

    Still more expressions with the cardinals are formed using čtvrt (a quarter) and tři čtvrtě (three quarters). We will follow these with na and an accusative feminine cardinal. We will use půl (half) with a genitive feminine ordinal (druhé and higher) or cardinal (jedné only), no preposition. View these as the fractions of the hour elapsed towards the hour specified. Let's put this all in a table:

    Digital English Czech
    12:15 quarter past twelve čtvrt na jednu
    12:30 half past twelve půl jedné
    12:45 a quarter to one tři čtvrtě na jednu
    1:15 quarter past one čtvrt na dvě
    1:30 half past one půl druhé
    1:45 a quarter to two tři čtvrtě na dvě

    The čtvrt na, půl, and tři čtvrtě na expressions are all treated as singular in the time-telling sentences.

    A few examples:

    • Je čtvrt na jednu. (It is quarter past twelve.)
    • Už je čtvrt na dvě? (Is it quarter past one yet?)
    • Je půl jedné odpoledne. (It is half past twelve in the afternoon.)
    • Je tři čtvrtě na jednu. (It is a quarter to/of one.)
  • 154015619322.10.2018
    3.023Conjunctions 175 @ 25%1132/3•• ••• Practice Test out
    anebo · ani · buď · i · i když · jestli · kdežto · když · pokud · proto · protože · přesto · přestože · zatímco · že
    15 words

    Conjunctions

    Conjunctions are words that connect other words, expressions, and clauses together.

    Czech English
    a and
    i as well as, and also, even
    nebo/anebo or
    buď…nebo/anebo either…or
    ani not even, …neither
    ani…ani neither…nor
    ale but
    že that
    když when
    pokud if, as long as
    jestli if, whether
    proto therefore, that’s why, so
    protože because
    přesto yet, anyway, despite this
    přestože although, even though
    i když although, even though
    kdežto while, whereas
    zatímco while, whereas, at the same time as

    The tiny, yet mighty “i”

    You’ve already met a – the simple, unassuming “and”: muži a ženy (men and women). The slender conjunction i is like “and” on steroids. When used alone before a word, it means “also” or “even”. When used between two words, it translates to “as well as” or “and also”. For extra emphasis, we can even place it in front of each word in a list. Examples:

    • Mám i psa. – I even have a dog. I also have a dog (not just a cat).
    • I já mám psa. – Even I have a dog. I have a dog, too (like you).
    • Máme psa i kočku. – We have a dog as well as a cat.
    • Mají i psa, i kočku. – They have both a dog and a cat.

    In negative statements, i becomes ani. It’s the equivalent of “not even” or “not… either”. We can also use ani between words to express “neither… nor”. And again, just like with i, using it twice (aniani) adds extra emphasis. Examples:

    • Nemám ani hlad. or: Ani nemám hlad. – I’m not even hungry.
    • Ani já nemám hlad. – I’m not hungry either (like you).
    • Nepije pivo ani víno. – He drinks neither beer nor wine.

    "Nebo" nebo "anebo"?

    You’ve learned that nebo means “or”. Anebo is just a more emphatic version of that. When we want to say “either… or”, we use buď… anebo. It’s also possible to use nebo here, but the stronger anebo is more common in this construction.

    • Chceš kávu nebo vodu? – Do you want coffee or water? (Or perhaps both?)
    • Jedno pivo, anebo dvě? – One beer or two? (More exclusive than nebo)
    • Chci koupit buď psa, anebo kočku. – I want to buy either a cat or a dog.

    Note that there are no strict boundaries between these expressions.

    The mandatory "že"

    In English, we can easily omit the conjunction “that” from sentences, but its Czech counterpart – že – can’t be left out.

    • Vím, že mě miluješ. – I know (that) you love me.
    • Říkáš, že nemáš čas? – Are you saying (that) you don’t have time?
    • Jsme rádi, že vás vidíme. – We are glad to see you. (lit. “…that we see you”)

    If and when…

    The conjunction “when” typically corresponds to když – (similar to the question word kdy?). To express “if” in Czech, we can use (among others) jestli, pokud, and sometimes even když. Both jestli and pokud are interchangeable, unless you can replace “if” with “whether” – in that case use only jestli. On the other hand, if it’s possible to replace “if” with “when” or “as long as”, use pokud.

    • Miluju tě, když spíš. – I love you when you’re asleep.
    • Pokud mám žízeň, piju pivo. – If/when I’m thristy, I drink beer.
    • Můžeme už jít domů, pokud/jestli chceš. – We can go home already if you want.
    • Nevím, jestli je František doma. – I don’t know if/whether František is at home.

    While and whereas…

    Zatímco can safely be used for both “while” and “whereas” conjunctions. Kdežto is more specific – it points more emphatically to the difference or opposite nature of two statements, but in cases where the English “while” is used to mean “at the same time as”, we can only use zatímco, not kdežto.

    • Já jsem tady, kdežto/zatímco ty jsi tam. – I am over here while/whereas you are over there.
    • Víno piju rád, kdežto/zatímco pivo nesnáším. – I like drinking wine, whereas I can’t stand beer.
    • Žofie spí, zatímco Matěj vaří. – Žofie is sleeping while (at the same time as) Matěj is cooking.

    Word order

    As explained in some of the previous tips, there are a number of short words called clitics, which usually want to be in the "second position". That’s why we have to say, for example, Miluju tě., but Já tě miluju. – the clitic sticks to the second position.

    Most conjunctions start their clause and take up the first position in it, so the clitics will want to follow them directly:

    • Jsem rád, že tě miluju. – I’m glad that I love you.
    • Ptáš se mě, jestli tě miluju? – Are you asking me whether I love you?

    The exception is the conjunctions a, i, and ale, which do not count as the "first position" in the clause they introduce, and we get:

    • Znám tě a miluju tě. – I know you and I love you.
    • Ještě tě dobře neznám, ale miluju tě. – I don’t know you well yet, but I love you.
    • I on tě miluje. – He also loves you.

    Learn more about clitics and word order here.

  • 154016297422.10.2018
    4.004Infinitive75 @ 25%1210/6 ••• Practice Test out
    být · chápat · dívat · milovat · mít · pamatovat · snažit · stárnout · vidět · vědět · čeho
    11 words

    The infinitives of Czech verbs correspond to the English verbs preceded by "to" by meaning and use. They also are the forms listed in dictionaries. Almost all verb infinitives in contemporary Czech end in -t. The archaic version of that ending, -ti, looks and sounds so goofy today that the course neither teaches nor accepts it.

    However, we can almost never just attach this -t to one of the present-tense forms to produce the infinitive. We also need to deal with the vowel and consonant changes that often occur on the way between the present tense forms and the infinitive. The five verb classes should help us again, although not for very short verbs. Let's deal with those short verbs and a few irregular verbs first:

    Short and irregular infinitives

    Sg. 3rd person Infinitive English
    bere brát take
    bojí bát be afraid
    čte číst read
    chce chtít want
    jde jít go, walk
    je být be
    jede jet go, ride
    jíst eat
    mít have
    nese nést carry
    pije pít drink
    píše psát write
    spí spát sleep
    vede vést lead
    vědět know
    zná znát know
    žije žít live

    Longer infinitives by verb class

    Class 3rd pers. Infinitive English
    1 chápe chápat understand
    2 stárne stárnout age
    3 miluje milovat love
    3 pamatuje pamatovat remember
    3 respektuje respektovat respect
    4 bydlí bydlet live
    4 myslí myslet think
    4 nenávidí nenávidět hate
    4 slyší slyšet hear
    4 váží si vážit si respect
    4 vidí vidět see
    5 čeká čekat wait
    5 dělá dělat do
    5 dívá se dívat se look
    5 hledá hledat look for
    5 říká říkat say
    5 stará se starat se take care
    5 zajímá zajímat interest

    Notes:

    • Class 1 is quite full of the unpredictable short verbs. For the one longer verb shown we only need to replace -e with -at.
    • In Class 2 we replace -ne with -nout (until we learn verbs that do something else).
    • In Class 3 we replace -(u)je with -(ov)at. (The verbs without the u before -je will just have -at.)
    • In Class 4 we replace with -et/ět or -it.
    • In Class 5 we replace with -at.

    Application of infinitives

    Let's review a few ways of using the infinitive in Czech sentences. Pay attention to the se and si verb particles that the main verb and/or the infinitive verb may need. Recall that these particles must be placed in the second position in their clause.

    Need to ...

    • Potřebuju vědět, že mě miluješ. (I need to know that you love me.)
    • Jejich jména si pamatovat nepotřebujeme. (We do not need to remember their names.) [The particle si went after the first unit of meaning, "jejich jména".]

    Want to ...

    • Chci si tě pamatovat. (I want to remember you.) [The particle si and the clitic pronoun went after the first unit of meaning, "chci", although they are both associated with the "pamatovat" at the end.]
    • Proč chceš vědět, jak se jmenuje? (Why do you want to know what her name is?) [The se went second in its clause.]
    • Už ty lidi nenávidět nechci. (I no longer want to hate those people.)

    Be beginning to ...

    • Ano, začínáš mě chápat. (Yes, you are beginning to understand me.)
    • Začíná si ho vážit? (Is she starting to respect him?) [Here the particle si went right after the first unit of meaning, "začíná", and even bumped the clitic "ho" to the right.]

    Be afraid to ...

    In these examples the se comes from the bojí/bojíš:

    • Bojí se tam jít. (They are/He is afraid to go there.)
    • Proč se bojíš mluvit? (Why are you afraid to talk?)

    Try to ...

    In these examples the new verb snaží/snažím/snažíme comes with se. Notice what happens when the infinitive brings its own se or si.

    • Snažíme se tu ženu chápat. (We are trying to understand that woman.)
    • Snažím se na ni nedívat. (I am trying not to look at her.) [We avoided the duplication of se. We could also say Snažím se nedívat (se) na ni., with or without duplication. Duplication may be necessary to avoid ambiguity. The weird "se se" particle sequence does need to be avoided in all cases.]
    • Snaží se vážit si ho. (She is trying to respect him.) [This is an advanced topic for later. We could also say Snaží si ho vážit. or perhaps Snaží se si ho vážit., but not Snaží (si) se ho vážit.]

    Other uses

    • Nevím, co si myslet. (I don't know what to think.)
    • Proč nemá co jíst ani pít? (Why does he have nothing to eat or drink?)
    • Nestačí to jen říkat. (It is not enough just to say it.)
  • 154016589622.10.2018
    2.002Household75 @ 25%1320/5 ••• Practice Test out
    byt · kolik · koupelna · kuchyně · ložnice · místnost · nůž · obývák · pohovka · postel · stůl
    11 words

    Household

    This skill introduces basic vocabulary useful for talking about common household items. There is no tricky grammar here. One word being introduced here deserves a special mention: postel (bed).

    The noteworthy thing about "postel" is that it is a feminine noun, clearly ending in a consonant, and less obviously a useful model noun for the noun declension paradigm poorly represented in the course up to this point. The "official" model noun for this paradigm is "píseň" (song), which does not work well for practically useful sentences. And we have already encountered "žízeň" (thirst), which is likewise limited in its practical range. Let's use this opportunity to show the "postel" declension in the context of our other feminine model nouns in the three cases we have met so far:

    Case/Num. žena ulice postel věc
    Nom. sg. -a -e - -
    Acc. sg. -u -i - -
    Gen. sg. -y -e -e -i
    Nom. pl. -y -e -e -i
    Acc. pl. -y -e -e -i
    Gen. pl. - -

    So let's welcome "postel" into the fold and start following its declensions.

  • 154020243522.10.2018
    2.012Past 175 @ 25%1331/8 ••• Practice Test out
    byl · byla · bylas · byli · bylo · byls · byly · jsem · jsi · jsme · jste · nebyl · nebyla · nebylas · nebyli · nebylo · nebyls · nebyly · ses · sis · tehdy · včera · všechno
    23 words

    Past tense:

    Czech only has one past tense. It relies on verb endings that depend on the number and gender of the subject. The simplest is the singular masculine form, obtained for most verbs by replacing the –t of the infinitive with an –l. The endings for both numbers and all genders are shown below, using hledat (to look for) as an example verb:

    Number/Gender Past ending Example
    Sg. M (on) -l hledal
    Sg. F (ona) -la hledala
    Sg. N (ono) -lo hledalo
    Pl. M-a (oni) -li hledali
    Pl. F/M-i (ony) -ly hledaly
    Pl. N (ona) -la hledala

    In the 1st and 2nd person, we must add the form of the auxiliary verb být appropriate for the number/person:

    Person Auxiliary
    Sg. 1st (já) jsem
    Sg. Familiar 2nd (ty) jsi (-s)
    Pl. 1st (my) jsme
    Pl./Formal 2nd (vy) jste

    Notes:

    • The –s auxiliary is a form that attaches to the end of a word in the first position, often a verb, pronoun, or question word.
    • The Czech formal 2nd person address is inconsistent in the past tense. We use the plural auxiliary with one of the singular gendered l-forms.

    Examples:

    • Františku, kde jste hledal Kateřinu? (František, where did you look for Kateřina?) [Formal address of a male. Don’t use “hledali” to refer to him alone.]
    • Kdes to hledala? (Where were you looking for it?) [Familiar address of a female.]
    • Žofie a Matěj hledali své dítě. (Žofie and Matěj were looking for their child.) [We used the M-a form because at least one member of the group is masculine animate.]
    • Hledala jsem ho tady. (I looked for him/it here.) [Female speaker. The past-tense auxiliary is an obligatory enclitic with the highest priority for the second position of everything we have seen so far.]

    Verbs from this skill that work as advertised:

    Infinitive l-form English
    bydlet bydlel live, reside
    dělat dělal do, make, work
    dívat díval look, watch
    hledat hledal look for
    jet jel go, drive, ride
    mluvit mluvil talk, speak
    potřebovat potřeboval need
    snažit se snažil se try
    vážit si vážil si respect
    vidět viděl see

    The reflexive particles in snažit se and vážit si deserve a few words:

    • The singular familiar auxilary -s that latches onto host words obligatorily merges with the verb particles, forming the reflexive auxiliaries ses and sis. Alternatively, we can use the full jsi immediately followed by the verb particle. The course accepts this alternative, even if its official status remains “not yet codified”.
    • The past tense auxiliary is a higher priority enclitic than even the reflexive verb particles.

    Examples:

    • Matěje sis nevážila. (You did not respect Matěj.) [The “ne” of negation is prefixed to the past form.]
    • Snažili jsme se ho jíst. (We were trying to eat it/him.) [“We“ includes at least one masculine member. Note the ordering of the enclitics competing for the second slot.]

    Verbs from this skill that deviate from the regular pattern:

    Infinitive Past l-form English Comments
    brát si bral marry shortening
    být byl be shortening
    číst četl read irregular
    chtít chtěl want shortening/change
    jíst jedl eat irregular
    jít šel go, walk irregular
    mít měl have shortening/change
    pít pil drink shortening
    psát psal write shortening
    spát spal sleep shortening
    znát znal know shortening

    Note the extra “e” in the singular masculine past form of jít:

    • On tam nešel, ale šla tam jeho sestra. (He did not go there, but his sister did.)

    Aspect: Preview

    Two aspects exist for most Czech verbs in the past tense:

    • imperfective aspect views the event being described as an ongoing or repetitive activity without referencing its completion, while
    • perfective aspect concerns a completed event.

    It helps to think of the aspects as two separate but related verbs. Perfective verbs may be formed from imperfective ones by adding a prefix. We show this for four imperfective verbs we already know. Imperfective verbs may be formed from perfective ones by infixation, like kupovat from koupit (to buy; recall the present form kupuje):

    Imperfective Perfective English
    číst, četl přečíst, přečetl read
    jíst, jedl sníst, snědl eat
    kupovat, kupoval koupit, koupil buy
    pít, pil vypít, vypil drink
    psát, psal napsat, napsal write
    • Ten dopis jsem psal celý den. (I was writing that letter all day long.) [Activity focus.]
    • Napsal jsi už ten dopis? (Have you written the letter yet?) [Completion focus.]
    • Stalo se to, když kupoval mléko. (It happened while he was buying milk.) [Ongoing activity in the background.]
    • Koupils to mléko? (Did you buy that milk?) [Oops. Failure to complete?]
  • 154021070622.10.2018
    2.002Present 275 @ 25%1410/4 ••• Practice Test out
    držet · hrát · jako · ležet · pracovat · prát · růst · sedět · stejně · stát · stěžovat · u · učit · za
    14 words
  • 154020780622.10.2018
    1.041Numbers 275 @ 25%1424/5•••• ••• Practice Test out
    den · deset · devíti · devět · do · hodina · kolika · od · osm · pět · sedm · v · ve · šest
    14 words

    Numbers 2

    Recall that Czech cardinal numerals from one to four behave as if they were adjectives. The counted object appears in the case appropriate for the context, and the numeral matches that case. If the phrase appears as a subject, it gets a plural verb in agreement with the noun being counted: Jsou tam ty dva naše žluté stromy., and Jsou čtyři hodiny.

    Cardinal numerals 5-20

    Things change when we get to five. The numerals start to behave as if they were adverbs of quantity, similar to málo (little, few), dost (enough), and hodně (a lot, many). Recall that these go with the genitive of whatever is being quantified: Těch našich červených hrušek máme/je/bylo málo/pět. The verb agreement is singular and neuter.

    These higher cardinals 5-20 are not gendered and decline in a limited way:

    English Nom., Acc. Gen.
    five pět pěti
    six šest šesti
    seven sedm sedmi
    eight osm osmi
    nine devět devíti
    ten deset deseti
    eleven jedenáct jedenácti
    twelve dvanáct dvanácti
    thirteen třináct třinácti
    fourteen čtrnáct čtrnácti
    fifteen patnáct patnácti
    sixteen šestnáct šestnácti
    seventeen sedmnáct sedmnácti
    eighteen osmnáct osmnácti
    nineteen devatenáct devatenácti
    twenty dvacet dvaceti

    Note the unexpected forms devíti, čtrnáct(i), patnáct(i), and devatenáct(i).

    Examples:

    • Začíná v pět hodin. (It starts at five o'clock.)
    • Je devět hodin. (It is nine o'clock.)
    • Co jsi dělala v osm hodin? (What were you doing at eight o'clock?)
    • Ve dvanáct hodin? (At twelve o'clock?)
    • Čeká od deseti nebo jedenácti hodin. (She has been waiting since ten or eleven o'clock.)
    • Četl ty dopisy od dvanácti do čtyř. (He was reading the letters from twelve to four.)

    Note the new prepositions.

    V and ve are used with the accusative in time expressions involving the hour (or day of week) and get translated depending on context as "at" or "on". The (over)simplified rules for choosing v vs ve are:

    • Always use v before a vowel: v osm hodin.
    • Always use ve before "v" or "f". (No example yet.)
    • Use v before a single consonant other than "v" and "f"": v deset hodin, v půl jedné, v šest.
    • Use v before a two-consonant sequence ending "l", "r", or "ř", except use ve if the first consonant is "t", "d", "s", or "z": ve tři čtvrtě na pět.
    • Use ve before a two-consonant sequence ending in a consonant other than "l", "r", or "ř": ve dvě hodiny, ve čtyři hodiny.
    • Use ve before a three-consonant or longer consonant sequence  with other than "l", "r", or "ř" in second position: ve čtvrt na osm, ve čtrnáct hodin.
    • When in doubt, try using whichever is easier to pronounce. Eventually you should be able to choose by "feel".

    Od is always used with the genitive, and usually means "from", or sometimes "since" or "of". (Its vocalized variety ode is mandatory with and mne and only shows up later in the course.)

    Do is always used with the genitive, and in time expressions usually means "until", sometimes "by".

    Note the declination of the numerals five and higher for the three cases we know so far. The numeral is the same in Nom. and Acc., and changes to a different form that is common to all the other cases (of which we only know Gen. for now). The counted entity (a noun incl. its demo, possessive, and adjective) remains in the genitive, although we will need to revisit the reasons for this below. Also re-read the first paragraph to compare this behavior with that of the numerals below five.

    Cardinal numerals 21-29

    One way to form these is to follow dvacet with the appropriate numeral for one to nine, separated by a space. No matter what the gender of the counted entity, the feminine jedna and the masculine dva are used in these compounds. This is not the only method, but let's keep it simple. To decline the 21-29 numeral along with the counted entity, divide and conquer. Use dvacet (if the whole phrase is in Nom. or Acc.) or dvaceti (otherwise), decline the 1-9 piece of the compound as appropriate for the case of the whole phrase (except keep jedna fixed), and either keep the counted entity in the genitive (Nom. or Acc. of the whole phrase) or match it to the case of the whole phrase (otherwise). [This is how the counted entity above four always stays in the genitive if we only deal with the three cases we do.]

    A few examples:

    • Bylo tady těch dvacet jedna mužů. (Those twenty-one men were here.)[Nom.]
    • Potřebujeme sukně pro dvacet dva holek. (We need skirts for twenty-two girls.)[Acc.]
    • Zná jména dvaceti čtyř měst? (Does he know the names of twenty-four citíes?)[Gen.]
    • Jedno z těch dvaceti osmi zvířat je osel. (One of those twenty-eight animals is a donkey.)[Gen.]
    • Který z tamhletěch dvaceti jedna mužů je jejich bratranec? (Which of those twenty-one men is their cousin?)[Gen.]
  • 152288456505.04.2018
    2.052Adjectives75 @ 25%1435/6••••• ••• Practice Test out
    hluboký · krásný · levý · ošklivý · pravý · starý · světlý · tmavý · úzký · široký
    10 words

    Adjectives in Czech

    Recall that Czech has two types of adjectives, hard and soft. These names relate to the vowels in their masculine nominative singular (dictionary entry form) endings. Hard adjectives end in , for example dobrý (good), hezký (pretty), malý (small), and nový (new). Note that Czechs call this vowel tvrdé "ý" (hard "ý"), predictably contrasting it with měkké "í" (soft "í").

    Soft adjectives in their dictionary entry form end in , for example cizí (foreign, strange), poslední (last, final), vlastní (own), and zvláštní (strange, weird odd).

    Forms of hard adjectives

    As we have already seen, Czech adjectives change their endings to match (agree with) the gender, number, and case of the nouns they refer to.

    Hard adjective endings vary extensively. Let's demonstrate the endings that we should already know on the example of dobrý:

    Forms of dobrý

    Case M an. M in. F N
    Nom. sg. dobrý dobrý dobrá dobré
    Acc. sg. dobrého dobrý dobrou dobré
    Gen. sg. dobrého dobrého dobré dobrého
    Nom. pl. dobří dobré dobré dobrá
    Acc. pl. dobré dobré dobré dobrá
    Gen. pl. dobrých dobrých dobrých dobrých

    Notes:

    • Some of the endings are the same for different cases/genders etc. Remember, the gender, number, and case of the noun and the associated adjective have to agree, and the appropriate endings have to be used.
    • Hard plural masculine animate adjectives sometimes undergo a consonant shift in the root just like the nouns do. See the Nom. pl. form of dobrý, and re-read the T&N for the Plural skill.
    • Vocative endings are identical to nominative endings. (We do not teach the vocative much.)
    • There is only one ending for all genders in Gen. pl.

    Forms of soft adjectives

    Soft adjective endings vary with case in both singular and plural, but they change with gender in singular only.

    Forms of zvláštní

    Case/num. M an. M in. F N
    Nom. sg. zvláštní zvláštní zvláštní zvláštní
    Acc. sg. zvláštního zvláštní zvláštní zvláštní
    Gen. sg. zvláštního zvláštního zvláštní zvláštního
    Nom. pl. zvláštní zvláštní zvláštní zvláštní
    Acc. pl. zvláštní zvláštní zvláštní zvláštní
    Gen. pl. zvláštních zvláštních zvláštních zvláštních

    Notes:

    • The nominative ending is the same for all genders and numbers. (The vocative ending is identical to the nominative ending.)
    • The plural endings do not depend on gender.
    • The singular feminine ending stays the same for all cases.

    Position of adjectives

    Czech adjectives are typically placed before the nouns they refer to, much like in English. For example:

    • Byl to zvláštní den. (It was a strange day.)
    • Má mladou ženu. (He has a young wife.
    • Čekají další dítě. (They are expecting another child.)
    • Je to jiné slovo. (That's another word.)
    • Nesnáším velká města. (I can't stand big cities.)

    In specific contexts, adjectives are placed after their nouns. The post-noun position is mandatory in certain technical terminologies, such as in chemistry (kyselina sírová, or sulfuric acid) or biology (vlk obecný, or Canis lupus, gray wolf).

    Confusing adjectives

    Our users sometimes struggle with partly synonymous or otherwise challenging Czech adjectives.

    Další vs jiný

    The confusion here may be that both další and jiný are often translated as "another", but that is largely because that English word has multiple meanings.

    In "That's another word.", we are more likely to mean "different" word than "one more" word, in which case jiné slovo rather than další slovo would be used in Czech. On the other hand, in "They are expecting another child.", the expected child is probably not "different" so much as "additional", and we would have další dítě, not jiné dítě.

  • 154031163623.10.2018
    1.001Days/Week75 @ 25%1510/2 ••• Practice Test out
    dnes · dní · neděle · pondělí · pátek · sobota · středa · týden · úterý · čtvrtek
    10 words
  • 154032259523.10.2018
    1.011Places75 @ 25%1521/6 ••• Practice Test out
    domy · dům · který · mém · města · město · na · našem · tamtom · tom · tomto · ulice · v · ve · škola
    15 words

    Locative

    Let’s meet a new case: the locative! As its name suggests, it’s primarily used to express location – where something is. It’s the only case that always requires a preposition. In this skill, we will learn to use the prepositions “v” and “na”, this time with the locative. Both “v” and “na” can correspond to the English “in”, “on” or “at”, depending on the specific location. The preposition “v” also has a vocalized form “ve” – please refer to the Tips for the Numbers 2 skill to learn when to use which. We will look at more locative prepositions later.

    We have already seen the preposition “na” with the accusative case as part of some verb constructions, such as “čekat na něco” (to wait for something), and “v” with the accusative to refer to the time when something happens, such as “ve dvě hodiny” (at two o’clock).

    How to form the locative

    First, let’s look at pronouns and how they change in the locative. It’s relatively easy because in the singular, the masculine (animate as well as inanimate) and neuter forms are the same, and the plural forms are identical for all three genders!

    Sg. Nom. Sg. Loc., masc. and neuter Sg. Loc., fem. Pl. Loc.
    ten/ta/to tom těch
    můj/má (moje)/mé (moje) mém mé (mojí) mých
    její jejím její jejích
    náš/naše našem naší našich

    To decline “this” and “that”, we simply add “-to” and “tam-“, respectively. For example: “tento svetr” (this sweater) -> “v tomto svetru” (in this sweater), or “tamta bota” (that shoe) -> “v tamté botě”.

    As we have already seen, the forms of “tvůj” and “svůj” (tvoje, tvá, své, etc.) are declined just like “můj”, and those of “váš” like “náš”. And the good news about the possessive pronouns “jeho” and “jejich” continues: they don’t change at all, in any case.

    Now for the locative forms of adjectives:

    Sg. Nom. Sg. Loc., masc. and neuter Sg. Loc., fem. Pl. Loc.
    hard – mladý mladém mladé mladých
    soft – zvláštní zvláštním zvláštní zvláštních

    And here are the locative forms for the noun declension patterns included in this skill:

    Sg. Nom. Sg. Loc. Pl. Loc.
    dům domě domech
    hotel hotelu hotelech
    talíř talíři talířích
    škola škole školách
    ulice ulici ulicích
    postel posteli postelích
    město městě městech
    letiště letišti letištích
    náměstí náměstí náměstích

    We will see later that some declension patterns (especially hrad and město) have two forms in the locative singular, dependent on the specific noun and even context. Let's keep it simple for now.

    Speaking of nouns, this skill introduces a few new ones: hotel, kancelář (office), letiště (airport), nádraží (station, train station), obchod (shop, store), restaurace (restaurant), škola (school), and zahrada (garden).

    Finally, we should learn the locative forms of cardinal numbers:

    Nominative Locative
    jeden/jedno (masc./neut.) jednom
    jedna (fem.) jedné
    dva/dvě dvou
    tři třech
    čtyři čtyřech
    pět pěti

    Compare “one” to the demostrative “ten/ta/to”: They decline exactly the same. For numbers five and higher, the locative is the same as the genitive form, which you can see in the Tips for the Numbers 2 skill.

    Examples

    Let’s combine the newly gained knowledge to make some examples with words that we already know:

    • má velká rodina (my big family) -> v mé velké rodině (in my big family)
    • jeho bílé ponožky (his white socks) -> v jeho bílých ponožkách (in his white socks)
    • její červené víno (her red wine) -> v jejím červeném víně (in her red wine)
    • naše čtyři modrá auta (our four blue cars) -> v našich čtyřech modrých autech (in our four blue cars)
    • ten nový časopis (that new magazine) -> v tom novém časopisu/časopise (in that new magazine), plural: v těch nových časopisech (in those new magazines)
    • tato zvláštní stará židle (this strange old chair) -> na této zvláštní staré židli (on this strange old chair), plural: na těchto zvláštních starých židlích (on these strange old chairs)
  • 154032164123.10.2018
    1.001Numbers 375 @ 25%1530/4 ••• Practice Test out
    devadesát · devět set · dvě stě · euro · koruna · osm set · osmdesát · padesát · pět set · sedm set · sedmdesát · sto · tři sta · třicet · čtyři sta · čtyřicet · šedesát · šest set
    18 words

    Numbers 3

    Recall that Czech cardinal numerals from one to four behave as if they were adjectives. The counted object appears in the case appropriate for the context, and the numeral matches that case. If the phrase appears as a subject, it gets a plural verb in gender agreement with the noun being counted: Byla tam dvě jablka., and Byly čtyři hodiny.

    Also recall that Czech cardinal numerals from five to twenty-nine behave as if they were adverbs of quantity (málo). The counted object appears in the plural case appropriate for the whole phrase, except if the phrase is in the nominative or accusative, the counted object is in the plural genitive. If the phrase appears as a subject, it gets a singular verb in neuter gender agreement no matter the gender of the noun being counted: Bylo tam dvacet jedna koček.

    Cardinal numerals 30 to 99

    Multiples of ten from 30 to 90 resemble twenty in construction and behavior. These numerals are ungendered, in the three cases we know go with the genitive of whatever is being counted, decline in a limited way, and are singular neuter in terms of verb agreement. Bylo tam padesát lidí.

    English Nom., Acc. Gen.
    twenty dvacet dvaceti
    thirty třicet třiceti
    forty čtyřicet čtyřiceti
    fifty padesát padesáti
    sixty šedesát šedesáti
    seventy sedmdesát sedmdesáti
    eighty osmdesát osmdesáti
    ninety devadesát devadesáti

    Note the unexpected forms padesát(i), šedesát(i), and devadesát(i).

    Just like we did with 21 through 29, we form the compounds from 31 to 99 by following the appropriate multiple of ten with the appropriate numeral for one to nine, separated by a space. No matter what the gender of the counted entity, we use the feminine jedna and the masculine dva in these compounds.

    To decline the compound numeral along with the counted entity, we:

    • use the appropriate form of the multiple of ten (i.e., the form ending in -t if the whole phrase is in Nom. or Acc. and one ending in -ti otherwise),
    • decline the 1-9 piece of the compound as appropriate for the case of the whole phrase (except we keep jedna fixed), and
    • either keep the counted entity in the genitive (Nom. or Acc. of the whole phrase) or match it to the case of the whole phrase (otherwise).

    Examples:

    • Hledáme ženy od dvaceti do třiceti let. (We are looking for women from twenty to thirty.)[Gen.]
    • Ptáme se čtyřiceti dvou matek. (We are asking forty-two mothers.)[Gen.]
    • Počítá těch čtyřicet dva jablek (He is counting those forty-two apples.)[Acc.]
    • Trvá to od padesáti do šedesáti pěti minut. (It lasts from fifty to sixty-five minutes.)[Gen.]
    • Čeká na sedmdesát dva dívek. (He is waiting for seventy-two girls.)[Acc.]
    • Peru pro sedmdesát jedna chlapců. (I do laundry for seventy-one boys.)[Acc.]
    • Měli jen osmdesát devět židlí pro devadesát lidí. (They had only eighty-nine chairs for ninety people.)[Acc.]

    Cardinal numerals 100+

    Multiples of one hundred are shown in the table below. No declination is shown because we will be using the simplified declination standard wherein only the tens and the units (if present) decline, and the higher orders remain fixed. These numerals go with the genitive of whatever is being counted if the phrase is in the nominative or accusative and match the case of the phrase otherwise; do not decline themselves; and are singular neuter in terms of verb agreement. Bylo tam pět set lidí.

