Czech/Lesson 1

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By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Greet someone in Czech
  • Say whether or not you speak/understand Czech
  • Say how well you speak/understand Czech

Dialogue[edit]

A: Promiňte.

B: Dobrý den.

A: Mluvíte anglicky?

B: Anglicky mluvím jen trochu. Nemluvím moc dobře.

Explanation[edit]

A lot can be learned from this little dialogue. Let's go step through it part by part.

  • Promiňte means "excuse me."
  • Dobrý den is used to say "hello," but it literally means "Good day." The word den (day) is a masculine noun. We'll discuss grammatical gender later on.
  • Mluvíte is a formal way "you speak." In Czech, you don't need a pronoun in front of the verb to know whether it means I, you, he, she, etc. The conjugation tells it all. In this case, because of the -íte ending, you know the speaker is referring either to one person formally, or to many people at once.
  • Anglicky means "English." Notice the way the letter C is pronounced - it is just like a "ts" combination.
  • Trochu means "few" or "little."
  • Mluvím means "I speak." This is another example of how you can tell which grammatical person someone is referring to just by the verb conjugation. Because of the -ím" ending, it is known that the person is speaking about himself. Now, notice the word order of "I speak a little [English]" - you're literally saying "Little [I] speak." In Czech, word order isn't very important because words take certain case endings to determine how they function in a sentence. Saying "Mluvím trochu [anglicky]" would work to the same effect.
  • Nemluvím - you can already understand the second half of this word. The ne- prefix negates the verb. Hence, nemluvím is the opposite of "I speak" - it is "I don't speak."
  • Moc - very
  • Dobře" means "well." Use it correctly and don't mix it up with dobrý. Just as in English, well (dobře) is an adverb, while good (dobrý) is an adjective.