Czech Grammar

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Czech Grammar

Postby Lorenzo » 01-May-03 22:02

Hi all! Image

It's been a while since I last posted my question here on the boards but now after taking some more Czech Image I'm once again in need for a little help!
Here I go:

Which case should the word "otázka" take in the following sentence?

"Jsem odpověděl na dívčinu otázka? (1st case) or should it be "otázku"? (4th case)

By the way I know there's (at least) two ways I can translate "the girl's question" in Czech: Dívčinu otázka and Otázka té dívky but I'm told the former construction would sound somewhat old fashioned to a native speaker of Czech.
Now I know that to decline possessive adjectives according to the various cases I can follow the two guide words "otcův" and "matčin" just as I did with the word "dívka".
What if I wanted to use the other construction (otázky te dívky) with masculine and neuter names?
Would it be "odpověď TOHO kluku" (M) and "půvab TOHO města" (N)?
Is this type of construction actually more used?

Perfective verbs in questions

It seems to me that when asking questions using the verb "Chtít" mostly perfective verbs are used.

Chcete si prohlédnout knihu?
Chceš vypít kávu?

Or is this only because these questions refer to actions that will probably take place at a later time?

Would it be also possible to ask "Cheš vystupovat (impf) tady?" or should it always be "Cheš vystoupit (pf) tady?"?

I would say "Chci jít do kavárny" and not "Chci půjít do kavárny"...

Thank you!


[This message has been edited by Lorenzo (edited May 01, 2003).]
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Postby Dana » 09-May-03 5:10

The word "otázka" must be in the 4th case: "Odpověděl jsem na dívčinu otázku." The verb "odpovědět na" ("to answer something") must always be followed by the 4th case - accusative.

You can also say "Odpověděl jsem na otázku té dívky", which is a better choice. The construction with "dívčinu" does sound a bit old-fashioned. Don't ask me why. It's just not used as much. You will hear such constructions in old Czech movies from the 1930s. Image

If you replace "dívka" with "kluk" or "město", you will need to say:
"Odpověděl jsem na otázku toho kluka" (" klukovu otázku" - less common, maybe because it doesn't enable you to use the pronoun "ten" with "kluk")
"Líbí se mi půvab toho města" (here you can't even use a possesive)

Perfective verbs in questions

This is an interesting question and maybe someone else can comment. I can't think of any rule that would stipulate what aspect ("vid") should be or is more often used in questions. It seems to me that the choice of a perfective vs. imperfective verb depends on whether or not the action it describes is one-time/finished or repeated/unfinished. The examples you gave mostly refer to actions that will take place and END at one particular time in the future. If the action was to cover an unspecified/unfinished period in the future, you would use an imperfective verb.


"Chcete si prohlédnout (pf.) knihu?" - Would you like to TAKE A LOOK at a book?
"Chcete si prohlížet (impf.) knihu?" - Would you like to BE LOOKING at a book (while you wait, etc.)?

"Chceš si přečíst (pf.) ten článek?" - Would you like to read that article? (one-time, finished action)
"Chceš si číst (impf.)?" - Would you like to read? (does not specify for how long)

"Chceš vypít (pf.) kávu?" - Would you like to have coffee? (one-time, finished)
"Chceš pít (impf.) kávu?" - Do you want to drink coffee? (in general)
Here the imperfective sounds a little unusual and can almost sound like "Is drinking coffee something you would like to do in your life?"

Sometimes you can use either a pf. or an impf. verb. E.g. you can safely ask "Chceš vystoupit (pf.) tady?", but also "Chceš vystupovat (impf.) tady?". The perfective is more common because you're obviously talking about a one-time action, but you can hear people use the imperfective as well.

You can ask "Chceš jít (impf.) do kavárny?", but also "Chceš zajít (pf.) do kavárny?" (not "půjít"!). The difference is subtle. The pf. sounds like "Would you like to go to a café?" whereas the impf. sounds more like "Would you like to drop by a café?".

Hope it helps!
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Postby Lorenzo » 10-May-03 22:50

It surely helps! Thank you so much, Dana! Image
Slovesný vid definitely adds flexibility to the Czech language which is so full of nuances.
It seems to me that it sort of compansates for the lack of certain verb tenses in Czech.
Thinking of it, I guess it would be better to ask "Chceš si dát kavu?" in Czech... protože když mám žížen a jsem v hospodě v Praze, řikám "Prosím vás, dám si jedno pivo" Image and yes, nobody would ever say "chci půjít" as there's no such infinitive :O


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