    English Czech
    one hundred sto
    two hundred dvě stě
    three hundred tři sta
    four hundred čtyři sta
    five hundred pět set
    six hundred šest set
    seven hundred sedm set
    eight hundred osm set
    nine hundred devět set

    We will form the compounds with hundreds as follows. Append the numeral for 1 through 99 after the appropriate multiple of 100 from the table above. "One hundred and ninety-nine" will be sto devadesát devět and "nine hundred and twelve" will be devět set dvanáct. The optional English "and" after the hundreds does not have a Czech counterpart.

    To decline these compounds, we:

    • keep the hundreds piece fixed,
    • use the appropriate form of the multiple of ten (i.e., the form ending in -t if the whole phrase is in Nom. or Acc. or one ending in -ti otherwise),
    • decline the 1-9 piece of the compound as appropriate for the case of the whole phrase, except we keep jedna fixed no matter what, and
    • either keep the counted entity in the genitive (Nom. or Acc. of the whole phrase) or match it to the case of the whole phrase (otherwise).

    In this course we will not decline expressions with numerals from one thousand up, instead keeping them in Nom. or Acc. "One thousand" is tisíc (declines as stroj). The word just goes before the hundreds, separated by a space: Koupil tisíc sedm set krav.

  • 154064122127.10.2018
    1.001Body75 @ 25%1610/5 ••• Practice Test out
    hlava · krk · noha · nos · oči · ruka · tělo · uši · vlas · zub
    10 words
  • 154072969528.10.2018
    1.001Months75 @ 25%1620/4 ••• Practice Test out
    březen · duben · jaro · květen · leden · léto · měsíc · měsíci · zima · září · únor · červen
    12 words
  • 154075568828.10.2018
    1.001Locations and Topics75 @ 25%1630/8 ••• Practice Test out
    babička · dědeček · já · kniha · muž · něm · o · po · při · svůj · takovém · takovémhle · takovémto · tamhletom · tomhle · tvůj · ty · vašem
    18 words

    More locative

    In this skill we introduce more locative forms and several new prepositions.

    Prepositions

    The following prepositions take the locative case. Some of them also work with the accusative to convey different meanings.

    Locative preposition Approximate Meaning
    v/ve in, at
    na on, sometimes at or in
    o about
    při by, during, at
    po along, after

    The locative "o" means roughly "about" (or "on") when referring to a topic of some thing or activity:

    • Chci knihu o autech. (I want a book about cars.)

    "Při" only comes with the locative, and its core meanings include "during" referring to timing and "by" referring to proximity in space:

    • Při jídle nemluvíme. (We do not speak during meals.)
    • Mají dům při cestě. (They have a house by the road.)

    The locative "po" expresses taking place "after" something in time or following "along" something in space:

    • Po jídle vždy spím. (I always sleep after meals.)
    • Šli po pláži. (They walked along the beach.)

    Now let’s take a look at some model nouns and how they change in the locative. We already encountered some of them in the Places skill.

    Nouns

    Masculine nouns:

    Sg. Nom. Sg. Loc. Pl. Loc.
    kluk klukovi klucích
    muž muži mužích
    hrad hradě, hradu hradech
    stroj stroji strojích

    Let’s take "dědeček" (grandpa). As an animate noun ending in a hard consonant (-k), it will decline as "kluk". In the locative we get "o dědečkovi" (about Grandpa); note that the last "-e-" is dropped just like in most other similar nouns, including "František". All proper names get the "hard" paradigm ending in the singular locative, so we have "o Matějovi" just like we do "o Františkovi".

    Inanimate hard nouns, like "hrad" (castle), are trickier because they tend to have two locative forms, and sometimes only one is used. For example, "oběd" (lunch) -> "po obědě" (after lunch), but "hotel" -> "v hotelu" (in the hotel). This is best learned through exposure. The "-ě" ending ("-e" after "s") is a safer bet in our course, except for the mandatory "-u" in "hotelu".

    Feminine nouns:

    Sg. Nom. Sg. Loc. Pl. Loc.
    žena ženě ženách
    ulice ulici ulicích
    postel posteli postelích
    věc věci věcech

    Feminine nouns that end in "-a" decline like "žena". The "-ě" ending softens the preceding consonant, so "matka" (mother) and "babička" (grandma) become "o matce" and "o babičce". Similarly, "kniha" (book) changes to "v knize". We have dealt with these shifts of "h", "ch", "k", and "r" (into "z", "š", "c", and "ř") in the Plural tips. The spelling does not change for "d" ,"t", "n", and "m", but the "-ě" ending impacts their pronunciation as discussed in the Hello tips. Nouns ending in "s" or "l" take "-e" instead of "-ě", so for "škola" (school) we get "ve škole".

    Feminine nouns that end in a consonant follow two main declension models (postel and věc). Let's stick to postel for now: the word "pláž" (beach) becomes "po pláži" (along the beach) and "na plážích" (on the beaches), and "láhev" (bottle) changes to "v láhvi" (in the bottle) and "o láhvích" (about bottles)–note the disappearing "-e-".

    Neuter nouns:

    Sg. Nom. Sg. Loc. Pl. Loc.
    město městě, městu městech
    moře moři mořích
    kuře kuřeti kuřatech
    náměstí náměstí náměstích

    Nouns ending in “-o” often have two locative forms (just like "hrad"). Both forms are often possible; we can say "v autě" as well as "v autu". We may say "po pivu" (after a beer), with "po pivě" also being correct, while there’s usually only one plural form, "po třech pivech". This skill does provide some exposure to the exceptions by only accepting "místě", "čísle", "jablku", "ránu", and "vajíčku" in the singular locative, and by revealing the existence of the plural locatives "jablkách" and "vajíčkách" (rather than the expected but incorrect forms with "-ech"). Note that the singular locative ending is "-e" rather than "-ě" after "l" and "s", so we have "v mase" and "po jídle".

    The word "dítě" (child) is irregular because it changes gender to feminine when it becomes plural "děti". That’s why we have "o dítěti", which follows the "kuře" model, but "o dětech", which follows the other feminine model noun, "věc", with its "o věcech" plural locative.

    Personal pronouns

    Finally, let’s learn the locative forms of personal pronouns:

    Nominative Locative
    mně
    ty tobě
    on něm
    ona
    ono něm
    my nás
    vy vás
    oni/ony/ona nich

    Examples:

    • Mluvíte o mně? (Are you talking about me?)
    • Co na něm vidíš? (What do you see in him?)
    • Vy hrajete po nás. (You play after us.)
  • 154096231731.10.2018
    1.001Ordinals75 @ 25%1710/4 ••• Practice Test out
    desátý · devátý · dopis · dvanáctý · jedenáctý · osmý · pátý · sedmý · třináctý · šestý
    10 words

    Ordinal numbers

    You may remember we dealt with the first four ordinal numbers (from “první“ to “čtvrtý“) earlier in the course. Since then we have learned to count higher than to four, so let's add a bunch more ordinals. The following table shows the first ten ordinals in their nominative form. Where gender and number matter, the forms are masculine singular. The irregular bits, where the connection to the cardinals is disrupted, are shown in bold.

    Czech English
    první first
    druhý second
    třetí third
    čtvrtý fourth
    pá fifth
    šestý sixth
    sedmý seventh
    osmý eighth
    devá ninth
    desá tenth

    From five on, ordinal numbers are derived from cardinal numbers simply by adding the hard adjective endings (“-ý” for the masculine gender) and sometimes changing “-e/ě-“ to “-á-“ in the root. Numbers between 11th an 19th are all regular. In numbers 20th, 30th, etc. the “e>á” change applies. (Note that the existing course does not show you anything above "twentieth").

    Czech English
    jedenáctý eleventh
    dvanáctý twelfth
    dvacá twentieth
    třicá thirtieth
    čtyřicá fourtieth
    stý hundredth

    For numbers between 20th and 100th that are not multiples of ten, such as 24th, we turn both parts into ordinals (unlike in English): thus “twenty-fourth” is “dvacátý čtvrtý”, and “fifty-seventh” is “padesátý sedmý”.

    As we have seen with the first four ordinals, all ordinal numbers decline exactly like adjectives. Numbers “první” and “třetí” decline as soft adjectives (such as "zvláštní" or “poslední”), and all other ordinals decline as hard adjectives (such as “mladý” or "nový"). The mixed model applies to ordinals like "dvacátý třetí", with both parts following their respective declensions.

    When written in numerical form, where English uses “-th” or “-st” etc., Czech uses a point (dot) after the number: 1. = první, 2. = druhý, 98. = devadesátý osmý.

    Ordinal numbers are also useful when talking about calendar dates. We (normally) use genitive forms both for the day’s number and for the name of the month. We don’t use any preposition to express the “on the…” part. For example:

    • Stalo se to druhého ledna. (It happened on the second of January.)
    • Dnes je čtrnáctého dubna. (Today is the fourteenth of April.)
    • Narodila se třicátého prvního prosince. (She was born on the thirty-first of December.)

    We did say that the genitive forms are used for dates normally. It gets trickier if the date functions as anything other than a description of when or (on) what date. For example, if the sentence was about someone literally thinking (or talking) about the first of July, the date is the object of the verb that works with the accusative (or locative) case, and we get

    • Myslel na první červenec.
    • Mluvila o prvním červenci.

    Again both parts of the date show up in whatever the case is required by the verb or the preposition. If the date falls where genitive is required, we get both parts in genitive, just for a different reason that before:

    • Byli jsme tam od pátého února do osmnáctého března. (We were there from the fifth of February to the eighteenth of March.)

    As we have already learned in the Numbers 1 skill, we need ordinals to tell the time in case the time is “half past something”. The ordinal number will be in the feminine genitive singular form:

    • půl páté – half past four, literally “half of the fifth hour”
    • půl jedenácté – half past ten
    • půl druhé – half past one
    • exception: půl jedné – half past twelve (cardinal number “jedna” instead)

    Czech also has a question word – kolikátý – used to asked for ordinal numbers. This word is strangely absent from English, but the equivalent would be “how-manieth” or “how manyth” – see Wiktionary. None of the following examples can be translated directly:

    • Kolikáté auto máš? (How many cars including this one have you had?)
    • Kolikátou kávu pijete? (literally “How-manieth coffee are you drinking?”)
    • Kolikátého je dnes? (What’s the date today?)
  • 154096155031.10.2018
    1.001Past 275 @ 25%1720/5 ••• Practice Test out
    běžet · cítit · dlouho · ležet · najít · pamatovat · sedět · sežrat · stát · vědět · zapomenout
    11 words
  • 154097057631.10.2018
    1.011Modals 175 @ 25%1811/5 ••• Practice Test out
    moci · moct · muset · nemoci · nemoct · nemuset · nesmět · poslouchat · smět · snažit
    10 words

    Modals 1

    In this unit we learn how to say that someone can, cannot, must/has to, must not, does not have to, or is (not) supposed to do something. The needed Czech “modal” verbs usually come with the infinitives of other verbs, much like in English.

    Moct (can): Ability, possibility, permission/Their absence

    This verb shows that someone can do something or that something can happen as a result of objective circumstances, availability, suitability, natural ability, or permission.

    A good match in English is “can”, which also happens to overlap informally with “may” when it shows permission:

    • Můžeme na vás počkat. (We can wait for you.)
    • Tato zvířata mohou žít bez vody. (These animals can live without water.)
    • Můžu/mohu tady kouřit? (Can I smoke here?)

    When this verb is negated, it expresses the absence of ability, possibility, or permission, much like cannot:

    • Nemůžeme už čekat. (We cannot wait anymore.)
    • To se tady stát nemůže. (That cannot happen here.)
    • Promiňte, tady kouřit nemůžete. (Sorry, you cannot smoke here.)

    Czech does not express a learned ability/skill (such as to read) using the same verb as an inherent ability, although “can” covers both in English. Instead, Czech uses a different verb, “umět“, which we cover later.

    Please also note that “can“ with many perception and some cognition verbs in English, as in

    • I can see them.
    • I can understand that.

    usually describes perception or cognition at the moment of speaking, without actually referring to ability. Czech just uses the verb without the modal here, as in

    • Vidím je./Já je vidím.
    • To chápu.

    Smět (may): Permission/Prohibition

    This verb shows that someone may do something or that something may happen as a result of permission. (This is not about uncertainty!) The positive form is usually limited to questions (requests for permission):

    • Smím se vás na něco zeptat? (May I ask you something?)

    and to limited permissions

    • Psi sem smějí jen v pondělí. (Dogs are only allowed here on Mondays.)

    Negative statements are used to deny permission or express prohibition much like may not or must not:

    • Tady parkovat nesmíte. (You may not/must not park here.)

    The nearest English match is “may”, which also happens to overlap with the informal permission sense of “can” or its negative. This same overlap exists between “moct” and “smět“.

    In the second person, the negative may indicate milder advice and often does not work translated as “may not”:

    • Nesmíš věřit všemu, co slyšíš. (You must not/should not believe everything you hear.)

    There is another way of expressing “should” and “should not” in Czech, but we are not ready for its grammar yet.

    Muset (have to): Obligation/Absence of obligation

    This verb shows that someone has to do something or that something has to happen. We would suggest memorizing the meaning as “have to” because then you will also easily remember the meaning of the negative.

    • Musíme tady počkat. (We have to/must wait here.)
    • Musí křičet? (Does he have to yell?)
    • Musíš se víc snažit. (You have to/must/should try harder.)

    Even this verb can mean advice rather than an outright obligation. To express obligation, both “have to” and “must” are good translations. The reason we advise against memorizing “muset” as the obvious “must” is the uselessness of “must not” for predicting the meaning of “nemuset”:

    • Nemusíš mi to říkat dvakrát. (You don’t have to tell me twice.)

    If we used negated “must”, we would be way off.

    Mít (be [supposed] to): Conveyed obligation/prohibition

    When used with the infinitive, this Czech verb becomes a modal verb of obligation falling somewhere between “should” and “have to”, often with a flavor of “I am just a messenger”. The best English translation “be to” shares this sense that the obligation originates from some other authority.

    • Máš jít domů. (You are to go home.)

    Usually “should” would be too tentative as a translation of the modal “mít”, except in first-person questions, which function rather like requests for guidance:

    • Mám tady vystoupit? (Should I get off here?)

    The negative communicates a negative obligation (prohibition), not an absence of obligation:

    • Nemáme na ni čekat. (We are not to wait for her.)

    Forms

    The forms of these modal verbs are listed below:

    Person can may have to be to
    můžu, mohu smím musím mám
    ty můžeš smíš musíš máš
    on, ona, ono může smí musí
    my můžeme smíme musíme máme
    vy můžete smíte musíte máte
    oni, ony, ona můžou, mohou smějí, smí musejí, musí mají
    infinitive moct, moci smět muset, musit mít

    The duplicate forms shown in italics are formal.

    Note

    As in English, some of the same Czech modals can also convey degrees of certainty:

    • To musí/může/nemusí/nemůže být pravda. (That must/can=may/may not/cannot be true.)
  • 154125851203.11.2018
    1.001Indefinite/Negative75 @ 25%1910/5 ••• Practice Test out
    cokoli · kdekoli · kdokoli · něco · nějak · nějaký · někdo · několik · některý · něčí · ode · stát
    12 words
  • 154125989503.11.2018
    1.001Family 275 @ 25%1920/5 ••• Practice Test out
    adj-ější · důležitější · ještě · mladší · mnohem · máma · než · rychlejší · starší · táta · zajímavější · šťastnější
    12 words

    In this skill, we learn how to form the comparative and superlative of adjectives. The comparative is the more-form, such as "longer", "nicer", or "more interesting", whereas the superlative is the most-form, e.g. "longest", "nicest", or "most interesting".

    Comparative

    To create the comparative, we typically add the suffix "-ejší" or "-ější". A small number of adjectives use different suffixes – "-ší" or just "". All of these suffixes cause the softening (mutation) of the adjective's last consonant, except as noted. We have already encountered this consonant change before: "h" changes into "ž", "ch" into "š", "k" into "č", and "r" into "ř".

    -ejší, -ější

    This is the main comparative suffix, used with most adjectives. Whether we use the variant with "-e-" or "-ě-" depends on the last consonant of the adjective:

    • L, S, Z: -ejší
    • H, CH, K, R: -ejší, but the consonant softens -> Ž, Š, Č, Ř
    • D, T, N, M, B, P, V: -ější

    Some examples:

    • rychlý (fast) -> rychlejší (faster)
    • levný (cheap) -> levnější (cheaper)
    • zvláštní (strange) -> zvláštnější (stranger)
    • zajímavý (interesting) -> zajímavější (more interesting)
    • důležitý (important) -> důležitější (more important)
    • chytrý (clever) -> chytřejší (cleverer / more clever)

    -ší

    A relatively small group of (quite common) adjectives use this shorter comparative suffix:

    • mladý (young) -> mladší (younger)
    • starý (starší) -> starší (older) [exception: no softening]
    • drahý (expensive, dear) -> dražší (more expensive, dearer)
    • tichý (quiet) -> tišší (quieter) [not in the course, and yes, we do get "šš"]

    Several adjectives ending in "-ký" use this even shorter suffix, whereby the consonant "k" softens into "č" as usual:

    • hezký (nice, pretty/handsome) -> hezčí (nicer, prettier/more handsome)
    • lehký (light as in light-weight, easy) -> lehčí (lighter, easier)

    Irregular

    Almost every (if not every) language has irregular comparatives for "good" and "bad". In Czech, a few more adjectives have irregular comparatives:

    • dobrý (good) -> lepší (better)
    • špatný (bad) -> horší (worse)
    • velký (big) -> větší (bigger)
    • malý (small) -> menší (smaller)
    • dlouhý (long) -> delší (longer)
    • krátký (short) -> kratší (shorter)
    • vysoký (tall, high) -> vyšší (taller, higer)

    Note that comparative adjectives are always soft, even if they derive from hard adjectives.

    Words that often go with comparatives

    A very useful word that goes along with comparatives is "než", meaning "than". Example: "Můj táta je starší než moje máma." (My dad is older than my mom.)

    To say "even more + adjective", we use the word "ještě" (which can mean "still" or "more" in other contexts). Example: "Teď jsem ještě šťastnější." (Now I'm even happier.)

    For "much more + adjective", we need "mnohem" (which is technically the instrumental case of "mnoho", so literally "by a lot"). Example: "Tvoje auto je mnohem novější než moje." (Your car is much newer than mine.)

    Superlative

    Once you know how to form the comparative, the superlative is super easy! Just attach the "nej-" prefix to the beginning of the comparative, and you're done. Some examples:

    • lepší (better) -> nejlepší (the best)
    • krásnější (more beautiful) -> nejkrásnější (the most beautiful)
    • ošklivější (uglier) -> nejošklivější (the ugliest)

    Like the comparative, the superlative is also always a soft adjective.

    Family members

    And finally, let's recap as well as extend our vocabulary pertaining to family members:

    Příbuzný Relative
    matka mother
    máma mom
    maminka mommy
    otec father
    táta dad
    tatínek daddy
    sourozenec sibling, brother or sister
    bratr brother
    sestra sister
    syn son
    dcera daughter
    děda, dědeček grandpa
    babička grandma
    bratranec (male) cousin
    sestřenice (female) cousin
    strýc, strejda uncle
    teta aunt
  • 154209846113.11.2018
    1.001Geography75 @ 25%2010/4 ••• Practice Test out
    evropa · morava · německo · polsko · slovensko · soused · ze · země · západ · čechy · česko
    11 words
  • 154210306213.11.2018
    1.001Skills75 @ 25%2020/7 ••• Practice Test out
    anglicky · co · déle · hůř · jazyk · jezdit · kolo · líp · míň · nejlíp · nejrychleji · nejvíc · rychleji · se · umět · víc · častěji · česky · řídit
    19 words
  • 154210265213.11.2018
    1.001After75 @ 25%2030/3 ••• Practice Test out
    den · dvou · hodina · jednom · jedné · konečně · letech · měsíc · num5-20loc · třech · vrátit (se) · čtyřech
    12 words
  • 154522826619.12.2018
    1.001With What75 @ 25%2110/6 ••• Practice Test out
    lžíce · nový · nástroj · pero · ta · ten · tužka · věta · xx-čím · čím
    10 words

    With what: Instrumental

    Let’s meet our next to last new case: the instrumental! As its name hints, it’s primarily used to express using something to do something with, as with an instrument or a tool. Several prepositions may be associated with this case, including the one that often actually translates a “with”, but it has several important uses without a preposition, and that is what we explore in this unit.

    How to form the instrumental

    First, let’s look at the demonstratives and adjectives and how they change in the instrumental. It’s relatively easy because in the singular, the masculine (animate as well as inanimate) and neuter forms are the same, and the plural forms are identical for all three genders!

    Sg. Nom. Sg. Ins., masc. and neuter Sg. Ins., fem. Pl. Ins.
    ten/ta/to tím tou těmi
    hard – nový novým novou novými
    soft – zvláštní zvláštním zvláštní zvláštními

    To decline “this” and “that”, we simply add “-to” and “tam-“, respectively. For example: “tento stroj” (this machine) -> “tímto strojem” (with this machine), “tamta kniha” (that book) -> “tamtou knihou”, or “toto slovo” (this word) -> “těmito slovy” (with these words).

    Maybe an example is in order. When discussing how a construction task is accomplished, we may want to explain as follows:

    • Děláme to tímto novým strojem. (We do it with this new machine.)

    Here are the instrumental forms for the noun declension paradigms covered in this unit. We will cover more paradigms later.

    Sg. Nom. Sg. Ins. Pl. Ins.
    strom stromem stromy
    stroj strojem stroji
    kniha knihou knihami
    slovo slovem slovy

    We learn the instrumental form of “jeden”:

    Nominative Instrumental
    jeden/jedno (masc./neut.) jedním
    jedna (fem.) jednou

    Compare “one” with the demonstrative “ten/ta/to”: They decline exactly the same.

    We also learn to decline “co” and related pronouns in the instrumental (note the similarity to the “to” declensions above):

    Nominative Instrumental
    co/něco čím/něčím

    We encounter a few anomalies associated with the plural instrumental for paired body parts:

    Sg. Nom. Sg. Ins. Pl. Ins.
    oko okem ima
    ruka rukou rukama

    There will be an entire unit to explore this dual body part topic later. For now, review the last two examples below and note that the irregular endings impact even the adjectives attached to the dual nouns.

    New words

    This skill introduces a few new words:

    • nouns: hlas (voice), nástroj (tool), pero (pen), and tužka (pencil)
    • adjectives: holý (bare)
    • verbs: držet (hold), udělat (do, perfective), vyjádřit (express, perfective), zabít (kill, perfective)

    Examples

    • Udělal to nožem. (He did it with a knife.)
    • Píšu tím novým perem. (I am writing with the new pen.)
    • Tohle jídlo nesmíš jíst lžící. (You must not eat this meal with a spoon.)
    • Čím jsi otevřel tu láhev? (What did you open that bottle with?)
    • Dnes je vyrábíme lepšími nástroji. (Today we make them with better tools.)
    • Musíme se dívat vlastníma očima. (We must look with our own eyes.)
    • Zabil holýma rukama medvěda! (He killed a bear with his bare hands!)
  • 154513309218.12.2018
    1.001Conjunctions 275 @ 25%2120/5 ••• Practice Test out
    aby · abych · abychom · abys · abyste · by · bych · bychom · bys · byste · bát · kdyby · kdybych · kdybychom · kdybys · kdybyste · se · ses · si · sis
    20 words

    Conjunctions 2

    Recall that conjunctions connect other words, expressions, and clauses together. In Conj. 1 you met a handful of conjunctions that work with the present tense. Now let’s have a look at two special conjunctions that work with the past tense. These conjunctions are special in that they conjugate (change endings depending on person and number of their subject) somewhat like verbs. In fact, their endings are the only remnant of an old verb tense that has otherwise vanished from Czech.

    Conjugating conjunctions may sound intimidating. Fortunately, these two conjunctions change their endings in lockstep and even follow the conjugation pattern of the conditional auxiliary. Let’s learn all three for the price of one!

    Bych, bys, by, bychom, byste: Conditional auxiliary

    To form the conditional mood in Czech, we use an auxiliary with the past participle, much like we did when forming the past tense for the 1st and 2nd person. Compare the auxiliaries below:

    Person Past Conditional
    Sg. 1st (já) jsem bych
    Sg. Familiar 2nd (ty) jsi (-s) bys, by ses, by sis
    Sg. 3rd (on, ona…) - by
    Pl. 1st (my) jsme bychom
    Pl./Formal 2nd (vy) jste byste
    Pl. 3rd (oni, ony…) - by

    For example, compare:

    • On pil vodu. (He drank water.)
    • Měl jsem dva psy. (I had two dogs.)

    with

    • On by pil vodu. (He would drink water.)
    • Měl bych dva psy. (I would have two dogs.)

    Like the past tense auxiliary, the conditional auxiliary is an obligatory clitic that demands placement in the second position of its clause and bumps pretty much every other clitic to the right. For example:

    • Bál by se ho. (He would be afraid of it/him.)

    One last wrinkle: With reflexive verbs (those coming with the se/si particles), the “ty” form of the conditional auxiliary switches from the expected (but incorrect) “bys se”/”bys si” to “by ses” or “by sis”:

    • Bál by ses ho. (You would be afraid of it/him.)

    And while some Czechs do not seem to know this, forms like “by jsi” and “by jste si” are wrong (“hypercorrect”) in standard Czech.

    Kdybych, kdybys, kdyby, kdybychom, kdybyste: If (imaginary condition)

    This conjunction will allow us to talk about imaginary situations, similar to how “if” works in English Type 2 conditionals:

    • Kdybys chtěl umět česky, víc bys studoval. (If you wanted to speak Czech, you would study harder.)

    The forms of this conjuction mirror those of the conditional axiliary. Check out the summary table below.

    Abych, abys, aby, abychom, abyste: (In order) to

    This conjunction will allow us to talk about purpose, similar to how the infinitive, sometimes following “in order” or “so as”, works in English:

    • Hodně se učím, abych uměla dobře česky. (I study a lot in order to speak Czech well.)

    Summary of forms

    Person Form
    Sg. 1st (já) (a/kdy)bych
    Sg. Familiar 2nd (ty) (a/kdy)bys, (a/kdy)by ses, (a/kdy)by sis
    Sg. 3rd (on, ona…) (a/kdy)by
    Pl. 1st (my) (a/kdy)bychom
    Pl./Formal 2nd (vy) (a/kdy)byste
    Pl. 3rd (oni, ony…) (a/kdy)by

    Word order note

    Learn more about clitics and word order here.

  • 154532395120.12.2018
    1.001Nations75 @ 25%2130/6 ••• Practice Test out
    kouřit · slovenka · slovenský · slováci · slovák · typický · čech · český · češi · češka
    10 words
  • 154582416826.12.2018
    2.002Travel75 @ 25%2210/4 ••• Practice Test out
    autobus · cestovat · dvakrát · jednou · jezdit · kolikrát · letadlo · metro · motorka · tramvaj · třikrát · vlak
    12 words

    Travel

    In this skill we extend our vocabulary to discuss travel and transportation. Let’s start with a few nouns.

    Nouns

    The following table presents each Czech noun with its declension paradigm (even if an unofficial one) to help with the gender and the case endings of each noun:

    Czech English
    autobus (hrad) bus
    kolo (město) bicycle
    kufr (hrad) suitcase
    letadlo (město) airplane
    loď (postel) boat, ship
    metro (město) subway, underground
    motorka (žena) motorcycle
    pas (hrad) passport
    stanice (ulice) station
    tramvaj (postel) tram
    turista (táta) tourist
    turistka (žena) tourist (female)
    vlak (hrad) train

    The likely surprises here are the masculine “turista” (tourist) and the feminine loď (boat) and tramvaj (tram) because they go against the noun genders typically expected for their endings.

    In Czech, the vehicle of transportation is often expressed using the instrumental of the vehicle word or phrase (vlak, to nové auto, etc.) without a preposition, much like we did for instruments and tools in With what, as long as the vehicle is one we can be physically inside of. Otherwise, we tend to use “na” with the locative, and that also is how we refer to riding animals. For example, we have

    • autem, autobusem, letadlem, lodí, metrem, tramvají, vlakem

    but

    • na kole, na lodi, na motorce, na koni

    The lodí/na lodi ambiguity for “by boat” indirectly justifies our rule, as one can be inside a cabin or on the deck.

    • Jedeme autobusem. (We are riding a bus.)

    Verbs

    We learn two new verbs in the present tense:

    Czech English Conjugates like
    cestovat travel potřebovat (need)
    jezdit ride, go (by vehicle/animal) mluvit (speak)

    The conjugation note is a hint to match the verb endings to another verb we already know. For example, we can recall the forms “potřebujete” and “mluvím” to figure out the verb endings for

    • Jak často cestujete lodí? (How often do you travel by boat?)
    • Často jezdím do školy na kole. (I often ride a bicycle to school.)

    Note that “jezdit” is the indeterminate (repeated, habitual, multi-directional movement) mate to the determinate (single, one-directional movement) “jet” we encountered in Present 1:

    • Jedu na kole. (I am riding a bicycle.)

    We also learn the past tense of three verbs:

    Czech English
    cestovat travel
    nastoupit board, get on
    vystoupit exit, get off

    By now “cestovat” should be familiar, and its similarity to “potřebovat” works for the past tense as well. The other two verbs here, “nastoupit” and “vystoupit”, form a pair of mutually related verbs with opposite meanings, distinguished by the prefix. This is similar to how “inhale” and “exhale” are related in English. As shown in these examples, the opposite sense of the movement also impacts the choice of the preposition when the vehicle is mentioned:

    • Kde jste nastoupil do tramvaje? (Where did you board the tram?)
    • Z vlaku vystoupil jen František. (Only František got off the train.)

    Perhaps you noticed the similarity of “nastoupil” and “vystoupil” to “koupil” (he bought). We encountered that verb in the Past 1 skill, whose tips explored how it relates to “kupoval” (he was buying). The difference has to do with the perfective/imperfective aspect and does not fully map to the simple and progressive tenses in English. We will deal with this in more detail later, but as a preview, yes, “nastupoval” and “vystupoval” are the corresponding imperfective forms.

    Once, twice, three times…

    Unlike the cardinal and ordinal numbers we have already encountered, the multiplicative number words do not change their form and stay as listed below:

    Czech English
    jednou once
    dvakrát twice
    třikrát three times
    čtyřikrát four times

    The formation pattern suggested by “třikrát” and “čtyřikrát” continues to higher values: Take the cardinal number word and attach “krát”, so we get “pětkrát”, “devatenáctkrát”, and “dvacetkrát”. The “nkrát” pattern even holds for multi-word compound cardinal numbers above 20, which should get written as a single word with “krát” attached (dvacetjednakrát, třistašedesátpětkrát).

    • V Německu jsem byla třicetšestkrát. (I have been to Germany thirty-six times.)

    To ask “how many times” in Czech, use “kolikrát” (note the spelling):

    • Kolikrát jsi tam byl? (How many times have you been there?)

