3.1 Syntax of noun phrases
Czech syntax at the level of both the noun phrase and the clause is
dominated by case. Within a noun phrase, a noun (or pronoun) and all its
modifiers show agreement for case, as well as gender and number. Here are
some examples of agreement in noun phrases:
Npl masc anim: všichni dobří rodáci all good countrymen
Gsg fem: své milé ženy his dear wife
Dpl masc: našim starým přátelům our old friends
Asg fem: tu důležitou práci that important work
Isg neut: kterým českým městem which Czech city
Case indicates the syntactic function of a given noun phrase, the relationship it bears to the verb and to other noun phrases, the latter often augmented by a preposition. Sometimes case (particularly the vocative and occasionally the dative) can also indicate pragmatic relationships between participants in the speech event. The specific syntactic functions of the cases will now be taken up in turn. In the examples below, the noun phrase in question will appear in bold face.
This survey will also present sample lists of prepositions, verbs, and
other words that trigger the use of various cases. When dealing with case
it is important to note that Czech employs an abstract yet complex system
of concepts that do not neatly match any English equivalents. There is
therefore often no consistent correspondence between a given case meaning
or preposition and its English gloss. The various uses of a given case
are not independent of each other, but
collectively represent a coherent network of meanings, and frequently overlap.
3.1.1 The nominative case
184.108.40.206 Naming functions
The nominative serves as the default case when there is no syntactic context, as when it names or labels items, and it is also the case used in dictionary entries. Although the vocative case is normally used when calling someone by first name or title, the nominative can also be used, particularly when the last name is preceded by the Vsg form pane Sir!, as in pane Novák Mr. Novák!.
220.127.116.11 The subject of a clause
The grammatical subject of a clause is always marked in the nominative
case (and constructions lacking a grammatical subject are relatively rare
in Czech, though some will be noted under the dative and instrumental cases
below). Here are some nominative subjects:
Dnes děti nemají školu The children dont have school today;
My taky nejdeme do práce We are also not going to work;
Co se tady děje? What is going on here?.
Unless special emphasis is needed, subject pronouns are usually omitted
in Czech. Here are some examples of sentences without and with subject
Neutral clauses showing omission Emphatic clauses with pronouns
Dokážeme to We will manage it
My to dokážeme We (are the ones who) will manage it
Jsem tady Im here
Já jsem tady (Well, at least) I am here
Nevěděla, kdo to je She didnt know who it was
Ona nevěděla, kdo to je (But) She didnt know who it was
In the foregoing examples the speaker has a concrete person or persons
in mind. Oni is also omitted when it corresponds to English they indicating
no one in particular, just people in general:
Říkají, že zítra bude pršet They say its going to rain tomorrow (general statement, reporting what some people say or what was heard in a broadcast).
A few verbs can be constructed without any subject at all, such as Prší It is raining and Sněží It is snowing.
18.104.22.168 The predicate of copula sentences
In addition to the nominative subject, verbs meaning be
can contain a nominative predicate identifying a category that the subject
belongs in or a modifier that applies to it, especially when the statement
has general applicability. Here are some examples:
Soused je učitel (Our) neighbor is a teacher;
Alkohol je jed Alcohol is a poison;
Byl jsem spokojený I was content;
Musíš být zdvořilý You have to be polite.
However, whenever the category or modifier is particularly relevant
to a given temporal, spatial or other context (such as in
our town or when we go to visit auntie),
the instrumental case is frequently used instead for this purpose; compare:
Soused je učitelem (Our) neighbor is a teacher;
Musíš být zdvořilým You have to be polite.
Note also that it is possible to use the instrumental even for general
statements, such as
Nejzákeřnějším jedem ze všech je alkohol Alcohol is the most sinister poison of all.
22.214.171.124 Comparison and apposition
The comparative construction in Czech parallels the English x is y-er
than z,where than is represented by než and z is marked with the nominative
case, as in
Praha je hezčí než Bratislava Prague is prettier than Bratislava.
When a category or title is followed by a proper name, it is sometimes possible to leave the proper name in the nominative (though sometimes it is necessary to put it in the case that the category or title is in, and sometimes both variants are acceptable). The nominative is acceptable for v okrese Vyškov in Vyškov county; only the locative can be used in v řece Vltavě in the Vltava river; but both the nominative and the genitive can be used in do banky Bohemia/Bohemie to the Bohemia Bank.
3.1.2 The genitive case
The genitive case serves as a landmark that something departs from, approaches, belongs to, or is located near. This discussion of genitive syntax is organized on the basis of these four general concepts which we designate, respectively, by source, goal, whole, and reference.
126.96.36.199 Source meanings involving from
There are several prepositions that can be translated by English from,
all of which use the genitive case. Z from
is perhaps the most versatile, and is used for departure from most physical
(and metaphorical) locations:
Sestra přijela z Prahy (Our) sister has arrived from Prague,
Kniha byla přeložena z francouzštiny The book was translated from French.
This preposition is associated with some verbs, such as
potěšit se z derive pleasure from,
zotavit/zotavovat se z recover from,
vyloučit/vylučovat z exclude, remove from.
Z also serves as the foundation for complex prepositions zpod from
beneath and zpoza from behind.
The preposition s off of, down from
is rather marginal; it specifies removal from a flat surface, and can always
be replaced by z:
Lampa spadla se/ze stolu The lamp fell from the table.
When human beings serve as a point of departure, the preposition od
Dostala jsem dopis od bratra I received a letter from (my) brother.
Od can mark other departure points as well, as we see in phrases like
Šli jsme směrem od věže We walked in the direction away from the tower and
Od neděle stále prší It has been raining constantly from Sunday on.
