Czech Grammar

Czech Grammar

If you're trying to learn the most essential topics about Czech you will find some useful resources including a course about adjectives, adverbs, articles, gender (feminine, masculine...), negation, nouns, numbers, phrases, plural, prepositions, pronouns, questions, verbs, vocabulary, excercises... to help you with your Czech grammar Enjoy our courses!

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Czech Lessons

Learning Czech can help you communicate with other people who speak Czech. The following courses will provide you with some help based on the lessons you choose. Here is a list of what we offer:

An Abstract of Czech Grammar

As Czech is an inflected language, it is necessary to know the changes to which Czech words are subjected in the making of a sentence. These changes enable the Czech language to modify the content of a word (as in English cows, looked, begun) and at the same time bring it into different relations to other words in the same sentence (which in English is done by  's, prepositions and pronouns as in boy's, to John, with a pen, we write).  A few indeclinable nouns and adjectives  (adj) exist, indicated in a dictionary by -in attached to the gender mark or to adj (e.g. tabu, n-in, prima, adj-in). The knowledge of the changes will, however, together with a dictionary, present a workable basis for the study of simple literary and colloquial texts.

The same parts of speech may be distinguished in Czech as in English. In dictionaries, verbs are sufficiently identifiable by the fact that the heading or the entry ends in -t or -ci with no comma and grammatical abbreviations following. Adjectives are revealed as such by the fact that the heading ends in or and no comma and grammatical abbreviations follow. Adverbs have various forms and likewise no comma and grammatical abbreviations after them, only they never end in or . Pronouns either end in or , in which case they are treated as adjectives, or they have inflections of their own. 

Nouns

Czech nouns are masculine (m), feminine (f) and neuter (n) . Nearly all words denoting human adults are masculine or feminine according to sex. To denote children and the young ones of animals, neuter is the usual gender met with. With animals, plants and inanimate objects all the three genders occur. In learning the gender of a Czech noun it is good to consider both its meaning and its form of the nominative singular. With only a few nouns, particularly those which in the nominative singular end in -l, the form is of no help and the gender (masculine or feminine, never neuter) has to be remembered with nouns which do not denote men. The gender and due regard to the form are enough to determine the regular inflection of nouns, only with masculine nouns the distinction of animate and inanimate has to be likewise considered (animate being understood as denoting human beings or animals).

 

1-    Plural Lesson

While in English, the plural is formed by adding (s) to the singular. In Czech, to form the plural of nouns and adjectives we add suffixes according to gender and number (singular or plural). There are also different suffixes according to the type of the noun and whether it is animate or inanimate. Examples:

Masculine

pán (master  )

páni or pánové

hrad (castle )

hrady

muž (man )

muži

stroj (machine )

stroje

 


Feminine

žena (woman )

ženy

nůše (basket )

nůše (unchanged)

píseň (song)

písně

kost (bone )

kosti

 

Neuter

město (city )

města

moře (sea)

moře (unchanged)

kuře (chicken)

kuřata

stavení (building)

stavení (unchanged)

 

2-    Adjectives Lesson

While in English an adjective doesn’t change when the noun changes, in Czech an adjective should agree in gender and number with the noun. For example:

 

a)    Masculine / feminine / neuter example:


Můj
malý syn (my little son) , but: (or “moje”) malá dcera (my little daughter), (or moje) malé dítě (my little child)

 

As you can see from the example above, the adjective comes before the noun and also takes the feminine or neuter form, as well as singular or plural form:

b)    Singular to plural example:


Moji malí synové (my little sons), moje malé dcery (my little daughters),   (or moje) malé děti (my little children). Remember, a child is (grammatically) of neuter gender in Czech.

 

Again, the adjective comes before the noun and also takes the plural form. Often the neuter and feminine forms are the same

 

3-    Adverbs Lesson

While in English adverbs are usually formed by adding (-ly) to adjectives. In Czech many adverbs are formed from adjectives, simply by changing the ending. The adjectives do not reflect gender.

Examples:

 

Pomalý, pomalá, pomalé (slow) each becomes pomale or pomalu(slowly)

pěkný (nice) becomes pěkně (nicely)

 

However that’s not always the case. Some words are adverbs by nature. For example:

Ted (now), opravdu (really), and honem (quickly) are all Czech adverbs.

 

 

4-    Numbers Lesson

In Czech numbers from 1 to 20 are unique and therefore need to be memorized individually. Numbers from 21 and upwards are formed by using the following pattern: for example 21 can be formed by using 20 + 1 while connecting them. 22 = dvacet dva. 45 can be formed by using 40 +  5 while connecting them: 45 = čtyřicet pět.

5-    Articles Lesson

Definite Article:

While English has one definite article “the", Czech generally does not use any, except for emphasis, and then one of the 6 demonstrative pronouns would be used, according to gender and number, similar to English “that”:

Ten (masculine singular) ten dům (the, that house)

Ti (masculine plural animate) ti muži (the, those men)

Ty (masculine plural inanimate) ty domy (the, those houses)

Ta (feminine singular) ta žena, ta píseň (the, that woman, the, that song

Ty (feminine plural) ty ženy, ty písně (the, those houses, songs)

 

Indefinite Article:

While we have (a / an / some) in English as indefinite articles, Czech again usually does not use any, except when being deliberately vague, or emphasizing singularity. Then, when (a, an, some) are used in English you, in Czech you need to use (nějaký, -á, é) m,f,n  to be nonpecific, or (jeden, jedna, jedno) to refer to a single instance

.

Jeden dům (m singular) (one house)

Nějaké knihy (f plural) (some books)

 

Note, plural forms are different yet again, by gender and for animate vs inanimate.

