the differences between na, pro, za, v/ve?

Discussion in 'Grammar & Pronunciation' started by grrritsczech, Aug 12, 2009.

  1. grrritsczech

    grrritsczech Member

    We did this exercise in class concerning where you use these words, and i got them all wrong. we have learned what they all mean (besides 'za') but not really what are the differences between them, or when and where you do or do not use one. i thought that 'na' is like 'on', or 'at' or 'for' and that 'pro' is just 'for' and 'za' is also only 'for' and that v/ve is 'in'(side). i don't really have a good feel for these words, so could someone help explain what each is usually used for?
  2. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    Good luck with that grrrits. As you will here from others, there is no simple answer to that question.
  3. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    OK, I can only give examples, but this is complicated in english as well :), I wish it is as simple as

    at = v
    on = na

    na - on (something is located on something else.

    Kniha je na stole (book is on the desk)
    Květina je na zahradě (flower is on/in the garden)
    Obraz visí na stěně (picture is on the wall)

    pro - for, in order to get something

    Šel jsem do obchodu pro mléko
    Šel jsem pro Davida (in order to get him somewhere)
    Připravuju podklady pro šéfa (I prepare documents for my boss)

    za - behind, instead of

    Židle je za stěnou (the chair is behind the wall)
    Šel jsem tam za Pavla (I went there instead of Pavel)

    v/ve - this is really complicated :)

    Ve čtvrtek, v metru, v novinách...

    Usually used if something is inside of something else.

    Post the exercise if you can.
  4. Petronela

    Petronela Well-Known Member

    “za” can also be used as “to”
    Pojedu za nim.
    Or is that slang for "Pojedu k nemu" ?
  5. meluzina

    meluzina Well-Known Member

    maybe part of the problem is that the same prepositions aren't used between the two languages...

    some examples - taking some of alexx's

    the v or ve = ve čtvrtek is equal to ON thursday in english - so if you try to take the czech "on" you end up with na čtvrtek (which means something different - e.g., horoskop na čtvrtek = horoscope for thursday

    another example: in english (at least american english) you ask "what's on television" meaning what program is on - but in czech you use "co davají v televizi" or in television - as na televizi means that something is physically sitting on top of the television

    in english its fine to say "seat on the plane" but in czech it is "místo v letadle" or "in the plane"

    so you can't really go by the translated meanings - as they are used differently -

    i know i'm not explaining this too well :(
  6. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    Not slang, but yes, both mean the same (za ním is 7th case, k němu is 3rd case)
  7. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    The prepositions are always tricky. Is English your only language? It could be easier to learn the Czech prepositons based on the knowledge of another language, German for instance.

    There is no general one-to-one mapping between Czech and English prepositions, but there is a kind of mapping for some restricted areas of meanings (spatial meanings, temporal meanings, abstract meanings…). The problem is that the mappings for different areas needn’t correspond.

    Also, notice that one single Czech preposition could be used with different cases and thus with different meanings. And again, the meanings for different cases needn’t correspond to the same English preposition.

    You should focus on the areas of meanings starting with the spatial meanings, because the spatial meanings are base for a lot of the derived meanings and because there is a strong correlation between the meanings for different cases. For all the spatial meanings, Czech strictly differentiates location and direction (in English you sometime mark the direction with the “-to” added to the basic prepositon, e.g. in → into, on → onto). The difference is mostly expressed using the different cases, but the preposition is mostly identical. Practically all prepositional cases are used with some spatial prepositons, but you could notice that locative and instrumental are typical for the location, while accusative and dative are typical for the direction. The genitive is typical for compound prepositons (e.g. zpoza = from behind) and prepositons of non-prepositional origin (e.g. podél = along).

    Have a look at which explains most of the meanings with examples.
  8. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    In English we say "I'm thinking about you" or "I'm praying for you". Yet, for some reason I feel in Czech to say "Myslim na tebe" or "Modlim se na tebe".

    Not sure if that is right but its what I comes to mind and I don't even know why. Anyway, I can't find the translation anywhere. So is it right? Do you say "thinking on you" or "praying on you" or am I totally off base - which is possible. :wink:
  9. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    ah ha! I answered my own question by going to and typing in "myslim na tebe". Turns out - that one is right. But when I typed "modlim se na tebe" - turns out its "modlim se za tebe"
  10. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    “Myslet na někoho” is correct but only for the meanings like “to remember somebody” or “to mind somebody”.

    You have to use different preposition and perhaps a little different verb for “to meditate upon somebody” - e.g. “přemýšlet o někom”.

    Consider also “myslet si o někom” which means “to think of somebody” in the meaning “to have an opinion on somebody”.

    Yep, it’s “modlit se k někomu/něčemu za někoho” (= to pray to somebody/something for somebody). You can also use “modlit se (k někomu/něčemu), aby…”. The latter is better option for praying for things.

