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Start here updated 2022-03-16 ^

Start here

Welcome to the 2nd version of the Czech course! We hope your efforts prove successful and enjoyable.

About this skill

Our first skill is intended to provide a simplified preview of the language. It presents basic words in simple, brief sentences modeled on the old "syllabary" books some of us used in first grade.

We learn three verbs, "je" (is), "jí" (eats, is eating), and "má" (has). The sentences in this skill can be translated word for word except where the subject pronoun is omitted in Czech or where English uses auxiliary words with its verbs.

For example,

means "She is here.", and

can mean "He/she/it is here.", depending on context. We usually don't need the subject pronoun, even if including it is normally possible.

In

we see that Czech does not have articles.

In sentences with "jí", we will need to map the Czech present tense (of which there is only one) to one of the English tenses appropriate for the meaning. For example,

can mean "Dad eats here.", "Dad is eating here.", and even "Dad has been eating here.",

while

has enough built-in context to lean towards an event in progress.

In

we see how the one-word Czech verbs produce sentence structures differing from English even when the subject is not skipped. ("Kde Jitka jí?" is also possible.)

Introduction to the sounds of Czech

Czech is much less challenging to pronounce than English. If you know how a Czech sentence is written, you can usually determine how it is pronounced, and usually even vice versa. Most letters are pronounced close to some of their possible pronunciations in English.

Czech vowels are as in most European languages:

Each Czech vowel has a short and a long form, and they are always distinguished in standard writing. As shown in the nice early examples "máma" and "táta", the long forms are written with accents like the "á" in these words (with one exception to come later), while the short forms are written plain.

The main difference between a short vowel and its long form is the length of time spent pronouncing them, except that i and y also undergo a quality change, possibly variable by region, so that:

Finally, Czech has one domestic diphthong (in addition to those in imported words):

Czech consonants are more tricky than the vowels. Let's start with the few that matter in this skill:

Each letter in Czech is usually pronounced independently of the letters around it. More exceptions will be noted later, but we do have two to start with in this skill:

If a word ends in a voiced consonant (one pronounced with the voice "on"), it gets pronounced as if the consonant were devoiced. This is why "Jakub" often sounds like "Jakup". This devoicing does not occur if another voiced consonant immediately follows in speech, as we get in:

Consonant clusters like the "kd" in "kde" often show interaction. The rule of thumb is that groups of consonants in the same syllable are all pronounced voiced or unvoiced, usually according to the last consonant in the group. Our voice will be active while saying the "d", so we turn it on already for the "k", and that makes it sound like a "g". So "kde" ends up pronounced as "gde".

Note on the personal names

Several personal names are included in this course, starting with "Jakub" and "Jitka" in this initial skill. Please do not translate these to English, even if you figure out their English counterparts (Jacob and Judith).

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:

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:

Time to get into more Czech sounds.

Vowels

This should mostly be a review:

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:

We do get a new vowel letter:

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

Unvoiced

Other

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.

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:

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

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:

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

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:

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:

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

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):

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:

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

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:

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

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:

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:

Several new consonants matter in this skill:

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

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):

Intros updated 2022-03-16 ^

Intros

We now learn how to greet someone and say our name and common phrases. We get introduced to two more people by name, "Kateřina" and "Matěj".

Cultural item

The most common Czech greeting polite enough to greet strangers during daytime is "Dobrý den!". No single English greeting exactly matches it. The literal translation "Good day!" is mostly for leave-taking, unlike the Czech greeting. "Good morning!" and "Good afternoon!" are both too limited as to time of applicability. We settled on showing "Dobrý den!" translated as "Hello!".

Grammar bits

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

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

Time for more Czech sounds.

Vowels

This should mostly be a review:

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:

We do get a new vowel letter:

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

Unvoiced

Other

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.