    The multiplicatives are often followed with expressions combining the preposition “za” with the accusative of a time period noun or noun phrase, such as “hodinu”, “den”, “týden”, “měsíc”, “rok” or “deset let”, and then they express the number of times per time period:

    • Na Slovensko cestujeme jednou nebo dvakrát za rok. (We travel to Slovakia once or twice a year.)
  • 154583033626.12.2018
    1.001Prepositions: Instrumental75 @ 25%2220/7 ••• Practice Test out
    dětmi · jejich · její · lidmi · mezi · mnou · můj · nad · nade · nimi · noun-fem-7-ou · noun-masc-7-em · noun-neut-7-em · noun-neut-7-tem · námi · · ním · pod · pode · před · přede · s · se · svá · tebou · vámi · za
    27 words
  • 154583095626.12.2018
    1.001Modals 275 @ 25%2230/5 ••• Practice Test out
    moct · muset · mít · nemoct · nemuset · nesmět · pracovat · smět · tolik · zapomenout · říct
    11 words
  • 154611687429.12.2018
    1.001Aspect75 @ 25%2310/5 ••• Practice Test out
    jakmile · kupovat · nadále · naposledy · naučit · nádobí · otevírat · podívat · pravidelně · prodat · prodávat · vystoupit · vystupovat · zavírat
    14 words
  • 154611501929.12.2018
    1.001Jobs75 @ 25%2320/5 ••• Practice Test out
    lékař-ka · odbornice · odborník · podnikatel-ka · práce · student · studentka · tamtou · tamtím · touto · tímto · učitel · učitelka
    13 words
  • 154611596929.12.2018
    1.001Ago75 @ 25%2330/3 ••• Practice Test out
    den · dvěma · hodina · minuta · měsíc · rok · století · stoletími · týden · třemi · čtyřmi
    11 words
  • 154646025302.01.2019
    1.001Nature and Weather75 @ 25%2420/5 ••• Practice Test out
    chladno · hora · horko · lesa · lese · moří · mořích · nebe · nebi · počasí · pršet · sníh · sněžit · teplo · venku · řeka
    16 words
  • 154645945702.01.2019
    1.001Reported Speech75 @ 25%2430/3 ••• Practice Test out
    chápat · dozvědět (se) · lehčí · oznámit · pochopit · ptát (se) · předevčírem · předpokládat · zeptat (se) · říci
    10 words
  • 154654817203.01.2019
    1.011Imperative75 @ 25%2511/6 ••• Practice Test out
    dívej · dívejme · dívejte · mami · nedívej · nedívejme · nedívejte · noun-masc-7-ou · podívej · podívejme · podívejte · spolu
    12 words
  • 154671481305.01.2019
    1.001Future 175 @ 25%2610/5 ••• Practice Test out
    brzy · bude · budeme · budete · budeš · budou · budu · chtít · jednou · moci · muset · nebude · nebudeme · nebudete · nebudeš · nebudou · nebudu · potřebovat · smět · za · zítra
    21 words
  • 154806096121.01.2019
    1.001Giving etc.75 @ 25%2620/6 ••• Practice Test out
    dát · jemu · jim · jí · kateřině · komu · koupit · mi · mně · mu · nám · ti · tobě · vám · říci · žofii
    16 words
  • 154824060123.01.2019
    1.001Future 275 @ 25%2710/5 ••• Practice Test out
    · dát · koupit · li · napsat · navštívit · než · přečíst · sníst · vrátit (se) · vypít · zavolat · začít
    13 words
  • 154823966923.01.2019
    1.001Sports75 @ 25%2720/3 ••• Practice Test out
    během · fotbal · gól · hokej · hráč · nejraději · porazit · sport · tým · zápas
    10 words
  • 154823847323.01.2019
    1.001Communication75 @ 25%2730/8 ••• Practice Test out
    dětem · jeho · jejich · jejím · jejímu · lidem · mé/tvé/své · mé/tvé/své-mu · noun-masc-3-ovi · noun-neut-3-ti · odpovědět · rozumět · tomu · té · těm · volat · všem · čemu · člověku
    19 words
  • 154882214330.01.2019
    1.001Possessive Adjectives75 @ 25%2810/7 ••• Practice Test out
    babiččina · dceřiny · dědečkova · františkova-matějova · františkovi-matějovi · františkovo-matějovo · františkovy-matějovy · františkův · kateřinin · kateřinina-žofiina · kateřinino-žofiino · manželčina · matčina · matějův · oba · obě · otcova · sestřina · synovy · žofiin
    20 words

    Possessive Adjectives

    Czech possessive adjectives (PAs) offer an alternative to the genitive when expressing ownership. Unlike the genitive of possession (auto Františka), PAs go before the noun (Františkovo auto).

    Restrictions

    In standard Czech, the possessor (owner) name must be

    • singular (no PA for "people's republic");
    • animate, such as a person or something personified, or an animal (no PA for "water's edge");
    • grammatically masculine or feminine (no PA from děvče or dítě);
    • referring to a specific possessor, not a generic or abstract one (no PA for "man's best friend");
    • a single word (no PA for "my younger brother's wife"); and
    • a noun (no PAs from feminine surnames, which are adjectives, like Navrátilová).

    Where these restrictions prevent the use of the PAs, Czech uses other types of adjectives or the genitive of possession.

    Formation and Declension

    PAs are formed by adding together three pieces:

    root + suffix + ending

    • The "root" comes from the owner noun.
    • The "suffix" mostly depends on the owner gender.
    • The "ending" depends on the owned object gender, number, and case.

    To find the root for masculine owners,

    • take the accusative of the owner noun (this deletes the "e" from the stem if appropriate; see "dědeček" below); and
    • remove the vowel ending
    Owner Accusative Root
    bratr bratra bratr
    muž muže muž
    dědeček dědečka dědečk
    táta tátu tát
    soudce soudce soudc

    To find the root for feminine owners,

    • take the dative of the owner noun (this captures consonant shifts; see "sestra" and "matka" below);
    • remove the vowel ending; and
    • replace the final "c" with "č" and "z" with "ž"
    Owner Dative Root
    žena ženě žen
    Žofie Žofii Žofi
    sestra sestře sestř
    matka matce matč

    The suffix goes right after the root and is the simplest PA piece, being:

    • "ův" for a masculine owner with a singular masculine owned object in the nominative and singular masculine inanimate owned object in the accusative;
    • "ov" for a masculine owner otherwise; and
    • "in" for a feminine owner

    Finally, the ending depends on the gender, number, and case of the owned object. In the tables below, "-" denotes an empty ending, i.e., nothing.

    For singular objects:

    Case M (an./in.) F N
    N sg. - a o
    A sg. a / - u o
    G sg. a y a
    L sg. ě ě ě
    I sg. ým ou ým
    D sg. u ě u

    Note that the "ův" suffix can only go with the empty ending for a masculine owner. Some learners may benefit from figuring out the ending before the suffix.

    For plural objects:

    Case M (an./in.) F N
    N pl. i / y y a
    A pl. y y a
    G pl. ých ých ých
    L pl. ých ých ých
    I pl. ými ými ými
    D pl. ým ým ým

    Examples

    Let's try it on translating "I don't know František's sister." As a hint, our translation will contain neznám ... sestru, with the object in accusative.

    • First we get the PA root for a masculine owner (František) from its accusative form (Františka) by dropping the final vowel: "Františk".
    • Next we pick the right suffix. The owner is masculine but the owned object is not M nom. sg. or M in. acc. sg. (which would give an empty ending next), so the suffix is "ov".
    • Finally, from the tables of endings for A sg. and a feminine object, the ending we get "u".
    • The PA becomes "Františkovu".

    Note that the translation likely gets organized as "Františkovu sestru neznám." because the "not knowing" is more likely to be the key piece of information than who she is.

    Our second example deals with the PA-related issue most frequently debated in sentence discussions for this skill: Whose grandfather is it anyway?

    • Oba dědečkovy domy jsou v Praze. (Both of my grandfather's houses are in Prague.)

    The main tripping hazard here is the "my grandfather's houses" translation. How do we know it was my grandfather of all grandfathers?

    We could have said "both Grandpa's houses", using the family title as if it were a proper noun (note the capitalization). If I said "Grandpa's new house is in Prague." to you (assuming we are not related), you would apply my statement to my grandfather. The same connection makes the "dědeček" automatically apply to the speaker's grandpa.

    If we wanted to explicitly specify whose grandfather we are talking about, we would lose the ability to use a PA (because PAs do not handle multi-word possessors), and end up replacing "oba dědečkovy domy" with the rather less idiomatic "oba domy mého dědečka".

    Finally, in

    • Vystoupila z otcova auta. (She got out of her father's car.)

    the father could also be the narrator's, but it is a good example where "her" father is just as probable.

  • 154878651029.01.2019
    1.001Prepositions: Dative75 @ 25%2820/5 ••• Practice Test out
    bojovat · dostat (se) · díky · k · ke · kvůli · letiště · naproti · nim · noun-neut-3-u · nádraží · · němu · proti · upřímný
    15 words
  • 154878473929.01.2019
    1.001Politics75 @ 25%2830/5 ••• Practice Test out
    měnit · názor · politika · příští · vláda · volby · volit · zmanipulovaný · změnit · zvolit
    10 words
  • 154895497831.01.2019
    1.001Reflexive Pronouns75 @ 25%2910/5 ••• Practice Test out
    k · mezi · na · nad · nesnášet se · o · považovat se · pro · proti · před · sama · sami · samo · samy · se · sebe · sebou · ses · si · sis · sobě · sám · u · vidět se · znát se
    25 words
  • 154940214406.02.2019
    1.001Relative Clauses75 @ 25%2920/8 ••• Practice Test out
    co · jenž · jež · již · jíž · který · nichž · niž · noun-fem-plural · noun-masc-inanim-plural · níž · němž · něž · ptácích · rádio · vesnice
    16 words

    Relative clauses 1

    In this skill we learn to construct relative subordinate clauses and connect them to the main clause. To do that, we are going to need relative pronouns as the connecting pieces.

    Relative pronoun který

    One of the relative pronouns looks and behaves like the interrogatory pronoun který. Recall that this pronoun declines like a hard adjective.

    As a relative pronoun, který does the job of the English relative pronouns “who”, “whom”, “which”, and “that”. This Czech pronoun cannot be omitted, and there is no distinction between restrictive (defining) and non-restrictive (non-defining) use. In Czech, relative clauses need to be set off by commas regardless of whether or not they are restrictive, and only context will show their restrictive status.

    The structure of the complex sentence with který can be readily appreciated by first identifying the corresponding question using a form of který as an interrogative. Say we want to translate “He married the girl from whom he had been buying milk every morning.” (It is easiest to start from an English sentence from which the relative pronoun was not omitted, and with any associated preposition preceding the pronoun rather than pushed to the end.)

    The translation will predictably begin

    • Vzal si dívku...

    The question we need asks about the English subordinate clause and uses the key piece from the main clause that the subordinate clause refers to:

    • From which girl had he been buying milk every morning?

    We get:

    • U které dívky každé ráno kupoval mléko? (U is better than od here.)

    Let’s lose the piece of the main clause again

    • u které každé ráno kupoval mléko

    and stitch it together, using the required comma:

    • Vzal si dívku, u které každé ráno kupoval mléko.

    This will work for other cases, including those without a preposition in Czech, even the nominative, and for questions:

    • Who knows the man who is sitting on the yellow sofa?
    • Intermediate: Který (muž) sedí na žluté pohovce?
    • Kdo zná toho muže, který sedí na žluté pohovce?

    It may be easier for some students to recognize that the case of the pronoun is determined by the subordinate clause, and the gender/number by the element of the main clause to which the subordinate clause refers.

    Relative pronoun jenž

    In formal contexts, the relative pronoun jenž may be used instead of který. This pronoun also comes in different forms for different genders and cases:

    Case/ Number M an. M in. F N
    Nom. sg. jenž jenž jež jež
    Acc. sg. jehož, jejž, něhož, nějž jejž, nějž již, niž jež, něž
    Gen. sg. jehož, jejž, něhož, nějž jehož, jejž, něhož, nějž jíž, níž jehož, jejž, něhož, nějž
    Loc. sg. němž němž níž němž
    Ins. sg. jímž, nímž jímž, nímž jíž, níž jímž, nímž
    Dat. sg. jemuž, němuž jemuž, němuž jíž, níž jemuž, němuž
    Nom. pl. již jež jež jež
    Acc. pl. jež, něž jež, něž jež, něž jež, něž
    Gen. pl. jichž, nichž jichž, nichž jichž, nichž jichž, nichž
    Loc. pl. nichž nichž nichž nichž
    Ins. pl. jimiž, nimiž jimiž, nimiž jimiž, nimiž jimiž, nimiž
    Dat. pl. jimž, nimž jimž, nimž jimž, nimž jimž, nimž

    As we have seen with personal pronouns, the forms starting with j- are used in the absence of a preposition, and those starting with n- are used after a preposition.

    The connection with the personal pronouns will help us avoid memorizing the entire table. If we know which forms of the personal pronouns are used in which cases, we can simply append to them. Using our milk girl as an example, take the subordinate clause question:

    • U které dívky každé ráno kupoval mléko?

    Replace what makes sense with the personal pronoun:

    • u ní každé ráno kupoval mléko

    Append to the pronoun and assemble the translation:

    • Vzal si dívku, u níž každé ráno kupoval mléko.

    We do have to memorize the nominative forms, as we cannot just add to on to get jenž, to oni to get již, or to the other nominative forms to get jež.

    Relative clause mid-sentence

    The relative clause can be inserted in the middle of the main clause immediately following the element it refers to:

    • Dívku, u které/níž každé ráno kupoval mléko, si vzal.
    • On/František si dívku, u které/níž každé ráno kupoval mléko, vzal.

    Note that the relative clause is needed to complete the unit of meaning, which is why in the first example the reflexive dative enclitic si must come immediately after it.

    Clitics in relative clauses

    For keeping track of where the clitics should go, the form of který or jenž with any associated preposition count as the first unit of meaning in the clause:

    • Pamatuješ si tu studentku, které/jíž jsme se ho báli dát? (Do you remember the student we were afraid to give him/it to?)

    None of the clitics can climb up from the relative clause to the governing clause.

  • 154899279601.02.2019
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    chybět · naštvaný · naštvaně · překvapit · radost · smutný · smutně · stýskat se · urazit · zamilovaný · zklamaně · zklamat · zlobit se
    13 words
  • 154956921507.02.2019
    1.001Directions75 @ 25%3010/5 ••• Practice Test out
    adresa · bankomat · blízko · daleko · do · doleva · doprava · muzeum · na · nejbližší · nemocnice · odsud · poblíž · pod · přes · směr · tu · vlevo · vpravo · vzít
    20 words
  • 155039828817.02.2019
    1.001Education75 @ 25%3030/6 ••• Practice Test out
    bavit · domácí · dávat · jít · letos · matematika · pozor · předmět · vloni · vysvědčení · známka · úkol
    12 words
  • 155050406718.02.2019
    1.001Movement75 @ 25%3110/7 ••• Practice Test out
    chodit · choď-me-te · jet · jezdit · jít · nechoď-me-te · nejezdi-ěme-ěte · obvykle · právě · pěšky
    10 words

    Verbs of motion

    Czech verbs of motion exist in pairs that distinguish between determinate and indeterminate actions. This is not quite like the perfective vs imperfective distinction.

    • Determinate verbs of motion are used for single, one-directional, goal-directed movements.
    • Indeterminate verbs of motion are used for repeated, habitual, multi-directional, general (non-goal-directed) movements.

    For example, compare these four common Czech verbs, all corresponding to English "go":

    • jít vs chodit (go, walk, go on foot)
    • jet vs jezdit (go, go by vehicle, ride)

    The first verb in these pairs is determinate, the second indeterminate. Note also the distinction between motion on foot and motion by vehicle. Czech does not have a generic "go" like English.

    Jít (go, walk)

    Number 1st person 2nd person 3rd person
    Sg. jdu jdeš jde
    Pl. jdeme jdete jdou

    In colloquial Czech the j- in these present forms is sometimes silent in pronunciation, similar to most of the present forms of být. Já jsem. and Kam jdeš? may sound like Já sem. and Kam deš?. This does not happen in negative sentences.

    The past tense forms of jít are šel (m), šla (f), šlo (n), šli/šly/šla (pl): Ony šly domů. (They went home.)

    The future tense is created with the prefix pů-: Půjdu domů. (I will go home.)

    Jet (go, ride, drive)

    Number 1st person 2nd person 3rd person
    Sg. jedu jedeš jede
    Pl. jedeme jedete jedou

    The past tense forms of jet are jel (m), jela (f), jelo (n), jeli/jely/jela (pl). Kam jeli? (Where did they go?)

    The future tense is created with the prefix po-: Pojedu domů. (I will go home.)

    Notes

    Note that jít and jet can also mean both "go" or "come", depending on the direction of travel:

    • Jde/Jede sem. (He is coming here.)
    • Jde/Jede tam. (He is going there.)

    Prefixed verbs of motion

    The verbs of motion can also form aspectual pairs (imperfective and perfective) by prefixation, which alters their meanings.

    Od- means "away", "from":

    • jít/chodit (go, walk) become odejít/odcházet (go away, leave)
    • jet/jezdit (go, ride, drive) become odjet/odjíždět (ride, go away, leave)

    Při- means "to", "near":

    • přijít/přicházet (arrive, come on foot)
    • přijet/přijíždět (arrive, come by vehicle)
  • 155120625426.02.2019
    1.001Transportation75 @ 25%3210/8 ••• Practice Test out
    (ne)dej · chodec · dopravní · jízda · křižovatka · nebezpečný · přednost · předpisy · uprostřed · zdarma · značka · zpomalit · zpoždění
    13 words
  • 155083229922.02.2019
    1.001Restaurant75 @ 25%3220/6 ••• Practice Test out
    dohromady · dát (si) · hovězí · jídelní · k pití · lístek · mokrý · místo · nechat · objednat (si) · servírka · spropitné · zvlášť
    13 words
  • 155172598104.03.2019
    1.001Dual75 @ 25%3310/4 ••• Practice Test out
    adj-plural-7-ýma · jejíma · mýma-tvýma-svýma · nohama · očima · rukama · tam-hle-těma · těma-to-hle · třema · ušima · čtyřma
    11 words

    This Skill introduces the names of several body parts. Pair body parts, like hands - ruce, legs - nohy, knees - kolena, shoulders - "ramena", eyes - oči and ears - uši follow a special type of declination in the plural.

    This declination is called dual because it is derived from the Old Czech dual grammatical number, which was used instead of the plural number to all entities, if they happened to be in two. It is used for numbers dva (two) and oba (both) and then for certain (namely externally visible) body parts, even if there are more than two of them.

    If some of these words are used in a derived meaning, like nohy stolu - the legs of a table, they use the regular plural declination, not the dual one.

    Case Dual Regular plural
    nom. nohy nohy
    gen. nohou/noh noh
    dat. nohám nohám
    loc. nohou/nohách nohách
    instr.. nohama nohami

    Adjectives and numbers tři and čtyři bound to dual nouns acquire dual endings as well: zvíře se čtyřma velkýma nohama - an animal with four large legs

  • 155205762608.03.2019
    1.001Science75 @ 25%3320/9 ••• Practice Test out
    jednotka · laboratoř · litr · objem · opatrně · pokus · provádět · přesně · přibližně · vynález · výzkum · vědec
    12 words
  • 155139348401.03.2019
    1.001Dating75 @ 25%3330/4 ••• Practice Test out
    anděl · kino · nádherný · pohled · pozvat · přežít · slečna · večeře · vyzvednout · úsměv
    10 words
  • 155220238110.03.2019
    1.001Passives75 @ 25%3410/3 ••• Practice Test out
    být · kým · napsán · otevřen · otevřena · otevřeno · otevřeny · poslán · přeložen · se · vysvětlen
    11 words
  • 155230575911.03.2019
    1.001Numbers 475 @ 25%3420/2 ••• Practice Test out
    dvaceti-devadesáti · dvěma · jeden · kolika · několika · poslat · pěti-deseti · třem · čtyřem
    9 words
  • 155230645511.03.2019
    1.001Office75 @ 25%3430/2 ••• Practice Test out
    hlasitě · kašlat · křičet · schůze · sešívačka · smradlavý · telefon · výplata · zbytečný · zívat
    10 words
  • 155255432414.03.2019
    1.001Shopping75 @ 25%3510/3 ••• Practice Test out
    cena · drogerie · dárek · dát · kartáček · kartáčky · lístky · nakupovali · nakupovat · nezapomeň · nezapomeňte · pasta · pastu · peníze · potravin · potravina · potraviny · sleva · slevu · stály · stát · taška · tašku · utrácet · utrácíš · velikost · velikosti · zubní
    28 words
  • 155246224013.03.2019
    1.001Wishes75 @ 25%3520/2 ••• Practice Test out
    ať · kéž · navždy · přejeme · přejete · přeješ · přání · přáním · přát · zůstal · zůstat
    11 words

    Wishes

    Until these Tips & Notes are added, please refer to James Naughton's Czech: An Essential Grammar, section 7.9.1, pp. 153-154, and section 7.14.4, pp. 159-160.

  • 155278661017.03.2019
    1.001Abstract Topics75 @ 25%3620/3 ••• Practice Test out
    falešný · informace · naděje · nesmysly · náhoda · osud · osudem · situace · situaci · smrt · smysl · snaha · umře · umřít · vzpomínka · vztah · víru · výsledky · věřit · věřím · věříme · věříte · věříš · život
    24 words
  • 155282483917.03.2019
    1.001Used To75 @ 25%3710/2 ••• Practice Test out
    bývala · bývali · bývat · dívával · dívávali · dívávat · hrávali · hrávat · myslívala · myslívat · míval · mívala · mívat · stával · stávat · znával · znávala · znávat · zpívávali · zpívávaly · zpívávat · říkávali · říkávat
    23 words

    Past habit

    Until these Tips & Notes are added, please refer to James Naughton's Czech: An Essential Grammar, section 7.17, pp. 165-166.

  • 155287788518.03.2019
    1.001Arts75 @ 25%3720/8 ••• Practice Test out
    bronzovou · bronzová · drak · dražba · dražbě · dílny · dřeva · dřevo · filmů · galerie · herce · herci · housle · hry · hudby · hymnu · hře · jevišti · klasické · klasický · klavíry · konec · kromě · kámen · malíř · moderní · modernímu · namalovat · nudili · obdivovat · obdivuje · obraz · opravdovou · pohádce · portrét · postav · postava · princezna · princeznou · publiku · publikum · píseň · příběh · režisérovi · režisérů · román · skupině · složíš · socha · sochu · spisovatel · spisovatelé · tleskali · umění · vstupenku · vtipné · vystoupení · vytvořili · vytvořilo · výstava · výstavu · začátek · začátky · zpěváci · zvuky · štětcem · žánru · žánrů
    68 words
  • 155287872018.03.2019
    1.001News75 @ 25%3730/3 ••• Practice Test out
    koreou · mstí · mstíme · noviny · odpálena · připravuje · ruska · rusko · rusku · sankce · spojeným · státům · střel · střela · střelu · terorista · titulek · titulkem · vměšovat · vměšování · vyšetřovat · vyšetřování · zahájeno · zahájit · zprávami · zprávy
    26 words
  • 155288239518.03.2019
    2.002What The?!75 @ 25%3810/6 ••• Practice Test out
    -vo- · 8 · adj-ý · autama · bejt · bysme · chtěj · de · dlouhejma · furt · hezký · jejíma · kdybysme · klukách · kterýmu · malý · mluvěj · místnostma · · nevodešla · nevotevřel · neřek · nima · noun-vo · prep-vo · ptákách · pudem · sem · seš · sme-ste-sou · sou · svejch · svý · tejdnů · tmavej · tvejm · ty · · verb-vo · vo · vo- · vod · vodborník · vodpověděl · von · vona · vopravdu · voranžová · vosum · vosumdesát · váma · většíma · zejtra · českejch · čtyřma · řek · špatným
    57 words

    What the?! Common Czech

    This is a summary. Visit https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/35769759 for details and a warning.

    Up to this point, the course was teaching standard Czech. Here we introduce “common” Czech, spoken in informal contexts pretty much by the entire native population of Bohemia and found in books and movies as the language of their characters.

    Let’s look at the main deviations of common Czech from the standard.

    o -> vo (Von votevřel vokno.)

    Common Czech often inserts v in front of the word-initial o. Words like okno, on, oba, otevřít, and o may become vokno, von, voba, votevřít and vo. The skill also introduces the “common” variants of osm, osmnáct, and osmdesát, which become vosum, vosumnáct, and vosumdesát.

    Plural Nom./Acc. and gender merger for demonstratives and hard adjectives (Ty americký turisti přišli vo svý telefony.)

    Sequences like ti noví, ty nové, and ta nová (the/those new) are simplified to one “common” form in Nom./Acc. and all genders. This also impacts other demonstratives (tamten, tenhle) and words that decline like hard adjectives (such as pronouns jaký, který, můj, tvůj, and svůj).

    Form M an. M in. F N
    Nom. standard ti noví ty nové ty nové ta nová
    Acc. standard ty nové ty nové ty nové ta nová
    Nom./Acc. common ty nový ty nový ty nový ty nový

    The “common” hard adjective form also gets rid of the standard consonant shifts before the ending.

    é -> ý (Proč chceš to velký zvíře ve svým malým pokoji?)

    This shift is common in endings of hard adjectives and words that decline like them.

    ý -> ej (Mluvil vo svejch novejch sousedech.)

    This shift is common in endings of hard adjectives and words that decline like them but does not apply to the singular instrumental endings. We only shift the standard ý, not the ý resulting from other “common” shifts.

    “Dual” endings in plural instrumental (Kam šla s těma třema velkejma hruškama?)

    In common Czech, the special -a endings in Pl. Ins. reserved in the standard for ruce, nohy, oči, and uši along with any associated adjectives, various pronouns including demonstratives, and cardinal numerals tři and čtyři when referring to specific body parts of animate beings are used in Pl. Ins. without limitation to the listed nouns or animate being status.

    Our new hard adjective declension table

    The highlighted forms are non-standard:

    Num./Case M an. M in. F N
    Sg. Nom. novej novej nová nový
    Sg. Acc. novýho novej novou nový
    Sg. Gen. novýho novýho nový novýho
    Sg. Loc. novým novým nový novým
    Sg. Ins. novým novým novou novým
    Sg. Dat. novýmu novýmu novou novým
    Pl. Nom./Acc. nový nový nový nový
    Pl. Gen./Loc. novejch novejch novejch novejch
    Pl. Ins. novejma novejma novejma novejma
    Pl. Dat. novejm novejm novejm novejm

    Masculine plural locative hard noun ending -ích -> -ách (Píšu knihy vo vlkách.)

    The masculine plural locative ending -ích for hard declension nouns sometimes becomes -ách, which means that the consonant shift in the standard is avoided.

    Deletion of the final -l in the past-tense verb form (Kdo ti to řek?)

    The final -l following a consonant in the past-tense verb form is often deleted.

    Unified ending in the plural past-tense verb form across all genders (Stáli tam ty auta.)

    In common Czech, the plural past-tense ending is -li regardless of gender.

    Verb ending -eme -> -em (My vodejdem.)

    The plural first person verb ending -eme sometimes becomes just -em.

    Deletion of “j” from some verb forms (Já tam nepudu, sou tam voni.)

    Forms like (pů)jdu and (pů)jdeš often become (pu)du and (pu)deš. The unprefixed negatives like nejdu remain unchanged.

    The forms jsem, jsi (jseš), jsme, jste, and jsou often lose the initial j-. The negative forms nejsem, nejsi (nejseš), etc. remain unchanged. The forms jseš and nejseš are other possible “common” versions of jsi and nejsi.

    Auxiliary/conjunction ending -chom -> -sme (Kdybysme mohli, tak bysme vodešli.)

    The plural first person auxiliary/conjunctions bychom, abychom, and kdybychom often become (a/kdy)bysme.

    Plural 3rd person verb endings -ají/-ejí/-ějí -> -aj/-ej/-ěj (Říkaj, že to nechtěj.)

    These plural third-person endings sometimes lose the final .

    Plural 3rd person verb ending -í -> -ej/-ěj (Nevěděj to.)

    The plural third-person verb ending following a consonant other than “j” sometimes morphs to -ej/-ěj.

    Distorted and new words

    A few examples of the changed or expanded vocabulary are introduced: bejt, tejden, zejtra, and furt (common alternative to pořád).

0.031

Phrases updated 2021-09-15

Hello: Phrases & Introductions

In this skill we learn how to greet or introduce someone, say our name, say "yes", "no", "please", "excuse me", "thank you", and "I do not understand". After "Jitka" and "Jakub" from the first skill, we get introduced to two more people by name, "Kateřina" and "Matěj". Please do not translate personal names to English in this course.

Cultural item

The most common greeting in Czech polite enough to greet complete strangers with during daytime is "Dobrý den!". No single English greeting exactly matches it. The literal translation "Good day!" in most of the English speaking world is for leave-taking, unlike the Czech greeting. "Good morning!" and "Good afternoon!" are both too limited as to period of applicability. In this course we settled on showing "Dobrý den!" translated as "Hello!".

Grammar bits

We learn "já jsem" ("I am"). You can use it to introduce yourself:

  • Já jsem Matěj. (I am Matěj.)

We also learn the ubiquitous word "to". You can use it along with "je" from the previous skill to introduce or point out someone else:

  • To je Kateřina. (That/This/She is Kateřina.)

Time to get into more Czech sounds.

Vowels

This should mostly be a review:

  • a is always like the "a" in "father", never like the "a" in "dad".
  • e is as in "set".
  • i is as in "sit".
  • y is always a vowel, never a consonant, and sounds the same as i.
  • o is as in "gopher" in American English, but without the light w sound which usually follows it, or as in the British pronunciation of "lot".
  • u is as in "put".

Each vowel has a short and a long form, the long forms generally being written with the accent like the "á" in "máma". The main difference between a short vowel and a long vowel is the length of time spent pronouncing them, except that i and y also undergo a quality change, possibly variable by region:

  • í and ý sound as the "ea" in "seat".

We do get a new vowel letter:

  • ě always follows a consonant. It is pronounced just like e but changes the pronunciation of the consonant just before it. See the final note below.

Consonants

We meet a few more consonants in this skill.

Many consonants occur in pairs, voiced and unvoiced, like b and p, d and t, z and s, or ž and š. Some consonants are not paired up (like m and n), and some (like r) don't fit into either category too well.

Voiced

  • b is as in English
  • d is mostly as in English but pronounced with the tongue closer to the teeth.
  • ď is a sound that does not exist in English. It sounds roughly like a d followed by the consonantal English "y", but merged into a single sound. Some of you may want to think about it as a sound between a d and a g.
  • g is as in English (not used much in Czech by spelling, but very common as the voiced pronunciation of k).
  • h is like the "h" in "hotel".
  • z is as in English.
  • ž is like the sound that the "s" makes in "pleasure".

Unvoiced

  • c represents a sound that doesn't quite exist in English, but it is close to how the "ts" at the end of "cats" sounds. It is much closer to a single sound rather than a sequence of two.
  • č is like the "ch" in "chicken".
  • k and p are as in English, but a bit less explosive.
  • s is as in English.
  • t is as in English, but with the tongue closer to the teeth and less explosive.
  • ť is the unvoiced mate of ď, and is similarly a sound which does not exist in English. It sounds roughly like a t followed by the consonantal English "y", but merged into one sound rather than a sequence of two. (Or try a sound between a t and a k.)

Other

  • j is like the "y" in "yellow".
  • l is as in English.
  • m and n are as in English.
  • ň is roughly like an n followed by the consonantal English "y", but it is one sound rather than a sequence of two. (Just think Spanish "mañana".)
  • r is lightly rolled, as in Spanish or Italian, or tapped, as in Scots, but never growled.
  • ř is a sound unique to Czech and is a sound the majority of foreigners and some natives find difficult to learn. It's roughly something between r and ž.

Combinations

As noted previously, each letter in Czech is usually pronounced independently of any letters which precede or follow it, with important exceptions individually noted in these tips.

  • If a word begins "js", like "jsem", there can be little evidence of the j in its pronunciation.
  • The letter ě is pronounced depending on what consonant it follows. When it follows d or t, the pronunciation changes the consonant to a d' or t' (resp.) followed by a plain e. Compare the sound of "dě" in "děkuju" with that of "de" in "dobrý den", and the sound of "tě" in "Matěj" with that of "te" in "Kateřina".

Masculine updated 2021-09-15

Descriptions: Masculine

In this skill we learn a few words to describe people and things and get to see the grammatical gender in action.

Every noun in Czech has a gender: masculine, feminine, or neuter. Knowing the gender is important for choosing the form of the noun and even other words in the sentence. For inanimate nouns, there is little relation between their gender and their nature. For example "čaj" (tea) is masculine, "káva" (coffee) is feminine, and "mléko" (milk) is neuter. For nouns that refer to people, the grammatical gender and biological sex usually do coincide.

It may be possible to guess the gender of the noun from its ending:

  • Nouns ending in a consonant are mostly masculine. Early examples include "kluk" (boy), "muž" (man), "chléb" (bread), "čaj" (tea), and the proper names "František", "Jakub", and "Matěj".
  • Nouns ending in -a or -e are mostly feminine. Early examples include "holka" (girl), "žena" (woman, wife), "restaurace" (restaurant), "lžíce" (spoon), and the proper names "Jitka", "Kateřina", and "Žofie".
  • Nouns ending in -o are almost always neuter. Early examples include město (city), "auto" (car), "jablko" (apple), and "maso" (meat).
  • Nouns that end in or are also often neuter. Early examples include "dítě" (child), "letiště" (airport), and "náměstí" (square, plaza).

Unfortunately, many nouns do not conform. Let's list a few taken from our early skills:

  • Some nouns that end in a consonant are feminine, e.g., "věc" (thing), "sůl" (salt), "mrkev" (carrot), "myš" (mouse), and "postel" (bed).
  • Some nouns that end in -a are masculine, e.g., "táta" (dad) and "turista" (tourist).
  • Some nouns that end in -e are neuter, e.g., "zvíře" (animal) and "vejce" (egg).