    But your problems are more related to verbal rections than to the prepostions in particular.
  11. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    Modlil jsem se k bohovi, aby můj pes neumřel.
  12. phi11ip

    phi11ip Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that link. What a wonderful resource, and its not even complete yet!
  13. grrritsczech

    grrritsczech Member

    Wow. first, i'd like to thank you all for such detailed, and quick answers! now, to get onto business:

    so, here is only the exercise:

    1.Čestina je ...... nád dost těžka.
    2.Autobus může přijet až ...... osm hodin.
    3. Kabát máš asi ...... skříni.
    4. Tu mapu můžete dát ...... tabuli.
    5.Půjdu ještě ...... Petra a pak půjdeme spolu ...... oběd.
    6. Nevíš, kde je můj sešit ...... gramatiku?
    7. Mohu ...... tebe něco udělat?
    8. Večer se budu procházet ...... parku?
    9. Mám dopis ...... Tomáše.
    10. Nepůjdeš odpoledne ...... poštu?
    11. Odpolední vyučování bude ..... učebně nahoře.
    12. ...... stole máte jen papír a tužku.
    13....... ucebnici jsou texty a cvičení.
    14. Koupím taky dárky ...... sestru a ...... bratra.
    15.Musíš přijet brzo, budu ...... tebe čekat.
    16. Petr si ....... obchodě vybírá zimní kabát.
    17. Sedím vpředu, protože chci dobře vidět..... tabuli.
    18. Ještě tady není, vrátí se ...... chvíli.
    19. Přijdeme asi ...... dvě hodiny.

    and here is what i did during class, where i most likely got all of them wrong, and the ones i got right were either from guessing, or just hearing the answers being called too quickly around me:

    1.Čestina je PRO nád dost těžka.
    2.Autobus může přijet až NA osm hodin.
    3. Kabát máš asi NAskříni.
    4. Tu mapu můžete dát NA tabuli.
    5.Půjdu ještě PRO Petra a pak půjdeme spolu NA oběd.
    6. Nevíš, kde je můj sešit PRO gramatiku?
    7. Mohu NA tebe něco udělat?
    8. Večer se budu procházet ...... parku?
    9. Mám dopis ...... Tomáše.
    10. Nepůjdeš odpoledne NA poštu?
    11. Odpolední vyučování bude ..... učebně nahoře.
    12. NA stole máte jen papír a tužku.
    13. V ucebnici jsou texty a cvičení.
    14. Koupím taky dárky PRO sestru a PRO bratra.
    15.Musíš přijet brzo, budu NA tebe čekat.
    16. Petr si ....... obchodě vybírá zimní kabát.
    17. Sedím vpředu, protože chci dobře vidět..... tabuli.
    18. Ještě tady není, vrátí se ...... chvíli.
    19. Přijdeme asi ...... dvě hodiny.

    BUT if i am using your lovely examples (thank you) would they be:

    1.Čestina je ...... nád dost těžka...(er, i actually still don't know how to answer this..)
    2.Autobus může přijet až v osm hodin.
    3. Kabát máš asi ve skříni.
    4. Tu mapu můžete dát na tabuli.
    5.Půjdu ještě pro Petra a pak půjdeme spolu pro oběd.
    6. Nevíš, kde je můj sešit na gramatiku?(im just guessing here because it sounds right)
    7. Mohu za tebe něco udělat?
    8. Večer se budu procházet v parku?
    9. Mám dopis pro Tomáše.
    10. Nepůjdeš odpoledne na poštu? (here, again im just guessing)
    11. Odpolední vyučování bude v učebně nahoře.
    12. Na stole máte jen papír a tužku.
    13. V ucebnici jsou texty a cvičení.
    14. Koupím taky dárky pro sestru a pro bratra.
    15.Musíš přijet brzo, budu na tebe čekat.
    16. Petr si v obchodě vybírá zimní kabát.
    17. Sedím vpředu, protože chci dobře vidět na tabuli.
    18. Ještě tady není, vrátí se ve chvíli. (???)
    19. Přijdeme asi ..... dvě hodiny. (???)

    i felt a little more confident this time with the excercise, but if you could, it would be nice if you could point out my mistakes, and explain(if possible) the right answer :)

    well, actually i'd like to say that what you said was also very helpful! little americanisms (my home english language) were very simple, but insightful, and helped a little more :) so thank you:)

    Yes, and English isn't my only language in the way that i can speak others fluently, mainly japanese, but English is the only language i have a grasp on the grammar. (all i know of japanese grammar is that the sentence formation is basically the opposite) i have to admit that your explanation, although wonderfully detailed, and techincall, was a little harder for me to understand. but i think i got your general gist. The different cases, and knowing what prepositions go with each case, and what they mean in other cases, is important to knowing when and where to use, and what there meaning is in each sentence? that it is basically all relative?
  14. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    1 - still, you are close.. one can say "autobus přijel na osmou hodinu" with the same meaning; moreover, "přijet na osm hodin" is correct as well, but it means "to come and stay for eight hours" and does not make much sense with "až"

