Instrumental case again

Discussion in 'Grammar & Pronunciation' started by Lorenzo, Aug 19, 2003.

  1. Lorenzo

    Lorenzo Well-Known Member

    Hi all!

    I came across the following sentence:
    "Zdá se to být dobrou knížkou"
    Which I would translate as "It seems to be a good book" but here comes the 7th case again [​IMG]... so what's the difference between that and "Zdá se to být dobrá knížka" [​IMG]
    By the way is it correct to say "Zdá se mi, že to je dobrý slovník"? (It seems to me that it's a good dictionary)

    Diky moc za pomoc!


    [This message has been edited by Lorenzo (edited 19-08-2003).]
  2. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    OK, I will try to help you...
    First of all, there is a difference in meaning if you use the 1st or the 7th case. Probably an example will explain it easily.
    1st case: "Byl učitel" - it was his profession throughout his life
    th case: "Byl učitelem, ředitelem, ale skončil svou kariéru jako inspektor" - sometime in the past he was a teacher, but he had other professions later.
    The 7th case here expresses a transient state. Quite often, you can read sentences like "Zdá se to být dobrou knížkou" which are not grammatically correct, but many Czechs think that the use of the 7th case is more correct, they consider it a kind of "high-brow" talk. E.g. "je pravdou", an expression which is probably the most common misuse of the 7th case. How can a truth be transient? If I am not sure, I will avoid such a categoric statement.
    However, your sentence "Zdá se to být dobrou knížkou" is an example of so-called "hovorová čeština" (colloquial or spoken Czech). It involves a high degree of uncertainty - it says that you are not sure yet if the book is good or not and it leaves a lot of room for changing the opinion later.
    So the best would be to wait till you can form your opinion and then say
    "Zdá se, že je to dobrá knížka" or "Zdá se to být dobrá knížka" than to use a sentence "Zdá se to být dobrou knížkou" which sounds alibistic and is not grammatically correct anyway.
  3. Bohaemus

    Bohaemus Well-Known Member

    The construction like "X se zdá být někdo, něco (někým, něčím)" is not Czech but Latin (nominativus cum infinitivo) and was adopted in the Humanism:

    Libellus bonus esse videtur.
    (Knížka dobrá býti zdá se)
    Knížka se zdá být dobrá.

    It works quite well in the Czech language, but it is not so universal (Latin verb has 6 infinitives) and sometimes it is clumsy (as in "Zdá se to být dobrá knížka").

    Zdá se, že ...

    ... je to dobrá knížka.
    ... ta knížka je dobrá.

    ... to bude dobrá knížka.
    ... by to mohla být dobrá knížka.</B>

    Or eventually:
    (Ta) knížka je, zdá se, dobrá.</B> (inserted clause)
  4. Lorenzo

    Lorenzo Well-Known Member

    Thank you Jana and Bohaemus for another enlightening explanation!


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