Adjectives

We encountered our very first Czech adjective in the previous skill as part of the "dobrý den" greeting. This adjective and others like it have endings that depend on the gender of the noun they modify:

  • in masculine, e.g., "dobrý čaj" (good tea)
  • in feminine, e.g., "dobrá káva" (good coffee)
  • in neuter, e.g., "dobré mléko" (good milk)

The adjectives we will be using in this skill (listed in their masculine forms) are:

  • "dobrý" (good)
  • "malý" (little, small)
  • "mladý" (young)
  • "nový" (new)
  • "starý" (old)
  • "velký" (big, large)

Demonstratives

Czech doesn't have articles, so "mladý muž" could be "young man", "a young man", or "the young man", depending on context. Czech has a variety of ways of making clear which is meant when the distinction is important, including the word order. Here we only examine the demonstrative adjective (technically pronoun, but used before its noun like an adjective) that is sometimes used in place of the definite article. This demonstrative has the following forms:

  • "ten" in masculine, e.g., "ten muž" (the/that man)
  • "ta" in feminine, e.g., "ta žena" (the/that woman)
  • "to" in neuter, e.g., "to dítě" (the/that child)

Demonstrative adjectives and regular adjectives can usually be combined, in that order: "ten starý muž" (the/that old man).

Pronunciation notes

The comments below build on the tips provided with the first two skills. Please review them as needed.

Several new consonants matter in this skill:

  • ch is considered a single letter in Czech and is found after "h" in dictionaries. It is the unvoiced counterpart to h. The sound no longer exists in most dialects of English. Scots has retained it, for example in "Loch Ness".
  • is not a single letter, but this cluster is pronounced like the "j" in "juice". It is the voiced counterpart to č.
  • f is as in English (and an unvoiced counterpart to v).
  • š is like the "sh" in "sheep" (and an unvoiced counterpart to ž).
  • v is as in English. It is voiced.
  • ž is like the sound that the "s" makes in "pleasure". It is voiced.

The "ti" in "František" gives us an example of another pronunciation interference between letters:

  • In domestic Czech words, when followed by an i or í, d is pronounced like ď, t like ť, and n like ň.

This skill also includes two more examples of the final consonant devoicing, when a voiced consonant at the end of a word is pronounced as if it were devoiced (unless followed in the stream of speech by another voiced consonant):

  • The "b" at the end of "chléb" gets pronounced as its devoiced mate "p", making the word sound like "chlép".
  • The "ž" at the end of "muž" gets pronounced as its devoiced mate "š", making the word sound like "muš" (moosh).

Masculine updated 2021-03-19

Descriptions: Masculine

In this skill we learn a few words to describe people and things and get to see the grammatical gender in action.

Every noun in Czech has a gender: masculine, feminine, or neuter. Knowing the gender is important for choosing the form of the noun and even other words in the sentence. For inanimate nouns, there is little relation between their gender and their nature. For example "čaj" (tea) is masculine, "káva" (coffee) is feminine, and "mléko" (milk) is neuter. For nouns that refer to people, the grammatical gender and biological sex usually do coincide.

It may be possible to guess the gender of the noun from its ending:

  • Nouns ending in a consonant are mostly masculine. Early examples include "kluk" (boy), "muž" (man), "chléb" (bread), "dům" (house), "míč" (ball), and the proper names "František" and "Matěj".
  • Nouns ending in -a or -e are mostly feminine. Early examples include "holka" (girl), "žena" (woman, wife), "restaurace" (restaurant), "lžíce" (spoon), and the proper names "Kateřina" and "Žofie".
  • Nouns ending in -o are almost always neuter. Early examples include město (city), "auto" (car), "jablko" (apple), and "maso" (meat).
  • Nouns that end in or are also often neuter. Early examples include "dítě" (child), "letiště" (airport), and "náměstí" (square, plaza).

Unfortunately, many nouns do not conform. Let's list a few taken from our early skills:

  • Some nouns that end in a consonant are feminine, e.g., "věc" (thing), "sůl" (salt), "mrkev" (carrot), "myš" (mouse), and "postel" (bed).
  • Some nouns that end in -a are masculine, e.g., "táta" (dad) and "turista" (tourist).
  • Some nouns that end in -e are neuter, e.g., "zvíře" (animal) and "vejce" (egg).

Adjectives

We encountered our very first Czech adjective in the second skill as part of the "dobrý den" greeting. This adjective and others like it have endings that depend on the gender of the noun they modify:

  • in masculine, e.g., "dobrý čaj" (good tea)
  • in feminine, e.g., "dobrá káva" (good coffee)
  • in neuter, e.g., "dobré mléko" (good milk)

The adjectives we will be using in this skill (listed in their masculine forms) are:

  • "dobrý" (good)
  • "malý" (little, small)
  • "mladý" (young)
  • "nový" (new)
  • "starý" (old)
  • "velký" (big, large)

Demonstratives

Czech doesn't have articles, so "mladý muž" could be "young man", "a young man", or "the young man", depending on context. Czech has a variety of ways for making it clear which is meant when the distinction is important, including the word order. Here we only examine the demonstrative adjective (technically pronoun, but used before its noun like an adjective) that is sometimes used in place of the definite article. This demonstrative has the following forms:

  • "ten" in masculine, e.g., "ten muž" (the/that man)
  • "ta" in feminine, e.g., "ta žena" (the/that woman)
  • "to" in neuter, e.g., "to dítě" (the/that child)

Demonstrative adjectives and regular adjectives can usually be combined, in that order: "ten starý muž" (the/that old man).

Pronunciation notes

The comments below build on the tips provided with the first two skills. Please make sure to review them as needed.

You may notice what appears to be a new vowel:

  • ů is just a different spelling of the long ú. They sound the same. The rule is to spell as ú at the beginning of the word or of the word root following a prefix, and as ů otherwise.

Several new consonants matter in this skill:

  • ch is considered a single letter in Czech and is found after "h" in dictionaries. It is the unvoiced counterpart to h. The sound no longer exists in most dialects of English. Scots has retained it, for example in "Loch Ness".
  • č is like the "ch" in "chicken".
  • f is as in English (and an unvoiced counterpart to v)
  • š is like the "sh" in "sheep" (and an unvoiced counterpart to ž).
  • v is as in English. It is voiced.
  • ž is like the sound that the "s" makes in "pleasure". It is voiced.

The "ti" in "František" gives us an example of another pronunciation interference between letters:

  • In domestic Czech words, when followed by an i or í, d is pronounced like ď, t like ť, and n like ň.

This skill also includes two more examples of the final consonant devoicing, when a voiced consonant at the end of a word is pronounced as if it were devoiced (unless followed in the stream of speech by another voiced consonant):

  • The "b" at the end of "chléb" gets pronounced as its devoiced mate "p", making the word sound like "chlép".
  • The "ž" at the end of "muž" gets pronounced as its devoiced mate "š", making the word sound like "muš" (moosh).

Feminine updated 2021-03-17

Gender: Feminine

Every noun in Czech has a gender, which can be "masculine", "feminine", or "neuter". Knowing the gender is important because it impacts the form of the noun and even other words in the sentence. For inanimate things, there is little relation between their gender and their nature. For example "čaj" (tea) is masculine, "káva" (coffee) is feminine, and "mléko" (milk) is neuter. For words that refer to people, the grammatical gender and biological sex usually do coincide.

It may be possible to guess the gender of the noun from its ending:

  • Nouns ending in a consonant are mostly masculine. Other examples include "kluk" (boy), "muž" (man), "chléb" (bread), "dům" (house), "míč" (ball), and the proper names "František" and "Matěj".
  • Nouns ending in -a or -e are mostly feminine. Early examples include "holka" (girl), "žena" (woman, wife), "restaurace" (restaurant), "lžíce" (spoon), and the proper names "Kateřina" and "Žofie".
  • Nouns ending in -o are almost always neuter. Other examples include město (city), "auto" (car), "jablko" (apple), and "maso" (meat).
  • Nouns that end in or are also often neuter. Early examples include "dítě" (child), "letiště" (airport), and "náměstí" (square, plaza).

Unfortunately, many nouns do not conform. Let's list a few taken from our early skills:

  • Some nouns that end in a consonant are feminine, e.g., "věc" (thing), "sůl" (salt), "mrkev" (carrot), "myš" (mouse), and "postel" (bed).
  • Some nouns that end in -a are masculine, e.g., "táta" (dad) and "turista" (tourist).
  • Some nouns that end in -e are neuter, e.g., "zvíře" (animal) and "vejce" (egg).

Adjectives

We encountered our very first Czech adjective in the initial skill as part of "dobrý den" (a polite greeting). This adjective and others like it have endings that depend on the gender as follows:

  • in masculine, e.g., "dobrý čaj" (good tea)
  • in feminine, e.g., "dobrá káva" (good coffee)
  • in neuter, e.g., "dobré mléko" (good milk)

The adjectives we will be using in this skill (listed in their feminine forms) are:

  • "dobrá" (good)
  • "malá" (little, small)
  • "mladá" (young)
  • "nová" (new)
  • "stará" (old)
  • "velká" (big, large)

Demonstratives

Czech doesn't have articles, so "mladá žena" could be "young woman", "a young woman", or "the young woman", depending on context. Czech has a variety of ways of making clear which is meant when the distinction is important, including the word order. Here we only examine the demonstrative adjective (technically pronoun, but used before its noun like an adjective) that is sometimes used in place of the definite article. This demonstrative has the following forms:

  • "ten" in masculine, e.g., "ten muž" (the/that man)
  • "ta" in feminine, e.g., "ta žena" (the/that woman)
  • "to" in neuter, e.g., "to dítě" (the/that child)

Demonstrative adjectives and regular adjectives can usually be combined, in that order: "ta mladá žena" (the/that young woman).

Pronunciation notes

The comments below build on the tips provided with the first two skills. Please make sure to review them as needed.

You may notice what appears to be a new vowel:

  • ů is just a different spelling of the long ú. They sound the same. The rule is to spell as ú at the beginning of the word or of the word root following a prefix, and as ů otherwise.

Our word is "sůl" (salt), where the vowel starts neither the word nor its root (being internal to the root, which makes up the entire word), so we use ů.

Several new consonants appear in this skill:

  • c represents a sound that doesn't quite exist in English, but it is very close to the "ts" at the end of "cats". It is, however, closer to a single sound rather than a sequence of two.
  • č is like the "ch" in "chicken".
  • h is like the "h" in "hotel". It is voiced.
  • l is as in English.
  • v is as in English. It is voiced.

This skill includes an example of a voiced consonant, "v", appearing at the end of a word, "mrkev". Such consonants are typically pronounced as if they were devoiced. The devoiced counterpart of "v" is "f", and so "mrkev" ends up sounding like "mrkef", a word that does not really exist in Czech any other way.

We have already seen that what consonant shows up before ě impacts the way the combination is pronounced:

  • When ě follows d, t, or n, the pronunciation changes the consonant to a d', t', or ň (resp.) followed by a plain e.
  • When ě follows any other consonant (excepting m), the consonant the ě is pronounced like the "y" in "yellow".

And that's why "věc" sounds like "vyec".

Feminine updated 2021-03-24

Descriptions: Feminine

Every noun in Czech has a gender, which can be "masculine", "feminine", or "neuter". Knowing the gender is important because it impacts the form of the noun and even other words in the sentence. For inanimate things, there is little relation between their gender and their nature. For example "čaj" (tea) is masculine, "káva" (coffee) is feminine, and "mléko" (milk) is neuter. For words that refer to people, the grammatical gender and biological sex usually do coincide.

It may be possible to guess the gender of the noun from its ending:

  • Nouns ending in a consonant are mostly masculine. Other examples include "kluk" (boy), "muž" (man), "chléb" (bread), "dům" (house), "míč" (ball), and the proper names "František" and "Matěj".
  • Nouns ending in -a or -e are mostly feminine. Early examples include "holka" (girl), "žena" (woman, wife), "restaurace" (restaurant), "lžíce" (spoon), and the proper names "Kateřina" and "Žofie".
  • Nouns ending in -o are almost always neuter. Other examples include město (city), "auto" (car), "jablko" (apple), and "maso" (meat).
  • Nouns that end in or are also often neuter. Early examples include "dítě" (child), "letiště" (airport), and "náměstí" (square, plaza).

Unfortunately, many nouns do not conform. Let's list a few taken from our early skills:

  • Some nouns that end in a consonant are feminine, e.g., "věc" (thing), "sůl" (salt), "mrkev" (carrot), "myš" (mouse), and "postel" (bed).
  • Some nouns that end in -a are masculine, e.g., "táta" (dad) and "turista" (tourist).
  • Some nouns that end in -e are neuter, e.g., "zvíře" (animal) and "vejce" (egg).

Adjectives

We encountered our very first Czech adjective in the second skill as part of "dobrý den" (a polite greeting). This adjective and others like it have endings that depend on the gender as follows:

  • in masculine, e.g., "dobrý čaj" (good tea)
  • in feminine, e.g., "dobrá káva" (good coffee)
  • in neuter, e.g., "dobré mléko" (good milk)

The adjectives we will be using in this skill (listed in their feminine forms) are:

  • "dobrá" (good)
  • "malá" (little, small)
  • "mladá" (young)
  • "nová" (new)
  • "stará" (old)
  • "velká" (big, large)

Demonstratives

Czech doesn't have articles, so "mladá žena" could be "young woman", "a young woman", or "the young woman", depending on context. Czech has a variety of ways for making it clear which is meant when the distinction is important, including the word order. Here we only examine the demonstrative adjective (technically pronoun, but used before its noun like an adjective) that is sometimes used in place of the definite article. This demonstrative has the following forms:

  • "ten" in masculine, e.g., "ten muž" (the/that man)
  • "ta" in feminine, e.g., "ta žena" (the/that woman)
  • "to" in neuter, e.g., "to dítě" (the/that child)

Demonstrative adjectives and regular adjectives can usually be combined, in that order: "ta mladá žena" (the/that young woman).

Pronunciation notes

The comments below build on the tips provided with the first two skills. Please make sure to review them as needed.

You may notice what appears to be a new vowel:

  • ů is just a different spelling of the long ú. They sound the same. The rule is to spell as ú at the beginning of the word or of the word root following a prefix, and as ů otherwise.

Several new consonants appear in this skill:

  • c represents a sound that doesn't quite exist in English, but it is very close to the "ts" at the end of "cats". It is, however, closer to a single sound rather than a sequence of two.
  • č is like the "ch" in "chicken".
  • h is like the "h" in "hotel". It is voiced.
  • l is as in English.
  • v is as in English. It is voiced.

This skill includes an example of a voiced consonant, "v", appearing at the end of a word, "mrkev". Such consonants are typically pronounced as if they were devoiced. The devoiced counterpart of "v" is "f", and so "mrkev" ends up sounding like "mrkef", a word that does not really exist in Czech any other way.

The "ni" in "kniha" gives us an example of another pronunciation interference between letters:

  • In domestic Czech words, when followed by an i or í, d is pronounced like ď, t like ť, and n like ň.

We have already seen that what consonant shows up before ě impacts the way the combination is pronounced:

  • When ě follows d, t, or n, the pronunciation changes the consonant to a d', t', or ň (resp.) followed by a plain e.
  • When ě follows any other consonant (excepting m), the consonant the ě is pronounced like the "y" in "yellow".

And that's why "věc" sounds like "vyec".

Neuter updated 2020-09-05

Descriptions: Neuter

In this skill we learn a few more words to describe people and things and get to see the grammatical gender in action.

Please read the introductory gender notes in the neighboring Masculine skill. We need to save space here.

Adjectives

We encountered our very first Czech adjective in the initial skill as part of "dobrý den" (a polite greeting). This adjective and others like it have endings that depend on the gender as follows:

  • in masculine, e.g., "dobrý čaj" (good tea)
  • in feminine, e.g., "dobrá káva" (good coffee)
  • in neuter, e.g., "dobré mléko" (good milk)

The adjectives we will be using in this skill (listed in their neuter forms) are:

  • "dobré" (good)
  • "malé" (little, small)
  • "mladé" (young)
  • "nové" (new)
  • "staré" (old)
  • "velké" (big, large)

Demonstratives

Czech doesn't have articles, so "malé dítě" could be "small child", "a small child", or "the small child", depending on context. Czech has a variety of ways of making clear which is meant when the distinction is important, including the word order. Here we only examine the demonstrative adjective (technically pronoun, but used before its noun like an adjective) that is sometimes used in place of the definite article. This demonstrative has the following forms:

  • "ten" in masculine, e.g., "ten muž" (the/that man)
  • "ta" in feminine, e.g., "ta žena" (the/that woman)
  • "to" in neuter, e.g., "to dítě" (the/that child)

Demonstrative adjectives and regular adjectives can usually be combined, in that order: "to malé dítě" (the/that small child).

Pronunciation notes

The comments below build on the tips provided with the first two skills. Please make sure to review them as needed.

Vowel sequences are not too common in Czech and usually show up in foreign-derived words. The example in "auto" shows that the Czech approach to vowel sequences in the same syllable is to simply glide from the first vowel to the next.

Several new consonants appear in this skill:

  • c represents a sound that doesn't quite exist in English, but it is very close to the "ts" at the end of "cats". It is, however, closer to a single sound rather than a sequence of two.
  • č is like the "ch" in "chicken".
  • š is like the "sh" in "sheep" (and an unvoiced counterpart to ž).
  • v is as in English. It is voiced.
  • z is as in English. It is voiced.
  • ž is like the sound that the "s" makes in "pleasure".

This skill also includes examples of the "mě" sequence in "město" and "náměstí". This is a good place to summarize the rules for pronouncing the Czech ě in general. The pronunciation effects of ě depend on what consonant it follows:

  • When ě follows d, t, or n, the pronunciation changes the consonant to a d', t', or ň (resp.) followed by a plain e. Compare the sound of "dě" in "děkuju" with that of "de" in "dobrý den", and the sound of "tě" in "Matěj" with that of "te" in "Kateřina".
  • When ě follows m, the pronunciation effect is as if we replaced the "mě" with "mně". In the end, we get something like a "mñe" sound.
  • When ě follows any other consonant, we do not change the pronunciation of the consonant and just pronounce the ě like a consonantal "y" (the "y" in "yellow") followed by an e.

Finally, this skill also includes examples of "dí" and "tí" sequences. The rule for those is:

  • In domestic Czech words, when followed by an i or í, d is pronounced like ď, t like ť, and n like ň (whose sounds we know from "děkuju", "Matěj", and "promiňte"). The vowel itself still sounds the same as y or ý.

Neuter updated 2021-03-24

Descriptions: Neuter

In this skill we learn a few more words to describe people and things and get to see the grammatical gender in action.

Please read the introductory gender notes in the neighboring Masculine skill. We need to save space here.

Adjectives

We encountered our very first Czech adjective in the second skill as part of "dobrý den" (a polite greeting). This adjective and others like it have endings that depend on the gender as follows:

  • in masculine, e.g., "dobrý čaj" (good tea)
  • in feminine, e.g., "dobrá káva" (good coffee)
  • in neuter, e.g., "dobré mléko" (good milk)

The adjectives we will be using in this skill (listed in their neuter forms) are:

  • "dobré" (good)
  • "malé" (little, small)
  • "mladé" (young)
  • "nové" (new)
  • "staré" (old)
  • "velké" (big, large)

Demonstratives

Czech doesn't have articles, so "malé dítě" could be "small child", "a small child", or "the small child", depending on context. Czech has a variety of ways of making clear which is meant when the distinction is important, including the word order. Here we only examine the demonstrative adjective (technically pronoun, but used before its noun like an adjective) that is sometimes used in place of the definite article. This demonstrative has the following forms:

  • "ten" in masculine, e.g., "ten muž" (the/that man)
  • "ta" in feminine, e.g., "ta žena" (the/that woman)
  • "to" in neuter, e.g., "to dítě" (the/that child)

Demonstrative adjectives and regular adjectives can usually be combined, in that order: "to malé dítě" (the/that small child).

Pronunciation notes

The comments below build on the tips provided with the first two skills. Please make sure to review them as needed.

Vowel sequences are not too common in Czech and usually show up in foreign-derived words. The example in "auto" shows that the Czech approach to vowel sequences in the same syllable is to simply glide from the first vowel to the next.

Several new consonants appear in this skill:

  • c represents a sound that doesn't quite exist in English, but it is very close to the "ts" at the end of "cats". It is, however, closer to a single sound rather than a sequence of two.
  • č is like the "ch" in "chicken".
  • š is like the "sh" in "sheep" (and an unvoiced counterpart to ž).
  • v is as in English. It is voiced.
  • z is as in English. It is voiced.
  • ž is like the sound that the "s" makes in "pleasure".

This skill also includes examples of the "mě" sequence in "město" and "náměstí". This is a good place to summarize the rules for pronouncing the Czech ě in general. The pronunciation effects of ě depend on what consonant it follows:

  • When ě follows d, t, or n, the pronunciation changes the consonant to a d', t', or ň (resp.) followed by a plain e. Compare the sound of "dě" in "děkuju" with that of "de" in "dobrý den", and the sound of "tě" in "Matěj" with that of "te" in "Kateřina".
  • When ě follows m, the pronunciation effect is as if we replaced the "mě" with "mně". In the end, we get something like a "mñe" sound.
  • When ě follows any other consonant, we do not change the pronunciation of the consonant and just pronounce the ě like a consonantal "y" (the "y" in "yellow") followed by an e.

Finally, this skill also includes examples of "dí" and "tí" sequences. The rule for those is:

  • In domestic Czech words, when followed by an i or í, d is pronounced like ď, t like ť, and n like ň (whose sounds we know from "děkuju", "Matěj", and "promiňte"). The vowel itself still sounds the same as y or ý.

To Be Or Not To Be, Singular updated 2021-03-19

To be: Singular

In this skill we keep on describing objects and living beings, including animals. We learn the missing pieces to complete this table:

Czech English
(Já) jsem I am
(Ty) jsi You are (informal singular)
(On/Ona/To) je He/She/It is
(Já) nejsem I am not
(Ty) nejsi You are not (informal singular)
(On/Ona/To) není He/She/It is not

Czech verbs are usually negated by adding ne- to the front. The irregular "není" is a rare exception.

The "ty" forms of the pronoun and the verb are informal singular, meaning they are used to address single individuals with whom we are on a first name basis or who are much younger than us.

Czech subject pronouns are normally optional, so the table shows them in parentheses. Two of these pronouns normally refer to animate subjects, "on" to masculine animates like "muž" and "ona" to feminine animates like "žena". For inanimates/neuters, we can skip the pronoun or use "to". We have seen enough "to" to need a review.

Pronoun "to"

Demonstrative "to": "To dítě je malé."

Here "to" functions as something between the definite article and the demonstrative adjective "that" for singular neuter nouns. For example, + To dítě je malé. (The/That child is small).

Both "the" and "that" are usually recognized in translations. The course currently does not allow translations with "this" where "the" can be used in English. Czech has another word for "this" when attached to a noun.

The demonstrative that can be translated as "the" must agree with the gender of the noun it is attached to just like it did in "To dítě je malé.":

  • Ten kluk je malý. (The/That boy is small.)
  • Ta holka je Kateřina. (The/That girl is Kateřina.)

Introduction "to": "To je Matěj"

The "to" in introductions like

  • To je Kateřina/Matěj. (That/This is Kateřina/Matěj.)

does not change to agree with the noun gender.

Here "to" is usually the first word and is mostly translated as "that" or "this" (never "the"). These introductions are not limited to introducing people by name and can be negative. Either "that" or "this" is usually shown in the best translation, but subject pronouns (he, she, it) are usually also recognized:

  • To je/není malá hruška. (That/This/It is/not a small pear.)

Make sure you notice the pattern: When "the" makes sense in English, "to" must agree with the noun gender in Czech (and cannot be translated as "this"). When "the" does not make sense, "to" is unchanging across noun genders (and can be translated as "this"). "That" typically works in all translations of "ten", "ta", and "to" in the singular.

2nd place "to": "Je to malé zvíře."

We now add a slightly different "to". It is similar to the introduction/pointing kind, but rather than pointing, we are just referencing someone/something previously discussed or understood to be the conversation topic:

  • Je/Není to starý muž. (He is/not an old man.)
  • Je/Není to starý stroj. (It is/not an old machine.)
  • Je/Není to mladá žena. (She is/not a young woman.)
  • Je/Není to malé dítě. (He/She/It is/not a little child.)

This "to" prefers the second place in the sentence but remains its subject. Again, "the" does not work as a complete subject of the sentence, so our "the" gender agreement rule says that "to" does not change to agree with the noun gender. This "to" is best translated as a subject pronoun (he, she, it), although "this" and "that" are usually also recognized.

Noun-less "to": "To je velké."

Our "the" test says that because "the" does not work in English, "to" does not change to reflect the noun gender. Here we have no noun, just an unattached adjective looking for something to agree with, and it only finds the "to", which then reverts to its singular neuter role. As before, "to" can go first or second:

  • Je/Není to nové. (It is/not new.)
  • To je/není nové. (That/This is new.)

Yes/no questions

Written Czech yes/no questions often look just like statements ending in a question mark. Compare "Jsi holka? " with "Jsi holka." Spoken questions of this type differ from the corresponding statements in intonation, which should rise at the end for yes/no questions but fall for statements. (Our synthetic voice is bad at this.)

Pronunciation notes

  • "Dlouhý" presents the one two-vowel sequence frequently found in domestic words, "ou", pronounced by gliding from one vowel to the next.
  • "Had" is another example of the final consonant devoicing. The devoiced counterpart of "d" is "t", so "had" sounds like "hat" (the English "hut").
  • "Není" is an example of a domestic word with a "ní" sequence. The second n gets pronounced like ň, the sound we needed to pronounce "město" or "náměstí".
  • "Ovce" presents a mixed voiced/devoiced consonant cluster. (Remember "kde"?) The last consonant is devoiced, so the preceding "v" gets pronounded as its devoiced mate "f", and the word sounds like "ofce".

To Be Or Not To Be, Singular updated 2020-09-15

To be: Singular

In this skill we keep on describing objects and living beings, including animals. We learn the missing pieces to complete this table:

Czech English
(Já) jsem I am
(Ty) jsi You are (informal singular)
(On/Ona/To) je He/She/It is
(Já) nejsem I am not
(Ty) nejsi You are not (informal singular)
(On/Ona/To) není He/She/It is not

Czech verbs are usually negated by adding ne- to the front. The irregular "není" is a rare exception.

The "ty" forms of the pronoun and the verb are informal singular, meaning they are used to address single individuals with whom we are on a first name basis or who are much younger than us.

Czech subject pronouns are normally optional, so the table shows them in parentheses. Two of these pronouns normally refer to animate subjects, "on" to masculine animates like "muž" and "ona" to feminine animates like "žena". For inanimates/neuters, we can skip the pronoun or use "to". We have seen enough "to" to need a review.

Pronoun "to"

Demonstrative "to": "To dítě je malé."

Here "to" functions as something between the definite article and the demonstrative adjective "that" for singular neuter nouns. For example, + To dítě je malé. (The/That child is small).

Both "the" and "that" are usually recognized in translations. The course currently does not allow translations with "this" where "the" can be used in English. Czech has another word for "this" when attached to a noun.

The demonstrative that can be translated as "the" must agree with the gender of the noun it is attached to just like it did in "To dítě je malé.":

  • Ten kluk je malý. (The/That boy is small.)
  • Ta holka je Kateřina. (The/That girl is Kateřina.)

Introduction "to": "To je Matěj"

The "to" in introductions like

  • To je Kateřina/Matěj. (That/This is Kateřina/Matěj.)

does not change to agree with the noun gender.

Here "to" is usually the first word and is mostly translated as "that" or "this" (never "the"). These introductions are not limited to introducing people by name and can be negative. Either "that" or "this" is usually shown in the best translation, but subject pronouns (he, she, it) are usually also recognized:

  • To je/není malá hruška. (That/This/It is/not a small pear.)

Make sure you notice the pattern: When "the" makes sense in English, "to" must agree with the noun gender in Czech (and cannot be translated as "this"). When "the" does not make sense, "to" is unchanging across noun genders (and can be translated as "this"). "That" typically works in all translations of "ten", "ta", and "to" in the singular.

2nd place "to": "Je to malé zvíře."

We now add a slightly different "to". It is similar to the introduction/pointing kind, but rather than pointing, we are just referencing someone/something previously discussed or understood to be the conversation topic:

  • Je/Není to starý muž. (He is/not an old man.)
  • Je/Není to starý stroj. (It is/not an old machine.)
  • Je/Není to mladá žena. (She is/not a young woman.)
  • Je/Není to malé dítě. (He/She/It is/not a little child.)

This "to" prefers the second place in the sentence but remains its subject. Again, "the" does not work as a complete subject of the sentence, so our "the" gender agreement rule says that "to" does not change to agree with the noun gender. This "to" is best translated as a subject pronoun (he, she, it), although "this" and "that" are usually also recognized.

Noun-less "to": "To je velké."

Our "the" test says that because "the" does not work in English, "to" does not change to reflect the noun gender. Here we have no noun, just an unattached adjective looking for something to agree with, and it only finds the "to", which then reverts to its singular neuter role. As before, "to" can go first or second:

  • Je/Není to nové. (It is/not new.)
  • To je/není nové. (That/This is new.)

Yes/no questions

Written Czech yes/no questions often look just like statements ending in a question mark. Compare "Jsi holka? " with "Jsi holka." Spoken questions of this type differ from the corresponding statements in intonation, which should rise at the end for yes/no questions but fall for statements. (Our synthetic voice is bad at this.)

Pronunciation notes

  • "Dlouhý" presents the one two-vowel sequence frequently found in domestic words, "ou", pronounced by gliding from one vowel to the next.
  • "Had" is another example of the final consonant devoicing. The devoiced counterpart of "d" is "t", so "had" sounds like "hat" (the English "hut").
  • "Není" is an example of a domestic word with a "ní" sequence. The second n gets pronounced like ň, the sound we needed to pronounce "město" or "náměstí".
  • "Ovce" presents a mixed voiced/devoiced consonant cluster. (Remember "kde"?) The last consonant is devoiced, so the preceding "v" gets pronounded as its devoiced mate "f", and the word sounds like "ofce".

To Be Or Not To Be, Plural updated 2021-09-15

Descriptions: Plural

We continue describing objects and living beings, but this time in groups. We need to know the plural forms of the Czech be verb and a few plural personal pronouns:

Czech English
(My) jsme We are
(Vy) jste You are (plural/formal singular)
(Oni/Ony/To) jsou They are
(My) nejsme We are not
(Vy) nejste You are not (plural/formal singular)
(Oni/Ony/To) nejsou They are not

The "vy" forms of the pronoun and the verb both formal singular and plural, meaning they are used to address single individuals whom we should show respect as well as groups of individuals.

Two of the plural third-person pronouns are normally used to refer to animate subjects only, "oni" to masculine animates like "muži" and "kluci" and "ony" to feminine animates like "ženy" and "holky". This contrasts with English, where "they" can easily refer to frosted flakes. For inanimate or neuter subjects we usually rely on our favorite Czech word, "to".

Nouns

We learn a few plural nouns:

Czech English
muž > muži man > men
kluk > kluci boy(s)
strom > stromy tree(s)
pomeranč > pomeranče orange(s)
žena > ženy woman > women
holka > holky girl(s)
hruška > hrušky pear(s)
restaurace restaurant(s)
dítě > děti child(ren)
zvíře > zvířata animal(s)
jablko > jablka apple(s)
vejce egg(s)

This sampling previews some of the plural formation possibilities in Czech:

  • Animate masculine nouns ending in a consonant in the singular often append -i to form the plural, e.g., we get "muži" and "kluci". Note the written consonant shift from "k" to "c" before the -i ending.
  • Inanimate masculine nouns usually append -y or -e to form the plural, e.g., we get "stromy" and "pomeranče".
  • Feminine nouns ending in -a in the singular form the plural by replacing the -a with -y, e.g., "ženy" and "hrušky".
  • Feminine nouns ending in -e/ě in the singular stay that way in the plural, e.g., "restaurace" (restaurant/restaurants).
  • Neuter nouns ending in -o in the singular form the plural by replacing the -o with -a, e.g., "jablka".
  • Some neuter nouns ending in -e/ě in the singular form the plural by replacing the -e/ě with -ata, e.g., "zvířata"; others do not change, like "vejce" (egg/eggs).
  • The plural of the neuter "dítě" (child) shows that things are not always what they seem in Czech. Instead of the expected (but non-existent) neuter "díťata", we get the feminine plural "děti”.

