učit, naučit dative or accusative?

Discussion in 'Grammar & Pronunciation' started by Calvario, Dec 20, 2006.

  1. Calvario

    Calvario Well-Known Member

    I came across the following example in my book

    The accusative is used here colloquially for the dative here:
    Učím studenty ruštině/ruštinu. I am teaching the students Russian

    Why is ruština in the dative or the accusative and not studenti?
    Here is another example i came across:

    Učí nás české literatuře. He teaches us Czech litereature.

    české literaturě= dative

    Why is one part accusative and the other dative? I would think nám instead of nás because "we"is the indirect object. Literature is being taught TO us.

  2. gementricxs

    gementricxs Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure if I actually understood what are you asking for. Just to get it straight.

    Učím studenty ruštině. (accusative of ruština)
    Učím studenty ruštinu. (dative of rustina)

    Učí nás české literatuře. (accusative of literatura)
    Učí nás českou literaturu. (dative of literatura)

    The second example is colloquial.

    Both studenty and nás is accusative
  3. Calvario

    Calvario Well-Known Member

    I see what your saying, however, that doesn't explain to me why"student"in th first example is in the (acc) while Russian is in the (dative) or colloquially the (acc) Same thing in the second example "nás" is in the (acc) while literature is (dative) or colloquially in the (acc). Why is it that " nás" can't be in the (dative) or (acc)? Same thing with "student" why is it in the "acc" only while russian can be either. Hope this makes sense.

  4. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Isn't in "Učím studenty ruštině" ruština in dative (3. komu, čemu)?
  5. DanielZ

    DanielZ Well-Known Member

    It is Dative because you are teaching it "to" the students.

  6. Calvario

    Calvario Well-Known Member

    Mr. Z are you saying that ruština is dative because it is being taught "to" the students?

    It is my understanding that dative case expresses the indirect object. Accusative is the direct object. So if russian is being taught, then russian is the direct object and the students are the indirect object(dative)

    What is the difference between saying :

    1-He is teaching the students Russian
    2-He is teaching Russian to the students

    So how does this play out when translated into Czech.

    The whole point of my question is WHY is "nás" used and not "nám" Why is "studenty" used and not "studentům" . If he teaches Russian TO the students and he teaches Czech literature TO us why is the dative not used in these cases? It appeares that the focus is not on what is taught TO the students or TO us but that we/students are the direct object of the teaching. So then why the use of the dative, it's not like we can teach students TO Russian or us TO Czech literature.

    Just a thought. What do you think?

  7. Wicker808

    Wicker808 Well-Known Member


    Your observations are entirely correct, and your confusion is understandable. However, the source of the problem is based on a false analogy between English and Czech. In English, the indirect object of the verb "to teach" is a person who is being taught. In Czech, the indirect object of the verb "učit" is the thing or subject matter being taught.

    There is no explanation; it's just different. It's wrong to assume that every verb in each language has a corresponding verb with the same characteristics, just as it is wrong to assume that dative cases can always be translated using the preposition "to" or that genitive case can always be translated using the preposition "of." Sometimes they can, but avoid making assumptions about the general applicability of such rules.

    It's somewhat like your post a few weeks ago about the use of dummy demonstratives after a preposition: "Zajímám se o to, co řekli oni." The language is just structured differently and it isn't necessarily possible to translate word-for-word according to a straightforward rule.

    Needless to say, I disagree with DanielZ.
  8. Wicker808

    Wicker808 Well-Known Member


    To clarify the situation: Calvario thinks that "studenti" should be in the dative case, and the subject matter in the accusative case. Like this:

    *Učím studentům ruštinu.

    This is based on a false analogy with the English sentence:

    I teach Russian to the students.
  9. Zeisig

    Zeisig Well-Known Member

  10. Calvario

    Calvario Well-Known Member

    Thanks Wicker. I don't mind being wrong. I just like to know when I am. It's hard to break away from what you know. I knew that using studenti in the dative was wrong I only wanted a reasin why.