In addition to prepositions, the genitive case is used in constructions
with many verbs that express withdrawal from things, be it physical or
emotional. Here are some such verbs:
bát se be afraid of
vy-varovat/vyvarovávat se escape from, avoid
leknout/lekat se be frightened of
vzdát/vzdávat se give up
nabažit se get tired of
obávat se be apprehensive of
za-stydět se be ashamed of
ostýchat se be shy of
zbavit/zbavovat (se) rid (self) of
po-/vy-děsit se be terrified of
zdržet/zdržovat se abstain from
z-hrozit se be horrified at
pustit/pouštět se let go of
zříci/zříkat se renounce
štítit se shun
188.8.131.52 Goal meanings involving to
The preposition do to is used for
arrival at various destinations as well as in temporal and other metaphorical
Pojedeme do Prahy We are going to Prague;
Do Vánoc budu doma I'll be home before Christmas;
Všichni se zamilovali do naší učitelky Everyone fell in love with our teacher.
Two groups of verbs denote various kinds of approach and are associated with the genitive case. For one group the use of the genitive is mandatory, but for the other the accusative is preferred, whereas the genitive is a somewhat literary or archaic-sounding variant.
Note that in both groups a significant number of verbs are prefixed with do-, indicating approach, and that the presence of the intransitivizing se also plays a role in triggering the genitive (since a verb with se is nearly always intransitive, the destination is therefore not expressible as an accusative direct object, and the genitive goal meaning serves this purpose instead).
Verbs that Require the Genitive
dočkat/dočkávat se wait for
týkat se concern, pertain to
dopustit/dopouštět se commit (a bad act)
ujmout/ujímat se take up, assume
dotknout/dotýkat se touch
všimnout/všímat si notice
dovolat/dovolávat se invoke, call
vyčkat /vyčkávat wait for
dožádat/dožadovat se beg for, demand
zastat/zastávat se stand up for, advocate
chopit/chápat se take hold of, seize
zeptat/ptát se ask, inquire
chránit se refrain from, avoid
zmocnit/zmocňovat se seize, take possession of
chytit/chytat se get caught on, cling to
zúčastnit/zúčastňovat se participate in
In addition to these verbs, there are some adjectives, such as
hodný worthy of,
schopný capable and
žádostivý greedy, eager for
(which commonly appear in their short forms with the genitive) that trigger the genitive in a parallel meaning, identifying the target of a persons capability or greed in the genitive:
Takový člověk je schopen čehokoliv/žádostiv slávy A person like that is capable of anything/eager for fame.
Verbs that Can Govern the Genitive or the Accusative
dobýt/dobývat gain, get
po-/vy-užít/po-/vy-užívat use, enjoy
dosáhnout/dosahovat reach, gain
za-žádat desire, demand
184.108.40.206 Whole meanings involving of, possession, and category membership
The genitive case can be used for many of the purposes that English
of serves, including the marking of part-whole relationships, possession,
střecha domu the roof of the house,
členové naší organizace the members of our organization,
žena souseda the neighbors wife,
trest smrti the death penalty,
člověk nesmírného bohatství a person of vast wealth.
Also like English of, the Czech genitive case is used to reduce clauses
by linking agents, events, and patients:
Full Clause Reduction Reduced Version
Dívka bledla The girl was turning pale event of agent blednutí dívky the girls turning pale
Smetana složil operu Smetana composed an opera patient of agent opera Smetany Smetanas opera
Űlověk (něco) dělá A man does (something) agent of event člověk akce a man of action
Výbor vyjednal výsledek The committee negotiated a result patient of event výsledek jednání the result of the negotiation
Člověk ztratil doklady A person lost the documents event of patient ztráta dokladů the loss of the documents
Because some items can potentially serve as both agents and patients,
this use of the adnominal genitive is occasionally ambiguous, as in:
krádež dětí the theft of the children (someone kidnapped them) or the childrens theft (they stole something).
The genitive expresses this meaning similar to of in conjunction with
numerous prepositions, prepositional phrases, and other words, among them:
na dně on the bottom of pomocí with the help of
na pokraji on the brink of prostřednictvím by means of
na účet on the account of škoda a waste of
na úkor to the detriment of uprostřed in the middle of
na vrcholu at the height of v duchu in the spirit of
na základě on the basis of v oblasti in the field of
následkem as a result of v roli in the role of
po stránce with respect to včetně including
pod jménem under the name of ve formě in the form of
Amounts of things and substances are handled using the genitive to mark
whatever is being counted or measured. The genitive is used after integers
above five (see more on the syntax of numerals below), fractions, and indefinite
numerals such as
tolik this much/many,
kolik how much/many,
šest slovníků six dictionaries,
desetina vteřiny a tenth of a second,
mnoho studentů many students,
málo vody little water.
This partitive meaning of the genitive
was originally used even in the absence of a quantifier, e.g., Dej mi vody
me some water (now replaced by the accusative vodu or the use
of a quantifier trochu vody). Unspecified quanitification can be associated
with certain verbs; small quantities are indicated by the genitive
whereas large quantities can be indicated by the genitive with verbs
in na- (se) and pře- se:
Matce přibylo vrásek Mother has gotten some more wrinkles,
Napila jsem se vody I drank my fill of water.
The adjective plný uses the genitive for a similar purpose:
Dcera je plna naděje Our daughter is full of hope.
220.127.116.11 Reference meanings involving at with dates and other reference points
Calendar dates always appear in the genitive case, and the genitive
can appear in certain other time expressions as well:
Dnes je osmého února Today is the eighth of February,
Přijedu třiadvacátého listopadu I will arrive on the twenty-third of November,
Úroky se účtují každého čtvrt roku Interest is calculated quarterly.
The preposition za uses the genitive case to express time periods demarcated
by other events, such as
za války during the war,
za komunismu during communism;
this meaning parallels the preposition během during, which likewise governs the genitive.