 

 

6-    Verbs Lessons

 

-       Present Tense

Czech is a null-subject language, i.e. the subject (including personal pronouns) can be omitted if known from context. The person is expressed by the verb:

já dělám = dělám = I do

on dělal = dělal = he did

Infinitive

The infinitive is formed by the ending -t, formerly also -ti; on some words -ct (-ci):

t - to be, t - to go, ct - to bake

Somewhat archaically:

ti - to be, ti - to go, ci - to bake


Participles

Participles are used for forming the past tense, and the passive voice in Czech. They are related to the short forms of adjectives. Therefore unlike other verb forms, they also express gender which must correspond with the gender of the subject.

-       Past Tense is formed using the Past participle

(more precisely "active participle"), also called "l-participle" and used for forming the past tense .

Singular

Plural

English

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Masculine
animate

Masculine
inanimate
& Feminine

Neuter

byl
dělal

byla
dělala

bylo
dělalo

byli
dělali

byly
dělaly

byla
dělala

was/were
did

Passive participle, used for forming the passive voice, is also called "n/t-participle" because of  the two types of endings:

Singular

Plural

English

Masculine

Feminine

Neuter

Masculine
animate

Masculine
inanimate
& Feminine

Neuter

bit
dělán

bita
dělána

bito
děláno

biti
děláni

bity
dělány

bita
dělána

beaten, battered
done

-        

These endings can help you a lot, because with them you can conjugate most of verbs into the present tense, you only need the stem of the verb, for example the stem of (dělat: to do) is (děla…).

 

-       Future Tense

In imperfective verbs, it is formed by the future forms of the verb být (to be) and the infinitive:

Person

Singular

Plural

1.

budu dělat

budeme dělat

2.

budeš dělat

budete dělat

3.

bude dělat

budou dělat

Dělat - to do

Budu, budeš, ... with infinitive has the same meaning as "(I, you, ...) will" in English. If not followed by an infinitive, it means "(I, you, ...) will be" (i.e. I will be = budu, not budu být).

In some verbs of motion, the future tense is formed by adding the prefix po-/pů- to the present form:

jdu - I will be going, ponesu - I will be bearing, povezu - I will be carrying

In perfective verbs, the present form expresses the future. Compare:

budu dělat - I will be doing

udělám - I will do, I will have done

7-    Asking a Question Lesson

In Czech, generally only the intonation makes the sentence interrogative: Mají  čas? (Do they have free time?)

 

8-    Negation Lesson

 

In Czech, negation can be made simply by prepending "ne" to the main verb. Double negatives are not used.

Nechci (I don't want). 

Nejedou (they don't ride ). 

Similarly, in adjectives and adverbs, the prepended ne- reverses the meaning, similar to English “un-“.

Nepříjemný, -á –é (unpleasant)

Nezvykle (uncommonly)

 

 

9-    Feminine Lesson

To form a feminine word from the masculine in Czech, you add “-ka or if the word ends in a consonant. If the masculine form ends with –k, the feminine ending is formed using –čka or -ice Student (student) becomes Studentka (f), ředitel (director masc.) becomes ředitelka (director, f), zedník (mason, m)—zednice (mason, f).

 

In the rare cases that a masculine form ends in a vowel, , the feminine form remains the same:

Vrchní (head waiter) can be male or female.

 

Customarily, feminine forms of surnames are formed by the suffix –ová.
Novák  -- Novák
ová,
Often the Czech press uses that to “feminize” even English surnames: Harper – Harper
ová, Marilyn Monroeová

 

Note that some words cannot change into feminine; instead a whole new word should be used, example: muž (man), žena (woman), kocour (male cat), kočka (female cat), .

 


 

10- Pronouns Lesson

 

Here is a pronoun chart:

 

 

Subject Pronouns

Object Pronouns

Possessive Adjectives and pronouns

1st person

mě, mne

můj                           m

má, moje                  f

mé, moje               n

2nd person

ty

tě, tebe

tvůj                           m

tvá, tvoje                  f

tvé, tvoje                  n

 

3rd person (m)

on

(je)ho

jeho

3rd person (f)

ona

ji

její

3rd person (n)

ono

je

jeho

1st person (pl.)

my

nás

our

2nd person (pl.)

vy

vás

your

3rd person (pl)

oni, ony, ona m,f,n

je

their

 

Reflexive forms are generally formed by adding se or sebe : bil se (hit himself),
or
si or sobě psali si (they wrote themselves), after the verb. This does not differ by gender or singular/plural.

 

 (I), ty  (you), on  (he), ona  (she), ono (it)

My (we), vy  you oni, ony, ona (they m, f, n

Note: unlike in English and some other languages, the personal pronouns need not be used with the verb, unless it is for emphasis. The suffix of the verb makes perfectly clear who is meant.

Examples:

zpívám, zpíváš  I sing, you sing , but já zpívám, ty zpíváš denote emphasis: I sing, you sing (I am singing, you are singing)

 

Indirect Object Pronouns:

Indirect object pronouns are words that replace the indirect object, which is usually a person.

Mě or mi (me), or tebe (you), (je)ho, ji, je, je (him, her, it, them), nás (us), vás (you), je (them):

Examples: Dej mi knihu (give me the book). Miluji (I love you).

 

Possessive Pronouns:

Můj (mine masc.), má or moje (mine fem.), moji (mine, plural masc.), moje (mine, plural fem. or n), tvůj / tvá or tvoje (yours), jeho / její (his, hers), náš / naše / naši (ours), váš / vaše / vaši (yours), jejich (theirs).

We hope the lessons above helped you learn Czech. To learn other topics please check our homepage here: Learn Czech. Don't forget to bookmark this page.


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