Adjectives

In the plural, adjectives like "mladý" and "velký" differ in endings between the genders. For the masculine gender, the endings reflect the animate vs inanimate status:

  • in animate masculine, e.g., "mladí muži" (young men)
  • in inanimate masculine, e.g., "velké stromy/pomeranče" (big trees/oranges)
  • in feminine, e.g., "mladé ženy" (young women)
  • in neuter, e.g., "malá zvířata" (small animals)

The consonant shift from "k" to "c" also impacts the animate masculine adjective before the ending. Thus we get "velcí kluci" (big boys).

Demonstratives

The Czech demonstrative that is sometimes used where the definite article could go in English has the following plural forms (which again differ between animate and inanimate masculine nouns):

  • "ti" in animate masculine, e.g., "ti muži" (the/those men)
  • "ty" in inanimate masculine, e.g., "ty pomeranče" (the/those oranges)
  • "ty" in feminine, e.g., "ty ženy" (the/those women)
  • "ta" in neuter, e.g., "ta zvířata" (the/those animals)

Pronoun "to" (again?)

Remember the non-neuter uses of "to" and our "the" test? The same thing happens in the plural:

  • To ne/jsou velké hrušky. (Those/These are/not large pears.) ["The" does not work, so "to" does not change for the gender and the number of the noun. "They" is also acceptable.]
  • Ne/jsou to hrušky. (They are/not pears.) [Again, "the" does not work, so "to" does not change. The subject pronoun is preferred for the 2nd place "to". "Those" and "these" are acceptable.]
  • Ty hrušky ne/jsou velké. (The/Those pears are/not large.) ["The" is possible, so "to" must agree with the gender and the number of the noun.]

Keep in mind

Because the singular neuter "dítě" switches to the feminine "děti" in the plural, the correct forms get some getting used to:

  • Kde je to malé dítě?
  • Kde jsou ty malé děti? [Kde jsou ta malá díťata? would be wrong.]

The pronunciation of "děti" may be as challenging as that of "dítě". We had our first example of the "dě" sequence (pronounced as "ďe", where "ď" is roughly a "d"+"y" sequence merged into one sound half-way to "g") in "děkuju", and "ti" sounds like it does in "František" (where the "t" makes a "ť" sound, roughly a "t"+"y" sequence merged into one sound half-way from "t" to "k").

To Be Or Not To Be, Plural updated 2020-09-15

To be, Plural

In this skill we continue describing people and things, but this time in groups. We need to learn the plurals of "je"/"není" and a few more pronouns:

Czech English
(My) jsme We are
(Vy) jste You are (plural/formal singular)
(Oni/Ony/To) jsou They are
(My) nejsme We are not
(Vy) nejste You are not (plural/formal singular)
(Oni/Ony/To) nejsou They are not

The "vy" forms of the pronoun and the verb both formal singular and plural, meaning they are used to address single individuals whom we should show respect as well as groups of individuals.

Two of the plural third-person pronouns are normally used to refer to animate subjects only, "oni" to masculine animates like "muži" and "kluci" and "ony" to feminine animates like "ženy" and "holky". This contrasts with English, where "they" can easily refer to frosted flakes for your breakfast. What happens with inanimate or neuter subjects? We usually rely on our favorite Czech word, "to", as shown below.

We will also need some plural nouns and adjectives, along with the matching forms of the demonstrative.

Nouns

We learn a few plural nouns:

Czech English
muž > muži man > men
kluk > kluci boy(s)
strom > stromy tree(s)
pomeranč > pomeranče orange(s)
žena > ženy woman > women
holka > holky girl(s)
hruška > hrušky pear(s)
restaurace restaurant(s)
dítě > děti child(ren)
zvíře > zvířata animal(s)
jablko > jablka apple(s)
vejce egg(s)

This sampling previews some of the plural noun formation possibilities in Czech. A few initial observations:

  • Animate masculine nouns ending in a consonant in the singular often append -i to form the plural, e.g., we get "muži" and "kluci". Note the written consonant shift from "k" to "c" before the -i ending.
  • Inanimate masculine nouns usually append -y or -e to form the plural, e.g., we get "stromy" and "pomeranče".
  • Feminine nouns ending in -a in the singular replace the -a with -y, e.g., "ženy" and "hrušky".
  • Feminine nouns ending in -e/ě in the singular stay that way in the plural, e.g., "restaurace" (restaurant/restaurants).
  • Neuter nouns ending in -o in the singular replace the -o with an -a, e.g., "jablka".
  • Some neuter nouns ending in -e/ě in the singular replace the -e/ě with -ata, e.g., "zvířata"; others do not change, like "vejce" (egg/eggs).
  • The plural of the neuter "dítě" (child) shows that things are not always what they seem in Czech. Instead of the expected (but non-existent) neuter "díťata", we have the feminine plural "děti”.

Adjectives

In the plural, adjectives differ in endings between the genders predictably:

  • in animate masculine, e.g., "mladí muži" (young men)
  • in inanimate masculine, e.g., "velké stromy/pomeranče" (big trees/oranges)
  • in feminine, e.g., "mladé ženy" (young women)
  • in neuter, e.g., "malá zvířata" (small animals)

The consonant shift from "k" to "c" also impacts the animate masculine adjective before the ending. Thus we get "velcí kluci" (big boys).

Demonstratives

The Czech demonstrative that is sometimes used where the definite article could go in English has the following plural forms:

  • "ti" in animate masculine, e.g., "ti muži" (the/those men)
  • "ty" in inanimate masculine, e.g., "ty pomeranče" (the/those oranges)
  • "ty" in feminine, e.g., "ty ženy" (the/those women)
  • "ta" in neuter, e.g., "ta zvířata" (the/those animals)

We are starting to see that we need to deal with four Czech genders, not just the usual three.

Pronoun "to" (again?)

Remember the non-neuter uses of "to", like "To je velká hruška.", and our "the" test? The same thing happens in the plural:

  • To ne/jsou velké hrušky. (Those/These are/not large pears.) ["The" does not work, so "to" stays unchanged regardless of the gender and number of the noun.]
  • Ty hrušky ne/jsou velké. (The/Those pears are/not large.) ["The" is possible, so "to" must agree with the gender and number of the noun.]

Keep in mind

Because the singular neuter "dítě" switches to the feminine "děti" in the plural, the correct forms get some getting used to:

  • Kde je to malé dítě?
  • Kde jsou ty malé děti? [Kde jsou ta malá díťata? would be cute but wrong.]

The pronunciation of "děti" may be as challenging as that of "dítě". We had our first example of the "dě" sequence (pronounced as "ďe", where "ď" is roughly a "d"+"y" sequence merged into one sound half-way from "d" to "g") in "děkuju", and "ti" sounds like it does in "František" (where the "t" makes a "ť" sound, roughly a "t"+"y" sequence merged into one sound half-way from "t" to "k").

Questions 1 updated 2021-09-15

Questions 1

In this skill, we focus on asking questions about people, animals, and objects, both those that can be answered just yes/no, and those requesting more information using question words like the English "which".

Yes-no questions

English usually uses word order (in addition to rising terminal intonation when speaking) to distinguish yes-no questions from statements. Czech often doesn't do this, instead relying on intonation in spoken Czech and leaving the question mark at the end of the sentence as the only written hint.

For example, "Jsi kluk?" looks just like "Jsi kluk.", while the usual English word order in the question "Are you a boy?" clearly differs from that in the statement "You are a boy."

In "Je František vysoký?", we see that the usual Czech word order for yes-no questions does involve a sort of inversion: The verb goes first. It just was not obvious in "Jsi kluk?" because of the dropped subject pronoun (ty).

Personal pronouns normally are dropped in yes-no questions, and including them gives some meaning nuance:

  • Jsi nový student? (Are you a new student?)

is the neutral way of asking,

  • Jsi nový student ty? (Are you a new student?)

emphasizes that now your situation is of interest (perhaps we have just mentioned some other new student),

  • Ty jsi nový student? (You are a new student?)

may express surprise similar to the English statement question, and

  • Jsi ty nový student?

(which matches the neutral English question word for word) is a strangely affected and marginal word order in Czech. There are other, more acceptable order permutations in Czech, but let’s move on.

Question-word questions

The English question words (a.k.a. the wh-words) have their counterparts in Czech, e.g., "kdo" (who), "co" (what, as in what thing), "kde" (where), "jak" (how), "proč" (why), "jaký" (what, as in what kind of), "který" (which), and "čí" (whose).

These words typically start their questions in Czech, much like in English, and the overall word order is also similar:

  • Kdo je ta zvláštní holka? (Who's that strange girl?)
  • Kdo jsou ti kluci? (Who are those boys?)
  • Co je to? (What is it/that?)
  • Kde jsem? (Where am I?)
  • Jak starý jsi? (How old are you? [asked of a male])
  • Proč je to malé? (Why is it small?)
  • Jaký muž je Matěj? (What kind of man is Matěj?)
  • Jaká je Kateřina? (What is Kateřina like?)
  • Jaké je to město? (What is that city like?)
  • Která holka je Jitka? (Which girl is Jitka?)
  • Čí pes to je? (Whose dog is it?)

You may have noticed that some of the question words change form:

  • "Jaký" and "který" behave like regular adjectives and change endings depending on gender and number, so we may get "jaká", "jaké", "která", "které". Similar to the consonant shifted "velcí" and "staří", the animate masculine forms are "jací" and "kteří".
  • None of the remaining question words change their endings for now.

New words of note

This skill introduces three adjectives that do not change their endings with gender: "další" (another/the next), "poslední" (last), and "zvláštní" (strange, odd). Because of their ending, these belong in the class called the soft adjectives. (Yes, the regular ones like "velký" are hard adjectives.) The interrogative "čí" also behaves like a soft adjective.

This skill introduces a new masculine animate noun "manžel" (husband). It has an odd plural, "manželé", which is also grammatically masculine animate and may mean "husbands" or "husband and wife".

Pronunciation notes

  • The new adjective "hezký" (pretty/handsome for people and nice for objects) and the new noun "otázka" (question) contain the same voiced/devoiced consonant cluster. The final consonant in the cluster ("k") is devoiced, and because the final consonant rules, the preceding "z" gets devoiced into an "s", and the words end up sounding like "heský" and "otáska".
  • The cluster in "kdo" (who) ends in a voiced final consonant, so the outcome is the opposite, voicing the "k" into a "g" and resulting in "gdo" as the pronunciation. (We saw this with "kde" in the intro skill.)

Plural updated 2020-08-15

Plural

In this skill we build on our knowledge of forming the plural forms of nouns and adjectives to describe people and things.

Nouns

Recall our initial observations for nouns:

  • Animate masculine nouns ending in a consonant in the singular often append -i to form the plural, e.g., we get "muži" and "kluci". Note the written consonant shift from "k" to "c" before the -i ending.
  • Inanimate masculine nouns usually append -y or -e to form the plural, e.g., we get "stromy" and "pomeranče".
  • Feminine nouns ending in -a in the singular form the plural by replacing the -a with -y, e.g., "ženy" and "hrušky".
  • Feminine nouns ending in -e/ě in the singular stay that way in the plural, e.g., "restaurace" (restaurant/restaurants).
  • Neuter nouns ending in -o in the singular form the plural by replacing the -o with -a, e.g., "jablka".
  • Some neuter nouns ending in -e/ě in the singular form the plural by replacing the -e/ě with -ata, e.g., "zvířata"; others do not change, like "vejce" (egg/eggs).
  • The plural of the neuter "dítě" (child) is the feminine "děti”.

We introduce the following plurals:

Czech English
had > hadi snake(s)
pták > ptáci bird(s)
táta > tátové dad(s)
turista > turisti tourist(s)
učitel > učitelé teacher(s)
autobus > autobusy bus(es)
hotel > hotely hotel(s)
stroj > stroje machine(s)
loď > lodě ship(s)
mrkev > mrkve carrot(s)
postel > postele bed(s)
věc > věci thing(s)
auto > auta car(s)
nádraží train station(s)
rajče > rajčata tomato(es)
sedadlo > sedadla seat(s)

Let’s now expand our plural noun formation guidance:

  • Animate masculine nouns ending in -tel in the singular append to form the plural, e.g., we get "učitelé". (Feminine or inanimate masculine nouns ending in -tel do not follow this rule, so we have "postele" and "hotely".)
  • Animate masculine nouns ending in -a in the singular often append -ové to form the plural, e.g., we get "tátové". But nouns ending in -ista usually replace the -a with -i (in informal, colloquial settings) or (in writing or formal speech), so we get "turisti" or "turisté".
  • Inanimate masculine nouns append -y or -e to form the plural. The choice depends on the consonant the singular noun ends in. We get "autobusy", "hotely", and "stromy", but "pomeranče" and "stroje". Let’s start keeping track of what consonants go with the -e; we have "č" and "j" for now; a pattern will emerge.
  • Feminine nouns ending in a consonant in the singular append -e or -i to form the plural. We get "mrkve", "postele", "lodě", and "věci". Note the deletion of the inside "e" on the way from "mrkev" to "mrkve", which does not impact "postele".
  • Neuter nouns ending in in the singular remain the same in the plural, e.g., "nádraží".

Consonant shifts

Recall the written consonant shift from "k" to "c" before the -i/í endings: That is how we went from "velký kluk" to "velcí kluci". We now repeat the same shift in getting from "pták" to "ptáci". But we also encounter new written shifts from "h" to "z" and from "r" to "ř". That’s how we go from

  • "dlouhý had" to "dlouzí hadi"
  • "dobrý/chytrý učitel" to " dobří/chytří učitelé"

Pronunciation

Keep in mind that while the -i/í endings do not change the spelling of any "d", "t", or "n" they follow, the pronunciation will change as if they were spelled "ď", "ť", or "ň". Pay attention to the sound of the following adjectives: mladí, čistí, špatní. The consonants just before the -í sound very different from how they do in mladý, čistý, špatný.

Food updated 2020-07-12

Food: Accusative

Please read the introductory paragraphs on cases and the summary of the adjective endings in the nominative and the accusative in the neighboring Animals skill. We needed to conserve room here.

Masculine animate nouns

No new masculine animate nouns appear in this skill.

Masculine inanimate nouns

Hrad pattern

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
hrad hrad hrady hrady
cukr cukr cukry cukry
hlad hlad - -
chléb chléb chleby chleby
sýr sýr sýry sýry

Stroj pattern

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
stroj stroj stroje stroje
čaj čaj čaje čaje

Feminine nouns

Žena pattern

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
žena ženu ženy ženy
hruška hrušku hrušky hrušky
káva kávu kávy kávy
polévka polévku polévky polévky
voda vodu vody vody

Ulice pattern

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
ulice ulici ulice ulice

No new nouns following this pattern appear in this skill.

Píseň pattern

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
píseň píseň písně písně
žízeň žízeň žízně žízně

The noun žízeň that appears in this skill in the singular accusative form does not follow the previously introduced feminine patterns. The official declension paradigm word for žízeň is píseň (song). It will show up much later in the course, but let’s include the table to start building awareness of this complication.

Věc pattern

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
věc věc věci věci
sůl sůl soli soli

Neuter nouns

Město pattern

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
město město města města
jablko jablko jablka jablka
maso maso masa masa
mléko mléko mléka mléka
pivo pivo piva piva
vajíčko vajíčko vajíčka vajíčka

Zvíře pattern

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
zvíře zvíře zvířata zvířata
kuře kuře kuřata kuřata

The newly introduced kuře (chicken) is actually the official declension paradigm word, so we will switch to it for the remaining rows of the tree.

Náměstí pattern

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
náměstí náměstí náměstí náměstí

No new nouns following this pattern appear in this skill.

A few extra verbs

As you can imagine, the Czech verb endings will also supply lots of information. For now, let's not try to organize them into systematic classes of patterns. Instead, here is a table of the present tense forms for the five new verbs that appear in this skill. The subject of the verb (even if it is an omitted subject pronoun) determines the verb ending by its number (singular vs plural) and person (first, second, or third). That's it. The present tense is not impacted by the gender of its subject in Czech.

Person eat have drink need stand want
jím mám piju, piji potřebuju, potřebuji snáším chci
ty jíš máš piješ potřebuješ snášíš chceš
on, ona, ono pije potřebuje snáší chce
my jíme máme pijeme potřebujeme snášíme chceme
vy jíte máte pijete potřebujete snášíte chcete
oni, ony, ona jedí mají pijou, pijí potřebujou, potřebují snášejí, snáší chtějí
infinitive jíst mít pít potřebovat snášet chtít

The "infinitive" forms are only shown to help you find the verbs in dictionaries.

The Czech verb shown for "eat" is mostly used to describe the consumption of food by humans or for humanized animals, such as pets. Its only standard form in the 3rd person plural jedí is a source of trouble for those Czechs who incorrectly think that it should be “jí“. One day the standard may change, but we are not there yet.

Note the dual 1st person singular endings -ju /-ji and 3rd person plural endings -jou /-jí. The first member in each pair is more informal and the second is bookish or even prissy. The dual 3rd person plural endings -ejí / are typically comparable in terms of formality.

As noted previously, almost all verbs in Czech form negatives by being prefixed with ne-. For example, we can say Kateřina nepije. (Kateřina doesn’t drink.) The 3rd person singular form není will remain the only exception we deal with for a while.

The verb shown in the "stand" column would be close to "tolerate" when used without negation. But it is almost always used as a negated verb best translated as "cannot stand":

  • Nesnáším hrušky. (I can't stand pears.)

Animals updated 2020-04-26

Animals: Accusative

Above this row of the tree, we were dealing almost exclusively with the verb "be" and with nouns and adjectives in the nominative case. That would only take us so far. Maybe we could talk about what or who something or someone is, what something or someone is like, or (to some extent) where something or someone is. But if we are ever going to move from states to actions, we will need more verbs and more cases.

Simply put, the case is a grammar category that provides information on the function of the word (usually a noun, adjective, pronoun, or numeral) relative to the other words around it. In English, much of this information comes from the position of the word. Czech is one of the languages with a fairly free word order, and other clues are needed.

The nominative case is used to "name" the subject of a verb, i.e., the "doer" of whatever action is being described. When we say František je vysoký. (František is tall), "František" is in the nominative case. (So is "vysoký".) If František eats something instead of just being tall, he will still be in the nominative, but what he eats will be in a different case.

The accusative case is mostly used to mark the object of a verb, i.e., the target of the action, and often without preposition. Whatever František is eating normally ends up in the accusative.

To tell the accusative from the nominative, we need to pay attention to the endings, just like we did when making the plural.

Demonstrative adjective forms

Singular

Case M an. M in. F N
Nom. ten ten ta to
Acc. toho ten tu to

Plural

Case M an. M in. F N
Nom. ti ty ty ta
Acc. ty ty ty ta

Hard adjective endings

Singular

Case M an. M in. F N
Nom.
Acc. -ého -ou

Plural

Case M an. M in. F N
Nom.
Acc.

Soft adjective endings

Singular

Case M an. M in. F N
Nom.
Acc. -ího

Plural

Case M an. M in. F N
Nom.
Acc.

Masculine animate nouns

Kluk pattern

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
kluk kluka kluci kluky
medvěd medvěda medvědi medvědy
osel osla osli osly
pavouk pavouka pavouci pavouky
pes psa psi psy
pták ptáka ptáci ptáky
vlk vlka vlci vlky

Muž pattern

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
muž muže muži muže
kůň koně koně koně

Masculine inanimate nouns

No new masculine inanimate nouns appear in this skill.

Feminine nouns

Žena pattern

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
žena ženu ženy ženy
husa husu husy husy
kachna kachnu kachny kachny
kočka kočku kočky kočky
koza kozu kozy kozy
kráva krávu krávy krávy
liška lišku lišky lišky
moucha mouchu mouchy mouchy
ryba rybu ryby ryby

Ulice pattern

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
ulice ulici ulice ulice
ovce ovci ovce ovce
slepice slepici slepice slepice

Věc pattern

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
věc věc věci věci
myš myš myši myši

Neuter nouns

Město pattern

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
město město města města
žrádlo žrádlo žrádla žrádla

Zvíře pattern

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
zvíře zvíře zvířata zvířata
prase prase prasata prasata

A few extra verbs

As you can imagine, the Czech verb endings will also supply lots of information. For now, let's not try to organize them into classes of patterns; there will be plenty of that later. Instead, here is a table of the present tense forms for the four new verbs that appear in this skill. The subject of the verb (even if it is an omitted subject pronoun) determines the verb ending by its number (singular vs plural) and person (first, second, or third). That's it. The present tense is not impacted by the gender of its subject in Czech.

Person look for chase see eat*
hledám honím vidím žeru
ty hledáš honíš vidíš žereš
on/a/o hledá honí vidí žere
my hledáme honíme vidíme žereme
vy hledáte honíte vidíte žerete
oni/y/a hledají honí vidí žerou
infinitive hledat honit vidět žrát

*Please note that the Czech verb shown for English "eat" is only applicable in standard Czech if the eater is an animal. Using it to describe the consumption of food by humans is rather coarse.

The "infinitive" forms are only shown to help you find the verbs in dictionaries.

Prepositions: Accusative updated 2020-04-26

Prepositions for the accusative case

This skill introduces the accusative forms of the four first (proper) names we have in the course:

Nom. Acc.
František Františka
Matěj Matěje
Kateřina Kateřinu
Žofie Žofii

Accusatives of a few regular nouns are also introduced:

Nom. Acc.
divadlo divadlo
jídlo jídlo
muž muže
žena ženu

Like in English, Czech prepositions often work with and affect the meaning of verbs. In contrast to English prepositions, the Czech ones always come before the noun (or noun phrase) they apply to. The challenge in learning prepositions in Czech (and other foreign languages) is that they often defy expectations based on one's native language: A preposition different than what is expected is used, one is used when one was not expected, or one is not used when one is expected.

Accusative is one of the most common cases used with Czech prepositions. Three prepositions for the accusative are introduced in this skill: na, pro, and o. Other prepositions can be used with the accusative, but we are not quite ready for them at this stage.

Na

When used with the accusative, na often brings a sense of the direction to the action described by the verb toward the object. Three example verbs are introduced to demonstrate the accusative use of "na":

Person wait for look at think about
čekám se dívám myslím
ty čekáš se díváš myslíš
on/ona/ono čeká se dívá myslí
my čekáme se díváme myslíme
vy čekáte se díváte myslíte
oni/ony/ona čekají se dívají myslí, myslejí
infinitive čekat dívat se myslet

The "infinitive" forms are only shown to help you find the verbs in dictionaries.

The three English verbs each come with a different preposition. Čekám na Kateřinu. is "I am waiting for Kateřina.", while Dívám se na Kateřinu. is "I am looking at Kateřina."

The verb particle se in that last example is our first encounter in this course with this challenging word. We cannot omit it with this particular verb. "Dívám na Kateřinu." is an improperly constructed sentence, even if it can be understood readily. The main challenge for foreign learners is that the se wants to be in second place, after the first unit of meaning in the sentence, whether the first unit is expressed in one word or through a complex clause. See the following additional examples of placing se:

  • Ona se dívá na Matěje. (She is looking at Matěj.)
  • Ta nová holka se dívá na Matěje. (The new girl is looking at Matěj.)
  • Kdo se dívá na Matěje? (Who is looking at Matěj?)
  • Na Matěje se díváme my. (We are looking at Matěj.)
  • Proč se nedíváte na Františka? (Why aren't you looking at František?)

A minor added wrinkle is that the conjunctions a (and) and ale (but) as well as independent utterances pre-pended (usually) with a comma do not count as a unit of meaning when se is looking for its second place. So we would need to say

  • Ale on se dívá na Žofii. (But he is looking at Žofie.)
  • Ano, a ona se dívá na Kateřinu. (Yes, and she is looking at Kateřina.)

Na is also used with one other case, to be covered later in the course.

Pro

Pro quite closely resembles the English preposition "for", which also frequently is how pro gets translated. The core meaning of pro is related to the notion of purpose, reason. For example, To maso je pro psa. is "That meat is for the dog." This preposition is always used with the accusative case.

O

When used with the accusative, o is somewhat similar to na in that it links the object to the verb through a meaning related to direction or target of the verb's action. Many different ways of translating this preposition exist and need to be learnt case by case.

Two verbs are introduced to demonstrate the accusative use of o:

Person care about be interested in
se starám se zajímám
ty se staráš se zajímáš
on/ona/ono se stará se zajímá
my se staráme se zajímáme
vy se staráte se zajímáte
oni/ony/ona se starají se zajímají
infinitive starat se zajímat se

The "infinitive" forms are only shown to help you find the verbs in dictionaries.

Both of these verbs come with the particle se we encountered above.

O is also used with one other case, to be covered later in the course.

Thou updated 2019-11-10

Vocative

This short skill brings our only more sustained effort at learning the vocative case in this course.

Remember that when Fratišek's name appears as the subject of a verb, it is in the nominative case: František pije mléko. (František drinks milk.). When František appears as the object of a verb, his name is often in the accusative case: Františka nevidím. (I cannot see František.). (If you have yet to take the Prep. A skill, just derive the accusative form of František from our kluk paradigm, while dropping the e.)

If we want to call František by name, we will use his name in the vocative case: Františku, proč nepiješ vodu? (František, why aren't you drinking water?).

We will only learn the vocative for the four proper names we have in the course:

Nom. Acc. Voc.
František Františka Františku
Matěj Matěje Matěji
Kateřina Kateřinu Kateřino
Žofie Žofii Žofie

However, even this is a good start for self-study. We are unlikely to be addressing other than masculine animate and feminine genders anyway, and the four names show the vocative endings for our four major declension paradigms in those genders:kluk, muž, žena, and ulice.

Formal vs informal address (again)

Recall that the ty forms of verbs and pronouns are used for addressing single individuals with whom we are "on a first name basis" or who are much younger than we are. Conversely, the vy forms are used both when addressing single individuals in more formal contexts and when addressing groups rather than individuals.

In Czech, the level of informality when using the ty address goes beyond just using the first name. Intermediate situations in which the vy forms are used along with the first name are possible. This is how most moderators on Czech (and other Slavic) forums at Duolingo approach their interaction with the users. In Czech, both ty and vy forms can occur with the first name address.

In terms of grammar, the vy address of single individuals presents something of an inconsistent blend. Verbs (in the only tense we know for now, the present) and personal pronouns take on the plural forms, but adjectives remain singular. An example is in order. Kateřino, (vy) jste krásná. (Kateřina, you are beautiful.) uses the plural jste but singular krásná, whether the optional vy is included or omitted.

New nouns

Two new nouns are introduced in this skill.

The masculine animate přítel (friend) follows the soft-consonant paradigm muž with some deviations in the plural. We will see a few more masculine animate nouns ending in -tel later, and they all behave this way.

The feminine přítelkyně (also friend, but always a female) declines like ulice.

Questions 2 updated 2020-05-30

Questions with the accusative case

Yes-no questions

Yes-no questions (i.e., those that can be answered with yes or no) are formed with the accusative just as they are with the nominative.

For example, Díváš se na Žofii? means "Are you looking at Žofie?".

Question-word questions

When we are asking about the verb object in the accusative, the question words that look like adjectives (jaký, který, and čí) have to be put in their accusative forms. These will follow the hard (jaký, který) or soft (čí) adjective paradigms:

Hard adjective endings (summary)

Case M an. M in. F N
Nom. sg.
Acc. sg. -ého -ou
Nom. pl.
Acc. pl.

Soft adjective endings (summary)

Case M an. M in. F N
Nom. sg.
Acc. sg. -ího
Nom. pl.
Acc. pl.

The Czech question words are typically used to start the questions even in the accusative (and other applicable cases), except that if any preposition is associated with the question word, the preposition must come first. For example, "Which girl are you looking at?" is Na kterou holku se díváš?

The accusative of kdo (who) is koho. Co (what) remains unchanged between the nominative and the accusative.

A few more examples:

  • Co chceš? (What do you want?)

  • Na koho se dívá ta dívka? (Who's that girl looking at?)

  • O čího koně se staráte? (Whose horse are you looking after?)

  • Pro kterého psa potřebují to žrádlo? (Which dog do they need the food for?)

  • Jaká jablka chce? (What kind of apples does she want?)

Additionally, this skill introduces the question word for "when", which is kdy. This word is not necessarily related to the accusative case.

  • Kdy to potřebuješ? (When do you need it?)

Personal Pronouns updated 2019-11-11

Personal pronouns

An earlier skill introduced the nominative forms of the Czech personal pronouns. We have been using them as subjects of sentences, although in that function they are often omitted. If we are to use the personal pronouns in the verb object position, we have to learn their forms in other cases. In this skill, we are tackling the accusative.

The nominative and accusative forms of the personal pronouns are listed in the following table:

Nom. Acc. w/o prep. Acc. after prep.
mě, mne mě, mne
ty , tebe tebe
on (animate) ho, jeho, jej něho, něj
on (inanimate) ho, jej něj
ona (sing.) ji ni
ono ho, je, jej ně, něj
my nás nás
vy vás vás
oni, ony, ona (pl.) je

Several things to keep in mind:

  • The accusative forms of some of the pronouns differ depending on whether or not a preposition precedes them.
  • Some of the forms can only appear in the second position in the clause (like the verb particle se). These "clitics" are the forms listed in italics. Using these outside of the second position is an error, except when a higher priority second-place item, such as the verb particle, pushes the pronoun to the right. Using the two-syllable alternatives to the clitics in the second position tends to be emphatic, sometimes to the point of clashing with the ordering in the rest of the sentence, and thus also an error.
  • Several forms are in parallel use for some of the pronouns. In general, the forms given first are more common.
  • Several forms (e.g., ho, je/, and jej/něj) appear in more than one row of the table. Their meaning depends on context.
  • The pronoun to in the meaning of "it" is used much more frequently than ono in the same meaning in all cases. The accusative of to is also to.

A few examples:

  • Máš mě rád? (Do you like me?)
  • Stará se o mě. (She is taking care of me.)
  • Nesnáším tě. (I can't stand you.)
  • Ta polévka je pro tebe. (That soup is for you.)
  • Vidíte ho? (Can you see him/it?)
  • Jeho nevidím. (I can't see him.)
  • My jej potřebujeme. (We need him/it.)
  • Čekají na něho. (They are waiting for him.)
  • Kde na něj čekají? (Where are they waiting for him/it?)
  • Potřebujou ji? (Do they need her?)
  • Myslím na ni. (I am thinking about her.)
  • Ženy ho chápou. (Women understand it/him.)
  • Ženy je chápou. (Women understand it/them.)
  • Ženy jej chápou. (Women understand it/him.)
  • Díváme se na ně. (We are looking at it/them.)
  • Dívám se na něj. (I am looking at it/him.)
  • Kateřina je nesnáší. (Kateřina can't stand them/it.)

The emphasized it in the English translations above is intended to draw attention to the forms of the Czech ono that many native speakers appear to have lost their ability to use actively, to the point of repeatedly arguing in our forums that those English translations cannot be correct. They most definitely can. Consider the following conversation fragment:

A: Její auto je velmi špinavé. (Her car is very dirty.)
B: Opravdu? Kde ho vidíš? (Really? Where do you see it?)

The allegedly only correct translation of "ho" as "him", i.e., "Where do you see him." would make zero sense here. Also note that "auto" happens to be neuter even in Czech, so our example did not contain any gender shifts to confuse us, as would happen with nouns like "kniha" (book).

Possessive Pronouns updated 2018-10-25

Possessive pronouns

The Czech possessive pronouns are rather more challenging than their English counterparts. Let’s start with the similarities and even one simplification: In Czech, there is no difference between the pronoun used for “This is my dog.” and “This dog is mine.” Much like in English, the grammatical person, number, and in the third-person singular also the gender of the possessor (whoever does the owning) will result in the distinction between the Czech versions of “my”, “your”, “his”, “her”, “its”, “our”, and “their”. As one might expect, the singular and plural (and formal/informal) versions of “your” exist in Czech.

However, the endings of these pronouns generally depend on the gender and number of the possessed entity and on the case in which the possessed entity occurs in the clause. Thus the pronoun in “My dog is big.” will differ from those in “My dogs are big.”, “My cat is small.”, and even “I see my dog.”

Possessive pronouns můj, tvůj, and svůj

These three pronouns always change their endings in lockstep. Learn one, and you will know all three. Replace the “m” in the following table entries with “tv” or “sv” to obtain the forms of tvůj and svůj. For example, would produce tví or sví. The meanings of these pronouns are as follows:

  • Můj corresponds to the English “my” or “mine”.
  • Tvůj corresponds to the English “your” or “yours” if the possessor is singular and referred to informally.
  • Svůj very loosely corresponds to the English “own” and indicates the possession by the subject of the clause. This is the pronoun we would use to translate “I love my dog.”