  11. stelingo

    stelingo Member

    You are mistaken here about the Russian construction.

    'I teach the students Russian' would be '

    'Я учу студентов русскому языку.'

    Students is in the acc case and Russian in the dative.
  12. stelingo

    stelingo Member

    In my Cz dictionary (Josef Fronek) it gives the following example:

    učit koho angličtinu

    No mention of the dative case. Is this correct or not?
  13. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    Yes stelingo, I believe that is right.

    To teach somebody something
    Učím tě rustinu.

    Můžeš mě ji naučit=Can you teach me it?(teach it to me)

    The previous posts are absolutely right.
    It is a mistake to expect that all instances of the cases will translate exactly the same.

    Koho=genitive question word

    Koho jsi rustinu učil loni?
    Who did you teach Russian to last year?
    proper english=tTo whom.....
  14. Calvario

    Calvario Well-Known Member

    Mr. Stelingo
    I appreciate your response however I believe you are mistaken. I was not speaking about any "Russian language" construction, I'm not even studying Russian. My reference to the word russian had to do with the use of the word Russian in a Czech sentence. You're correct that students is in the accusative while Russian is in the dative. I just wanted to know why it couldn't be the other way around since in English it very well could be. I did think the sentence in Russian was pretty cool looking though.


    You wrote: To teach sombody something.
    Učim tě rustinu

    I think tě is actually in the accusative here. The genetive and accusative are the same, they are both tě. The reason I believe it is in the accusative is I see the accusative being used in several examples in my book. In all of the previous posts on this thread there has been no mention of the genetive, so I am very interested to know which is correct. Ruština is supposed to be in the dative ruštině but the reason we find it in the accusative is because it is colloquial according to my study book as well as mentioned in the thread.

    Hopefully some of the natives will read through all this and help us out in this last bit.

  15. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    I am sure you are right Calvario,, tě must be accusative, not genitive.
    Can not explain my thought process on that one.

    Učíš mě čestinu.

    So, it is verb=accusative=dative?
  16. stelingo

    stelingo Member

    You seem to be forgetting that the accusative animate of masc nouns and the genetive are the same. koho =acc and gen

    To teach somebody something
    Verb=ACCUSATIVE (not genetive)=accusative
    Učím tě rustinu.
  17. stelingo

    stelingo Member

    According to '401 Czech Verbs' učit normally takes the accusative however can sometimes be followed by the dative but this is considered old-fashioned. The numerous examples given in my Fronek dictionary are all in the accusative.
  18. stelingo

    stelingo Member

    Učíš mě čestinu.


    čestinu is the acc of čestina
  19. Calvario

    Calvario Well-Known Member

    I am sure they probably are in the accusative. That is the common colloquially accepted case. Like any other language there are changes. However that doesn't make them grammatically correct.

    Most everyone I know says the following in English :

    Hello, who is it. IT'S ME. It's me is wrong grammatically it should be IT'S I.

    Hi, how are you I'm doing GOOD. Should be I'm WELL.

    Everyone says it wrong so it's just the accepted way of saying it. Many don't even realize they are speaking incorrectly. It doesn't really matter.

    Having said that it may be that the accusative is the rule now, being that you see so many examples in your book. I am very curious to know whether the dative is still the rule and accusative is the commonly accepted way or if the accusative is considered grammatically correct.

    Thanks for your input, helps us all learn and think.

  20. Wicker808

    Wicker808 Well-Known Member

    I disagree with the second above quoted statement. If a language changes then it follows that what is correct and what is not correct also changes; what otherwise does "language change" mean? Grammar is just as subject to change as vocabulary or phonology. Grammatical structures in English that were correct in Chancer's day are no longer correct, and new structures have become correct. Among self-appointed pedants there is a great, though in my sight undeserved, fondness for antiquated structures and vocabulary and a fear of new ones. Fortunately, all the efforts of the pedants cannot impede language change.

    As for sentences of the form "It's me," that has been in common use since at least the time of Shakespear. I don't think there is, or was, anything wrong with it.

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