Other prepositions that indicate reference points in various domains
are associated with the genitive:
daleko far from
dle according to
podle according to
u near, by, at
místo instead of
vedle next to
nedaleko not far from
vně outside of
Some of these prepositions (especially kromě except
and vně outside of) emphasize the mutually
exclusive relationship between the reference point given by the genitive
and another object. Taken to its extreme, absolute exclusion would imply
absolute separation and inaccessibility. This extreme meaning is manifested
in the genitive-governing preposition bez without
and in the genitive of negation which is quite archaic in Czech, surviving
primarily in fixed phrases, such as:
Nemám slov I dont have any words (I am tongue-tied),
Nemohl dechu popadnout He couldnt catch his breath.
This exclusionary aspect of the reference meaning overlaps somewhat with the avoidance aspect of the source meaning of the genitive discussed above.
3.1.3 The dative case
The dative case marks an entity that is capable of serving as the subject
of a further action, or one that can guide or otherwise affect an event.
There are basically two kinds of dative uses in Czech, both of which entail
experiences or actions directed toward the dative entity. One involves
experiences of various sorts, such as receiving or losing something, appreciating
kindness, suffering from ill treatment, or simply enduring the passing
of time and various environmental factors. The dative as an experiencer
yields the indirect object, many instances of dative government, the use
of the dative clitic pronoun si to indicate self-indulgence, as well as
possessive and ethical uses. The other dative uses cluster around a competition that the dative entity is engaged in with the nominative entity. The competition can be a tie, in which case we see expressions of matching forces, or either the nominative or the dative entity can emerge as the victor. If the dative is the stronger competitor, expressions of submission (to the dative) are motivated. If the dative is the weaker competitor, we find expressions of domination.
The preposition k to, toward, for
plays a special role in the semantics of the dative, for it is the spatial
basis for other meanings. This preposition combines the meaning of directionality
(the sense of something moving in the direction of something else) with
the meaning of control and independence on the part of the destination
(which distinguishes the dative from the accusative). Given this combination,
it is no surprise that when a human being is a destination, this is always
expressed with the preposition k:
V sobotu pojedeme k babičce On Saturday we will go to grandmothers (to visit grandmother/to grandmothers place).
The preposition k also participates in a number of prepositional and
other phrases as well, among them:
v poměru k in relation to,
vzhledem k in relation to; due to,
nehledě k ignoring,
se zřetelem k with regard to,
směrem k heading toward,
ve směru k in the direction of,
s přihlédnutím k with consideration for/of,
ve vztahu k in relation to,
přijít k sobě regain consciousness,
přiznat se k admit to,
náchylný k having a tendency to.
18.104.22.168 Experiencer meanings involving to and for
In this meaning, the dative marks the experiencer of giving and taking,
good, evil, and other external factors; each of these uses will be discussed
In addition to the classic context for the indirect object, namely the verb dávat/dát give, as in Advokát dal pacientovi svou vizitku The lawyer gave the patient his card, there are many synonyms or near-synonyms to give associated with this dative construction.
Synonyms and Near-Synonyms of give
darovat give as a gift
předat/předávat hand over
dodat/dodávat add, deliver
přihrát/přihrávat pass (in sports)
nechat/nechávat leave (for)
obětovat (se) sacrifice (oneself) to/for
obstarat/obstarávat find, obtain, get (for)
odevzdat/odevzdávat hand in
odnést/odnášet take to
umožnit/umožňovat make possible
opatřit/opatřovat obtain, get (for)
věnovat give as a gift
podat/podávat hand, serve
v-nutit force upon
Some related nouns, such as dárek gift
and oběť sacrifice can also trigger
the dative in this way:
Tady je dárek tobě Here is a gift for you;
Jde o oběť rodině This is a sacrifice for the family.
If the subject of a sentence gets something for him/herself, the use
of the dative reflexive pronoun si is motivated, yielding constructions
Koupím si nový počítač I will buy myself a new computer,
Už jsme si opatřili nutné dokumenty We have already obtained the documents we need.
This use of si also appears in idioms, such as
dát si (literally give to oneself) which means order (food), as in Dám si rybu I'll have the fish, and
vzít si (literally take to oneself), which means marry, as in Alena si vezme Richarda Alena will marry Richard, or simply take, as in Vezmi si deštník, bude pršet Take your/an umbrella, its going to rain.
Furthermore, verbs that denote the creation of things or ideas can be
associated with the dative, since the act of creation makes items available
experiencers. This accounts for sentences like
Babička nám upekla dort Grandmother baked us a cake.
A number of verbs regularly use si to indicate that a fact or possibility
has become available to the subject, among them
všimnout/všímat si notice,
uvědomit/uvědomovat si become aware of,
připustit/připouštět si allow.
Note also the use of myslet si think, have opinion (as opposed to myslet think, engage in thinking or myslet na + accusative think about, recollect).
Czech treats the act of taking something from someone as analogous to
giving something to someone, using the dative to mark the experiencer of
loss just as Czech uses the dative to mark the experiencer of gain. Thus
the verb vzít/brát take and its synonyms
appear with the dative in sentences like
Bratr mu vzal poslední korunu His brother took his last crown.
Synonyms and Near-Synonyms of take
vyfouknout snatch away
odebrat/odebírat take away
vyrvat/rvát wrest from
odejmout/odnímat take away
vy-trhat yank away
The use of the pronoun si is less common with these verbs, since rarely
does one take something from oneself, but it is possible to say things
Konečně jsem si odstranil tu třísku I've finally gotten that sliver out (of my body).
Just as verbs of creation can facilitate giving, verbs of destruction
entail de facto removal, motivating sentences like
Záplava nám zničila dům The flood destroyed our house.
A subject may merely present itself, rather than some other item, to a dative experiencer, and this use is instantiated by a variety of verbs entailing physical or imagined approach, as well as stative verbs involving belonging or accessibility.
