Imperative question

Discussion in 'Grammar & Pronunciation' started by hribecek, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. hribecek

    hribecek Well-Known Member

    Could someone tell me if there is a difference between when to use the following imperative forms -

    Nekoukat! or nekoukej!
    Počkat! or počkej!

    I'm not talking about the infintive here when I write nekoukat or počkat, I really mean its use as an imperative which I hear quite a lot. The above are just 2 examples. I always use the nekoukej or počkej form when speaking. It feels to me like they are interchangeable.

  2. hribecek

    hribecek Well-Known Member

    Wow, have I really stumped all the experts here with that question?

    I've since got a quite vague answer to when eg. počkat is used as the imperative.

    1) It's used in groups of friends instead of počkejte.

    2) When the meaning of počkat is not for physically waiting but for example when zou are surprised about what someone said and want to clarify, a bit like in English
    "Whoa, hold on there a second, are you trying to tell me that blah, blah, blah?"
    "počkat, tím chceš mi řict, že ......." (How do you say blah in Czech?!)

    Is this correct more or less?
  3. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    Well, I think you are quite correct :) ; btw, the Czech equivalent for blah, blah, blah is blablabla or blebleble...
  4. hribecek

    hribecek Well-Known Member

    Good, thanks for the confirmation and the translation of blablabla.
  5. Jirka

    Jirka Well-Known Member


    The forms queried about, 'nekoukat', 'počkat'..., are simply not imperatives. They indeed are infinitives only, despite the usage described. There is this usage but it doesn't make them imperatives.

    I do find the query interesting. As you can figure out, using an infinitive to actually mean suggestion or command is impersonal; it is not grammatically specified who is to heed it. I feel it's typically used to address a broad audience.

    It is used, for example, in drill commands, such as 'zastavit stát', in warning signs, such as 'nesahat (na exponáty)', 'nekrmit', etc.

    'Nekoukej' and 'počkej', respectively, are just the standard imperatives in the second person, singular. One person is addressed in an informal way (tykání) using this form...

  6. hribecek

    hribecek Well-Known Member

    Hi Jirka

    Thanks for the extra clarification.

    I realise they aren't actually called imperatives but can be just used in an imperative sense.

    I always use the normal imperative forms of počkej, počkejte etc.

    How would it sound if for example a drill command was given as 'zastavte stát' instead of 'zastavit stát'. Or if a warning sign said 'nesahejte na exponáty'.
  7. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    There are various ways of expressing commands in Czech, but the imperative mood is the only grammatical instrument which is primarily used for this purpose. On the other hand, imperative is command only in the gramatical sense, in fact it could be very polite or even timid expression (e.g. promiň = excuse me).

    Jirka's clarification on the use of infinitive is excellent. Infinitives are used mostly in impersonal context, like on the warning signs (nekuř = don't smoke × nekouřit = no smoking), or if you want to treat a person impersonally which is very strict and could be impolite. It's also typical for commands in lack of time (therefrom Počkat! or Stát!). It's unthinkable to use it for begging like the imperative mood.

    Another way to express commands is the use of future tense (future events are presented as facts). This is typical for moral absolutes (Nezabiješ! = Thou shall not kill!) or for commands which are not supposed to be questioned (like ultimative orders by parents, e.g. V deset budeš doma! or Tady budeš sedět a nebudeš zlobit!).

    Very strange as you mix up both the ways here.

    Military commands are settled expressions and any new one would be strange. Zastavit stát! is calque of German Maschieren marsch!.

    That's actually very common, but typically there is also some prosím included.
  8. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    "Zastavit stát" could be understood as "to stop the country" or even "to pledge the country" ... :)
  9. bibax

    bibax Well-Known Member

    "Zastavit stát": I understand "to stop the state bureaucracy". :x

    Another strange way to express a command is the use of the 1st person present indicative:

    Jedu, jedu, jedu! (= I am going, I am going, I am going! - quite long in English)


    Jeď, jeď, jeď! (= Go, go, go!)
  10. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    It is rather expression of support then command :)

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