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:

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

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:

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

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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

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:

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

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:

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:

Several new consonants appear in this skill:

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:

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

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:

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

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:

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:

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:

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

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:

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

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:

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:

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:

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

Men updated 2022-03-16 ^

Men: Masculine grammar gender

In this skill we learn a few more 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 coincide.

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

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

Adjectives

We encountered our very first Czech adjective in a 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:

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

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:

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.

You may notice what appears to be a new vowel:

Our word is "dům" (house), 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 matter in this skill:

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

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):

To Be Or Not To Be, Singular updated 2022-02-02 ^

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.":

Introduction "to": "To je Matěj"

The "to" in introductions like

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:

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:

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:

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

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.":

Introduction "to": "To je Matěj"

The "to" in introductions like

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:

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:

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:

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

Women updated 2022-03-16 ^

Women: Feminine grammar gender

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 Men skill.

Adjectives

We encountered our very first Czech adjective in a 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:

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

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:

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 review them as needed.

You may notice what appears to be a new vowel:

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.

Unlike consonant clusters, vowel sequences are not common in Czech and usually show up in foreign-derived words. The examples in "restaurace" and "Žofie" show that the Czech approach to vowel sequences in the same syllable is to simply glide from the first vowel to the next, much like the sounds in "out" and "Sienna". Later we will see that when the vowels meet between adjacent syllables (as a result of prefixation), a stop is inserted between them instead of the glide.

Several new consonants appear in this skill:

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

This skill also includes another example 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 "v" at the end of "mrkev" gets pronounced as its devoiced mate "f", making the word sound like "mrkef".

That last example, "mrkev", shows another interesting feature of Czech: At times, "r" (or "l") can be used to create a syllable in the absence of a vowel. It takes some time getting used to.

Children updated 2022-03-16 ^

Children: Neuter grammar gender

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 Men skill.

Adjectives

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

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

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:

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:

In "jablko", we get a pronunciation oddball. The "l" is sandwiched between two other consonants, but it makes a vowel-like voiced sound that makes this into a three-syllable word. The other consonant that can do this is "r".

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:

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

What? updated 2022-03-16 ^

What?

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

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

Both "the" and "that" are usually acceptable 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.":

Introduction "to": "To je Matěj"

The "to" in introductions like

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 translations, but subject pronouns (he, she, it) are usually also recognized:

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" in this course). 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 just discussed or understood to be the topic:

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 accepted.

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. But 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:

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 voices have all been bad at this to date.)

Pronunciation notes

To Be Or Not To Be, Plural updated 2022-02-02 ^

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:

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:

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):

Pronoun "to" (again?)

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

Keep in mind

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

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:

Adjectives

In the plural, adjectives differ in endings between the genders predictably:

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:

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:

Keep in mind

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

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").

Who? updated 2022-03-16 ^

Who?

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) jsou They are
(My) nejsme We are not
(Vy) nejste You are not (plural/formal singular)
(Oni/Ony) nejsou They are not

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

Czech 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 plural subjects, Czech usually relies on "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:

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:

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):

Pronoun "to" (again?)

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

Keep in mind

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

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").

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:

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:

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

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.

Questions 1 updated 2022-03-16 ^

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:

is the neutral way of asking,

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

may express surprise similar to the English statement question, and

(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:

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

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

Prepositions: Accusative updated 2022-02-02 ^

Prepositions for the accusative case

This skill introduces the accusative forms of the first and last names we have in the course:

Nom. Acc.
František Františka
Jakub Jakuba
Jitka Jitku
Kateřina Kateřinu
Matěj Matěje
Žofie Žofii
Nom. Acc.
pan Dvořák pana Dvořáka
pan Novotný pana Novotného
paní Dvořáková paní Dvořákovou
paní Novotná paní Novotnou

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, including in Czech, is that they often defy expectations based on one's native language: A preposition different from 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. Two prepositions for the accusative are introduced in this skill: "na" and "o". We already encountered "pro". 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 another encounter in this course with this challenging word. (Recall we saw it in sentences like "Jak se jmenuje?")

