Czech/Lesson 1

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We'll start with a simple dialogue between two friends. In Czech, there's a difference between formal and informal speech. The main difference is that when speaking to a person, you should use the second person of plural instead of the second person of singular. Another difference is in greetings. These differences will be discussed through all lessons, since there are many of them. In the following dialogue, the informal speech is used.

Dialogue[edit]

David: Čau, jak se jmenuješ?
Hi, what's your name?

Jana: Ahoj, já jsem Jana.
Hello, I am Jana.

David: Rád tě poznávám, Jano.
Nice to meet you, Jana.

Jana: Já tebe také. Jak se máš?
Nice to meet you too. How are you?

David: Mám se dobře, děkuji. A ty?
I am well, thanks. And you?

Jana: Já také.
Me too.

David: Promiň, musím jít. Měj se!
Sorry, I have to go. See you!

Jana: Měj se!
See you!

Vocabulary[edit]

ahoj hello, hi
čau hello, hi (there's no big difference to ahoj, the usage from person to person)
dobrý den good day (formal greeting) promiň sorry, excuse me
také also (or taky in spoken language)
I
jít to go

Phrases[edit]

Jak se máš? How are you?
Jak se jmenuješ? What's your name?
Rád(a) tě poznávám Nice to meet you (Rád is for male speakers, Ráda is for female speakers)
Já jsem __ I am __
Jmenuji se __ My name is __
Měj se! See you! (literally translates as have yourself)

Formal speech[edit]

Here you will find the same dialogue as above, but changed into the formal way.

David: Dobrý den, jak se jmenujete?
Hi, what's your name?

Jana: Dobrý den, já jsem Jana.
Hello, I am Jana.

David: Rád Vás poznávám, Jano.
Nice to meet you, Jana.

Jana: Já Vás také. Jak se máte?
Nice to meet you too. How are you?

David: Mám se dobře, děkuji. A Vy?
I am well, thanks. And you?

Jana: Já také.
Me too.

David: Promiňte, musím jít. Mějte se!
Sorry, I have to go. See you!

Jana: Mějte se!
See you!

When to use the formal speech[edit]

The formal speech is used as a default one. Example situations are:

  • In a shop
  • In a bank
  • In a school when speaking to a teacher as a student
  • In a workplace (to your colleagues, to your boss)

... and many more. Usually use it with people you don't know well.

When to use the informal speech[edit]

  • With your friends
  • With young people (teenage and few years on)
  • With parents
  • With people you explicitly agree on using the informal speech (*)

(*) Even though the etiquette says you can use informal speech to people younger than you, it's more common to agree on this first. The older person (or the person with higher "level", i.e. your boss, your teacher, your customer, ...) is the one who must offer the usage of informal speech, otherwise it's considered impolite.