Summary of possessive pronouns můj, tvůj, and svůj

Gender Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
M an. můj mého moji, mí moje, mé
M in. můj můj moje, mé moje, mé
F moje, má moji, mou moje, mé moje, mé
N moje, mé moje, mé moje, má moje, má

Several things to keep in mind:

  • The “gender” in the table is the grammatical gender of the thing being possessed. It does not matter what gender the possessor is.
  • Multiple (two) choices exist for several gender/number/case combinations. The forms given earlier are generally more common.
  • The form mého and (where two choices are provided) the forms given second share their endings with the hard adjective paradigm. For example, the feminine singular accusative mou predictably follows the ending of velkou. However, the masculine form “mý“ that could be expected from velký does not exist.
  • Many of the forms appear in multiple portions of the table.

It gets easier from here.

Possessive pronouns náš and váš

These two pronouns always change their endings the same way. Learn one, and you will know both. Replace the “n” in the following table entries with “v” to obtain the forms of váš. The meanings of these pronouns are as follows:

  • Náš corresponds to the English “our” or “ours”.
  • Váš corresponds to the English “your” or “yours” if the possessor is either singular and referred to formally or plural.

Summary of possessive pronouns náš and váš

Gender Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
M an. náš našeho naši naše
M in. náš náš naše naše
F naše naši naše naše
N naše naše naše naše

Several things to keep in mind:

  • The “gender” in the table is the grammatical gender of the thing being possessed. It does not matter what gender the possessor is.
  • Many of the forms appear in multiple portions of the table.
  • The endings follow the non-adjectival entries in the previous table.

Possessive pronoun její

This pronoun means "her" or "hers".

Summary of the possessive pronoun její

Gender Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
M an. její jejího její její
M in. její její její její
F její její její její
N její její její její

Things to note:

  • The “gender” in the table is the grammatical gender of the thing being possessed.
  • The endings follow the soft adjective paradigm.

Possessive pronouns jeho and jejich

The last two possessive pronouns are jeho (his or its) and jejich (their or theirs). Both are refreshingly easy to deal with because they do not change their form at all. Even better, this will remain so even as we learn the remaining Czech cases.

Colors updated 2019-11-11

Colors

This is a relaxing skill to introduce a handful of Czech adjectives to describe colors. All of these adjectives follow the hard adjective paradigm. The following table summarizes their masculine nominative forms.

English Czech
white bílý
black-and-white černobílý
black černý
red červený
purple fialový
brown hnědý
blue modrý
orange oranžový
pink růžový
gray šedý
green zelený
yellow žlutý

The skill also introduces the hard adjective oblíbený (favorite), the feminine noun barva (color) that declines like the žena paradigm, and two adverbs, světle (light) and tmavě (dark), so we can talk about the colors using sentences like Moje oblíbená barva je zelená, ale auto chci světle modré. (My favorite color is green, but I want a light blue car.).

You may notice sentences of the type

  • Jejich dům má žlutou barvu.

This is a fairly common way of saying "Their house is yellow." in Czech, and you may notice that Czech speakers of English like to use it even in English, "Their house has yellow color."

Present 1 updated 2020-07-12

Present 1: Introduction to present tense

Verb classes for present tense

In this skill we start organizing the present-tense forms of Czech verbs. There are five classes of verbs based on their singular 3rd person ending. They should make the rest of the verb conjugations in the present tense predictable:

Class 1 2 3 4 5
Stem- nes- stár- kupu- sp- děl-
-end -e -ne -je
u nu ju, ji ím ám
ty neš ješ íš áš
on/a/o e ne je í á
my eme neme jeme íme áme
vy ete nete jete íte áte
oni/y/a ou nou jou, jí í ají

Native Czech speakers sometimes use the mnemonic “žene je bída” (poverty compels them) to remember the five verb classes, but most of them conjugate their verbs by heart.

Note the dual endings in the 3rd class for the 1st person singular and the 3rd person plural. We have kupuju vs kupuji and kupujou vs kupují. The forms listed first are more informal than those listed second. Similarly behaving verbs include (going by the 3rd person singular) existuje, jmenuje se, miluje, obsahuje, pamatuje, and respektuje. (If we ignored the more formal endings in the 3rd class and just worked with the informal ones, we could actually collapse the first three classes into one.)

Czech has only one present tense, which may correspond to present simple, present continuous, present perfect continuous, and present perfect in English. A few examples:

  • To nečteme. (We do not read that.)
  • Jakou knihu čteš? (What book are you reading?)
  • Dělám čaj. (I am making tea.)
  • Proč to děláš? (Why do you do it?)

Motion verbs: jde, jede, nese, vede

This is our first encounter with a few members of a tricky verb group, the verbs of motion. The core meanings are as follows:

3rd pers. sg. infinitive English
jde jít go (by foot), walk, come
jede jet go (by vehicle/animal), ride, drive, come
nese nést carry, bring from, take to
vede vést lead, bring from, take to

The "infinitives" are only shown to help you find the verbs in dictionaries. These Czech verbs contain information on the means of the movement but not on its direction. The opposite applies to many of the English verbs used in translations.

While for many verbs in this skill the Czech present tense can easily correspond to both simple and continuous present tense in English, the motion verbs are less forgiving. In their core movement meaning, they are restricted to single, one-directional actions as opposed to repeated, habitual, multi-directional movement activities. This makes the English simple present ill-suited for translating them. Until we get introduced to the habitual motion counterparts of these Czech verbs, let's stick to the present continuous translations when movement is being described. For example, in

  • Kam jdou? (Where are they going?)
  • Odkud jedeš? (Where are you coming from?)
  • Odkud nesete ty věci? (Where are you bringing those things from?)
  • Kam nesete ty věci? (Where are you taking those things to?)
  • Vedu děti do školy. (I am taking the kids to school.)

the use of the simple present in English would imply scenarios inconsistent with the nature of the Czech verbs.

Note how Czech distinguished whether the "things" were being brought from somewhere or taken to somewhere despite not changing the verb itself.

Other verbs

This is the list of the other (non-motion) verbs introduced in this skill:

3rd pers. sg. infinitive English
bydlí bydlet live, reside
čte číst read
dělá dělat do, make, work
existuje existovat exist
jmenuje se jmenovat se be called, one’s name is
kupuje kupovat buy
končí končit end
miluje milovat love
mluví mluvit speak
nenávidí nenávidět hate
obsahuje obsahovat contain
pamatuje si pamatovat si remember
píše psát write
pláče plakat cry, weep
počítá počítat count
poslouchá poslouchat listen
prodává prodávat sell
respektuje respektovat respect
říká říkat say, tell
spí spát sleep
stárne stárnout age
vědět know
vyrábí vyrábět make, produce
začíná začínat begin, start
znamená znamenat mean

Family 1 updated 2020-07-05

Family 1: Genitive

This skill introduces a very important Czech case, the genitive. It is used for objects of some verbs and with a few prepositions and occurs in constructions with nouns/noun phrases (often to show ownership), adverbs of quantity (like mnoho), and most numbers. Think of this as the equivalent of the English expressions with "of", such as "the color of your eyes" and "a lot of water". We are going to need to add lots of genitive forms:

Demonstrative adjective forms

Case/Num. M an. M in. F N
Nom. sg. ten ten ta to
Acc. sg. toho ten tu to
Gen. sg. toho toho toho
Nom. pl. ti ty ty ta
Acc. pl. ty ty ty ta
Gen. pl. těch těch těch těch

Hard adjective endings

Case/Num. M an. M in. F N
Nom. sg.
Acc. sg. -ého -ou
Gen. sg. -ého -ého -ého
Nom. pl.
Acc. pl.
Gen. pl. -ých -ých -ých -ých

Soft adjective endings

Also use these with the possessive její (her/hers).

Case/Num. M an. M in. F N
Nom. sg.
Acc. sg. -ího
Gen. sg. -ího -ího -ího
Nom. pl.
Acc. pl.
Gen. pl. -ích -ích -ích -ích

Masculine noun endings

Case/Num. kluk muž hrad stroj
Nom. sg. - - - -
Acc. sg. -a -e - -
Gen. sg. -a -e -u -e
Nom. pl. -i -i -y -e
Acc. pl. -y -e -y -e
Gen. pl.

Feminine noun endings

Case/Num. žena ulice ovce
Nom. sg. -a -e -e
Acc. sg. -u -i -i
Gen. sg. -y -e -e
Nom. pl. -y -e -e
Acc. pl. -y -e -e
Gen. pl. - -

Note the insertion of "e" in the Gen. Pl. of the žena paradigm for words that would end in a consonant followed by "k" or "r" ("babiček", "matek", "sester").

Neuter noun endings

Case/Num. město kuře náměstí
Nom. sg. -o -e
Acc. sg. -o -e
Gen. sg. -a -ete
Nom. pl. -a -ata
Acc. pl. -a -ata
Gen. pl. - -at

Personal pronouns

Nom. Acc. w/o prep. Acc. after prep. Gen. w/o prep. Gen. after prep.
mě, mne mě, mne mě, mne mě, mne
ty , tebe tebe , tebe tebe
on (an.) ho, jeho, jej něho, něj ho, jeho, jej něho, něj
on (in.) ho, jej něj ho, jeho, jej něho, něj
ona (sg.) ji ni
ono ho, je, jej ně, něj ho, jeho, jej něho, něj
my nás nás nás nás
vy vás vás vás vás
oni, ony, ona (pl.) je jich nich

The forms in italics can only appear in the second position; their two-syllable alternatives in that position are emphatic.

Possessive pronouns

Recall that jeho (his/its) and jejich (their/theirs) do not change in any case, and that její (her/hers) declines like a soft adjective. The other, more challenging possessive pronouns are summarized below:

Possessive pronouns můj, tvůj, and svůj

Gender M an. M in. F N
Nom. sg. můj můj moje, má moje, mé
Acc. sg. mého můj moji, mou moje, mé
Gen. sg. mého mého mojí, mé mého
Nom. pl. moji, mí moje, mé moje, mé moje, má
Acc. pl. moje, mé moje, mé moje, mé moje, má
Gen. pl. mých mých mých mých

Possessive pronouns náš and váš

Gender M an. M in. F N
Nom. sg. náš náš naše naše
Acc. sg. našeho náš naši naše
Gen. sg. našeho našeho naší našeho
Nom. pl. naši naše naše naše
Acc. pl. naše naše naše naše
Gen. pl. našich našich našich našich

New verbs

Some verbs take genitive objects:

Person be afraid of ask respect
se bojím se ptám si vážím
ty se bojíš se ptáš si vážíš
on/ona/ono se bojí se ptá si váží
my se bojíme se ptáme si vážíme
vy se bojíte se ptáte si vážíte
oni/ony/ona se bojí se ptají si váží
infinitive bát se ptát se vážit si

The "infinitive" form is only shown to help you find the verb in dictionaries.

The word si is another verb particle. Similar to se, it occurs in the second position and bumps words like and ho to the right:

  • Vážíme si tě. (We respect you.)
  • Beru si ho. (I'm marrying him.) [Accusative object, forms like žere.]
  • Bereme se. (We are getting married.) [Always plural.]

Prepositions bez and beze

These mean "without". The version beze is used almost exclusively with and mne. Beze mě is "without me" and bez jejího auta is "without her car".

Mnoho

This adverb corresponds to "many" or "a lot of". Note the singular verb:

  • Je tam mnoho dětí.

Clothing updated 2019-11-11

Clothing

New nouns

The skill is designed mostly to extend the course vocabulary with a number of nouns. Most of the new nouns are regular in that they decline as paradigm nouns we have already dealt with. Refer to the Family 1 skill Tips & Notes for a summary.

Czech Gender Declination English
bota F žena shoe
bunda F žena jacket
kabát M in. hrad coat
klobouk M in. hrad hat
košile F ulice shirt
oblečení N náměstí clothes
oblek M in. hrad suit
ponožka F žena sock
sukně F ovce skirt
svetr M in. hrad sweater
šperk M in. hrad jewel, gem
triko N město tee shirt

Plural-only nouns

In this skill we encounter two nouns that always take on the plural form, even when they are referring to a single item of clothing: kalhoty (pants, trousers) and šaty (dress, dresses). Only from context can we figure out whether a single dress (pair of pants) or multiple dresses (pairs of pants) are being referred to.

Unlike the fashion industry English term “pant”, the Czech “kalhota” is very rare and refers to a “pant leg”. It is still useful to be aware of this singular “kalhota” to help us remember the declination according to the plural portion of the žena pattern.

Likewise, the Czech “šat” is very rare nowadays and refers to “clothing” in general rather than to “a dress”. It can serve as a reminder to use the plural hrad declination for šaty.

Oblečení

The word oblečení corresponds to the English “clothing” or “clothes”. Like “clothing”, it usually occurs in the singular and carries a mass meaning despite the singular form and agreement.

Nosí

This skill also introduces a new verb that corresponds to “wear”, which in the third person singular form is nosí (a regular 4th class verb). Among other things, it is used to describe habitual wearing or not wearing of clothing items, not the present situation of wearing something. For example

  • Kateřina nosí moji košili. (Kateřina wears my shirt.)

does not mean “Kateřina is wearing my shirt.” in the sense of “Kateřina has my shirt on.” We will need to wait for more grammar before we can talk about what someone is currently (not) wearing.

The new verb is related to the previously introduced nese, which describes the non-habitual, single-event, goal-oriented action of carrying something somewhere:

  • Kam neseš ty klobouky? (Where are you carrying/taking those hats?)

These two verbs form a motion verb pair, one definite and single-event focused, the other indefinite and dealing with habitual or repetitive activity. One of the other meanings of nosí is a habitual, repetitive activity of carrying something.

We will return to motion verbs later in the course.

Demonstratives updated 2020-05-23

Demonstratives

This skill introduces a few Czech demonstratives. In Czech grammar books, they are actually called demonstrative pronouns. Whatever the name, they are used both as adjectives (along with nouns) and as pronouns (instead of nouns). We have already encountered one of them, the very common demonstrative ten. Let's review its forms across all four genders, both numbers, and all three cases introduces thus far:

Forms of ten

Case/Num. M an. M in. F N
Nom. sg. ten ten ta to
Acc. sg. toho ten tu to
Gen. sg. toho toho toho
Nom. pl. ti ty ty ta
Acc. pl. ty ty ty ta
Gen. pl. těch těch těch těch

Recall that ten may at times correspond to the English definite article. But let's not try simply sticking in a form of ten for every English "the", or we will be producing terribly unnatural sentences. Czech does not really have articles and often expresses (in)definiteness through nothing but word order.

Back to the demonstratives. When used as a demonstrative, ten corresponds to English "that" or "that one" (in pronomial use), adjusted to "those" or "those ones" as appropriate. Examples: ti malí kluci is "those little boys" and Ty nechci! means "I don't want those!".

In this skill, we deal with four more Czech demonstratives: two more for "that" (tamten and tamhleten) and two for "this" (tento and tenhle). All of them behave much like ten when it comes to forms but do not double as the definite article. To figure out the forms of tamten and tamhleten from those of ten, we just prepend tam- or tamhle- to the appropriate form of ten. For forms of tento and tenhle, we append -to or -hle to the form of ten.

Forms of tamten

Case/Num. M an. M in. F N
Nom. sg. tamten tamten tamta tamto
Acc. sg. tamtoho tamten tamtu tamto
Gen. sg. tamtoho tamtoho tamté tamtoho
Nom. pl. tamti tamty tamty tamta
Acc. pl. tamty tamty tamty tamta
Gen. pl. tamtěch tamtěch tamtěch tamtěch

The forms of tamhleten follow the same pattern as those of tamten. Both of these demonstratives mean "that", except tamhleten has a shade of "that...over there" and requires that whatever is being referred to be visible to the speaker.

A few examples from the skill:

  • Znám tamtoho hocha a tamten dům. (I know that boy and that house.)
  • Tamto jméno neznáme. (We do not know that name.)
  • Počítá tamhlety osly. (He is counting those donkeys over there.)

Forms of tento

Case/Num. M an. M in. F N
Nom. sg. tento tento tato toto
Acc. sg. tohoto tento tuto toto
Gen. sg. tohoto tohoto této tohoto
Nom. pl. tito tyto tyto tato
Acc. pl. tyto tyto tyto tato
Gen. pl. těchto těchto těchto těchto

The forms of tenhle follow the same pattern as those of tento. Both of these demonstratives mean "this", but tento is quite formal and tenhle informal. Both are standard Czech.

Forms of takový, takovýto, and takovýhle

All three of these words can mean "such". The two ending -to and -hle can also often mean "like this", while the variant without those endings often means "like that". All three translations are usually possible.

The declensions are easy to figure out: Just decline "takový" as a hard adjective, and append "to" or "hle" after the hard adjective ending as appropriate.

Some examples:

  • Takové auto potřebujeme i my! (Even we need a car like that!)
  • Proč chceš znát takováto slova? (Why do you want to know words like these/such words?)
  • Takovýchhle přátel mám málo. (I have few friends like these.)

Adverbs updated 2020-05-31

Adverbs

Adverbs modify other parts of the sentence, usually verbs, but also adjectives, nouns, or even other adverbs. Adverbs typically express manner, place, time, frequency, degree, level of certainty, etc., answering questions such as how?, when?, where?, or even how much? and how many?.

Good news! Adverbs don't change their endings based on gender, number, person, etc. – they keep their form no matter what. The only exception is gradation, i.e. quantifiable adverbs also have “more” and “most” forms, but we won’t deal with that until much later.

Adverbs of time/frequency

These adverbs tell us when or how often something happens. In Czech, these questions are “kdy?” and “jak často?“ respectively.

Czech English
vždy always, every time
stále always, all the time
často often, frequently
někdy sometimes, sometime
zřídka seldom, rarely
nikdy never

Adverbs of place

Most Czech spatial adverbs make a distinction between position and direction. When asking about position, we use the question word “kde?” – where (at)?, whereas the direction question word is “kam?” – where (to)?. For example:

  • Kde jsi? – Where are you?
  • Jsem doma. – I’m (at) home.
  • Kam jdeš? – Where are you going?
  • Jdu domů. – I’m going home.
Kde? Kam? English
tam tam there
tady sem here
někde někam somewhere
všude všude everywhere
jinde jinam elsewhere, somewhere else
nikde nikam nowhere
pryč pryč away
doma domů at home (place) / home (direction)

Adverbs of quantity and degree

We can use the question word “kolik?” – how much/many? to ask for adverbs of quantity. Adverbs of degree (e.g. almost) do not have a simple question word.

When an adverb of quantity modifies a noun, the noun must be in the genitive case. Study the following examples:

  • Pivo, hodně piva, málo piva . – Beer, a lot of beer, little beer.
  • Voda, příliš vody, dost vody. – Water, too much water, enough water.
  • Chlapci, hodně chlapců, málo chlapců. – Boys, many boys, few boys.
Czech English
hodně many, much, a lot of
málo few, little, not enough
dost enough, quite
příliš too, too much
velmi very
úplně entirely, totally, completely
téměř almost
vůbec at all, actually

The adverb “vůbec“ is a little tricky. In negative statements, where it’s used the most, it means “(not) at all”, while in positive sentences its meaning varies between “actually”, “in fact”, “really”, or “exactly”.

Adverbs derived from adjectives

This is the most productive group of adverbs. We can theoretically create an adverb out of any adjective. In English we usually do this by adding the “-ly” suffix (e.g. nice -> nicely). In Czech we usually replace the adjective “-ý/-í“ ending with “-e” or ““, while applying a regular sound change (for example, “-rý” becomes “-ře“). Some adverbs, however, use a different ending. Some of the previously mentioned adverbs belong to this category, too, for instance “málo“, as it is derived from the adjective “malý” – “small”.

Czech adjective English adjective Czech adverb English adverb
dobrý good dobře well, correctly
špatný bad, wrong špatně badly, poorly, wrong(-ly)
rychlý fast rychle fast, quickly
pomalý slow pomalu slowly
určitý definite určitě definitely, surely

A large number of Czech adjectives end in “-ný” or “-ní”. All these change to “-ně” when they become adverbs. For example (don't worry if you don't know some of these yet):

  • pěkný -> pěkně (nice -> nicely)
  • smutný -> smutně (sad -> sadly)
  • zvláštní -> zvláštně (strange -> strangely)

Other adverbs

And finally, an assortment of adverbs that don’t readily fit into any category.

Czech English
tak so
jen only
already, anymore, yet
ještě still, (not) yet
asi probably, perhaps
možná maybe, possibly
opravdu really, truly
také also, as well
potom then, later
zase again
nejdřív (at) first, initially

The adverbs “už” and “ještě” may prove a little difficult to handle as they don’t have exact English equivalents. They correspond better to the Spanish "ya" and "todavía" or German “schon” and “noch”, respectively. Chances are your third languages could prove more helpful for mastering this in Czech than English will. Study the following examples:

  • Už jsem doma. (positive statement) – I’m already at home.
  • Už jsi doma? (question) – Are you (at) home yet? (“already” would also work here).
  • Už to nechci. (negative statement) – I don’t want it anymore.
  • Ještě jsem tady. (positive statement) – I’m still here. (I haven’t left yet.)
  • Ještě jsi doma? (question) – Are you still (at) home?
  • Ještě to nemám. (negative statement) – I don’t have it yet.

Numbers 1 updated 2018-10-25

Numbers 1

This skill is our first introduction to Czech numerals.

Cardinal numerals one to four

These behave as if they were adjectives. They normally precede nouns and real adjectives. They decline (change in form depending on case). The first two cardinals (for “one” and “two”) are gendered.

One: Jeden

Knowing the forms of the demonstrative ten is enough to figure out those of jeden (“one”). Compare

Case/Num. M an. M in. F N
Nom. sg. ten ten ta to
Acc. sg. toho ten tu to
Gen. sg. toho toho toho

with

Case M an. M in. F N
Nom. jeden jeden jedna jedno
Acc. jednoho jeden jednu jedno
Gen. jednoho jednoho jedné jednoho

These forms of jeden are followed by singular adjectives and nouns when the association is direct, just like in English: "one sister" will be jedna sestra. On the other hand, "one of my sisters" will be jedna z mých sester.

A few examples:

  • Mám jednoho bratra. (I have one brother.)
  • Slyšíme jeden z jejich strojů. (We can hear one of their machines.)
  • Potřebujou jedno velké prase. (They need one large pig.)

Two: Dva

The declension of dva (and the closely related oba, "both") contains some of the remnants of the dual that Czech used to have in addition to its singular and plural, so it is something of an oddball.

Case M an. M in. F N
Nom. dva dva dvě dvě
Acc. dva dva dvě dvě
Gen. dvou dvou dvou dvou

A few examples:

  • Jsme dva. (There are two of us.)
  • Jsou tam dva žluté stromy. (There are two yellow trees there.)
  • Kde je matka těch dvou dětí. (Where is the mother of those two children?)
  • Která z těchto dvou žen je jeho dcera? (Which of these two women is his daughter?)

Note the order: demonstrative, numeral, adjective(s), noun--much like in English: Hledáme matku těch dvou malých děvčat. (We are looking for the mother of those two little girls.)

Three, Four: Tři, Čtyři

Neither tři (three) nor čtyři (four) depends on gender:

Case Three Four
Nom. tři čtyři
Acc. tři čtyři
Gen. tří, třech čtyř, čtyřech

The genitive forms ending in -ech are informal, although they have been officially recognized as standard forms.

A few examples:

  • Mám tři psy a tři kočky. (I have three dogs and three cats.)
  • Jsem matka tří dětí. (I am a mother of three children.)
  • Jsem otec třech dětí. (I am a father of three children.)
  • Která z těchto čtyřech dívek je jeho sestřenice? (Which of these four girls is his cousin?)

Ordinal numerals first to fourth

English Czech
first první
second druhý
third třetí
fourth čtvrtý

The first four ordinals look and behave like regular adjectives. První (first) and třetí (third) work like soft adjectives, while druhý (second) and čtvrtý* (fourth) decline like hard adjectives. Note that, while in English the definite article or a possessive adjective often precedes the ordinal numeral, in Czech the ordinals can and often do go without such determiners.

A few examples:

  • Jsi moje první láska. (You are my first love.)
  • Kupujeme svého druhého koně. (We are buying our second horse.)
  • Jím už třetí hrušku. (I am already eating my third pear.)
  • Čekají čtvrté dítě. (They are expecting their fourth child.)

Telling the time

The skill also uses the cardinal and ordinal numerals to show common Czech expressions for telling the time. The new word hodina declines like žena and means "hour" or "o'clock". For example, with the cardinals we get:

  • Je jedna hodina. (It is one o'clock.)
  • Jsou dvě/tři/čtyři hodiny. (It is two/three/four o'clock.)

Still more expressions with the cardinals are formed using čtvrt (a quarter) and tři čtvrtě (three quarters). We will follow these with na and an accusative feminine cardinal. We will use půl (half) with a genitive feminine ordinal (druhé and higher) or cardinal (jedné only), no preposition. View these as the fractions of the hour elapsed towards the hour specified. Let's put this all in a table:

Digital English Czech
12:15 quarter past twelve čtvrt na jednu
12:30 half past twelve půl jedné
12:45 a quarter to one tři čtvrtě na jednu
1:15 quarter past one čtvrt na dvě
1:30 half past one půl druhé
1:45 a quarter to two tři čtvrtě na dvě

The čtvrt na, půl, and tři čtvrtě na expressions are all treated as singular in the time-telling sentences.

A few examples:

  • Je čtvrt na jednu. (It is quarter past twelve.)
  • Už je čtvrt na dvě? (Is it quarter past one yet?)
  • Je půl jedné odpoledne. (It is half past twelve in the afternoon.)
  • Je tři čtvrtě na jednu. (It is a quarter to/of one.)

Conjunctions 1 updated 2020-06-03

Conjunctions

Conjunctions are words that connect other words, expressions, and clauses together.

Czech English
a and
i as well as, and also, even
nebo/anebo or
buď…nebo/anebo either…or
ani not even, …neither
ani…ani neither…nor
ale but
že that
když when
pokud if, as long as
jestli if, whether
proto therefore, that’s why, so
protože because
přesto yet, anyway, despite this
přestože although, even though
i když although, even though
kdežto while, whereas
zatímco while, whereas, at the same time as

The tiny, yet mighty “i”

You’ve already met a – the simple, unassuming “and”: muži a ženy (men and women). The slender conjunction i is like “and” on steroids. When used alone before a word, it means “also” or “even”. When used between two words, it translates to “as well as” or “and also”. For extra emphasis, we can even place it in front of each word in a list. Examples:

  • Mám i psa. – I even have a dog. I also have a dog (not just a cat).
  • I já mám psa. – Even I have a dog. I have a dog, too (like you).
  • Máme psa i kočku. – We have a dog as well as a cat.
  • Mají i psa, i kočku. – They have both a dog and a cat.

In negative statements, i becomes ani. It’s the equivalent of “not even” or “not… either”. We can also use ani between words to express “neither… nor”. And again, just like with i, using it twice (aniani) adds extra emphasis. Examples:

  • Nemám ani hlad. or: Ani nemám hlad. – I’m not even hungry.
  • Ani já nemám hlad. – I’m not hungry either (like you).
  • Nepije pivo ani víno. – He drinks neither beer nor wine.

"Nebo" nebo "anebo"?

You’ve learned that nebo means “or”. Anebo is just a more emphatic version of that. When we want to say “either… or”, we use buď… anebo. It’s also possible to use nebo here, but the stronger anebo is more common in this construction.

  • Chceš kávu nebo vodu? – Do you want coffee or water? (Or perhaps both?)
  • Jedno pivo, anebo dvě? – One beer or two? (More exclusive than nebo)
  • Chci koupit buď psa, anebo kočku. – I want to buy either a cat or a dog.

Note that there are no strict boundaries between these expressions.

The mandatory "že"

In English, we can easily omit the conjunction “that” from sentences, but its Czech counterpart – že – can’t be left out.

  • Vím, že mě miluješ. – I know (that) you love me.
  • Říkáš, že nemáš čas? – Are you saying (that) you don’t have time?
  • Jsme rádi, že vás vidíme. – We are glad to see you. (lit. “…that we see you”)

If and when…

The conjunction “when” typically corresponds to když – (similar to the question word kdy?). To express “if” in Czech, we can use (among others) jestli, pokud, and sometimes even když. Both jestli and pokud are interchangeable, unless you can replace “if” with “whether” – in that case use only jestli. On the other hand, if it’s possible to replace “if” with “when” or “as long as”, use pokud.

  • Miluju tě, když spíš. – I love you when you’re asleep.
  • Pokud mám žízeň, piju pivo. – If/when I’m thristy, I drink beer.
  • Můžeme už jít domů, pokud/jestli chceš. – We can go home already if you want.
  • Nevím, jestli je František doma. – I don’t know if/whether František is at home.

While and whereas…

Zatímco can safely be used for both “while” and “whereas” conjunctions. Kdežto is more specific – it points more emphatically to the difference or opposite nature of two statements, but in cases where the English “while” is used to mean “at the same time as”, we can only use zatímco, not kdežto.

  • Já jsem tady, kdežto/zatímco ty jsi tam. – I am over here while/whereas you are over there.
  • Víno piju rád, kdežto/zatímco pivo nesnáším. – I like drinking wine, whereas I can’t stand beer.
  • Žofie spí, zatímco Matěj vaří. – Žofie is sleeping while (at the same time as) Matěj is cooking.

Word order

As explained in some of the previous tips, there are a number of short words called clitics, which usually want to be in the "second position". That’s why we have to say, for example, Miluju tě., but Já tě miluju. – the clitic sticks to the second position.

Most conjunctions start their clause and take up the first position in it, so the clitics will want to follow them directly:

  • Jsem rád, že tě miluju. – I’m glad that I love you.
  • Ptáš se mě, jestli tě miluju? – Are you asking me whether I love you?

The exception is the conjunctions a, i, and ale, which do not count as the "first position" in the clause they introduce, and we get:

  • Znám tě a miluju tě. – I know you and I love you.
  • Ještě tě dobře neznám, ale miluju tě. – I don’t know you well yet, but I love you.
  • I on tě miluje. – He also loves you.

Learn more about clitics and word order here.

Infinitive updated 2018-10-25

The infinitives of Czech verbs correspond to the English verbs preceded by "to" by meaning and use. They also are the forms listed in dictionaries. Almost all verb infinitives in contemporary Czech end in -t. The archaic version of that ending, -ti, looks and sounds so goofy today that the course neither teaches nor accepts it.

However, we can almost never just attach this -t to one of the present-tense forms to produce the infinitive. We also need to deal with the vowel and consonant changes that often occur on the way between the present tense forms and the infinitive. The five verb classes should help us again, although not for very short verbs. Let's deal with those short verbs and a few irregular verbs first:

Short and irregular infinitives

Sg. 3rd person Infinitive English
bere brát take
bojí bát be afraid
čte číst read
chce chtít want
jde jít go, walk
je být be
jede jet go, ride
jíst eat
mít have
nese nést carry
pije pít drink
píše psát write
spí spát sleep
vede vést lead
vědět know
zná znát know
žije žít live

Longer infinitives by verb class

Class 3rd pers. Infinitive English
1 chápe chápat understand
2 stárne stárnout age
3 miluje milovat love
3 pamatuje pamatovat remember
3 respektuje respektovat respect
4 bydlí bydlet live
4 myslí myslet think
4 nenávidí nenávidět hate
4 slyší slyšet hear
4 váží si vážit si respect
4 vidí vidět see
5 čeká čekat wait
5 dělá dělat do
5 dívá se dívat se look
5 hledá hledat look for
5 říká říkat say
5 stará se starat se take care
5 zajímá zajímat interest

Notes:

  • Class 1 is quite full of the unpredictable short verbs. For the one longer verb shown we only need to replace -e with -at.
  • In Class 2 we replace -ne with -nout (until we learn verbs that do something else).
  • In Class 3 we replace -(u)je with -(ov)at. (The verbs without the u before -je will just have -at.)
  • In Class 4 we replace with -et/ět or -it.
  • In Class 5 we replace with -at.

Application of infinitives

Let's review a few ways of using the infinitive in Czech sentences. Pay attention to the se and si verb particles that the main verb and/or the infinitive verb may need. Recall that these particles must be placed in the second position in their clause.

Need to ...

  • Potřebuju vědět, že mě miluješ. (I need to know that you love me.)
  • Jejich jména si pamatovat nepotřebujeme. (We do not need to remember their names.) [The particle si went after the first unit of meaning, "jejich jména".]

Want to ...

  • Chci si tě pamatovat. (I want to remember you.) [The particle si and the clitic pronoun went after the first unit of meaning, "chci", although they are both associated with the "pamatovat" at the end.]
  • Proč chceš vědět, jak se jmenuje? (Why do you want to know what her name is?) [The se went second in its clause.]
  • Už ty lidi nenávidět nechci. (I no longer want to hate those people.)