Words Meaning give self to
na-rodit se be born
příslušet be owed, belong to, pertain
nadběhnout/nadbíhat overtake, outrun
stačit be enough
obětovat se sacrifice self
stát/stávat se happen
oddat/oddávat se devote self
svěřit/svěřovat (se) entrust (self)
věnovat se dedicate self
pro-jevit se appear
vnutit/vnucovat se force self on
představit/představovat se introduce self
zaprodat/zaprodávat (se) be traitor, sell (self)
přihodit/přiházet se happen
zbýt/zbývat be left for
přiblížit/přibližovat (se) approach
zdát se seem
připadnout/připadat accrue; happen; seem
A number of adjectives trigger use of the dative motivated by the same
semantics of bring the self to, among
Jeho dům je všem dostupný His house is accessible
Jeho cíl je všem známý His goal is known to everyone; etc.
Occasionally this use of the dative is found in idioms, such as jít/jet někomu naproti go to meet someone (who is arriving).
Just as both giving and taking items can involve dative experiencers, both giving the self to and taking the self away can trigger the dative, motivating the association of the dative with various words, such as the following:
Words Meaning take self from
chybět be missing
umřít/umírat die on
odcizit/odcizovat se, cizí be(come) alienated
uniknout/unikat leak, escape
odporučit/odporoučet se take ones leave of
odrodit/odrozovat se defect
utéci/utíkat run away
vyhnout/vyhýbat se avoid; steer clear of
scházet be missing
vymknout/vymykat se wrench loose
ujet/ujíždět ride away (causing one to miss a train, bus, etc.)
vzdálit/vzdalovat se become estranged from
ztratit/ztrácet se get lost on
A number of verbs in Czech express the giving of messages, money, or
gifts without requiring that these items appear as accusative direct objects.
These words are associated with the dative case, creating constructions
Děkuji vám za pomoc I thank you for your help,
Musíme zaplatit číšníkovi We have to pay the waiter.
Words Expressing the Giving of Messages, Money, Gifts
dopsat/dopisovat write letters
kondolovat give condolences
připít/připíjet drink to
přitakat/přitakávat say yes
odmlouvat talk back to
odpovědět/odpovídat answer, correspond to
odzvonit/odzvánět toll a bell for
tykat say ty to
u-/za-smát se laugh at
vykat say vy to
pochlebovat fawn upon
po-chlubit se boast
po-kynout nod, wave
za-rouhat se blaspheme
po-modlit se pray
za-spílat curse at
po-stěžovat si complain
za-telegrafovat send telegraph
za-volat call, telephone
Many of these verbs can be used with the dative reflexive pronoun si in its reciprocal meaning, such as tykat si/vykat si say ty/vy to each other and dopisovat si write letters to each other.
Related words, such as díky thanks to
and slib promise, often exhibit the
same dative syntax as these verbs:
Díky své neobvyklé inteligenci, nikdy nemusel mnoho studovat Thanks to his unusual intelligence, he never had to study much.
Thus far we have seen the dative as the entity that experiences some gain or loss. In a more abstract realm, the dative can experience benefit or harm, and many words denoting benefit and harm are associated with the dative. This group of words overlaps with groups denoting giving and giving messages.
Verbs Expressing Benefit
hodit se suit
líbit se appeal to
svědčit be good for
za-chutnat taste good
po-přát wish (well), be kind
In addition to these verbs, a great number of adjectives expressing
positive qualities can be used with the dative in a similar fashion, among
milý nice, pleasant,
The fact that people often do things for their enjoyment provides further occasions to use dative si, as in hrát si play, házet si throw, and kopat si kick, all of which entail playing for fun. A great variety of action verbs can be prefixed in za- or po- with si to signify selfindulgence, such as zacvičit si do some exercising for fun, popovídat si enjoy a chat.
There are also verbs that require si, such as
dřepnout si squat,
po-hovět si indulge oneself,
lehnout/lehat si lie down,
oddechnout si take a breather,
odpočinout/odpočívat si rest,
odskočit si relieve oneself,
sednout/sedat si sit down,
po-stěžovat si complain,
stoupnout si stand up.
Note also the idiom říci si say so,
Jestli budeš něco potřebovat, tak si řekni If you need something, just say so.
Verbs Expressing Harm
hnusit se be disgusting
překážet be in the way
znechutit/znechucovat (se) make (be) disgusting
In addition to the verbs of harm listed in the table, it is possible
to create dative-governing verbs meaning hurt,
by prefixing na- to verbs meaning hit, beat, whip,
etc., as in
As we saw above with adjectives denoting positive qualities, adjectives
denoting negative qualities can also trigger this use of the dative, among
odporný repulsive, and
The verbs of taking above assumed that the object being taken was somehow
possessed by the dative experiencer. The dative can be used to express
possession in other contexts as well, particularly in relation to inalienable
possessions, namely body parts and family members, as in
Zlomil jí ruku He broke her arm,
Dítě nám pláče v noci Our child cries at night.
This possessive meaning also motivates the use of si in expressions
umýt si ruce wash ones hands,
vyčistit si zuby brush ones teeth.
The dative is furthermore an experiencer of various temporal, environmental,
and affective factors, yielding impersonal expressions of age, comfort,
and emotion, such as
Je mi 40 let I am 40 years old,
Bude nám zima We will be cold, and
Bylo mu smutno He was sad.
It is also possible to take an action and view it from the perspective
of a dative experiencer by adding the reflexive se to verbs, as in:
Jak se ti chodí v těch nových botách? How does it feel (to you) to walk in those new shoes?,
Pacientovi se už lépe dýchá The patient is breathing better now.
Note that this use extends to the idiom jít o concern:
Jde nám o život Our life is at stake.
Feeling like doing something and succeeding at something are likewise
expressible with the dative:
Když je nemocný, nechce se mu hrát He doesnt feel like playing when/since hes sick,
To se ti nepovedlo/nepodařilo You didnt succeed with that.