We cannot omit it "se" 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":

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

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

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 discussed above.

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

Groups updated 2022-03-16 ^

Groups: More plurals

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

Nouns

Recall our initial observations for nouns:

This skill introduces the following new plurals:

Czech English
chlapec > chlapci boy(s)
člověk > lidé (irregular) person > people
dům > domy house(s)
had > hadi snake(s)
hotel > hotely hotel(s)
hrad > hrady castle(s)
táta > tátové dad(s)
dívka > dívky girl(s)
kniha > knihy book(s)
kočka > kočky cat(s)
koza > kozy goat(s)
máma > mámy mom(s)
mrkev > mrkve carrot(s)
myš > myši mouse > mice
ovce > ovce sheep (sg. & pl.)
postel > postele bed(s)
věc > věci thing(s)
věta > věty sentence(s)
auto > auta car(s)
jméno > jména name(s)
nádraží train station(s)
náměstí town square(s)
pero > pera pen(s)
prase > prasata pig(s)
rajče > rajčata tomato(es)
slovo > slova word(s)
tričko > trička word(s)

Let’s now expand our plural noun formation guidance:

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" (and keep going from "hezký chlapec" to "hezcí chlapci"). We also encounter new written shifts from "h" to "z" and from "r" to "ř". That’s how we go from

Vowel deletions/alterations

Sometimes the "e" just before the final consonant in the singular vanishes from the plural:

The "ů" that was the only vowel in the singular sometimes becomes an "o" in the plural:

Nouns with "ů" as the only stem vowel are rare enough to allow memorizing this irregularity individually.

Adjectives

The previous skill introduced the three "soft" adjectives that do not change their endings with gender: "další" (another/the next), "poslední" (last), and "zvláštní" (strange, odd). We now see that their endings stay the same in the plural as well:

Thou updated 2022-02-02 ^

Addressing people: Vocative

We now learn how to address people, which is our opportunity to explore the vocative case.

Vocative

Recall that when Jakub's name appears as the subject of a verb, it is in the nominative case:

When he appears as the object of a verb, his name is often in the accusative case:

If you have yet to take the Prepos. A skill, just replace "Jakub" with "medvěd" and consider how the endings mirror what happened in the Animals skill.

If we want to call Jakub by name, we will need to use his name in the vocative case:

Yes, the ending changes again. We will only learn the vocative forms for the first names, last names, and the titles we have in the course:

Nom. Acc. Voc.
František Františka Františku
Jakub Jakuba Jakube
Jitka Jitku Jitko
Kateřina Kateřinu Kateřino
Matěj Matěje Matěji
Žofie Žofii Žofie
pan pana pane
Dvořák Dvořáka Dvořáku
Novotný Novotného Novotný
paní paní paní
Dvořáková Dvořákovou Dvořáková
Novotná Novotnou Novotná

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. The vy forms are used 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. For example,

uses the plural "(vy) jste" but singular "mladá".

More greetings

Your name? updated 2022-03-16 ^

Your name?

In this skill we talk about what someone’s name is or what something is called. The most natural method of this in Czech is the same for people and things and involves a new verb:

The question includes "jak", which we already know means "how". The "se jmenuje" (or "jmenuje se" if starting the sentence) fragment means roughly "calls himself". The deconstructed sentences are approximately "How/what does the new student call himself?" and "The new student (he) calls himself Jakub." This may feel familiar to learners with Romance language backgrounds.

The "se" is a very common Czech word. For now let’s consider it a mobile piece of the verb.

