When to use the subject/pronoun?

Discussion in 'Grammar & Pronunciation' started by Ktot, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. Ktot

    Ktot Well-Known Member

    I'm having a little trouble understanding when to use and when not to use subjects in Czech sentences. For example, my book just used the sentence "Pracuju v kanceláři" ...but would "Já pracuju v kanceláři" be equally acceptable, or would it sound awkward?

    In general it seems like the subjects are only being used when it's a person's name or title, but never if it's a pronoun. Are there any situations in which you would have the pronoun as the subject? Or is it always okay to omit it?

    In English, those words aren't dropped nearly as often. It's okay sometimes, but sounds rather colloquial. For example, simply "don't know" or "doesn't matter" is common, but it sounds disrespectful if talking to a person of authority...almost the English equivalent of addressing them as "ty". Is that at all true of the dropping of the subject pronoun in Czech? Or are sentences like this perfectly acceptable to say in any formal or informal situation?

    Thanks so much!

    This is probably already a topic somewhere, but I couldn't find it. So if it is, I apologize, just link me to it please.
  2. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    Já pracuji v kanceláři - pracuju is coloquial
    Ty pracuj v kanceláři
    On/ona/ono pracuje v kanceláři

    My pracujeme v kanceláři
    Vy pracujete v kanceláři
    Oni pracují v kanceláři

    There is no need to use the pronoun, because of the suffix of the werb is different for each pronoun.

    If you use a pronoun, it is not a mistake of course. If you don't, it is neither mistake. Both are correct, you usually use the pronoun if you want to stress something:

    Pracuji v kanceláři - I am working in the office.
    Já pracuji v kanceláři - It's me who is working in the office.

    I hope what I wrote is correct, there are grammar gurus in here so they will correct me soon if necesarry.
  3. chinchilla254

    chinchilla254 Member

  4. Polednikova

    Polednikova Well-Known Member

    "Já pracuji v kanceláři - pracuju is coloquial"

    How colloquial, Alexx? 9 times out of 10 I hear 'děkuju' out and about rather than 'děkuji'. Is it that most Czechs would say it but that it sounds stupid if foreigners, with little Czech, say it? My Czech classes have taught us pracuju and I'm not even sure how to pronouce the -i version in all verbs.
  5. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    That’s because you live in Prague.

    Most Czechs would say “pracuju” and write “pracuji”.

    The problem of the foreigners is they are not able to speak the language that suits the situation.

    “Pracuju” is considered unliteral or even unpolite in formal texts and speeches, while “pracuji” could be considered artificial in informal situations.
    I think the latter is better for foreigners, better to sound artificial than unpolite, right?

    In addition, there is a lot of Czechs who never use the colloquial variant, because they are so educated, or because they are rooted in some dialect which use the literal conjugation (my case :wink:).

    The colloquial variant is, in fact, the Central Bohemian dialect. This dialect is quite pervasive in Czech, since the standard Czech is based on it, and because it is used by media as informal language.
  6. Polednikova

    Polednikova Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Alex. Oh dear. I'm now going to have to sit down and have a good look at all my -ovat verbs!
  7. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for a great explanation!
  8. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    Am I wrong in thinking it's the same as English:

    Me, I work in an office.


    I work in an office.

    The first one is just for emphasis, my husband, he sits around, eating crisps and getting fat, but me, I work in an office.

    I live in Moravia and people say děkuju over děkuji... but we're pretty much on the bohemian boarder!
    Life would be easier for me if there were no dialects. I shall write to the people in charge.

    I have a question about ten ta to.. we have a habit as you've no doubt heard of substituting "the" with one of these where it really isn't necessary, just because we're thinking in English and we're looking for an article.. I don't have a problem leaving out "a" or "an" because I've never learnt a language that had an indefinite article and I'm used to it by now.. but this lack of any articles all together is messing with my head.

    So could you give me some idea about when to say "this/ten ta to" is it the very same as the English "this"?
  9. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member

    Ahoj Ctyri koruny,
    You may have a point there that "me" is used for emphasis, but I hope that someone with a good knowledge of English grammar may answer this!