The dative can be used for pragmatic purposes in clauses where it is not grammatically required, to suggest that the dative entity is experiencing the event, in order to capture the hearers attention or to express aggression or solidarity. This use of the dative is often called the ethical dative, and here are some examples:
To capture the hearers attention: Včera jsem ti měla silnou horečku
I had a high fever (you should care).
Aggression: Co jste nám tu ukradli? What did you steal here (on us, were in charge and were angry)?
Solidarity: Ty zlé děti nám rozbily hračky, vid? Those naughty children broke our toys, didnt they? (I sympathize with you; said by an adult who is not a co-owner of the toys).
22.214.171.124 Competitor meanings involving against and to
The dative can mark a competitor that another item can be matched against, submit to, or be dominated by. These uses of the dative do not focus on a capacity to experience events, but are motivated instead by a comparison of the datives potential to act as a subject with the actual subjecthood of a nominative entity. As in any competition, there are three possible outcomes: a draw, the submission of the nominative to the dative (i.e., the dative wins), or the domination of the dative by the nominative (i.e., the nominative wins). All three possibilities are realized in the gramar of Czech, and will be taken up in turn.
The following table lists words expressing matched forces associated with the dative case involving concepts such as equality, competition, retaliation, and resistance.
Words Expressing Matched Forces
překážet be in the way
konkurovat compete against
rovnat se equal
na odpor in resistance to
úměrně (k) proportionately to
napříč athwart, transversely
v tvář to face
navzdory in spite of
ob-hájit se proti defend oneself from
vyrovnat/vyrovnávat se match, be able to compete
vzdor in spite of
odplatit/odplácet repay, retaliate
odpovědět/odpovídat correspond to; answer
vzepřít/vzpírat se oppose
oproti as opposed to
za-bránit se resist
podobat se be similar
po-mstít se take revenge on
z-protovit se oppose
This meaning of the dative lends itself particularly well to the formation
of reciprocal expressions with si, such as
odporovat si oppose one another,
překážet si get in each others way.
When the dative entity imposes its parameters on the nominative, we
see the use of the dative with words expressing various kinds of inclination,
tendency, and submission, as summarized in the following table. There is
considerable overlap between this group of words meaning yield
to, and the words meaning give oneself
to mentioned in section 126.96.36.199, such as
obětovat se sacrifice self to,
věnovat se dedicate self to.
Note that many of these words denote yielding in intellectual or emotional terms, such as those with meanings like be surprised at, believe, understand, and envy.
Words Expressing Inclination, Submission
dostát/dostávat be true to, honor
podřídit/podřizovat se subordinate self to
dvořit se woo, court
povolit/povolovat give in to, indulge
hovět give in to, indulge
propadnout/propadat (se) become obsessed with, addicted to
klanět se bow to
přizpůsobit/přizpůsobovat se adapt to
kvůli due to, for the sake of
náležet belong, be proper to
stranit side with someone
na-učit se learn
ustoupit/ustupovat yield to
obdivovat se admire
vděčit be indebted to
otročit slave for
poddat/poddávat se submit to
po-divit se be surprised
vzdát/vzdávat se surrender to
podkuřovat toady to
za-holdovat pay homage to
podlehnout/podléhat succumb to
zavděčit/zavděčovat se be obliging to
podlézat kowtow to
podrobit/podrobovat se submit, conform to
Reciprocal uses are fairly common with this set of verbs, particularly rozumět si believe each other.
The use of the dative to mark an entity dominated by a nominative entity is relatively infrequent, but there are a few verbs associated with this meaning.
Words Expressing Domination
vévodit rule over
předsedat preside over
těšit se have at one's disposal
učarovat/učarovávat enchant, bewitch
3.1.4 The accusative case
The accusative case is the case of destinations, marking the entity that something or someone arrives at or goes through. In an abstract sense the direct object of a verb is the destination of the verbal energy created by the subject of a sentence. Motion can bring items to a physical destination, and if the path is specified in any particular way (as a path to a place above, beyond, or in front of an item, for example), it will be expresed as a preposition plus the accusative case (see the list of prepositions below). A change of state is understood as moving into a place, and v + A can perform this task (also possible for do + G). The accusative is also implemented in other domains, such as time and purpose, and there are numerous words that are associated with the use of a preposition + A. The accusative case can alternatively signal a dimension of something that is measured or passed through. This dimensional meaning can be used for expanses of time, but is applied to various physical and other domains by means of prepositions.
188.8.131.52 Destination meanings involving to, for and the direct object
The accusative case can present destinations for action, motion, time,
or purpose. The direct object is the target of the verbal action, rendered
in the accusative case, as in
Sousedé otevřeli novou restauraci v centru Our neighbors opened a new restaurant downtown.
Bodily pain is expressed by putting the sufferer in the accusative case,
Sestru bolela hlava My sister had a headache.
The accusative case appears in elliptical constructions where the verb
has been omitted, such as
Vodu! (Bring some) water!,
Dobrou chut Bon appetit.
An infinitive verb form can motivate the accusative, as in
Je vidět horu The mountain is visible (but note that the nominative case, hora, is also permissible here).
As mentioned above, aside from the use of do + G to
and the use of k + D for human destinations, all other destinations use
a preposition + A. Note that events have a temporal destination, the time
at which they take place, often expressed by v + A on,
za + A in (after time elapses), or
ob + A every other, as in
Přijede za dva dny, ve středu; k nám přijíždí ob týden He'll come in two days, on Wednesday; he comes to visit us every other week.
The following table lists the destinational prepositions and indicates some of the other domains they commonly refer to. Five of these prepositions (na, o, po, přes, za) also express dimensional meanings of the accusative, which will be handled together with other dimensional prepositions in the next subsection.
Prepositions Glosses Primary Domains
mezi among, between space, categorization
Kdo dal tu lžičku mezi vidličky? Who put this spoon among the forks?