The new verb

We will need a table to let us choose the right form of the verb to match who the sentence is about. Most of the verb endings should seem familiar from our work with the translations of "be":

Czech English
já se jmenuju (jmenuju se) my name is
ty se jmenuješ (jmenuješ se) your name is
on/ona/to se jmenuje (jmenuje se) his/her/its name is
my se jmenujeme (jmenujeme se) our names are
vy se jmenujete (jmenujete se) your name is/names are
oni/ony se jmenujou (jmenujou se) their names are

So if someone asks you

you might reply

or, when in doubt,

Nouns of note

We learn a few more nouns and plural noun forms. Let’s focus on those that do more than just follow our guidelines in progress:

We learn a new inanimate masculine noun and its plural: "stroj" and "stroje", machine(s). Our list of consonants after which the masculine inanimate ending in the plural is -e instead of -y grows to "č" and "j". (We already had "pomeranče".)

We also learn that the plural of the animate masculine "učitel" (teacher) is "učitelé". This along with "manželé" suggests that animate masculine nouns ending in -el in the singular append to form the plural.

Cultural item: Last names

Czech last names traditionally differ systematically between males and females for most last names. This skill introduces two very common surname pairs:

Many regular Czech nouns and adjectives are in use as last names. The traditional and still common approach is that a new wife takes on her new husband’s last name (adjusted as needed) on marrying him, and any children born within their marriage start their life with the same last name as the parent of the matching gender. This tradition is starting to change, but we use it as a simple starting point.

When referring to individuals using just their last names, it is polite to include "pan" (Mr.) or "paní" (Mrs./Ms.). just before the last name. For example:

Or both the first name and the last name can be used without implying lack of respect:

As we did with the first names, we want to keep the last names untranslated in the answers.

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:

A few examples:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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.

Food updated 2022-03-16 ^

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 paradigm

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
hrad hrad hrady hrady
banán banán banány banány
cukr cukr cukry cukry
hlad hlad - -
chléb chléb chleby chleby
meloun meloun melouny melouny
sýr sýr sýry sýry

Stroj paradigm

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

Feminine nouns

Žena paradigm

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 paradigm

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

No new nouns following this pattern appear in this skill.

Píseň paradigm

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 paradigms. 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 paradigm

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

Neuter nouns

Město paradigm

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

Kuře paradigm

Nom. sg. Acc. sg. Nom. pl. Acc. pl.
kuře kuře kuřata kuřata

"Kuře" (chicken) is the official declension paradigm word for "prase", "rajče", and "zvíře".

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 stuffy. 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":

Pro: Our first preposition

"Pro" quite closely resembles the English preposition "for" in the core meaning related to the notion of purpose or reason. For example, "Ten chléb je pro kuřata." is "That bread is for the chickens."

Animals updated 2022-03-16 ^

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.

Waiting updated 2022-03-16 ^

Waiting: Prepositions for the accusative case

This skill introduces the accusative forms of the first and last names we have in the course:

Nom. Acc.
František Františka
Jakub Jakuba
Jitka Jitku
Kateřina Kateřinu
Matěj Matěje
Žofie Žofii
Nom. Acc.
pan Dvořák pana Dvořáka
pan Novotný pana Novotného
paní Dvořáková paní Dvořákovou
paní Novotná paní Novotnou

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, including in Czech, is that they often defy expectations based on one's native language: A preposition different from 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. Two prepositions for the accusative are introduced in this skill: "na" and "o". We already encountered "pro". 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 another encounter in this course with this challenging word. (Recall we saw it in sentences like "Jak se jmenuje?")

We cannot omit it "se" 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":

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

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

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 discussed above.

"O" is also used with one other case to be covered 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:

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:

In/Formal: Vocative updated 2022-03-16 ^

In/Formal: Addressing people and the vocative case

We now learn how to address people, which is our opportunity to explore the vocative case and get into more greetings.

