learning czech

Discussion in 'General Language' started by amyvw, Jul 23, 2003.

  1. amyvw

    amyvw New Member

    I'm hoping to go travelling in the near future but before I go I would like to learn the languages of the countries I am visiting. As I am hoping to spend quite a while in czech I would like to learn more than just travel phrases.
    My main problem is stringing together my own sentences, word order, grammar etc. I am not worried about too much about grammar in the literary sense. I would just like to be able to read and converse in czech.
    I cannot afford to buy aids and hire tutors and was wondering if anyone could help simplfy the explanations on how czech sentence structure and grammar works, as websites I have found make it extremely confusing! I also would like to know what they mean by things such as 'Locative', 'Genitive' etc.
    If anyone knows any web sites that could help me or could explain this to me, any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you.
  2. Kikko

    Kikko Well-Known Member

    Well czech doesnt work like western languages.

    In western languages the role of the words in the sentence is determined by articles, articles + prepositions, and so on...

    Ex. I eat an apple, and I give one to you.

    Try to make the logical analisys of the phrase.
    First let's divide the two sentences (each has sense even without the other):
    I eat an apple.
    I give one to you.

    I am the subject.
    The apple is a direct object (the subject acts directly over it).

    The direct object answers to the questions "what?" "who?"
    I eat...what do i eat? an apple.

    I am still the subject.

    One stays for the apple, and is still a direct object.

    To you is an indirect object.
    It answer to the question "who do i give the apple to?"

    The logic in Czech is made by cases, 7 cases.
    Since they dont have any article, you cant write to you; you must write a word which means "to you".
    So they modify the ending of the words to give them any possible role in the phrase.
    So for example they modify ty (you) to give it all the meanings you (nominative), of you (genitive), to you (dative), ...

    Nominative: is the subject. Who or what does something.

    Genitive: this is the case of belonging. It is equivalent to the English of.

    Dative: Indirect object. I give the apple to you

    Accusative: the object. Every subject does something over something. That's it. I kick you. I take a book

    Vocative: this is the case you use to call someone.
    So for example if you see Petra you dont have to say "Petra jak se mas?" but "Petro..."

    Locative: you can only find/use this case with a preposition (time, state, ...). Czech doesnt have articles but has MANY prepositions [​IMG]

    Instrumental: This explain what the subject uses to act over the object.
    I go there by car (with the car)
    I write a letter with a pen

    So you must give to every word the right case to fit the right role in the logical analisys in the sentence.

    I write a letter with a pen
    Ja - personal pronoun, nominative case. I am the subject.

    pisu - well this is the verb...

    what do I write? a letter,direct object, so i must use the accusative.
    Dopis is an inanimate masculine noun. Nominative is dopis, accusative is still dopis.

    Now... what do I write the letter with? with a pen
    I must use instrumental.
    Pen is czech is pero, neuter.
    Its declension is pero, pera, peru, pero, pero, peru, perem...
    So perem!

    Ja pisu dopis perem

    So that's what cases are made for, and why is vital you to know them all damned well. If you cant understand the case of a word you cant understand its role in the sentence.

    So well if you wanna be able to speak czech yourself and not depend on phrasebook you must learn these things...

    Well i tried to explain as simple as possible
    Dana, Lorenzo (i should use vocative here!) if I've made any error feel free to correct me as well as to improve what I've said [​IMG]

    [This message has been edited by Kikko (edited 23-07-2003).]
  3. Dana

    Dana Well-Known Member

    Very impressive Kikko! Good explanation! I'm always impressed with the knowledge of some of you guys (and girls) here!

    Amy, you probably feel overwhelmed right now with what all needs to be learned just to be able to form Czech sentences correctly. The main thing is, if you're serious about learning Czech, you can't do it without a textbook. A language course would help too since you could get your questions answered and the homework and regular classes would keep you on track so you couldn't just "get lazy" and stop studying.

    I would suggest starting slowly and focusing on one thing at a time. It's never a bad time to memorize vocab, you can do that every day. The cases are important, as Kikko said. They are used to build sentences. Start with the accusative (direct object) since that's an easier one, and then move on to the next one - genitive or dative.

    Czech word order is quite loose and flexible. You don't need to follow a strict order like you do in English. That's because the relationship between the words in a Czech sentence is expressed by various endings and prepositions, so you always know which word connects with which in a sentence, even if you change the word order.

    Good luck with your studies!

    [This message has been edited by Dana (edited 23-07-2003).]
  4. amyvw

    amyvw New Member

    Thanks so much! [​IMG]
    Just from reading it a lot more is making sense! It's quite hard when websites assume you know these sorts of things!
    Now maybe I can start stringing along some respectable sentences without having to find them in a phrasebook!
    Thanks for your time and help.

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