Be beginning to ...

  • Ano, začínáš mě chápat. (Yes, you are beginning to understand me.)
  • Začíná si ho vážit? (Is she starting to respect him?) [Here the particle si went right after the first unit of meaning, "začíná", and even bumped the clitic "ho" to the right.]

Be afraid to ...

In these examples the se comes from the bojí/bojíš:

  • Bojí se tam jít. (They are/He is afraid to go there.)
  • Proč se bojíš mluvit? (Why are you afraid to talk?)

Try to ...

In these examples the new verb snaží/snažím/snažíme comes with se. Notice what happens when the infinitive brings its own se or si.

  • Snažíme se tu ženu chápat. (We are trying to understand that woman.)
  • Snažím se na ni nedívat. (I am trying not to look at her.) [We avoided the duplication of se. We could also say Snažím se nedívat (se) na ni., with or without duplication. Duplication may be necessary to avoid ambiguity. The weird "se se" particle sequence does need to be avoided in all cases.]
  • Snaží se vážit si ho. (She is trying to respect him.) [This is an advanced topic for later. We could also say Snaží si ho vážit. or perhaps Snaží se si ho vážit., but not Snaží (si) se ho vážit.]

Other uses

  • Nevím, co si myslet. (I don't know what to think.)
  • Proč nemá co jíst ani pít? (Why does he have nothing to eat or drink?)
  • Nestačí to jen říkat. (It is not enough just to say it.)

Household updated 2020-06-26

Household

This skill introduces basic vocabulary useful for talking about common household items. There is no tricky grammar here. One word being introduced here deserves a special mention: postel (bed).

The noteworthy thing about "postel" is that it is a feminine noun, clearly ending in a consonant, and less obviously a useful model noun for the noun declension paradigm poorly represented in the course up to this point. The "official" model noun for this paradigm is "píseň" (song), which does not work well for practically useful sentences. And we have already encountered "žízeň" (thirst), which is likewise limited in its practical range. Let's use this opportunity to show the "postel" declension in the context of our other feminine model nouns in the three cases we have met so far:

Case/Num. žena ulice postel věc
Nom. sg. -a -e - -
Acc. sg. -u -i - -
Gen. sg. -y -e -e -i
Nom. pl. -y -e -e -i
Acc. pl. -y -e -e -i
Gen. pl. - -

So let's welcome "postel" into the fold and start following its declensions.

Past 1 updated 2020-01-23

Past tense:

Czech only has one past tense. It relies on verb endings that depend on the number and gender of the subject. The simplest is the singular masculine form, obtained for most verbs by replacing the –t of the infinitive with an –l. The endings for both numbers and all genders are shown below, using hledat (to look for) as an example verb:

Number/Gender Past ending Example
Sg. M (on) -l hledal
Sg. F (ona) -la hledala
Sg. N (ono) -lo hledalo
Pl. M-a (oni) -li hledali
Pl. F/M-i (ony) -ly hledaly
Pl. N (ona) -la hledala

In the 1st and 2nd person, we must add the form of the auxiliary verb být appropriate for the number/person:

Person Auxiliary
Sg. 1st (já) jsem
Sg. Familiar 2nd (ty) jsi (-s)
Pl. 1st (my) jsme
Pl./Formal 2nd (vy) jste

Notes:

  • The –s auxiliary is a form that attaches to the end of a word in the first position, often a verb, pronoun, or question word.
  • The Czech formal 2nd person address is inconsistent in the past tense. We use the plural auxiliary with one of the singular gendered l-forms.

Examples:

  • Františku, kde jste hledal Kateřinu? (František, where did you look for Kateřina?) [Formal address of a male. Don’t use “hledali” to refer to him alone.]
  • Kdes to hledala? (Where were you looking for it?) [Familiar address of a female.]
  • Žofie a Matěj hledali své dítě. (Žofie and Matěj were looking for their child.) [We used the M-a form because at least one member of the group is masculine animate.]
  • Hledala jsem ho tady. (I looked for him/it here.) [Female speaker. The past-tense auxiliary is an obligatory enclitic with the highest priority for the second position of everything we have seen so far.]

Verbs from this skill that work as advertised:

Infinitive l-form English
bydlet bydlel live, reside
dělat dělal do, make, work
dívat díval look, watch
hledat hledal look for
jet jel go, drive, ride
mluvit mluvil talk, speak
potřebovat potřeboval need
snažit se snažil se try
vážit si vážil si respect
vidět viděl see

The reflexive particles in snažit se and vážit si deserve a few words:

  • The singular familiar auxilary -s that latches onto host words obligatorily merges with the verb particles, forming the reflexive auxiliaries ses and sis. Alternatively, we can use the full jsi immediately followed by the verb particle. The course accepts this alternative, even if its official status remains “not yet codified”.
  • The past tense auxiliary is a higher priority enclitic than even the reflexive verb particles.

Examples:

  • Matěje sis nevážila. (You did not respect Matěj.) [The “ne” of negation is prefixed to the past form.]
  • Snažili jsme se ho jíst. (We were trying to eat it/him.) [“We“ includes at least one masculine member. Note the ordering of the enclitics competing for the second slot.]

Verbs from this skill that deviate from the regular pattern:

Infinitive Past l-form English Comments
brát si bral marry shortening
být byl be shortening
číst četl read irregular
chtít chtěl want shortening/change
jíst jedl eat irregular
jít šel go, walk irregular
mít měl have shortening/change
pít pil drink shortening
psát psal write shortening
spát spal sleep shortening
znát znal know shortening

Note the extra “e” in the singular masculine past form of jít:

  • On tam nešel, ale šla tam jeho sestra. (He did not go there, but his sister did.)

Aspect: Preview

Two aspects exist for most Czech verbs in the past tense:

  • imperfective aspect views the event being described as an ongoing or repetitive activity without referencing its completion, while
  • perfective aspect concerns a completed event.

It helps to think of the aspects as two separate but related verbs. Perfective verbs may be formed from imperfective ones by adding a prefix. We show this for four imperfective verbs we already know. Imperfective verbs may be formed from perfective ones by infixation, like kupovat from koupit (to buy; recall the present form kupuje):

Imperfective Perfective English
číst, četl přečíst, přečetl read
jíst, jedl sníst, snědl eat
kupovat, kupoval koupit, koupil buy
pít, pil vypít, vypil drink
psát, psal napsat, napsal write
  • Ten dopis jsem psal celý den. (I was writing that letter all day long.) [Activity focus.]
  • Napsal jsi už ten dopis? (Have you written the letter yet?) [Completion focus.]
  • Stalo se to, když kupoval mléko. (It happened while he was buying milk.) [Ongoing activity in the background.]
  • Koupils to mléko? (Did you buy that milk?) [Oops. Failure to complete?]

Numbers 2 updated 2020-05-10

Numbers 2

Recall that Czech cardinal numerals from one to four behave as if they were adjectives. The counted object appears in the case appropriate for the context, and the numeral matches that case. If the phrase appears as a subject, it gets a plural verb in agreement with the noun being counted: Jsou tam ty dva naše žluté stromy., and Jsou čtyři hodiny.

Cardinal numerals 5-20

Things change when we get to five. The numerals start to behave as if they were adverbs of quantity, similar to málo (little, few), dost (enough), and hodně (a lot, many). Recall that these go with the genitive of whatever is being quantified: Těch našich červených hrušek máme/je/bylo málo/pět. The verb agreement is singular and neuter.

These higher cardinals 5-20 are not gendered and decline in a limited way:

English Nom., Acc. Gen.
five pět pěti
six šest šesti
seven sedm sedmi
eight osm osmi
nine devět devíti
ten deset deseti
eleven jedenáct jedenácti
twelve dvanáct dvanácti
thirteen třináct třinácti
fourteen čtrnáct čtrnácti
fifteen patnáct patnácti
sixteen šestnáct šestnácti
seventeen sedmnáct sedmnácti
eighteen osmnáct osmnácti
nineteen devatenáct devatenácti
twenty dvacet dvaceti

Note the unexpected forms devíti, čtrnáct(i), patnáct(i), and devatenáct(i).

Examples:

  • Začíná v pět hodin. (It starts at five o'clock.)
  • Je devět hodin. (It is nine o'clock.)
  • Co jsi dělala v osm hodin? (What were you doing at eight o'clock?)
  • Ve dvanáct hodin? (At twelve o'clock?)
  • Čeká od deseti nebo jedenácti hodin. (She has been waiting since ten or eleven o'clock.)
  • Četl ty dopisy od dvanácti do čtyř. (He was reading the letters from twelve to four.)

Note the new prepositions.

V and ve are used with the accusative in time expressions involving the hour (or day of week) and get translated depending on context as "at" or "on". The (over)simplified rules for choosing v vs ve are:

  • Always use v before a vowel: v osm hodin.
  • Always use ve before "v" or "f". (No example yet.)
  • Use v before a single consonant other than "v" and "f"": v deset hodin, v půl jedné, v šest.
  • Use v before a two-consonant sequence ending "l", "r", or "ř", except use ve if the first consonant is "t", "d", "s", or "z": ve tři čtvrtě na pět.
  • Use ve before a two-consonant sequence ending in a consonant other than "l", "r", or "ř": ve dvě hodiny, ve čtyři hodiny.
  • Use ve before a three-consonant or longer consonant sequence  with other than "l", "r", or "ř" in second position: ve čtvrt na osm, ve čtrnáct hodin.
  • When in doubt, try using whichever is easier to pronounce. Eventually you should be able to choose by "feel".

Od is always used with the genitive, and usually means "from", or sometimes "since" or "of". (Its vocalized variety ode is mandatory with and mne and only shows up later in the course.)

Do is always used with the genitive, and in time expressions usually means "until", sometimes "by".

Note the declination of the numerals five and higher for the three cases we know so far. The numeral is the same in Nom. and Acc., and changes to a different form that is common to all the other cases (of which we only know Gen. for now). The counted entity (a noun incl. its demo, possessive, and adjective) remains in the genitive, although we will need to revisit the reasons for this below. Also re-read the first paragraph to compare this behavior with that of the numerals below five.

Cardinal numerals 21-29

One way to form these is to follow dvacet with the appropriate numeral for one to nine, separated by a space. No matter what the gender of the counted entity, the feminine jedna and the masculine dva are used in these compounds. This is not the only method, but let's keep it simple. To decline the 21-29 numeral along with the counted entity, divide and conquer. Use dvacet (if the whole phrase is in Nom. or Acc.) or dvaceti (otherwise), decline the 1-9 piece of the compound as appropriate for the case of the whole phrase (except keep jedna fixed), and either keep the counted entity in the genitive (Nom. or Acc. of the whole phrase) or match it to the case of the whole phrase (otherwise). [This is how the counted entity above four always stays in the genitive if we only deal with the three cases we do.]

A few examples:

  • Bylo tady těch dvacet jedna mužů. (Those twenty-one men were here.)[Nom.]
  • Potřebujeme sukně pro dvacet dva holek. (We need skirts for twenty-two girls.)[Acc.]
  • Zná jména dvaceti čtyř měst? (Does he know the names of twenty-four citíes?)[Gen.]
  • Jedno z těch dvaceti osmi zvířat je osel. (One of those twenty-eight animals is a donkey.)[Gen.]
  • Který z tamhletěch dvaceti jedna mužů je jejich bratranec? (Which of those twenty-one men is their cousin?)[Gen.]

Adjectives updated 2018-10-25

Adjectives in Czech

Recall that Czech has two types of adjectives, hard and soft. These names relate to the vowels in their masculine nominative singular (dictionary entry form) endings. Hard adjectives end in , for example dobrý (good), hezký (pretty), malý (small), and nový (new). Note that Czechs call this vowel tvrdé "ý" (hard "ý"), predictably contrasting it with měkké "í" (soft "í").

Soft adjectives in their dictionary entry form end in , for example cizí (foreign, strange), poslední (last, final), vlastní (own), and zvláštní (strange, weird odd).

Forms of hard adjectives

As we have already seen, Czech adjectives change their endings to match (agree with) the gender, number, and case of the nouns they refer to.

Hard adjective endings vary extensively. Let's demonstrate the endings that we should already know on the example of dobrý:

Forms of dobrý

Case M an. M in. F N
Nom. sg. dobrý dobrý dobrá dobré
Acc. sg. dobrého dobrý dobrou dobré
Gen. sg. dobrého dobrého dobré dobrého
Nom. pl. dobří dobré dobré dobrá
Acc. pl. dobré dobré dobré dobrá
Gen. pl. dobrých dobrých dobrých dobrých

Notes:

  • Some of the endings are the same for different cases/genders etc. Remember, the gender, number, and case of the noun and the associated adjective have to agree, and the appropriate endings have to be used.
  • Hard plural masculine animate adjectives sometimes undergo a consonant shift in the root just like the nouns do. See the Nom. pl. form of dobrý, and re-read the T&N for the Plural skill.
  • Vocative endings are identical to nominative endings. (We do not teach the vocative much.)
  • There is only one ending for all genders in Gen. pl.

Forms of soft adjectives

Soft adjective endings vary with case in both singular and plural, but they change with gender in singular only.

Forms of zvláštní

Case/num. M an. M in. F N
Nom. sg. zvláštní zvláštní zvláštní zvláštní
Acc. sg. zvláštního zvláštní zvláštní zvláštní
Gen. sg. zvláštního zvláštního zvláštní zvláštního
Nom. pl. zvláštní zvláštní zvláštní zvláštní
Acc. pl. zvláštní zvláštní zvláštní zvláštní
Gen. pl. zvláštních zvláštních zvláštních zvláštních

Notes:

  • The nominative ending is the same for all genders and numbers. (The vocative ending is identical to the nominative ending.)
  • The plural endings do not depend on gender.
  • The singular feminine ending stays the same for all cases.

Position of adjectives

Czech adjectives are typically placed before the nouns they refer to, much like in English. For example:

  • Byl to zvláštní den. (It was a strange day.)
  • Má mladou ženu. (He has a young wife.
  • Čekají další dítě. (They are expecting another child.)
  • Je to jiné slovo. (That's another word.)
  • Nesnáším velká města. (I can't stand big cities.)

In specific contexts, adjectives are placed after their nouns. The post-noun position is mandatory in certain technical terminologies, such as in chemistry (kyselina sírová, or sulfuric acid) or biology (vlk obecný, or Canis lupus, gray wolf).

Confusing adjectives

Our users sometimes struggle with partly synonymous or otherwise challenging Czech adjectives.

Další vs jiný

The confusion here may be that both další and jiný are often translated as "another", but that is largely because that English word has multiple meanings.

In "That's another word.", we are more likely to mean "different" word than "one more" word, in which case jiné slovo rather than další slovo would be used in Czech. On the other hand, in "They are expecting another child.", the expected child is probably not "different" so much as "additional", and we would have další dítě, not jiné dítě.

Places updated 2020-06-25

Locative

Let’s meet a new case: the locative! As its name suggests, it’s primarily used to express location – where something is. It’s the only case that always requires a preposition. In this skill, we will learn to use the prepositions “v” and “na”, this time with the locative. Both “v” and “na” can correspond to the English “in”, “on” or “at”, depending on the specific location. The preposition “v” also has a vocalized form “ve” – please refer to the Tips for the Numbers 2 skill to learn when to use which. We will look at more locative prepositions later.

We have already seen the preposition “na” with the accusative case as part of some verb constructions, such as “čekat na něco” (to wait for something), and “v” with the accusative to refer to the time when something happens, such as “ve dvě hodiny” (at two o’clock).

How to form the locative

First, let’s look at pronouns and how they change in the locative. It’s relatively easy because in the singular, the masculine (animate as well as inanimate) and neuter forms are the same, and the plural forms are identical for all three genders!

Sg. Nom. Sg. Loc., masc. and neuter Sg. Loc., fem. Pl. Loc.
ten/ta/to tom těch
můj/má (moje)/mé (moje) mém mé (mojí) mých
její jejím její jejích
náš/naše našem naší našich

To decline “this” and “that”, we simply add “-to” and “tam-“, respectively. For example: “tento svetr” (this sweater) -> “v tomto svetru” (in this sweater), or “tamta bota” (that shoe) -> “v tamté botě”.

As we have already seen, the forms of “tvůj” and “svůj” (tvoje, tvá, své, etc.) are declined just like “můj”, and those of “váš” like “náš”. And the good news about the possessive pronouns “jeho” and “jejich” continues: they don’t change at all, in any case.

Now for the locative forms of adjectives:

Sg. Nom. Sg. Loc., masc. and neuter Sg. Loc., fem. Pl. Loc.
hard – mladý mladém mladé mladých
soft – zvláštní zvláštním zvláštní zvláštních

And here are the locative forms for the noun declension patterns included in this skill:

Sg. Nom. Sg. Loc. Pl. Loc.
dům domě domech
hotel hotelu hotelech
talíř talíři talířích
škola škole školách
ulice ulici ulicích
postel posteli postelích
město městě městech
letiště letišti letištích
náměstí náměstí náměstích

We will see later that some declension patterns (especially hrad and město) have two forms in the locative singular, dependent on the specific noun and even context. Let's keep it simple for now.

Speaking of nouns, this skill introduces a few new ones: hotel, kancelář (office), letiště (airport), nádraží (station, train station), obchod (shop, store), restaurace (restaurant), škola (school), and zahrada (garden).

Finally, we should learn the locative forms of cardinal numbers:

Nominative Locative
jeden/jedno (masc./neut.) jednom
jedna (fem.) jedné
dva/dvě dvou
tři třech
čtyři čtyřech
pět pěti

Compare “one” to the demostrative “ten/ta/to”: They decline exactly the same. For numbers five and higher, the locative is the same as the genitive form, which you can see in the Tips for the Numbers 2 skill.

Examples

Let’s combine the newly gained knowledge to make some examples with words that we already know:

  • má velká rodina (my big family) -> v mé velké rodině (in my big family)
  • jeho bílé ponožky (his white socks) -> v jeho bílých ponožkách (in his white socks)
  • její červené víno (her red wine) -> v jejím červeném víně (in her red wine)
  • naše čtyři modrá auta (our four blue cars) -> v našich čtyřech modrých autech (in our four blue cars)
  • ten nový časopis (that new magazine) -> v tom novém časopisu/časopise (in that new magazine), plural: v těch nových časopisech (in those new magazines)
  • tato zvláštní stará židle (this strange old chair) -> na této zvláštní staré židli (on this strange old chair), plural: na těchto zvláštních starých židlích (on these strange old chairs)

Numbers 3 updated 2018-10-25

Numbers 3

Recall that Czech cardinal numerals from one to four behave as if they were adjectives. The counted object appears in the case appropriate for the context, and the numeral matches that case. If the phrase appears as a subject, it gets a plural verb in gender agreement with the noun being counted: Byla tam dvě jablka., and Byly čtyři hodiny.

Also recall that Czech cardinal numerals from five to twenty-nine behave as if they were adverbs of quantity (málo). The counted object appears in the plural case appropriate for the whole phrase, except if the phrase is in the nominative or accusative, the counted object is in the plural genitive. If the phrase appears as a subject, it gets a singular verb in neuter gender agreement no matter the gender of the noun being counted: Bylo tam dvacet jedna koček.

Cardinal numerals 30 to 99

Multiples of ten from 30 to 90 resemble twenty in construction and behavior. These numerals are ungendered, in the three cases we know go with the genitive of whatever is being counted, decline in a limited way, and are singular neuter in terms of verb agreement. Bylo tam padesát lidí.

English Nom., Acc. Gen.
twenty dvacet dvaceti
thirty třicet třiceti
forty čtyřicet čtyřiceti
fifty padesát padesáti
sixty šedesát šedesáti
seventy sedmdesát sedmdesáti
eighty osmdesát osmdesáti
ninety devadesát devadesáti

Note the unexpected forms padesát(i), šedesát(i), and devadesát(i).

Just like we did with 21 through 29, we form the compounds from 31 to 99 by following the appropriate multiple of ten with the appropriate numeral for one to nine, separated by a space. No matter what the gender of the counted entity, we use the feminine jedna and the masculine dva in these compounds.

To decline the compound numeral along with the counted entity, we:

  • use the appropriate form of the multiple of ten (i.e., the form ending in -t if the whole phrase is in Nom. or Acc. and one ending in -ti otherwise),
  • decline the 1-9 piece of the compound as appropriate for the case of the whole phrase (except we keep jedna fixed), and
  • either keep the counted entity in the genitive (Nom. or Acc. of the whole phrase) or match it to the case of the whole phrase (otherwise).

Examples:

  • Hledáme ženy od dvaceti do třiceti let. (We are looking for women from twenty to thirty.)[Gen.]
  • Ptáme se čtyřiceti dvou matek. (We are asking forty-two mothers.)[Gen.]
  • Počítá těch čtyřicet dva jablek (He is counting those forty-two apples.)[Acc.]
  • Trvá to od padesáti do šedesáti pěti minut. (It lasts from fifty to sixty-five minutes.)[Gen.]
  • Čeká na sedmdesát dva dívek. (He is waiting for seventy-two girls.)[Acc.]
  • Peru pro sedmdesát jedna chlapců. (I do laundry for seventy-one boys.)[Acc.]
  • Měli jen osmdesát devět židlí pro devadesát lidí. (They had only eighty-nine chairs for ninety people.)[Acc.]

Cardinal numerals 100+

Multiples of one hundred are shown in the table below. No declination is shown because we will be using the simplified declination standard wherein only the tens and the units (if present) decline, and the higher orders remain fixed. These numerals go with the genitive of whatever is being counted if the phrase is in the nominative or accusative and match the case of the phrase otherwise; do not decline themselves; and are singular neuter in terms of verb agreement. Bylo tam pět set lidí.

English Czech
one hundred sto
two hundred dvě stě
three hundred tři sta
four hundred čtyři sta
five hundred pět set
six hundred šest set
seven hundred sedm set
eight hundred osm set
nine hundred devět set

We will form the compounds with hundreds as follows. Append the numeral for 1 through 99 after the appropriate multiple of 100 from the table above. "One hundred and ninety-nine" will be sto devadesát devět and "nine hundred and twelve" will be devět set dvanáct. The optional English "and" after the hundreds does not have a Czech counterpart.

To decline these compounds, we:

  • keep the hundreds piece fixed,
  • use the appropriate form of the multiple of ten (i.e., the form ending in -t if the whole phrase is in Nom. or Acc. or one ending in -ti otherwise),
  • decline the 1-9 piece of the compound as appropriate for the case of the whole phrase, except we keep jedna fixed no matter what, and
  • either keep the counted entity in the genitive (Nom. or Acc. of the whole phrase) or match it to the case of the whole phrase (otherwise).

In this course we will not decline expressions with numerals from one thousand up, instead keeping them in Nom. or Acc. "One thousand" is tisíc (declines as stroj). The word just goes before the hundreds, separated by a space: Koupil tisíc sedm set krav.

Locations and Topics updated 2020-07-21

More locative

In this skill we introduce more locative forms and several new prepositions.

Prepositions

The following prepositions take the locative case. Some of them also work with the accusative to convey different meanings.

Locative preposition Approximate Meaning
v/ve in, at
na on, sometimes at or in
o about
při by, during, at
po along, after

The locative "o" means roughly "about" (or "on") when referring to a topic of some thing or activity:

  • Chci knihu o autech. (I want a book about cars.)

"Při" only comes with the locative, and its core meanings include "during" referring to timing and "by" referring to proximity in space:

  • Při jídle nemluvíme. (We do not speak during meals.)
  • Mají dům při cestě. (They have a house by the road.)

The locative "po" expresses taking place "after" something in time or following "along" something in space:

  • Po jídle vždy spím. (I always sleep after meals.)
  • Šli po pláži. (They walked along the beach.)

Now let’s take a look at some model nouns and how they change in the locative. We already encountered some of them in the Places skill.

Nouns

Masculine nouns:

Sg. Nom. Sg. Loc. Pl. Loc.
kluk klukovi klucích
muž muži mužích
hrad hradě, hradu hradech
stroj stroji strojích

Let’s take "dědeček" (grandpa). As an animate noun ending in a hard consonant (-k), it will decline as "kluk". In the locative we get "o dědečkovi" (about Grandpa); note that the last "-e-" is dropped just like in most other similar nouns, including "František". All proper names get the "hard" paradigm ending in the singular locative, so we have "o Matějovi" just like we do "o Františkovi".

Inanimate hard nouns, like "hrad" (castle), are trickier because they tend to have two locative forms, and sometimes only one is used. For example, "oběd" (lunch) -> "po obědě" (after lunch), but "hotel" -> "v hotelu" (in the hotel). This is best learned through exposure. The "-ě" ending ("-e" after "s") is a safer bet in our course, except for the mandatory "-u" in "hotelu".

Feminine nouns:

Sg. Nom. Sg. Loc. Pl. Loc.
žena ženě ženách
ulice ulici ulicích
postel posteli postelích
věc věci věcech

Feminine nouns that end in "-a" decline like "žena". The "-ě" ending softens the preceding consonant, so "matka" (mother) and "babička" (grandma) become "o matce" and "o babičce". Similarly, "kniha" (book) changes to "v knize". We have dealt with these shifts of "h", "ch", "k", and "r" (into "z", "š", "c", and "ř") in the Plural tips. The spelling does not change for "d" ,"t", "n", and "m", but the "-ě" ending impacts their pronunciation as discussed in the Hello tips. Nouns ending in "s" or "l" take "-e" instead of "-ě", so for "škola" (school) we get "ve škole".

Feminine nouns that end in a consonant follow two main declension models (postel and věc). Let's stick to postel for now: the word "pláž" (beach) becomes "po pláži" (along the beach) and "na plážích" (on the beaches), and "láhev" (bottle) changes to "v láhvi" (in the bottle) and "o láhvích" (about bottles)–note the disappearing "-e-".

Neuter nouns:

Sg. Nom. Sg. Loc. Pl. Loc.
město městě, městu městech
moře moři mořích
kuře kuřeti kuřatech
náměstí náměstí náměstích

Nouns ending in “-o” often have two locative forms (just like "hrad"). Both forms are often possible; we can say "v autě" as well as "v autu". We may say "po pivu" (after a beer), with "po pivě" also being correct, while there’s usually only one plural form, "po třech pivech". This skill does provide some exposure to the exceptions by only accepting "místě", "čísle", "jablku", "ránu", and "vajíčku" in the singular locative, and by revealing the existence of the plural locatives "jablkách" and "vajíčkách" (rather than the expected but incorrect forms with "-ech"). Note that the singular locative ending is "-e" rather than "-ě" after "l" and "s", so we have "v mase" and "po jídle".

The word "dítě" (child) is irregular because it changes gender to feminine when it becomes plural "děti". That’s why we have "o dítěti", which follows the "kuře" model, but "o dětech", which follows the other feminine model noun, "věc", with its "o věcech" plural locative.

Personal pronouns

Finally, let’s learn the locative forms of personal pronouns:

Nominative Locative
mně
ty tobě
on něm
ona
ono něm
my nás
vy vás
oni/ony/ona nich

Examples:

  • Mluvíte o mně? (Are you talking about me?)
  • Co na něm vidíš? (What do you see in him?)
  • Vy hrajete po nás. (You play after us.)

Ordinals updated 2021-09-15

Ordinal numbers

You may remember we dealt with the first four ordinal numbers (from “první“ to “čtvrtý“) earlier in the course. Since then we have learned to count higher than to four, so let's add a bunch more ordinals. The following table shows the first ten ordinals in their nominative form. Where gender and number matter, the forms are masculine singular. The irregular bits, where the connection to the cardinals is disrupted, are shown in bold.

Czech English
první first
druhý second
třetí third
čtvrtý fourth
pá fifth
šestý sixth
sedmý seventh
osmý eighth
devá ninth
desá tenth

From five on, ordinal numbers are derived from cardinal numbers simply by adding the hard adjective endings (“-ý” for the masculine gender) and sometimes changing “-e/ě-“ to “-á-“ in the root. Numbers between 11th an 19th are all regular. In numbers 20th, 30th, etc. the “e>á” change applies. (Note that the existing course does not show you anything above "twentieth").

Czech English
jedenáctý eleventh
dvanáctý twelfth
dvacá twentieth
třicá thirtieth
čtyřicá fourtieth
stý hundredth

For numbers between 20th and 100th that are not multiples of ten, such as 24th, we turn both parts into ordinals (unlike in English): thus “twenty-fourth” is “dvacátý čtvrtý”, and “fifty-seventh” is “padesátý sedmý”.

As we have seen with the first four ordinals, all ordinal numbers decline exactly like adjectives. Numbers “první” and “třetí” decline as soft adjectives (such as "zvláštní" or “poslední”), and all other ordinals decline as hard adjectives (such as “mladý” or "nový"). The mixed model applies to ordinals like "dvacátý třetí", with both parts following their respective declensions.

When written in numerical form, where English uses “-th” or “-st” etc., Czech uses a point (dot) after the number: 1. = první, 2. = druhý, 98. = devadesátý osmý.

Ordinal numbers are also useful when talking about calendar dates. We (normally) use genitive forms both for the day’s number and for the name of the month. We don’t use any preposition to express the “on the…” part. For example:

  • Stalo se to druhého ledna. (It happened on the second of January.)
  • Dnes je čtrnáctého dubna. (Today is the fourteenth of April.)
  • Narodila se třicátého prvního prosince. (She was born on the thirty-first of December.)

We did say that the genitive forms are used for dates normally. It gets trickier if the date functions as anything other than a description of when or (on) what date. For example, if the sentence was about someone literally thinking (or talking) about the first of July, the date is the object of the verb that works with the accusative (or locative) case, and we get

  • Myslel na první červenec.
  • Mluvila o prvním červenci.

Again both parts of the date show up in whatever the case is required by the verb or the preposition. If the date falls where genitive is required, we get both parts in genitive, just for a different reason that before:

  • Byli jsme tam od pátého února do osmnáctého března. (We were there from the fifth of February to the eighteenth of March.)

As we have already learned in the Numbers 1 skill, we need ordinals to tell the time in case the time is “half past something”. The ordinal number will be in the feminine genitive singular form:

  • půl páté – half past four, literally “half of the fifth hour”
  • půl jedenácté – half past ten
  • půl druhé – half past one
  • exception: půl jedné – half past twelve (cardinal number “jedna” instead)

Czech also has a question word – kolikátý – used to asked for ordinal numbers. This word is strangely absent from English, but the equivalent would be “how-manieth” or “how manyth” – see Wiktionary. None of the following examples can be translated directly:

  • Kolikáté auto máš? (How many cars including this one have you had?)
  • Kolikátou kávu pijete? (literally “How-manieth coffee are you drinking?”)
  • Kolikátého je dnes? (What’s the date today?)

Modals 1 updated 2021-09-15

Modals 1

In this unit we learn how to say that someone can, cannot, must/has to, must not, does not have to, or is (not) supposed to do something. The needed Czech “modal” verbs usually come with the infinitives of other verbs, much like in English.

Moct (can): Ability, possibility, permission/Their absence

This verb shows that someone can do something or that something can happen as a result of objective circumstances, availability, suitability, natural ability, or permission.

A good match in English is “can”, which also happens to overlap informally with “may” when it shows permission:

  • Můžeme na vás počkat. (We can wait for you.)
  • Tato zvířata mohou žít bez vody. (These animals can live without water.)
  • Můžu/mohu tady kouřit? (Can I smoke here?)

When this verb is negated, it expresses the absence of ability, possibility, or permission, much like cannot:

  • Nemůžeme už čekat. (We cannot wait anymore.)
  • To se tady stát nemůže. (That cannot happen here.)
  • Promiňte, tady kouřit nemůžete. (Sorry, you cannot smoke here.)

Czech does not express a learned ability/skill (such as to read) using the same verb as an inherent ability, although “can” covers both in English. Instead, Czech uses a different verb, “umět“, which we cover later.

Please also note that “can“ with many perception and some cognition verbs in English, as in

  • I can see them.
  • I can understand that.

usually describes perception or cognition at the moment of speaking, without actually referring to ability. Czech just uses the verb without the modal here, as in

  • Vidím je./Já je vidím.
  • To chápu.

Smět (may): Permission/Prohibition

This verb shows that someone may do something or that something may happen as a result of permission. (This is not about uncertainty!) The positive form is usually limited to questions (requests for permission):

  • Smím se vás na něco zeptat? (May I ask you something?)

and to limited permissions

  • Psi sem smějí jen v pondělí. (Dogs are only allowed here on Mondays.)

Negative statements are used to deny permission or express prohibition much like may not or must not:

  • Tady parkovat nesmíte. (You may not/must not park here.)

The nearest English match is “may”, which also happens to overlap with the informal permission sense of “can” or its negative. This same overlap exists between “moct” and “smět“.

