Mini Czech Grammar, why is Czech so difficult?
A concise Czech grammar is needed to understand sentence structure. Simply memorizing words and sentences is not enough. They help you in ordering beer: pivo prosím (beer, please). But if you want half a liter, it gets a bit more complicated. Small translates as malý. So you ask: malý pivo, prosím. Moments later, the beer mug is placed on your table and the waiter says: male pivo. Malý – male? What’s the difference, you may wonder. This shows that some knowledge of grammar is needed, if you want to speak Czech (more or less) grammatically correct.
Why is Czech so difficult?
Czech is a language rich in inflections and conjugations, which makes learning complicated. In addition, a noun and adjective can be masculine, feminine or neuter and this combined with 7 cases makes Czech a complex language. To complicate matters even further, masculine nouns are divided into ‘animate’ – muž (man), učitel (teacher), and ‘inanimat – týden (week), dům (house) and which declension to use depends on the last letter of the word.
Mini Czech Grammar: Masculine, feminine or neuter noun?
Masculine – ends in a consonant
Feminine – ends in a and e
Neuter – ends in o and í
This is a general rule and easy to remember. There are exceptions to this rule and you will have to remember the gender of a number of words per word.
Masculine: muž, kluk, dům, stůl (man, boy, house, table)
Feminine: žena, kniha, voda, dívka (woman, book, water, girl)
Neuter: slovo, okno, nádraží, příjmení (word, window, station, surname)
How to recognize adjectives
Most adjectives end in ý – á – é
Masculine: malý dům (small house)
Feminine: malá strana (small side)
Neuter: malé okno (small window)
Adjectives ending in ní have the same form for masculine, feminine and neuter and are derived from nouns or are of non-slavic origin
Národ – národní: nation – national, den – denní: day – daily
Originálni (original), idealní (ideal), ilegální (illegal)
All adjectives end in a long vowel (so with an accent on the vowel)
Mini Czech Grammar,seven cases make learning Czech difficult
1. nominative – subject
2. genitive – of (possession) and after prepositions such as: bez (without) do (to, until), od (from), z (from), vedle (next to).
3. dative – indirect object and after prepositions such as: k (to, up to), proti (against)
4. accusative – direct object and after prepositions such as: na (to), přes (about), za (for)
5. vocative – addressing people
6. locative – the place where and after prepositions such as na (on), po (behind), ve / v in
7. instrumentalis – with which or the way in which and after prepositions such as nad (atop), pod (under), před (for), s/se (with)
Czech Verb System
Verbs are divided into 5 groups
1. ending in: at – át
2. ending in: ovat –ýt, -ít,
3. ending in: it –et, -ět,
4. ending in: -out – ci
5. irregular verbs
The conjugations are different for each group.
The personal pronoun as subject (I, you etc) is omitted because the ending of the verb shows the person.
(já) kupuji – I buy, (ty) kupuješ – you buy, (on/ona/ono) kupuje – (he, she, it) buys
(my) kupujeme – we buy, (vy) kupujete – you buy, (oni/ony/ona) kupují – they buy
The prefix ‘na’ makes a verb negative: nekupuji (I do not buy), nejsem (I am not), nemám (I have not).
Irregular verbs být (to be) and mít (to have)
Být: jsem (I am), jsi (you are), je (he, she, it is), jsme (we are), jste (you are), jsou (they are)
Mít: mám (I have), máš (you have), má (he, she has), máme (we have), máte (you have), mají (they have)
Aspect of the verb
Czech distinguishes whether an action has been completed (perfective aspect) or is still in progress (imperfective aspect). This phenomenon means that almost all verbs have two forms: to buy, kupovat and koupit.
kupovat – the action is still in progress, is unfinished – imperfective aspect
koupit – the action is complete – perfective aspect
Aspect is indicated by two different forms of the verb (koupit / kupovat) or by a prefix: do, na, po, u, vy, roz
To buy: koupit (perfective) and kupovat (imperfective)
To uderstand: porozumět (perfective) and rozumět (imperfective)
To thank: poděkovat (perfectivet) and děkovat (imperfective)
The present tense can be expressed in imperfective verbs only.
Past Tense – perfective and imperfect aspect
The past tense in Czech consists of a past participle followed by the present tense of být, but in the third person singular a form of být is left out. The past participle is formed by replacing the ‘t’ of the infinitive by an ‘l’ (koupit – koupil)
Koupil jsem (perfective aspect), kupoval jsem (imperfective aspect) means both I bought, I bought and I had bought. There is a distinction between a masculine and feminine form.
Masculine (perfective aspect)
Koupil jsem (I bought), koupil jsi (you bought), koupil (he bought), koupili jsme (we bought), koupili jsi (you bought), koupili (they bought)
Feminine (perfective aspect)
Koupila jsem (I bought), koupila jsi (you bought), koupila (she bought), koupili jsme (we bought), koupila jsi (you bought), koupily (they bought)
Czech Grammar: Future – perfective and imperfective aspect
The future tense consists of a form of budu followed by an infinitive (imperfective aspect)
Budu kupovat, (I will buy), budeš kupovat (you will buy), bude kupovat (he will buy), budeme kupovat, (we will buy) budete kupovat (you will buy) budou kupovat (they will buy).
Keep on learning Czech and never give up!
Bez práce nejsou koláče.
No pain no gain (without work no pastry)
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