Concept of Case

Concept of Case

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Concept of Case
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Concept of Case

Czech Cases

We’ve been changing the endings on nouns depending on how they are being used in the sentence, e.g. –

  1. Můj bratr se jmenuje Jan. Mám jednoho bratra.
  2. Praha je pěkná. Bydlím v Praze. Pavel je z Prahy.
  3. Mám ráda mléko. Dám si kávu s mlékem. Piju kávu bez mléka.

The explanation below is a road map for how Czech functions. We will not be learning all of these case forms now, but I want you to understand how Czech functions, especially since we will run into these forms in videos, dialogues, readings, etc.

In Czech there are seven cases. These cases are all forms that we can put nouns, adjectives, pronouns, etc. into in order to understand the relationship between the various people and things in a sentence.

  1. Nominative
  2. Genitive
  3. Dative
  4. Accusative
  5. Vocative
  6. Locative
  7. Instrumental

  1. Words are in the nominative case when they are the subject of the sentence. They are the “doer” of the action.

  1. Petr often travels – Petr často cestuje.
  2. Lucie is buying cheese – Lucie kupuje sýr.

The verb být ‘to be’ is in a sense special, because it involves no action at all, i.e. – being is not an action in the same sense as walking or eating. For this reason, both the subject and the noun in the predicate are in the nominative. This use of the nominative case is referred to as the predicate nominative.

  1. Stanislav is a good person – Stanislav je dobrý člověk.
  2. Jan is my friend – Jan je můj kamarád.
  3. Is Petr a director? – Je Petr režisér?

  1. The genitive is the of case. It is used for a number of different purposes in Czech –

It is how we express quantities in Czech:

  1. A kilogram of meat – Kilo masa.
  2. A lot of vegetables – Hodně zeleniny.
  3. A box of chocolate(s) – Krabička čokolád.

We also put words in the genitive case often to express possession. In English possession is often indicated by ’s, but we sometimes use of as well.

  1. This is John’s car (lit. the car of John). – To je auto Jana.
  2. Standa is a friend of our family – Standa je kamarád naší rodiny.

It’s also used after certain prepositions like z ‘from’, do ‘to’ (indicating motion) or bez ‘without’.

  1. Jana is from Prague Jana je z Prahy.
  2. James is from Texas James je z Texasu.
  3. Pavel is going to the store – Pavel jde do hospody.
  4. I’ll have coffee without sugar Dám si kávu bez cukru.

  1. We put words in the dative case when they are the indirect object. The indirect object in English is expressed often by to, though we can sometimes leave the to out in English (see examples below). Indirect objects are often the receivers of some action.

  1. I’m giving a gift to Ludmila (I’m giving Ludmila a gift) – Dávám Ludmile dárek.
  2. Honza is writing an email to Sára (is writing Sára an e-mail) – Honza píše Sáře  e-mail.
  3. I am reading a book to Katka – Čtu knihu Katce.

  1. We put words in the accusative case when they are the direct object –

  1. Klára has a younger brother – Klára má mladšího bratra.
  2. I often drink coffee Často piju kávu.

It is also used with some prepositions, such as pro ‘for’, na ‘for, at’:

  1. I am buying presents for Karel – Kupuju dárky pro Karla.
  2. I am buying meat for goulash – Kupuju maso na guláš.

  1. We put words (typically names) in the vocative when we are directly addressing that person.

  1. Hi, Miloš! – Ahoj Miloši!
  2. Hello, Mr. Husák! – Dobrý den, pane Husáku!

  1. We use the locative case after the prepositions v ‘in/at’, na ‘on/at’, o ‘about’ (as well as a couple others).

  1. I am at the train station – Jsem na nádraží.
  2. I live in an apartment – Bydlím v bytě.
  3. We’re talking about the weather – Mluvíme o počasí.

  1. The instrumental case expresses the means by which an action is performed. You can often literally translate it as by means of _______.

  1. I wrote the letter with a pencil (by means of a pencil) – Píšu domácí úkol tužkou.
  2. Petr often eats with a fork and knife  (by means of a fork and knife) – Petr často jí vidličkou a nožem.
  3. We often go there by train  (by means of a train)Často tam jezdíme vlakem.

The instrumental is also frequently used with a few prepositions, the most common of which is s/se ‘with’:

  1. I’ll have coffee with milk – Dám si kávu s mlékem.
  2. I often eat chicken with vegetables – Často jím kuře se zeleninou.