Paleontologové zařazují dinosaury mezi ptáky. Paleontologists classify dinosaurs among birds.
mimo past, outside of, besides, except; outside of space, lists
Žijou mimo Prahu. They live outside of Prague.
Autobusy jezdí každý den mimo neděli. The buses run every day except Sunday.
na (on)to; for; at; toward space, purpose
Zítra půjdeme na koncert. Tomorrow we are going to a concert.
Musím si koupit šaty na všední den. I need to buy everyday clothes (clothes for everyday).
nad to a place above, beyond space, measurement
Pověsili obraz nad krb. They hung the picture over the fireplace.
To je nad lidské síly. Thats beyond human capacities (too hard to do).
o against; (thing desired or taken) space, endeavors
Vzal vázu a mrštil jí o zem. He took the vase and smashed it against the ground.
Odevzdali jsme žádost o byt. We submitted a request for an apartment.
ob every other, one away space, time
Pište ob řádek. Skip lines (write every other line).
Ob den pracuji doma. Every other day I work at home.
po up to; for space, time, scales, lists
Začervenala se až po uši. She blushed up to her ears.
Budeme studovat dějiny umění až po novověk. We will study art history up to the modern age.
Všichni důstojníci od kapitána po plukovníka chtějí lepší podmínky. All officers from the rank of captain to colonel want better conditions.
pod to a place under, below; less than space, jurisdiction, amounts
Zameteme ten prach pod koberec. We will sweep that dust under the rug.
Tato otázka nespadá pod mou kompetenci. That question does not fall within (under) my competence.
Neprodá chalupu pod sto tisíc. He wont sell the cottage for less than a hundred thousand.
pro for, due to, because of purpose, cause
Jdu pro vodu. I am going for water.
Strýc je oblíben pro svou dobrotu. Our uncle is loved because of his kindness.
před to a place in front of, before space, legal responsibility
Vyšli jsme před dům a dívali jsme se na ohňostroj. We walked out in front of the house and watched the fireworks.
Zločinec byl předvolán před soud. The criminal was summoned to (before) the court.
přes across; more than; ignoring, avoiding space, time, amounts, relationships
Jeli jsme přes most. We rode across the bridge.
Je mu přes padesát. He is over fifty.
Křičeli jeden přes druhého. They outshouted each other.
v to, in, into space, time, states of being, purpose
Gorila se bila v prsa. The gorilla beat its chest (itself in the chest).
Zavolám v jednu hodinu. I will call at one o'clock.
Pavel všechno obrátí v žert. Pavel turns everything into a joke.
Naše organizace pracuje ve prospěch lidstva. Our organization works for the benefit of humankind.
za to a place behind, beyond; (catching ) on, by; for space, time, purpose, priorities, replacements
Slunce zašlo za hory. The sun went behind the mountains.
Vzal ji za ruku. He took her by the hand.
Za týden přijedou domů. In a week they will come home.
Všechno kupuje za hotové. S/He buys everything for cash.
Chceme vyměnit byt za dům. We want to exchange our apartment for a house.
Many words are associated with these destinational prepositions, such
zlobit se na be angry at,
pokuta za fine for,
boj o struggle for,
starat se o take care of,
dárek pro present for,
dík za thanks for.
184.108.40.206 Dimension meanings involving through, during
Whereas the destinational use of the accusative treats the accusative
entity as a simple point or undifferentiated object the dimensional use
focuses on some feature of the accusative entity that is extended in a
domain such as that of size, duration, or capacity. In this use, the meaning
of the accusative is similar to the English preposition through. When used
without prepositions, the dimensional accusative usually signals distances
or durations through which an action takes
place, as in
Malé dítě ušlo celý kilometr The small child went a whole kilometer,
Plakal celou noc He cried all night,
although cost and weight can also be expressed this way, as in
Jogurt stojí jednu korunu Jogurt costs one crown,
Takový slon váží tunu An elephant like that weighs a ton.
With prepositions, the dimensional accusative can mark extensions and comparisons in a variety of domains, the most important of which are listed in the following
Prepositions Glosses Primary Domains
na to, at, for, approximately space, time
o by (amount of difference) space, time, size, amounts, comparison
po all through time
přes across, all through, in spite of space, time, barriers
s measuring up to, capable of capacity, comparison
skrz through space
za in, during time
Here are some example sentences to illustrate dimensional prepositional
Přijela na týden, ale zůstala jen přes noc, a po celou dobu byla nervózní She came for a week, but stayed only overnight, and she was nervous the whole time,
Naše miminko je o měsíc starší než vaše, ale stále nás probouzí dvakrát za noc Our baby is a month older than yours, but it still wakes us up two times a night,
Mohl se dostat skrz všelijaké potíže, ale nebyl s to jí říci pravdu He could get through all kinds of difficulties, but he was not capable of telling her the truth.
3.1.5 The vocative case
The vocative case does not serve any syntactic purpose within Czech
sentences. Its role is extrasentential and pragmatic, indicating that the
speaker is addressing the hearer. Note that the hearer will be referenced
with second person verbal and pronominal morphology in any sentence that
is adjacent to a vocative, as in:
Míšo, prosím tě, pojd sem! Míša, please come here!
3.1.6 The locative case and place meanings involving in, on, at
The locative case is always triggered by a preposition. Of the five prepositions associated with the locative case, four are also associated with the accusative, and there is some contiguity between meanings of destination and location (cf. na + A (on)to vs. na + L on, o + A against vs. o + L leaning on, against, po + A up to vs. po + L along, v + A in(to) vs. v + L in). All of the locative prepositions can indicate spatial relationships of immediate or proximal location, and all of these prepositions can be deployed in other domains as well, as indicated in the table:
Prepositions Glosses Primary Domains
na on space
Na tom ostrově není ani pořádný obchod. There isn't even a decent store on that island.