Vocative

When Jakub's name appears as the subject of a verb, it is in the nominative case:

When Jakub appears as the object of a verb, his name is often in the accusative case:

If we want to call Jakub by name, we will need to use his name in the vocative case:

Yes, the ending changes again. We will only learn the vocative forms for the first names, last names, and titles we have in the course:

Nom. Acc. Voc.
František Františka Františku
Jakub Jakuba Jakube
Jitka Jitku Jitko
Kateřina Kateřinu Kateřino
Matěj Matěje Matěji
Žofie Žofii Žofie
pan pana pane
Dvořák Dvořáka Dvořáku
Novotný Novotného Novotný
paní paní paní
Dvořáková Dvořákovou Dvořáková
Novotná Novotnou Novotná

Review the cases in this example:

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. The vy forms are used when addressing single individuals in more formal contexts and when addressing groups rather than individuals.

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. For example,

uses the plural "(vy) jste" but singular "mladá".

Cultural item

The familiarity level implied in using the "ty" address in Czech goes well beyond using the first name in English. In Czech, both "ty" and "vy" forms can occur with the first name address, depending on the actual level of familiarity and situation. Intermediate situations in which the "vy" forms are used along with the first name are possible.

But because that intermediate zone requires much calibration in the field, we will work with the simplified model in which the "ty" address in Czech corresponds to the first name basis in English, and the "vy" address is used otherwise. This at least avoids the biggest cultural blunder, using the overly familiar "ty" address where deference is in order. The course enforces this by rejecting the "ty" forms when individuals are being addressed as "pan" or "paní" with last names. With first names, we prefer the "ty" forms but do not reject answers with "vy".

More greetings

The polite/familiar distinctions also impact the appropriate greetings and set phrases. For example, while "děkuju" is widely applicable, "dobrý den" is mostly incompatible with the "ty" address. More greetings and phrases with their suggested politeness context below:

Czech English Politeness
ahoj hi/hello, bye ty
děkuju thank you both
díky thanks both
dobré odpoledne good afternoon vy
dobré ráno good morning vy
dobrou noc good night both
dobrý den hello vy
dobrý večer good evening vy
hezký víkend have a nice weekend both
na shledanou good bye vy

The only politeness incompatibility in the above table that we reject answers for is the use of "ahoj" with "pan" or "paní" plus last name.

Pronunciation note

"Na shledanou" shows a complication in how consonant clusters mixing voiced and unvoiced consonants in the same syllable get pronounced.

Words like "kde" show the usual effect, where the final consonant of the cluster determines how to pronounce the rest of it. In "kde", the final "d" is voiced, so the preceding "k" gets converted to its voiced mate "g" in speech, and the word sounds like "gde".

The "sh" cluster gets processed in the opposite direction, at least in Bohemia. Instead of matching the cluster to the final voiced/unvoiced consonant, which would produce the "zh" sound by voicing the "s" into a "z" to match the voiced "h" at the end as expected, the unvoiced "s" remains and instead converts the final voiced "h" into the unvoiced "ch". As a result, the greeting gets pronounced as "naschledanou". (Speakers of Moravian dialects of Czech skip these complications for the "sh" cluster, and their "na shledanou" is rendered simply as "nazhledanou".)

You may wonder why the important cluster in "na shledanou" is "sh" rather than "shl". This is because these voicings and devoicings within the cluster ignore any final "l". (Other similarly ignored cluster-final consonants include "r", "ř", and "v").

Questions 2 updated 2022-03-16 ^

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:

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

You and me updated 2022-03-16 ^

You and me: 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:

A few examples:

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).

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:

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:

"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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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:

Learn more about clitics and word order here.

Yours/Mine updated 2022-03-16 ^

Yours/Mine: 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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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 2022-03-16 ^

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

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 2022-03-16 ^

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:

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

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 2022-03-16 ^

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:

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:

Clothing updated 2022-03-16 ^

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

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:

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.

This-That updated 2022-03-16 ^

This-That: 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:

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:

Adverbs updated 2022-03-16 ^

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? 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:

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):

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:

Numbers 1 updated 2022-03-16 ^

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

If/When updated 2022-03-16 ^

If/When: 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:

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:

"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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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:

Learn more about clitics and word order here.

