question about "to je, to bylo"

Discussion in 'Grammar & Pronunciation' started by rsalc1, Jun 19, 2009.

  1. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member

    Can anyone help me?
    To je zájimavá kniha.

    Is the past tense:
    "To bylo zájimavá kniha" or "To byla zájimavá kniha"?

    The reason I'm asking, in the song Sametová they say:
    "byla to taková krásná cela" so it seems to me that the verb agrees with the predicate (cela).
  2. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    "To byla zájimavá kniha"? - works for pattern "žena"
    "byla to taková krásná cela" (cela is pattern žena)

    "Bylo to krásné sídlo" - works for pattern město

    I guess verb agrees with the predicate only in those two cases, so do not count on it :)
  3. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    Hee hee "words for pattern" Czech people used to always say that to me and I used to get so confused. I learned žena / kava etc. - feminine majority ending
    město / auto etc. - neuter majority ending

    With majority endings you can count on verb agreement?
    What are the exceptions?
  4. bibax

    bibax Well-Known Member

    Completely wrong. You cannot say that the verb agrees with the predicate, because the verb itself IS the predicate (or a part of the predicate).

    Usually the subject agrees with the predicate in gender (and in number, of course):

    Adam je učitel (masculine). Eva byla nemocná (feminine). Okno se rozbilo (neuter).
    Předseda byl zvolen (masculine). Kost se zlomila (feminine). Moře vše pohltilo (neuter).

    But there are situations when the agreement is impossible on principle:

    Praha (f) je město (n).

    Tyranosaurus (m) byla jen přerostlá ještěrka (f).

    To (n) byla zajímavá kniha (f).

    Sometimes it would sound unnaturally, for example:

    Eva (f) byl můj vzor (m).

    Better: Eva byla můj vzor. (predicate internally inconsistent in gender but partially agrees with subject)
    Best: Eva byla mým vzorem. (inconsistency removed by using instrumental)

    I think there is no strict rule, when subject cannot agree with predicate in gender.

    Daphne byl Lemmon. or Daphne byla Lemmon. :?:

    (Daphne was Lemmon. :) )
  5. bibax

    bibax Well-Known Member

    Špatně vysvětleno, špatně pochopeno. :cry:

    The subject-predicate agreement in gender and number does not depend on endings but on gender and number. 8)

    Hmm. It seems to be obvious. The exceptions are mainly of type

    Praha je město.
    To byla zajímavá kniha.
    Josephine byla Curtis.
    Čas jsou peníze. (no agreement in number)

    It is due to the fact that the noun (pronoun) in subject has different gender and/or number than the noun in predicate. For example, in "čas jsou peníze" (= time is money) čas is singular and peníze is (are) plurale tantum. A question arises how to join two disparate nouns by a copula (distinguishing number) and past participle (distinguishing gender and number).

    In English the copula (is, are, was, were) distinguishes number, too. So the problem must be similar (scissors are a tool vs. scissors is a tool).
  6. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member

    Alexx, bibax: thanks for your explanations.

    I have a follow-up question along the same lines:
    "to je" versus "to jsou"

    I read in some book:
    to je kniha a slovník

    In another book I read:
    to jsou kniha a slovník

    Which is correct?
  7. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    To je (kniha) a (slovník) = To je kniha a to je slovnik
    To jsou (kniha a slovník)

    Hm... I wonder which one is correct by myself.
  8. Splog

    Splog Member

    Both are correct, based on how you are viewing them.

    The same exists in English:

    I bought a gift for him. It is a book and a dictionary.


    I bought a couple of books for him. They are a book and a dictionary.
  9. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    Bibax, your above explanation about subject and predicate agreement was very good. I have wondered about such instances, where it seems impossible to make them agree.

    I understand 'To', I think.
    When used as the completely generic 'it', before 'it' has been assigned a gender, then it does not necessarily agree with the predicate.

    To byla nejúžasnější věc, které jsem kdy byl svědkem.
    Neočekávám, abys mě uvěřil. To bych neuvěřil ani já, kdybych jsem ji neviděl svýma vlastními očima.

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