Co dnes máme na pořadě? What do we have on our agenda today?
o about; leaning on; during; with space, time, measurement, knowledge/communication
Nic mi o tom neřekl;nic o tom nevím. He didn't tell me anything about it; I don't know anything about it.
Stařec chodí o holi. The old man walks leaning on a cane.
O Vánocích budeme pryč. We will be gone during Christmastime.
Mají jen malý byt o dvou pokojích. They have just a small two-room apartment (with two rooms).
po after; along, around; for; each space, time, endeavors, distribution
Po dešti všichni chodí po lese a hledají houby. After a rain everyone walks around the forest and looks for mushrooms.
Vyšetřovatelé pátrají po pachateli. The investigators are searching for the culprit.
Jablka jsou po třech korunách za kilo. Apples are three crowns a kilo.
Je po dvou. It's two-all (tennis).
při by, near; during; with space, time, states, accompaniment
Klavír stojí při zdi. The piano stands by the wall.
Nemusíte asistovat při operaci -- pacient už není při životě. You don't have to assist during the operation -- the patient is no longer alive.
Skutečný malíř nemůže pracovat při umělém světle. A real painter cannot work with artificial light.
v in space, time, states, media, knowledge, professions
V zimě jsem ráda v teple v bytě. In the winter I like to be inside where it's warm (in the warmth in the apartment).
Odborník ve fyzice vysvětloval ten jev v televizi. An expert in physics explained the phenomenon on television.
By far the most important prepositions for spatial locations are na
and v. Na + L is used for locations that are conceived of as surfaces (e.g.,
islands, open spaces), along with events and a collection of words that
simply require na, whereas v + L is used with locations that are conceived
of as enclosed containers (e.g., buildings, cities). Proximal location
is the primary task of při + L, though it can also express continguity
of time, space, or circumstance. O + L is most commonly used to signal
the object of thought or communication, and po + L is most frequently deployed
in the domain of time, where it means after.
Various words are associated
with these locative prepositions, such as
účast na/při/v participation in,
uvažovat o consider,
toužit po long for,
přísahat při swear by,
pokroky v progress in.
3.1.7 The instrumental case
The instrumental case puts an entity into a peripheral relationship with either an event or another entity. An instrumental entity serves as a conduit for an event, realized as a path, a way or means to do something, an instrument, or a passive agent. In relation to another entity, the instrumental entity can be a label for it, an accompanying entity, or a nearby landmark (these latter two uses require prepositions).
220.127.116.11 Means meanings involving through, by
The most elementary kind of conduit for action is a path or opening
along or through which something moves, as in the folk verse
Kočka leze dírou, pes oknem The cat crawls through the hole, the dog through the window.
This use can be extended to the domain of time in expressions such as
Tou dobou vůbec nevěděl, co má dělat At that time he had no idea what he should do,
Zákon vstupuje v platnost dnem podpisu The law goes into effect the day it is signed.
Discontinuous paths through both space and time are also encountered:
Místy stále ležel sníh Snow still lay in places,
Chvílemi se zdálo, že je vše ztraceno From time to time it seemed that all was lost.
Just as the words path and way are synonymous in English, the instrumental
can be used to indicate ways to do things as well as paths, as in this
conflating the concepts of path and way:
Spory se řešily cestou trpělivého jednání Arguments were being solved via patient negotiation; compare also
Žil životem vyhnance He lived the life of an exile.
A way to do something facilitates an action; likewise an instrument
serves as both a means and a facilitator of an action, motivating uses
Myla si ruce mýdlem She washed her hands with soap.
A prominent use of this meaning of the instrumental is with means of
transportation, as in
Jezdíme metrem a tramvají We ride the subway and the tram.
In addition to instruments, there are some means that we would think
of as causes, such as
Bolestí a strachem nevěděl, co dělá Due to pain and fear he did not know what he was doing.
The following table lists some verbs associated with the various means
uses of the instrumental:
disponovat have at one's disposal
pyšnit se be proud
chlubit se boast of
kochat se enjoy
obchodovat trade in
vládnout use masterfully
zabývat se be interested in
zaměnit (co) replace (something)
The adjective jist(ý) certain
of, likewise triggers the use of themeans
Není si jist životem His life is in danger (he isnt sure of his life).
Note also that a number of prepositions that govern the genitive are
themselves instrumental entities, such as
prostřednictvím through the mediation of,
vinou due to,
vlivem under the influence of,
zásluhou because of,
následkem as a consequence of.
Sensations are often expressed by means of the instrumental, as in
Sál zněl zpěvem The hall resounded with song,
Jídlo chutnalo česnekem The food tasted of garlic,
Tady to smrdí rybinou It stinks of fish here.
Many words denoting movements require the body part or object moved to be in the instrumental, like the examples in the following table:
házet oštěpem throw a javelin
hodit kamenem throw a stone
hýbat rukama move one's hands
kynout hlavou nod one's head
lomit rukama wring one's hands
mávat rukou wave one's hand
mrkat očima blink one's eyes
mrštit novinami whack with a newspaper
točit klikou turn a doorknob
třást hlavou shake one's head
vrhat koulí put the shot (track & field)
It is possible for a whole person to be subjected to this kind of movement,
expressed in a subjectless sentence like
Petrem škublo Peter shuddered (although note that when a body part is involved, it is instrumental and the person is marked with the dative: Škublo mu rukou His
In the presence of passive participles, the instrumental can be used
to express the agent of an action, as in
Studenti budou z biologie zkoušeni prof. Novákem The students will be tested in biology by Prof. Novák,
Petr byl mučen pochybnostmi Petr was tormented by doubts.
18.104.22.168 Label meanings involving like, as
With forms of the verb být be the
instrumental can be used to express a category that an item belongs in,
giving it a label, such as:
Velryba je savcem The whale is a mammal,
Velbloud je na poušti dopravním prostředkem In the desert the camel is a means of transport.