    2 - theoretically correct, although it would mean "the coat is on the wardrobe" not "in the wardrobe"; the latter would be "ve skříni"

    3 - "udělat něco na někoho" seems to mean "to do something in somebody's stead but pretend together that it is he who did it" (and some different quite vulgar meanings come to my mind as well)

    4 - pro Tomáše = for Tomáš; od Tomáše = from Tomáš

    5 - "ve stole" is another possibility with the meaning "in the table" (in a drawer, obviously)

    6 - za dvě hodiny = after two hours; na dvě hodiny = for two hours; it is also possible in the example 18) above but "na chvíli" does not make sense with the first phrase of the example.

    "jít pro oběd" is also possible (did not come to my mind) and it means "to fetch dinner" or something (to go, buy it and bring it home or to work)

    also possible, however improbable, it would mean "can I do something insted of you?"

    The second attempt seems to be better than the first but compare it with my corrections.
  15. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    I dislike this kind of exercises. There is often more options with different meanings.

    Czech is pretty difficult for us.
    Let’s simplify it a little to “Autobus může přijet … osm hodin.”

    Autobus může přijet v osm hodin.
    Bus can arrive at eight o'clock.

    Autobus může přijet za osm hodin.
    Bus can arrive in eight hours.

    The “až” in the original means “only, not (prior/till)” and leads to some loose translation like:

    Bus can’t arrive till eight o'clock.
    Bus can’t arrive in less than (…sooner than in) eight hours.

    ve skříni = in the wardrobe
    na skříni = on the wardrobe (possibly on the top of the wardrobe, or hanging on the wardrobe)

    or “za/před/pod/nad/k tabuli” (= behind/in front of/under/above/to the blackboard)

    na oběd = for lunch (= to have a lunch)
    pro oběd = for lunch (= to obtain/get/buy a lunch)

    pro tebe = for you (= for your benefit, to help you)
    za tebe = instead of you

    v parku = in the park
    po parku = about/around the park

    na poštu = to the post office
    pro poštu = for mail (= to collect the mail)

    na stole = on the table
    ve stole = in the table

    v učebnici = in the textbook
    na učebnici = (placed) on the (top of the) textbook

    pro bratra/sestru = for brother/sister (= they are the recipients)
    za bratra/sestru = instead (on behalf) of brother/sister
    čekat na tebe = wait for you
    (čekat u tebe = wait at your place)

    za chvíli = in a moment
    ve dvě hodiny = at two o'clock
    za dvě hodiny = in/after two hours
    na dvě hodiny = (to stay) for two hours

    Japan is of no use here, I guess.

    My point is that you can’t learn the Czech prepositions by learning what Czech prepositions stays for what English preposition. This leads only to a giant guesswork as a single Czech prepositon could correspond to many English prepositions.

    Consider the Czech prepositon “za” which could stay for English:

    instead of
    in place of
    on behalf of
    in exchange for

    To make some sense of it, you have to separate all the meanings and the usage with different cases:

    in the era of (i.e. under, while, when) → za + genitive
    instead of (+ in place of, on behalf of, as) → za + accusative
    for each (i.e. for, per, a, in) → za + accusative

    And my second point was you should start with spatial prepositions because they tend to have similar usage with the same cases. For example all the spatial prepositions “před, za, nad, pod” (= in front of, behind, above, under) use the same cases in the same way. They use instrumental for location:

       Je to před (za, nad, pod) stolem.
       It is in front of (behind, above, under) the table.

    And accusative with direction:

       Dej to před (za, nad, pod) stůl.
       Give it in front of (behind, above, under) the table.
  16. grrritsczech

    grrritsczech Member

    thank you so much for you help : )
  17. rsalc1

    rsalc1 Well-Known Member

    Aha, I have seen similar exercises in my workbook.
    Here the author is looking for "na oběd" as the correct answer. :)
  18. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    Well... as Wer said and I implied, it is very often possible that more options are correct, and if you noticed, even native speakers sometimes can't list all of them because they are so many with so different (and sometimes obscure but correct nonetheless) meanings. If you have teacher to check the exercise with and explain the possibilites, it can be done, but for a self-learner, it is completely useless.
  19. grrritsczech

    grrritsczech Member

    well, i have a teacher for czech, and she does explain everthing, but always explains it in czech (as she should) but because of that i don't always understand the nitty-gritty details. i understand it will take much time to get grip on the prepositions, but still, seeing i think that everyone's answers on this post has helped me : )
  20. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    prepositions have no translation :(

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