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A comparative grammar of English and Czech

Morphemes Lexemes Word classes / Slovní druhy When it comes to word classes, there aren’t very many differences between Czech and English. Some concepts might be expressed with different classes. I’m scared. (adjective) Bojím se. (verb) Nouns / Podstatná jména Czech nouns have a number of forms as they are declined according to gender, case and number. English is sometimes said not to have any declension, but this is not technically true as English nouns are declined according to their number. English nouns, on the other hand, are characterized by the presence of articles, expressing the grammatical category of definiteness. Czech nouns are also marked for this category, but instead use phrasal order and demonstrative pronouns. Definiteness / Určenost Definite / Určitý Indefinite / Neurčitý Number / Číslo Both English and Czech are inflected according to number, but whereas English really only has one pattern, -s, Czech has 14 paradigms. Singular / Jednotné číslo Some nouns are singular in one language, plural in the other: Dveře Door Hodinky Wrist watch Dual / Dvojné číslo Plural / Množné číslo Case / Pád

když nahle telefón zazvonil. instead it uses various suffixes. English uses auxiliary verbs and suffixes to express aspect. the difference is similar to the contrast between past simple and past continuous in English We were having dinner when the phone suddenly rang. 7. The biggest difference between the two verbal systems is that Czech verbs come in pairs dělat – udělat Both of the above verbs mean ‘to do’. mostly ending in –t. 3. 4. whereas Czech uses two completely different verbs we had dinner – we were having dinner poobědvali jsme – obědvali jsme In Czech. 5. but in all possible verb constructions. In the above examples we were having dinner (imperfective) functions as a background statement for the foreground the phone rang (perfective). without a clear end. however. Aspect is a concept that is related to tense. Obědvali jsme. Verbs / Slovesa Nominative / První pád Genitive / Druhý pád Dative / Třetí pád Accusative / Čvrtý pád Vocative / Pátý pád Locative / Šestý pád Instrumental / Sedmý pád Czech contains more reflexive verbs than English. 6. The imperfective is seen as something ongoing. however the first one expresses imperfective aspect and the second one perfective aspect. Types / Druhy Auxiliary / Pomocné Modal / Způsobové . 2. this contrast is expressed not only in the past. Ex. whereas tense relates the action to external events. aspect describes the internal structure of the goings-on. In the past. učit se – to learn (literally ‘to teach oneself’) As seen above. whereas the perfective is more definite.1. Czech lacks a particle indicating infinitive.

budou). byl or býval. be going to etc) also contain modal information and can be classed as bot temporal and modal. might. Temporal / Časové Czech: být English: be. the ‘do’ forms here are emphatic and marked. had. English has many more modal verbs than Czech. These forms carry little in the way of modal information. could. do. muset. may. and will is the closest equivalent in English. mít by. this usage is now archaic and rare even in writing. budeš. mít. must. ‘do’ can be conjugated for time he comes – he does come he came – he did came However. would. bude. hodlat English: will.Czech: moci/moct. will Czech expresses the future of imperfective with special forms of být (budu. shall. It is only the negative forms that are non-emphatic and unmarked he doesn’t come he didn’t come . it is the verb ‘be’ that is conjugated for time he comes – he is coming he came – he was coming In simple constructions. should. budete. be going to. One reason for this is that the constructions traditionally considered to be temporal auxiliary verbs (will. be able to. have to As can be seen from above. Perfective verbs express future with their present form hraji – I will play The past form of být. budeme. can also be used to express a meaning similar to English past perfect hral byl jsem – I had played However. smět. In continuous constructions in English. be -ing can. budu hrávat – I will play The future forms are only used with imperfective verbs.

such as Shakespearian English. The bus left before my arrival.e. I came there and the bus had already left.Does he come here every Thursday? He came here every Thursday. I ate because I had already taken a shower. that an event in the past preceded another event in the past. – Did he come here every Thursday? ‘had’ is used in the English past perfect to indicate relative tense. .‘he comes not’ is possible. The affirmative ‘do’ constructions were not considered emphatic in older English. Já jsem tam přišel a autobus už odjel. but is archaic and emphatic. i. I came there and the bus left. adjectives can have three forms . The bus left I ate and I took a shower. Also pay attention to the function of ‘do’ as a question marker He comes here every Thursday. Lexical Grammatical categories / Gramatické kategorie Tense / Čas Mood / Způsob Voice / Slovesný rod Aspect / Vid Number / Číslo Gender / Jmenný rod Person / Osoba Adjectives / Přidávná jména Comparison / Stupňování In English. The bus left at the same time or after my arrival.

longest vysoký. vyšší. better. nejdelší – long. longer. highest velký. -er. -est adjectives with two or more syllables use more and most positive beautiful comparative more beautiful superlative (the) most beautiful some adjectives are irregular good. větší. Czech only uses affixation. (the) best Czech adjectives behave similarly krásný beautiful krásnější more beautiful nejkrásnější (the) most beautiful As can be seen from the above. Czech arguably has more irregular adjectives than English dlouhý. nejvyšší – high. bigger. biggest . největší – big. higher. delší.positive big comparative bigger superlative (the) biggest adjectives of one syllable use suffixes.

the difference between adjectives and adverbs is not always upheld e. the difference is always formally expressed. e. nejlogičtější There is at least one difference in usage between English. logičtější. real good/really good. a Czech would say Který je vyšší? (lit. more beautifully. Since most English adjectives have two or more syllables. whereas an English speaker is more likely to use the superlative Which one is the highest? Adverbs / Příslovce In some varieties of English.Czech adjectives also change their stem for certain groups of adjectives.g. e. American.g. krásněji. most beautifully In Czech. ending in –cký logický. nejkrásněji Comparison / Stupňování Types / Druhy Time Place Manner Prepositions / Předložky Time Place Pronouns / Zájmena Personal / Osobní .g. they are declined with more and most beautifully. Which one is higher?) thus using the comparative. In Czech. Giving a choice between two buildings. declination is yet again accomplished with affixation krásně.

Reflexive / Zvratní Demonstrative / Ukazovací Conjunctions / Spojky Coordinating Subordinating Interjections / Citoslovce Articles / Členy Particles / Částice Numerals / Číslovky Phrases Noun phrases Verb phrases Adjective phrases Adverb phrases Preposition phrases Clauses / Věty Syntax / Skladba Functions / Větné členy Subject / Podmět Predicate / Přísudek Object / Předmět Direct / Přímý Indirect / Nepřímý Adverbial / Přísloveční určení Attribute / Přívlastek Apposition / Přístavek Complement / Doplněk Sentences / Souvětí Syntax / Skladba .

Grammatical categories / Gramatické kategorie .