This kind of categorization can also be accomplished by adjectives,
Není podstatnou námitka, že o tom nevěděl The objection that he did not know about it is not a substantial one.
Because the verb stát se become
indicates change in the state expressed by být be,
the instrumental can be used to categorize the results of becoming as well,
yielding new labels, as in:
Otec se stal ředitelem Father became the director.
There are several verbs that are semantically contiguous with becoming,
expressing concepts like study (to become),
announce, as in:
Učí se zedníkem He's studying to become a mason,
Zvolili ho prezidentem He was elected president,
Bude prohlášena doktorem věd She will be declared to be a doctor of sciences.
In a less common use, the instrumental can indicate that something takes
on the role of the labeled category. In all such instances, the instrumental
noun phrase can be replaced by jako like, as
Cítím se Čechem (jako Čech) I feel that I am a Czech (like a Czech),
Sestra sedávala modelem (jako model) adeptům umění malířského My sister used to sit as a model for beginning artists studying painting,
Tu chalupu jsem dostala věnem (jako věno) od babičky I got this cottage from my grandmother as a dowry.
22.214.171.124 Accompaniment meanings involving with
The Czech preposition s + I roughly corresponds to English with when
it means together with, as in:
Jela jsem domů s tetou I rode home with my aunt.
This preposition is associated with a number of verbs, some of which
are gathered in this table:
bavit se s talk with
sblížit/sbližovat se s come together with
bojovat s fight with
souhlasit s agree with
dohodnout/dohadovat se s make an agreement with
sousedit s be neighbors with
obchodovat s trade with
spřátelit se s make friends with
o-ženit se s get married to
stýkat se s meet with
počítat s reckon with
tahat se s wrangle with
po-hádat se s argue with
trápit se s suffer with
políbit/líbat se s exchange kisses with
vycházet s get along with
po-radit se s consult with
začít/začínat s start with
pro-mluvit s talk with
za-váhat s hesitate with
rozejít/rozcházet se s part ways with
zůstat/zůstávat s stay with
roz-loučit se s say goodbye to, part with
Nouns and prepositional phrases with related meanings are often associated
with s + I as well, among them:
konflikt s conflict with
v souhlase s in agreement with
spojení s connection with
v souladu s in harmony with
spokojen s satisfied with
v souvislosti s in connection with
v rozporu s in conflict with
ve srovnání s in comparison with
Feelings can accompany actions, and it is possible in Czech (as in English) to say dělat s radostí, láskou, odporem, chutí do with joy, love, disgust, gusto.
A disease can be a fellow-traveler in this way as well: ležet v nemocnici s tyfem be in the hospital with typhus.
Also similar to English are the common phrases vzít s sebou take with oneself and mít s sebou have with oneself.
The preposition s also appears in various idiomatic phrases, such as
dát si s něčím práci take pains with, trouble oneself with something,
obrátit se s prosbou/žádostí na někoho turn to someone with a request/demand,
S dovolením! Please allow me!.
Infrequently s is used in time expressions, such as:
S pondělkem vyrazíme na pláž Come Monday, we'll take off for the beach.
There is considerable evidence that the preposition s + I is encroaching
upon the semantic territory of the prepositionless means
instrumental. Dictionaries list numerous words associated with the instrumental
both with and without s, such as
chlubit se (s) boast,
obchodovat (s) trade in,
trpět (s) suffer,
zabývat se (s) be interested in.
The presence or absence of the preposition s does not correlate with
any appreciable difference in meaning for these words. In CCz the preposition
s is often inserted when the instrumental case marks instruments, as in
Přijeli jsme s autem, cf. LCz Přijeli jsme autem We came by car.
126.96.36.199 Proximal landmark meanings involving before, behind, above, under, between
The instrumental case is associated with five prepositions that locate an item relative to an object or place. Two prepositions operate in terms of horizontal displacement, před in front of and za behind; two prepositions denote vertical displacement, nad above and pod under; and one preposition provides multiple reference points, mezi between, among. Most of these prepositions can also be deployed in domains other than space and participate in idomatic expressions. The following table contains examples to illustrate the use of these prepositions:
Prepositions Glosses Primary Domains
před before, in front of space, relationships, preferences, time
Učitel stojí před tabulí. The teacher is standing in front of the blackboard.
Žáci mají před ním respekt. The pupils respect him.
Všichni mají rovnost před zákonem. Everyone is equal before the law.
Nesmíte dávat jednomu přednost před druhými. You mustn't prefer one over the others.
Dostala jsem od něho před týdnem dopis. I got a letter from him a week ago.
za behind space, idioms
Zasadili jsme stromy za domem. We planted trees behind the house.
Ten politik má něco za lubem. That politician has a hidden agenda (something behind a strip of wood).
Děti byly za školou. The children were playing hooky (were behind the school).
Už mám zkoušky za sebou. I'm already done with exams (have the exams behind me).
nad above space, relationships, emotions
Erb visí nad krbem. The coat of arms hangs above the fireplace.
Oslavujeme vítězství nad nepřítelem. We are celebrating our victory over the enemy.
Zamyslela jsem se nad problémem. I fell into thought over the problem.
pod under space, relationships, idioms
Zajíc má své doupě pod dubem. The hare has its den under the oak tree.
Zločinec vystupoval pod cizím jménem. The criminal went under a false name.
Udělám to pod podmínkou, že mi pomůžeš. I'll do it under the condition that you help me.
mezi between, among space, time, relationships, amounts
Muzeum stojí mezi kostelem a divadlem. The museum is between the church and the theater.
Přijdu mezi šestou a sedmou. I'll come between six and seven.
Byl vždy mezi nejlepšími žáky. He was always among the best students.
Dohoda mezi velmocemi je už podepsána. The agreement between the superpowers has already been signed.
Cena je mezi pěti až šesti korunami. The price is between five and six crowns.