Basics of Czech: Lesson 1

I might teach you a bit of the Czech language. It is quite difficult but don’t mind. It is going to be fine.

The first word I want to teach you is I because everybody is egoistic.

I is . It is pronounced {ja:}. You can remember it simply because it is reversed I (which is {aj}).

The next word is have. Everyone wants to possess so it is also quite an useful word. Forms of verbs always depend on subject. For I it is mám which you read as {ma:m}. You can remember the sentence "I have a mom."

You can see here that á is {a:}. Whenever there is the accent ´ above a letter, it becomes long. So í is {i:}, é is {e:} and so on.

The stress is always on the first syllable.

Czech is a phonetic language thus the pronunciation of each letter doesn’t change.

So how would you say:

?I have|já mám

And of course the third word is money. It is peníze in Czech, it’s read {peɲi:ze} and it is similar to "pence". You may be wondering about the ɲ. Usually n is pronounced as {n} but there is one exception. When n is followed by i or í, it is palatalized so that n becomes {ɲ}. You might find its pronunciation difficult. It is like {nj} but more united. It sounds like the word new without the {u:} sound.

The next phrase I want you to tell me is:

?I have money|já mám peníze

Subjects expressed by pronouns are usually omitted because the verb expresses them already. Czechs only use them when they want to emphasize who the subject is.

Try it again without I:

?I have money|mám peníze

A more common sentence is I don’t have money. Let’s speak about negative.

Negative is expressed by the prefix ne-. It is usually sticked on verb.


?I don’t have money|nemám peníze

When we speak about money, let’s learn how to say it’s expensive.

Expensive is drahý {drahi:}. The r pronunciation is not as in English. It is trilled. Ý is pronounced the same way as í.

Many cars or automobiles are expensive. Automobile is automobil {aʊtomobil}.

?I don’t have (an) expensive car|nemám drahý automobil

The word for is is je {je}.

Czech doesn’t have any articles but if we speak about a certain thing, we can use a demonstrative. The demonstrative we shall use now is ten {ten}, because car is masculine.

There are three demonstratives in Czech - ten, ta (feminine), to (neuter). We will talk about them later.

So the next sentence I want you to tell me is:

?The car is expensive|ten automobil je drahý

Let’s finish this lesson by the last (and most difficult) sentence.

The last word I’ll teach you in this lesson is and which is simply a {a}, the first letter of written and.

The word automobil is usually not used. You will hear auto {aʊto} much more often. It is neuter (so not ten, but to auto). That means that the adjective will change as well. Masculine ending was , feminine ending is and neuter is .

Try with auto:

?I don’t have money and the car is expensive.|Nemám peníze a to auto je drahé.

If you want to learn about the czech alphabet, look here