How many tenses in the Czech language?

Discussion in 'Grammar & Pronunciation' started by shreypete, Jul 28, 2007.

  1. shreypete

    shreypete Well-Known Member

    Hey guys, I have started learning some basic czech and have also started the grammar as I will soon be studying in Prague (this october). I have a couple of questions and I'll make them as brief as possible?

    1) What's hard about the Czech grammar? tenses? cases?

    2) How many tenses are there in the Czech language?

    3) What are the different cases used in the language and which is the hardest to use?

    4)Finally, I've heard that every Czech word has 2-3 meanings. If so, how does one learn how to use it? Is there any technique or is it just rote memorization?

    5) I was wondering how long would it generally take for a foreigner to learn this language? (considering that he/she a good linguistic background in romance languages, and also a slavic language--basic russian and also considering that he/she will stay for a long time in CR)?

    In case you were wondering about question 5, well I will be staying there for 6 yrs (studying medicine at the Charles First Fact.). Unfortunately I'll be staying in Prague :cry: (not that its a bad thing because Prague is just heaven :) ), which will limit my scope of learning the language as I've heard that English is more common there are the ppl generally speak in english with foreigners unlike in other smaller cities (like Hradec Kralove, Pilsen, Olomouc, and Brno)...
  2. Karel_lerak

    Karel_lerak Well-Known Member

  3. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Verbal aspects.
    You needn’t know more than 3.
    No, that is not right, at least in comparison with English, the Czech words are much more specific. You will have rather the oposite problem - to differentiate the meanings you are not accustomed to differentiate in English.
  4. shreypete

    shreypete Well-Known Member

    Hey Karel_lerak and Wer, thanks for replying my post. Well now that I've got the tenses question out of the way, I'm a bit relieved because when I learned spanish, there were like 11-13 tenses (similar with other romance languages). But the whole verbs aspect, and prefixes does sound complicated (I mean I not well acquainted with Russian in the first place. I just learn basic conversational Russian which excluded the grammar and syntax).

    So I guess Czech is rated as a tough language due to its complex grammatical structure? :wink:
  5. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    In Spanish there are not 13 tenses (nor in French, Italian or so), it is common misconception, because those "tenses" are in fact tense+aspect combinations. But the aspects are different and differently expressed. It is similar as in English (though somehow more complicated... perhaps next year I will come with a more complex theory which I hope will render the old grammars obsolete and make me famous:)).

    There are four aspects in English:

    aorist (or simple)
    imperfect (or progressive or continuous)
    perfect progressive (perfect continuous)

    which can be combined with tenses or moods

    past conditional

    In the wildest combinations, you can get sentences like "I would have been being painted".
    On the other hand, in Czech, the tense system is much more merged with the aspectuality, which can prove very very very difficult, but it is very closely similar to the Russian system, so there should be no surprise for you (I say surprise, not difficulty).
  6. shreypete

    shreypete Well-Known Member

    ahhh thanks Eleshar :D ...I wonder why my teacher used to tell us that there are more than 11 tenses. In reality, its more like the 4 or 5 main tenses combined with the different moods...
  7. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    As I said - common misconception. Common to the same degree as the claim, that the Slavic languages are the only ones to explain verbal aspect. Untrue. In fact, the verbal aspect is the most common category of verb throughout all languages of the world. The problem arises that in Czech and Slavic language, it is extremely intimately connected with tenses and especially lexical derivation.
    So it is not as easy as in English where it suffices to combine 3 tenses+2 moods with 4 aspects and get 20 so called "tenses" (better: aspecto-temporal exponents).
    As there are very few foreigners that can master the Czech Ř, there are even less of them who can master the Czech aspect (and this is the easiest way to recognize that a person is not native speaker of Czech).
  8. shreypete

    shreypete Well-Known Member

    hey the czech Ř similar in any way with Russian "zhe" or the polish "rze" (as is dobrze, pronounced as dobzhe), or the s in the pleasure??
  9. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    More similar to the Polish, but still not quite the same.
  10. shreypete

    shreypete Well-Known Member

    Wow, then it's sure got be hard...Is it a rolled r or something? :?
  11. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    To hear the ř, go to locallingo and listen to the czech words for Wednesday, Four, Mám se dobře, and other words in the vocab that have the letter ř.
  12. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    Another phrase with the ř is:

    Třistatřiatřicet stříbrných křepelek přeletělo přes třistatřiatřicet stříbrných střech.
    Three hundred and thirty three silver quails flew over three hundred and thirty three silver roofs.

    You can listen to it at:
  13. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    Polish "rz" is not pronounced "zh" but rather "rzh" (if we adopt that ridiculous English transcription).
    But yes, it is a little bit similar. In Czech, there are two Ř, the voiced and unvoiced one (but they are not phonologic, i.e. they do not distinguish sense, unvoiced Ř is only a positional variant of the voiced Ř). For exact articulation, see another topic

    No, it is not at all. But rolled R is standard way of pronouncing the grapheme R in Czech (as well as in most other languages of the world). Well, I suppose you are acquainted with rolled R, are you not. The Spanish has it in its two variants, the Italian surely, the Russian and Polish of course too.
  14. shreypete

    shreypete Well-Known Member

    Yes I am aware of the Spanish and the Russian rolled r. But I still can't notice the difference between the polish rzhe and the czech Ř, maybe they've got some fine, intricate differences which I'm just not aware of...and the Czech "L" seems similar to the russian "L" in terms of pronounciation.
  15. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    That is not so obvious. Polish “rz” corresponds to Czech “ř”, Polish “ż” corresponds to Czech “ž”. Czech “ř” and “ž” differ clearly (they are phonologic), but Polish “rz” and “ż” are pronounced practically the same way. This is the source of common misspellings in Polish. The Polish pronounciation is something like a “ž” (~ zh) preceded with a hardly noticeable “r”.

    The same is right for Polish. The “rz” could be pronounced using the “ž”-sound (e.g. rzeka) or the “š”-sound (e.g. krzyk).

    Try to compare the Czech word “řeka” (this audio file) with the corresponding Polish word “rzeka” (the second word in this audio file).
  16. shreypete

    shreypete Well-Known Member

    hey wer. Well both sound like "zheka" but in the polish one, it seems to be a bit as compared to the czech one....
  17. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member ... nloads.htm

    Here you can download sound samples of many languages where you can find for Czech

    - isolated words containing specific Consonants and Vowels
    - group of words clarifying the principle of Assimilation
    - Continuous speech as with all that pertains
    - "Introduction" showing contrast of R and Ř, and syllabic R,L,M

    All of this you can compare with many other languages of the world spanning from American English, German and French through Persian or Hebrew to languages like Igbo.

    If there is some "useful links" store, I propose to copy the link there
  18. shreypete

    shreypete Well-Known Member

    hey Eleshar, thanks a lot for the link. I checked it out and it certianly is resourceful...
  19. telur

    telur Member

    Ahoj everyone...
    i'm a new comers to Prague...
    i looked for any information about learning Czech language in internet, and somehow i found this forum. So, now i'm here, and collected so many information from all of u.. thanks and i look forward for any addtional information. Cao.. :D

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