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:

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:

Position of adjectives

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

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.

Infinitive updated 2022-03-16 ^

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:

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 ...

Want to ...

Be beginning to ...

Be afraid to ...

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

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.

Other uses

Household updated 2022-03-16 ^

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 2022-03-16 ^

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:

Examples:

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:

Examples:

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:

Aspect: Preview

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

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

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:

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

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

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:

Numbers 2 updated 2022-03-16 ^

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:

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:

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:

What kind? updated 2022-03-16 ^

What kind: Adjectives

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:

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:

Position of adjectives

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

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 2022-03-16 ^

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:

Numbers 3 updated 2022-03-16 ^

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:

Examples:

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:

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.

About... updated 2022-03-16 ^

About: 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:

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

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

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:

Ordinals updated 2022-03-16 ^

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:

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

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:

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:

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:

Modals 1 updated 2022-03-16 ^

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:

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

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

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

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):

and to limited permissions

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

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”:

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.

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”:

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.

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:

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

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:

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:

with

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:

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”:

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:

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:

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.

Family 2 updated 2022-03-16 ^

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:

Some examples:

-ší

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

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

Irregular

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

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:

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 2022-03-16 ^

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:

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:

Examples

Would you? updated 2022-03-16 ^

Would you?

Recall that conjunctions connect other words, expressions, and clauses together. In If/When 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:

with

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:

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”:

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:

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:

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 2022-03-16 ^

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

but

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

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

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:

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:

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).

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

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:

Possessive Adjectives updated 2022-03-16 ^

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

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

To find the root for masculine owners,

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,

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:

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.

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?

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

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

Relative Clauses 1 updated 2022-03-16 ^

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. 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

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:

We get:

Let’s delete the piece of the main clause from the question:

and stitch it together, using the required comma:

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

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 clause mid-sentence

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

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" with any associated preposition count as the first unit of meaning in the clause:

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

Movement updated 2022-03-16 ^

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.

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

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:

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":

Při- means "to", "near":

Dual updated 2022-03-16 ^

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 2022-03-16 ^

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 2022-03-16 ^

Past habit

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

Relative 2 updated 2022-03-16 ^

Relative clauses 2

In this skill we learn a few more relative pronouns to connect relative subordinate clauses to the main clause. So far we have been using the relative pronoun "který", which does the job of the English relative pronouns "who", "whom", "which", and "that".

Recall that this Czech pronoun cannot be omitted and that there is no distinction between restrictive (defining) and non-restrictive (non-defining) use.

The example we studied in some detail was

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. The forms are challenging even for many native Czechs, but learning them could help our students decipher more formal texts.

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 the need to memorize the entire table. If we know which forms of the personal pronouns are used with which cases, we can simply append to them. Using our milk girl from Relative 1 again as an example, take the subordinate clause question:

Replace what makes sense with the personal pronoun:

Append to the pronoun and assemble the translation:

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

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

Clitics inside relative clauses

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

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

What The?! updated 2022-03-16 ^

What the?! Common Czech

See 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 book and movie dialogue.

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.

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, and můj).

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, and the consonant shift of 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.)

The "common" plural past-tense ending is -li regardless of gender.

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

The plural first person verb ending -eme may become 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.

Půjčit and its forms can also undergo the transformation from ůj to u.

The forms jsem, jsi (jseš), jsme, jste, and jsou often lose the initial j-. The negative forms like nejsem 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.

Simplified singular possessive adjectives (V Žofiiný škole)

These mirror hard adjectives.

Distorted and new words

A few examples of the changed or expanded vocabulary are introduced: barák (dům), bejt, brácha (bratr), furt (pořád), ňák (nějak), prachy (peníze), rychlejc (rychleji), štyry, tejden, tendle (tenhle), vim, vidim, and zejtra.

Proverbs updated 2022-03-16 ^

We close the course with a selection of Czech proverbs.


69 skills with tips and notes
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