6.9 – Age in the Past

6.9 – Age in the Past

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6.9 – Age in the Past
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6.9 – Age in the Past Tense

In this module we’re learning activities that you might not do anymore, but you may have done them in the past. For example, you used to play a sport or an instrument, or used to run everyday or bike often when you were a certain age. To talk about this, we’ll need to know how to talk about age in the past.

In order to talk about age in the past, we’ll need to use the past tense of the verb to be in various forms, as illustrated in the following chart:

1 rok

singular verb

2-4 roky

plural verb

5 let

singular verb

past tense

Byl mu jeden rok.

Helence byl jeden rok.

Byly jí dva roky.

Honzíkovi byly tři roky.

Mému synovi byly čtyři roky.

Bylo mi dvacet let.

Pavlovi bylo třicet let.

Alence bylo pět let.

While these rules seem random and a bit esoteric, there’s good sense behind them within the Czech grammatical system. The subject of the sentence is the age itself, which is rok (masc. sg.) for someone one year of age, hence the form byl. For 2-4 it’s plural form byly, since roky are plural. Finally, there’s just a special rule in Czech for quantities five and above, for which the subject of the sentence is singular (and neuter), hence bylo.

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