In the second person, the negative may indicate milder advice and often does not work translated as “may not”:

  • Nesmíš věřit všemu, co slyšíš. (You must not/should not believe everything you hear.)

There is another way of expressing “should” and “should not” in Czech, but we are not ready for its grammar yet.

Muset (have to): Obligation/Absence of obligation

This verb shows that someone has to do something or that something has to happen. We would suggest memorizing the meaning as “have to” because then you will also easily remember the meaning of the negative.

  • Musíme tady počkat. (We have to/must wait here.)
  • Musí křičet? (Does he have to yell?)
  • Musíš se víc snažit. (You have to/must/should try harder.)

Even this verb can mean advice rather than an outright obligation. To express obligation, both “have to” and “must” are good translations. The reason we advise against memorizing “muset” as the obvious “must” is the uselessness of “must not” for predicting the meaning of “nemuset”:

  • Nemusíš mi to říkat dvakrát. (You don’t have to tell me twice.)

If we used negated “must”, we would be way off.

Mít (be [supposed] to): Conveyed obligation/prohibition

When used with the infinitive, this Czech verb becomes a modal verb of obligation falling somewhere between “should” and “have to”, often with a flavor of “I am just a messenger”. The best English translation “be to” shares this sense that the obligation originates from some other authority.

  • Máš jít domů. (You are to go home.)

Usually “should” would be too tentative as a translation of the modal “mít”, except in first-person questions, which function rather like requests for guidance:

  • Mám tady vystoupit? (Should I get off here?)

The negative communicates a negative obligation (prohibition), not an absence of obligation:

  • Nemáme na ni čekat. (We are not to wait for her.)

Forms

The forms of these modal verbs are listed below:

Person can may have to be to
můžu, mohu smím musím mám
ty můžeš smíš musíš máš
on, ona, ono může smí musí
my můžeme smíme musíme máme
vy můžete smíte musíte máte
oni, ony, ona můžou, mohou smějí, smí musejí, musí mají
infinitive moct, moci smět muset, musit mít

The duplicate forms shown in italics are formal.

Note

As in English, some of the same Czech modals can also convey degrees of certainty:

  • To musí/může/nemusí/nemůže být pravda. (That must/can=may/may not/cannot be true.)

Family 2 updated 2021-02-22

In this skill, we learn how to form the comparative and superlative of adjectives. The comparative is the more-form, such as "longer", "nicer", or "more interesting", whereas the superlative is the most-form, e.g. "longest", "nicest", or "most interesting".

Comparative

To create the comparative, we typically add the suffix "-ejší" or "-ější". A small number of adjectives use different suffixes – "-ší" or just "". All of these suffixes cause the softening (mutation) of the adjective's last consonant, except as noted. We have already encountered this consonant change before: "h" changes into "ž", "ch" into "š", "k" into "č", and "r" into "ř".

-ejší, -ější

This is the main comparative suffix, used with most adjectives. Whether we use the variant with "-e-" or "-ě-" depends on the last consonant of the adjective:

  • L, S, Z: -ejší
  • H, CH, K, R: -ejší, but the consonant softens -> Ž, Š, Č, Ř
  • D, T, N, M, B, P, V: -ější

Some examples:

  • rychlý (fast) -> rychlejší (faster)
  • levný (cheap) -> levnější (cheaper)
  • zvláštní (strange) -> zvláštnější (stranger)
  • zajímavý (interesting) -> zajímavější (more interesting)
  • důležitý (important) -> důležitější (more important)
  • chytrý (clever) -> chytřejší (cleverer / more clever)

-ší

A relatively small group of (quite common) adjectives use this shorter comparative suffix:

  • mladý (young) -> mladší (younger)
  • starý (starší) -> starší (older) [exception: no softening]
  • drahý (expensive, dear) -> dražší (more expensive, dearer)
  • tichý (quiet) -> tišší (quieter) [not in the course, and yes, we do get "šš"]

Several adjectives ending in "-ký" use this even shorter suffix, whereby the consonant "k" softens into "č" as usual:

  • hezký (nice, pretty/handsome) -> hezčí (nicer, prettier/more handsome)
  • lehký (light as in light-weight, easy) -> lehčí (lighter, easier)

Irregular

Almost every (if not every) language has irregular comparatives for "good" and "bad". In Czech, a few more adjectives have irregular comparatives:

  • dobrý (good) -> lepší (better)
  • špatný (bad) -> horší (worse)
  • velký (big) -> větší (bigger)
  • malý (small) -> menší (smaller)
  • dlouhý (long) -> delší (longer)
  • krátký (short) -> kratší (shorter)
  • vysoký (tall, high) -> vyšší (taller, higer)

Note that comparative adjectives are always soft, even if they derive from hard adjectives.

Words that often go with comparatives

A very useful word that goes along with comparatives is "než", meaning "than". Example: "Můj táta je starší než moje máma." (My dad is older than my mom.)

To say "even more + adjective", we use the word "ještě" (which can mean "still" or "more" in other contexts). Example: "Teď jsem ještě šťastnější." (Now I'm even happier.)

For "much more + adjective", we need "mnohem" (which is technically the instrumental case of "mnoho", so literally "by a lot"). Example: "Tvoje auto je mnohem novější než moje." (Your car is much newer than mine.)

Superlative

Once you know how to form the comparative, the superlative is super easy! Just attach the "nej-" prefix to the beginning of the comparative, and you're done. Some examples:

  • lepší (better) -> nejlepší (the best)
  • krásnější (more beautiful) -> nejkrásnější (the most beautiful)
  • ošklivější (uglier) -> nejošklivější (the ugliest)

Like the comparative, the superlative is also always a soft adjective.

Family members

And finally, let's recap as well as extend our vocabulary pertaining to family members:

Příbuzný Relative
matka mother
máma mom
maminka mommy
otec father
táta dad
tatínek daddy
sourozenec sibling, brother or sister
bratr brother
sestra sister
syn son
dcera daughter
děda, dědeček grandpa
babička grandma
bratranec (male) cousin
sestřenice (female) cousin
strýc, strejda uncle
teta aunt

With What updated 2021-09-15

With what: Instrumental

Let’s meet our next to last new case: the instrumental! As its name hints, it’s primarily used to express using something to do something with, as with an instrument or a tool. Several prepositions may be associated with this case, including the one that often actually translates a “with”, but it has several important uses without a preposition, and that is what we explore in this unit.

How to form the instrumental

First, let’s look at the demonstratives and adjectives and how they change in the instrumental. It’s relatively easy because in the singular, the masculine (animate as well as inanimate) and neuter forms are the same, and the plural forms are identical for all three genders!

Sg. Nom. Sg. Ins., masc. and neuter Sg. Ins., fem. Pl. Ins.
ten/ta/to tím tou těmi
hard – nový novým novou novými
soft – zvláštní zvláštním zvláštní zvláštními

To decline “this” and “that”, we simply add “-to” and “tam-“, respectively. For example: “tento stroj” (this machine) -> “tímto strojem” (with this machine), “tamta kniha” (that book) -> “tamtou knihou”, or “toto slovo” (this word) -> “těmito slovy” (with these words).

Maybe an example is in order. When discussing how a construction task is accomplished, we may want to explain as follows:

  • Děláme to tímto novým strojem. (We do it with this new machine.)

Here are the instrumental forms for the noun declension paradigms covered in this unit. We will cover more paradigms later.

Sg. Nom. Sg. Ins. Pl. Ins.
strom stromem stromy
stroj strojem stroji
kniha knihou knihami
slovo slovem slovy

We learn the instrumental form of “jeden”:

Nominative Instrumental
jeden/jedno (masc./neut.) jedním
jedna (fem.) jednou

Compare “one” with the demonstrative “ten/ta/to”: They decline exactly the same.

We also learn to decline “co” and related pronouns in the instrumental (note the similarity to the “to” declensions above):

Nominative Instrumental
co/něco čím/něčím

We encounter a few anomalies associated with the plural instrumental for paired body parts:

Sg. Nom. Sg. Ins. Pl. Ins.
oko okem ima
ruka rukou rukama

There will be an entire unit to explore this dual body part topic later. For now, review the last two examples below and note that the irregular endings impact even the adjectives attached to the dual nouns.

New words

This skill introduces a few new words:

  • nouns: hlas (voice), nástroj (tool), pero (pen), and tužka (pencil)
  • adjectives: holý (bare)
  • verbs: držet (hold), udělat (do, perfective), vyjádřit (express, perfective), zabít (kill, perfective)

Examples

  • Udělal to nožem. (He did it with a knife.)
  • Píšu tím novým perem. (I am writing with the new pen.)
  • Tohle jídlo nesmíš jíst lžící. (You must not eat this meal with a spoon.)
  • Čím jsi otevřel tu láhev? (What did you open that bottle with?)
  • Dnes je vyrábíme lepšími nástroji. (Today we make them with better tools.)
  • Musíme se dívat vlastníma očima. (We must look with our own eyes.)
  • Zabil holýma rukama medvěda! (He killed a bear with his bare hands!)

Conjunctions 2 updated 2021-09-15

Conjunctions 2

Recall that conjunctions connect other words, expressions, and clauses together. In Conj. 1 you met a handful of conjunctions that work with the present tense. Now let’s have a look at two special conjunctions that work with the past tense. These conjunctions are special in that they conjugate (change endings depending on person and number of their subject) somewhat like verbs. In fact, their endings are the only remnant of an old verb tense that has otherwise vanished from Czech.

Conjugating conjunctions may sound intimidating. Fortunately, these two conjunctions change their endings in lockstep and even follow the conjugation pattern of the conditional auxiliary. Let’s learn all three for the price of one!

Bych, bys, by, bychom, byste: Conditional auxiliary

To form the conditional mood in Czech, we use an auxiliary with the past participle, much like we did when forming the past tense for the 1st and 2nd person. Compare the auxiliaries below:

Person Past Conditional
Sg. 1st (já) jsem bych
Sg. Familiar 2nd (ty) jsi (-s) bys, by ses, by sis
Sg. 3rd (on, ona…) - by
Pl. 1st (my) jsme bychom
Pl./Formal 2nd (vy) jste byste
Pl. 3rd (oni, ony…) - by

For example, compare:

  • On pil vodu. (He drank water.)
  • Měl jsem dva psy. (I had two dogs.)

with

  • On by pil vodu. (He would drink water.)
  • Měl bych dva psy. (I would have two dogs.)

Like the past tense auxiliary, the conditional auxiliary is an obligatory clitic that demands placement in the second position of its clause and bumps pretty much every other clitic to the right. For example:

  • Bál by se ho. (He would be afraid of it/him.)

One last wrinkle: With reflexive verbs (those coming with the se/si particles), the “ty” form of the conditional auxiliary switches from the expected (but incorrect) “bys se”/”bys si” to “by ses” or “by sis”:

  • Bál by ses ho. (You would be afraid of it/him.)

And while some Czechs do not seem to know this, forms like “by jsi” and “by jste si” are wrong (“hypercorrect”) in standard Czech.

Kdybych, kdybys, kdyby, kdybychom, kdybyste: If (imaginary condition)

This conjunction will allow us to talk about imaginary situations, similar to how “if” works in English Type 2 conditionals:

  • Kdybys chtěl umět česky, víc bys studoval. (If you wanted to speak Czech, you would study harder.)

The forms of this conjuction mirror those of the conditional axiliary. Check out the summary table below.

Abych, abys, aby, abychom, abyste: (In order) to

This conjunction will allow us to talk about purpose, similar to how the infinitive, sometimes following “in order” or “so as”, works in English:

  • Hodně se učím, abych uměla dobře česky. (I study a lot in order to speak Czech well.)

Summary of forms

Person Form
Sg. 1st (já) (a/kdy)bych
Sg. Familiar 2nd (ty) (a/kdy)bys, (a/kdy)by ses, (a/kdy)by sis
Sg. 3rd (on, ona…) (a/kdy)by
Pl. 1st (my) (a/kdy)bychom
Pl./Formal 2nd (vy) (a/kdy)byste
Pl. 3rd (oni, ony…) (a/kdy)by

Word order note

Learn more about clitics and word order here.

Travel updated 2021-09-15

Travel

In this skill we extend our vocabulary to discuss travel and transportation. Let’s start with a few nouns.

Nouns

The following table presents each Czech noun with its declension paradigm (even if an unofficial one) to help with the gender and the case endings of each noun:

Czech English
autobus (hrad) bus
kolo (město) bicycle
kufr (hrad) suitcase
letadlo (město) airplane
loď (postel) boat, ship
metro (město) subway, underground
motorka (žena) motorcycle
pas (hrad) passport
stanice (ulice) station
tramvaj (postel) tram
turista (táta) tourist
turistka (žena) tourist (female)
vlak (hrad) train

The likely surprises here are the masculine “turista” (tourist) and the feminine loď (boat) and tramvaj (tram) because they go against the noun genders typically expected for their endings.

In Czech, the vehicle of transportation is often expressed using the instrumental of the vehicle word or phrase (vlak, to nové auto, etc.) without a preposition, much like we did for instruments and tools in With what, as long as the vehicle is one we can be physically inside of. Otherwise, we tend to use “na” with the locative, and that also is how we refer to riding animals. For example, we have

  • autem, autobusem, letadlem, lodí, metrem, tramvají, vlakem

but

  • na kole, na lodi, na motorce, na koni

The lodí/na lodi ambiguity for “by boat” indirectly justifies our rule, as one can be inside a cabin or on the deck.

  • Jedeme autobusem. (We are riding a bus.)

Verbs

We learn two new verbs in the present tense:

Czech English Conjugates like
cestovat travel potřebovat (need)
jezdit ride, go (by vehicle/animal) mluvit (speak)

The conjugation note is a hint to match the verb endings to another verb we already know. For example, we can recall the forms “potřebujete” and “mluvím” to figure out the verb endings for

  • Jak často cestujete lodí? (How often do you travel by boat?)
  • Často jezdím do školy na kole. (I often ride a bicycle to school.)

Note that “jezdit” is the indeterminate (repeated, habitual, multi-directional movement) mate to the determinate (single, one-directional movement) “jet” we encountered in Present 1:

  • Jedu na kole. (I am riding a bicycle.)

We also learn the past tense of three verbs:

Czech English
cestovat travel
nastoupit board, get on
vystoupit exit, get off

By now “cestovat” should be familiar, and its similarity to “potřebovat” works for the past tense as well. The other two verbs here, “nastoupit” and “vystoupit”, form a pair of mutually related verbs with opposite meanings, distinguished by the prefix. This is similar to how “inhale” and “exhale” are related in English. As shown in these examples, the opposite sense of the movement also impacts the choice of the preposition when the vehicle is mentioned:

  • Kde jste nastoupil do tramvaje? (Where did you board the tram?)
  • Z vlaku vystoupil jen František. (Only František got off the train.)

Perhaps you noticed the similarity of “nastoupil” and “vystoupil” to “koupil” (he bought). We encountered that verb in the Past 1 skill, whose tips explored how it relates to “kupoval” (he was buying). The difference has to do with the perfective/imperfective aspect and does not fully map to the simple and progressive tenses in English. We will deal with this in more detail later, but as a preview, yes, “nastupoval” and “vystupoval” are the corresponding imperfective forms.

Once, twice, three times…

Unlike the cardinal and ordinal numbers we have already encountered, the multiplicative number words do not change their form and stay as listed below:

Czech English
jednou once
dvakrát twice
třikrát three times
čtyřikrát four times

The formation pattern suggested by “třikrát” and “čtyřikrát” continues to higher values: Take the cardinal number word and attach “krát”, so we get “pětkrát”, “devatenáctkrát”, and “dvacetkrát”. The “nkrát” pattern even holds for multi-word compound cardinal numbers above 20, which should get written as a single word with “krát” attached (dvacetjednakrát, třistašedesátpětkrát).

  • V Německu jsem byla třicetšestkrát. (I have been to Germany thirty-six times.)

To ask “how many times” in Czech, use “kolikrát” (note the spelling):

  • Kolikrát jsi tam byl? (How many times have you been there?)

The multiplicatives are often followed with expressions combining the preposition “za” with the accusative of a time period noun or noun phrase, such as “hodinu”, “den”, “týden”, “měsíc”, “rok” or “deset let”, and then they express the number of times per time period:

  • Na Slovensko cestujeme jednou nebo dvakrát za rok. (We travel to Slovakia once or twice a year.)

Possessive Adjectives updated 2019-10-29

Possessive Adjectives

Czech possessive adjectives (PAs) offer an alternative to the genitive when expressing ownership. Unlike the genitive of possession (auto Františka), PAs go before the noun (Františkovo auto).

Restrictions

In standard Czech, the possessor (owner) name must be

  • singular (no PA for "people's republic");
  • animate, such as a person or something personified, or an animal (no PA for "water's edge");
  • grammatically masculine or feminine (no PA from děvče or dítě);
  • referring to a specific possessor, not a generic or abstract one (no PA for "man's best friend");
  • a single word (no PA for "my younger brother's wife"); and
  • a noun (no PAs from feminine surnames, which are adjectives, like Navrátilová).

Where these restrictions prevent the use of the PAs, Czech uses other types of adjectives or the genitive of possession.

Formation and Declension

PAs are formed by adding together three pieces:

root + suffix + ending

  • The "root" comes from the owner noun.
  • The "suffix" mostly depends on the owner gender.
  • The "ending" depends on the owned object gender, number, and case.

To find the root for masculine owners,

  • take the accusative of the owner noun (this deletes the "e" from the stem if appropriate; see "dědeček" below); and
  • remove the vowel ending
Owner Accusative Root
bratr bratra bratr
muž muže muž
dědeček dědečka dědečk
táta tátu tát
soudce soudce soudc

To find the root for feminine owners,

  • take the dative of the owner noun (this captures consonant shifts; see "sestra" and "matka" below);
  • remove the vowel ending; and
  • replace the final "c" with "č" and "z" with "ž"
Owner Dative Root
žena ženě žen
Žofie Žofii Žofi
sestra sestře sestř
matka matce matč

The suffix goes right after the root and is the simplest PA piece, being:

  • "ův" for a masculine owner with a singular masculine owned object in the nominative and singular masculine inanimate owned object in the accusative;
  • "ov" for a masculine owner otherwise; and
  • "in" for a feminine owner

Finally, the ending depends on the gender, number, and case of the owned object. In the tables below, "-" denotes an empty ending, i.e., nothing.

For singular objects:

Case M (an./in.) F N
N sg. - a o
A sg. a / - u o
G sg. a y a
L sg. ě ě ě
I sg. ým ou ým
D sg. u ě u

Note that the "ův" suffix can only go with the empty ending for a masculine owner. Some learners may benefit from figuring out the ending before the suffix.

For plural objects:

Case M (an./in.) F N
N pl. i / y y a
A pl. y y a
G pl. ých ých ých
L pl. ých ých ých
I pl. ými ými ými
D pl. ým ým ým

Examples

Let's try it on translating "I don't know František's sister." As a hint, our translation will contain neznám ... sestru, with the object in accusative.

  • First we get the PA root for a masculine owner (František) from its accusative form (Františka) by dropping the final vowel: "Františk".
  • Next we pick the right suffix. The owner is masculine but the owned object is not M nom. sg. or M in. acc. sg. (which would give an empty ending next), so the suffix is "ov".
  • Finally, from the tables of endings for A sg. and a feminine object, the ending we get "u".
  • The PA becomes "Františkovu".

Note that the translation likely gets organized as "Františkovu sestru neznám." because the "not knowing" is more likely to be the key piece of information than who she is.

Our second example deals with the PA-related issue most frequently debated in sentence discussions for this skill: Whose grandfather is it anyway?

  • Oba dědečkovy domy jsou v Praze. (Both of my grandfather's houses are in Prague.)

The main tripping hazard here is the "my grandfather's houses" translation. How do we know it was my grandfather of all grandfathers?

We could have said "both Grandpa's houses", using the family title as if it were a proper noun (note the capitalization). If I said "Grandpa's new house is in Prague." to you (assuming we are not related), you would apply my statement to my grandfather. The same connection makes the "dědeček" automatically apply to the speaker's grandpa.

If we wanted to explicitly specify whose grandfather we are talking about, we would lose the ability to use a PA (because PAs do not handle multi-word possessors), and end up replacing "oba dědečkovy domy" with the rather less idiomatic "oba domy mého dědečka".

Finally, in

  • Vystoupila z otcova auta. (She got out of her father's car.)

the father could also be the narrator's, but it is a good example where "her" father is just as probable.

Relative Clauses updated 2021-09-15

Relative clauses 1

In this skill we learn to construct relative subordinate clauses and connect them to the main clause. To do that, we are going to need relative pronouns as the connecting pieces.

Relative pronoun který

One of the relative pronouns looks and behaves like the interrogatory pronoun který. Recall that this pronoun declines like a hard adjective.

As a relative pronoun, který does the job of the English relative pronouns “who”, “whom”, “which”, and “that”. This Czech pronoun cannot be omitted, and there is no distinction between restrictive (defining) and non-restrictive (non-defining) use. In Czech, relative clauses need to be set off by commas regardless of whether or not they are restrictive, and only context will show their restrictive status.

The structure of the complex sentence with který can be readily appreciated by first identifying the corresponding question using a form of který as an interrogative. Say we want to translate “He married the girl from whom he had been buying milk every morning.” (It is easiest to start from an English sentence from which the relative pronoun was not omitted, and with any associated preposition preceding the pronoun rather than pushed to the end.)

The translation will predictably begin

  • Vzal si dívku...

The question we need asks about the English subordinate clause and uses the key piece from the main clause that the subordinate clause refers to:

  • From which girl had he been buying milk every morning?

We get:

  • U které dívky každé ráno kupoval mléko? (U is better than od here.)

Let’s lose the piece of the main clause again

  • u které každé ráno kupoval mléko

and stitch it together, using the required comma:

  • Vzal si dívku, u které každé ráno kupoval mléko.

This will work for other cases, including those without a preposition in Czech, even the nominative, and for questions:

  • Who knows the man who is sitting on the yellow sofa?
  • Intermediate: Který (muž) sedí na žluté pohovce?
  • Kdo zná toho muže, který sedí na žluté pohovce?

It may be easier for some students to recognize that the case of the pronoun is determined by the subordinate clause, and the gender/number by the element of the main clause to which the subordinate clause refers.

Relative pronoun jenž

In formal contexts, the relative pronoun jenž may be used instead of který. This pronoun also comes in different forms for different genders and cases:

Case/ Number M an. M in. F N
Nom. sg. jenž jenž jež jež
Acc. sg. jehož, jejž, něhož, nějž jejž, nějž již, niž jež, něž
Gen. sg. jehož, jejž, něhož, nějž jehož, jejž, něhož, nějž jíž, níž jehož, jejž, něhož, nějž
Loc. sg. němž němž níž němž
Ins. sg. jímž, nímž jímž, nímž jíž, níž jímž, nímž
Dat. sg. jemuž, němuž jemuž, němuž jíž, níž jemuž, němuž
Nom. pl. již jež jež jež
Acc. pl. jež, něž jež, něž jež, něž jež, něž
Gen. pl. jichž, nichž jichž, nichž jichž, nichž jichž, nichž
Loc. pl. nichž nichž nichž nichž
Ins. pl. jimiž, nimiž jimiž, nimiž jimiž, nimiž jimiž, nimiž
Dat. pl. jimž, nimž jimž, nimž jimž, nimž jimž, nimž

As we have seen with personal pronouns, the forms starting with j- are used in the absence of a preposition, and those starting with n- are used after a preposition.

The connection with the personal pronouns will help us avoid memorizing the entire table. If we know which forms of the personal pronouns are used in which cases, we can simply append to them. Using our milk girl as an example, take the subordinate clause question:

  • U které dívky každé ráno kupoval mléko?

Replace what makes sense with the personal pronoun:

  • u ní každé ráno kupoval mléko

Append to the pronoun and assemble the translation:

  • Vzal si dívku, u níž každé ráno kupoval mléko.

We do have to memorize the nominative forms, as we cannot just add to on to get jenž, to oni to get již, or to the other nominative forms to get jež.

Relative clause mid-sentence

The relative clause can be inserted in the middle of the main clause immediately following the element it refers to:

  • Dívku, u které/níž každé ráno kupoval mléko, si vzal.
  • On/František si dívku, u které/níž každé ráno kupoval mléko, vzal.

Note that the relative clause is needed to complete the unit of meaning, which is why in the first example the reflexive dative enclitic si must come immediately after it.

Clitics in relative clauses

For keeping track of where the clitics should go, the form of který or jenž with any associated preposition count as the first unit of meaning in the clause:

  • Pamatuješ si tu studentku, které/jíž jsme se ho báli dát? (Do you remember the student we were afraid to give him/it to?)

None of the clitics can climb up from the relative clause to the governing clause.

Movement updated 2018-10-25

Verbs of motion

Czech verbs of motion exist in pairs that distinguish between determinate and indeterminate actions. This is not quite like the perfective vs imperfective distinction.

  • Determinate verbs of motion are used for single, one-directional, goal-directed movements.
  • Indeterminate verbs of motion are used for repeated, habitual, multi-directional, general (non-goal-directed) movements.

For example, compare these four common Czech verbs, all corresponding to English "go":

  • jít vs chodit (go, walk, go on foot)
  • jet vs jezdit (go, go by vehicle, ride)

The first verb in these pairs is determinate, the second indeterminate. Note also the distinction between motion on foot and motion by vehicle. Czech does not have a generic "go" like English.

Jít (go, walk)

Number 1st person 2nd person 3rd person
Sg. jdu jdeš jde
Pl. jdeme jdete jdou

In colloquial Czech the j- in these present forms is sometimes silent in pronunciation, similar to most of the present forms of být. Já jsem. and Kam jdeš? may sound like Já sem. and Kam deš?. This does not happen in negative sentences.

The past tense forms of jít are šel (m), šla (f), šlo (n), šli/šly/šla (pl): Ony šly domů. (They went home.)

The future tense is created with the prefix pů-: Půjdu domů. (I will go home.)

Jet (go, ride, drive)

Number 1st person 2nd person 3rd person
Sg. jedu jedeš jede
Pl. jedeme jedete jedou

The past tense forms of jet are jel (m), jela (f), jelo (n), jeli/jely/jela (pl). Kam jeli? (Where did they go?)

The future tense is created with the prefix po-: Pojedu domů. (I will go home.)

Notes

Note that jít and jet can also mean both "go" or "come", depending on the direction of travel:

  • Jde/Jede sem. (He is coming here.)
  • Jde/Jede tam. (He is going there.)

Prefixed verbs of motion

The verbs of motion can also form aspectual pairs (imperfective and perfective) by prefixation, which alters their meanings.

Od- means "away", "from":

  • jít/chodit (go, walk) become odejít/odcházet (go away, leave)
  • jet/jezdit (go, ride, drive) become odjet/odjíždět (ride, go away, leave)

Při- means "to", "near":

  • přijít/přicházet (arrive, come on foot)
  • přijet/přijíždět (arrive, come by vehicle)

Dual updated 2019-06-09

This Skill introduces the names of several body parts. Pair body parts, like hands - ruce, legs - nohy, knees - kolena, shoulders - "ramena", eyes - oči and ears - uši follow a special type of declination in the plural.

This declination is called dual because it is derived from the Old Czech dual grammatical number, which was used instead of the plural number to all entities, if they happened to be in two. It is used for numbers dva (two) and oba (both) and then for certain (namely externally visible) body parts, even if there are more than two of them.

If some of these words are used in a derived meaning, like nohy stolu - the legs of a table, they use the regular plural declination, not the dual one.

Case Dual Regular plural
nom. nohy nohy
gen. nohou/noh noh
dat. nohám nohám
loc. nohou/nohách nohách
instr.. nohama nohami

Adjectives and numbers tři and čtyři bound to dual nouns acquire dual endings as well: zvíře se čtyřma velkýma nohama - an animal with four large legs

Wishes updated 2018-10-25

Wishes

Until these Tips & Notes are added, please refer to James Naughton's Czech: An Essential Grammar, section 7.9.1, pp. 153-154, and section 7.14.4, pp. 159-160.

Used To updated 2018-10-25

Past habit

Until these Tips & Notes are added, please refer to James Naughton's Czech: An Essential Grammar, section 7.17, pp. 165-166.

What The?! updated 2020-06-23

What the?! Common Czech

This is a summary. Visit https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/35769759 for details and a warning.

Up to this point, the course was teaching standard Czech. Here we introduce “common” Czech, spoken in informal contexts pretty much by the entire native population of Bohemia and found in books and movies as the language of their characters.

Let’s look at the main deviations of common Czech from the standard.

o -> vo (Von votevřel vokno.)

Common Czech often inserts v in front of the word-initial o. Words like okno, on, oba, otevřít, and o may become vokno, von, voba, votevřít and vo. The skill also introduces the “common” variants of osm, osmnáct, and osmdesát, which become vosum, vosumnáct, and vosumdesát.

Plural Nom./Acc. and gender merger for demonstratives and hard adjectives (Ty americký turisti přišli vo svý telefony.)

Sequences like ti noví, ty nové, and ta nová (the/those new) are simplified to one “common” form in Nom./Acc. and all genders. This also impacts other demonstratives (tamten, tenhle) and words that decline like hard adjectives (such as pronouns jaký, který, můj, tvůj, and svůj).

Form M an. M in. F N
Nom. standard ti noví ty nové ty nové ta nová
Acc. standard ty nové ty nové ty nové ta nová
Nom./Acc. common ty nový ty nový ty nový ty nový

The “common” hard adjective form also gets rid of the standard consonant shifts before the ending.

é -> ý (Proč chceš to velký zvíře ve svým malým pokoji?)

This shift is common in endings of hard adjectives and words that decline like them.

ý -> ej (Mluvil vo svejch novejch sousedech.)

This shift is common in endings of hard adjectives and words that decline like them but does not apply to the singular instrumental endings. We only shift the standard ý, not the ý resulting from other “common” shifts.

“Dual” endings in plural instrumental (Kam šla s těma třema velkejma hruškama?)

In common Czech, the special -a endings in Pl. Ins. reserved in the standard for ruce, nohy, oči, and uši along with any associated adjectives, various pronouns including demonstratives, and cardinal numerals tři and čtyři when referring to specific body parts of animate beings are used in Pl. Ins. without limitation to the listed nouns or animate being status.

Our new hard adjective declension table

The highlighted forms are non-standard:

Num./Case M an. M in. F N
Sg. Nom. novej novej nová nový
Sg. Acc. novýho novej novou nový
Sg. Gen. novýho novýho nový novýho
Sg. Loc. novým novým nový novým
Sg. Ins. novým novým novou novým
Sg. Dat. novýmu novýmu novou novým
Pl. Nom./Acc. nový nový nový nový
Pl. Gen./Loc. novejch novejch novejch novejch
Pl. Ins. novejma novejma novejma novejma
Pl. Dat. novejm novejm novejm novejm

Masculine plural locative hard noun ending -ích -> -ách (Píšu knihy vo vlkách.)

The masculine plural locative ending -ích for hard declension nouns sometimes becomes -ách, which means that the consonant shift in the standard is avoided.

Deletion of the final -l in the past-tense verb form (Kdo ti to řek?)

The final -l following a consonant in the past-tense verb form is often deleted.

Unified ending in the plural past-tense verb form across all genders (Stáli tam ty auta.)

In common Czech, the plural past-tense ending is -li regardless of gender.

Verb ending -eme -> -em (My vodejdem.)

The plural first person verb ending -eme sometimes becomes just -em.

Deletion of “j” from some verb forms (Já tam nepudu, sou tam voni.)

Forms like (pů)jdu and (pů)jdeš often become (pu)du and (pu)deš. The unprefixed negatives like nejdu remain unchanged.

The forms jsem, jsi (jseš), jsme, jste, and jsou often lose the initial j-. The negative forms nejsem, nejsi (nejseš), etc. remain unchanged. The forms jseš and nejseš are other possible “common” versions of jsi and nejsi.

Auxiliary/conjunction ending -chom -> -sme (Kdybysme mohli, tak bysme vodešli.)

The plural first person auxiliary/conjunctions bychom, abychom, and kdybychom often become (a/kdy)bysme.

Plural 3rd person verb endings -ají/-ejí/-ějí -> -aj/-ej/-ěj (Říkaj, že to nechtěj.)

These plural third-person endings sometimes lose the final .

Plural 3rd person verb ending -í -> -ej/-ěj (Nevěděj to.)

The plural third-person verb ending following a consonant other than “j” sometimes morphs to -ej/-ěj.

Distorted and new words

A few examples of the changed or expanded vocabulary are introduced: bejt, tejden, zejtra, and furt (common alternative to pořád).


49 skills with tips and notes

 
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