Czech equivalent of "I would like..."

Discussion in 'General Language' started by dozmary, Mar 17, 2008.

  1. dozmary

    dozmary Member

    In English and French there is the useful phrase "I would like"/"je voudrais" which can easily be combined with any noun or infinitive verb to create requests "I would like a coffee", "I would like to eat...", etc.

    Is there a similar easy combination in Czech where you can create a request just by adding a noun or verb to the end? It would be a useful phrase for beginners to learn.
  2. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Oh, this is a request for a lesson on conditional because that’s the way we use for polite requests. Native Czechs would use a variety of verbs for different occasions, but as a universal solution you could use the conditonal of the verb “chtít” (= to want):

    chtěl(a) bych + noun in accusative
    chtěl(a) bych + verb in infinitive

    Another possibility is:

    rád(a) bych + noun in accusative
    rád(a) bych + past participle of a verb (which is, in fact, conditonal of the verb + adjective “rád”)

    As an example of a verb used for a particular case, it could be useful to know that the verb “dát si” is used for food and drinks:

    dal(a) bych si + noun in accusative

    dal(a) bych si kávu = I would like a coffee (= I would like to drink a coffee)

    Of course, you could use also:

    chtěl(a) bych kávu
    rád(a) bych kávu

    The a’s in brackets are for a female speaker.
  3. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    Since "dat si" is translated to take, would the literal translation be "I would like to take for myself coffee" rather than "to drink"? I know the meaning is the same, but I'm asking about the literal.
  4. Troll

    Troll Well-Known Member

    As for the literal transaltion:

    dát = to give
    dát si = to give to oneself
    vzít = to take
    vzít si = to take for oneself

    Dal bych si šálek kávy. = I should give a cup of coffee to myself.

    Vzal bych si šálek kávy (s Vaším laskavým svolením). = I should take a cup of coffee for myself (with Your kind permission).

    Both variants are correct and have a similar meaning in Czech.
  5. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    The literal translation of “dát si” is “to give to/for oneself”, but the closest English equivalent is “to have” as in:

    What will you have for drink? = Co si dáte k pití?

    He had his car repaired. = Dal si spravit auto.

    1) Directly/impolitely/informally:

    What will you have for drink?
    Co si dáte k pití?
    I will have a coffee.
    Dám si kávu.

    2) Politely/formally/hypothetically:

    What would you have for drink?
    Co byste si dal k pití?
    I would have a coffee.
    Dal bych si kávu.

    The latter is what we use in place of English “would like”.
  6. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    Thank you. One more question, does any know why it's in past tense? Chtěla bych = I would like. To me, "I would like" is a future tense meaning that you don't have it now but you would like to have it in the near future; but Chtěla or dala are both past tense. :?: :?:
  7. Troll

    Troll Well-Known Member

    "chtěla bych" and "dala bych" is the present conditional.

    Distinguish between the past indicative and the present conditional!

    jedla jsem = I ate/I was eating (past indicative)

    jedla bych = I should eat (present conditional)
  8. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    It is not past tense but past participle. Most of the Indo-European languages use some past structure to describe a hypothetical condition. In Czech it is the aorist of the verb “být” along with past participle of the main verb.
    Even in English there is a past structure behind the conditional, since the forms “would”, “should” and “could” are grammatically past forms of verbs “will”, “shall” and “can” respectively.
    I understand you needn’t notice it at all, because you use English intuitively.
    The same applies for other conditional constructions in English, see e.g.:

    if I were rich = kdybych byl bohatý

    Both English “were” and Czech “byl” are past structures, right?
  9. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    Excellent explanation Wer, thank you

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