    I was recently in Prague where I met a friend and he quickly noticed that I was overusing "ten/ta/to". So after listening to his constructive criticism, I have decided to stop using "ten/ta/to" to mean "the".
    Just my two cents :)

  10. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    Well we shouldn't use them to mean the.. I don't know why so many of the books tell us it's okay... But I want to know when you say "this" in Czech and if it's used more than "this" in english because of the absence of any articles?
  11. bibax

    bibax Well-Known Member

    First of all ten/ta/to are the demonstrative pronouns. Usually we use them when we point at something (by digit or inwardly).

    Do you see the (that) house on the hill?

    Vidíš ten dům na kopci? (you can point at the house by digit)

    We do not use the demonstrative pronouns when the pointing is impracticable:

    The first words spoken by the first man on the Moon...

    První slova pronesená prvním člověkem na Měsíci... "first words spoken by first man on Moon" - for me, it is semantically so definite that I do not understand why English needs even three definite articles here. :roll:
  12. Dannae

    Dannae Well-Known Member

    I liked the explanation posted in Czech Step-By-Step book. I think English was described as analytical language and Czech as synthetical. Which nicely describes the need of every English native speaker to use ten-ta-to, ja-ty-on-ona-ono etc.

    The thing is that Czech words change (verbs, adjectives etc.) based on gramatical need (different gender, past tense etc.) but English use prepositions, phrasal verbs, articles ...

    But for all English natives to make them happy (I hope) or laugh: I used to have the opposite problem. For instance a few years ago I made my hubsand laughing, especially when I used the word "throw". For me there was no need for anything else but the verb so e.g. throw out and throw up meant absolutely the same thing to me. And for some reason I was making a mistake because I used "throw up" but I meant "throw st. away" and I was so used to say so, that it was very hard to break this habit.

    But still, I often skip articles - because I am Czech and I do not see the need for them.

    For Polednikova: I do not think that "this" is a very same as ten-ta-to. Bibax alredy said they are demmonstrative pronouns; I would just add that (I think) this is closer to ten(to)-tato-toto.
  13. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    Wonderful explanation thank you, I don't think I'll consciously make the mistake again (although sometimes one tends to think in English and just translate word for word like an online dictionary, which is a terrible habit to get into!)

    "The first words spoken by the first man on the Moon..."

    And we need the "the" there because without it it seems cold and formal like a newspaper headline. There it shows us how significant the moon is, the first man was, and the words were. If everything in language was functional and logical there would be no fun in learning it, I think that in every sentence there are all these shades and colors, like poetry :)

    I like the way French people use "the" at every possible opportunity because they are translating "la" and "le" , like everything is so important.

    "I got the hairs cut, look at them!"

    I thought that tento tato and toto were like "that-there" which is a pretty colloquial phrase but seems to tie in with this.

    Articles are the last things that people with L1s without articles manage to master. But they are important, there are many times when an article or absence of one completely changes the meaning of the the sentence

    On a lower level

    a cold

    on a higher level:

    The main objective of the project is to formulate the principles of an authentic interpretation of early music.

    The main objective of the project is to formulate the principles of the authentic interpretation of early music.

    The first sentence is fine while the second sentence is absolute nonsense.

    It seems to me that Czech has phrasal verbs as well, just that they are connected and not separated into verb and particle as english ones are.



    and other such prefix and suffix differences, these are just as inconsistent in meaning and infuriating as phrasal verbs!

    And of course prepositions are just as important in both languages.. but in Czech each preposition needs a specific case, which also changes depending on how you are using the preposition!
  14. bibax

    bibax Well-Known Member

    The verbal prefixes are closely associated with the prepositions.

    vy- z (východ, výjezd z = exit)
    v- do (vchod, vjezd do = entry)
    od- od, z (odchod, odjezd od/z = departure)
    při- k, do, na (příchod, příjezd k/na = arrival)
    pře- přes (přechod, přejezd přes = cross-over, crossing)
    nad- nad (nadjezd nad = fly-over, overbridge)
    pod- pod (podchod, podjezd pod = fly-under, underbridge)
    ob- okolo, podél (obchod = shop, objezd = by-pass)
    za- za (záchod = toilet, zájezd = excursion, tour)

    Many prefixed verbs and prefixed verbal nouns have figurative meaning which cannot be guessed easily.
  15. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    Thanks so much for the list, I will print that out, there is one in Czech Step by Step but it doesn't connect it with the prepositions like that!

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