7.8 – What you can do… What you need to do…

7.8 – What you can do… What you need to do…

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7.8 – What you can do… What you need to do…
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7.8 – What you can do… What you need to do…

We have already encountered various verbs (known as modal verbs) which are followed by the infinitive form of the verb in Czech:


‘to be able’


‘should, ought to’


‘must/to have to’


‘to need to’

Each of these verbs can be followed by either imperfective or the perfective verbs in the infinitive. The choice of aspect follows the rules we have already been learning:



An imperfective infinitive is used when talking about an activity in general, especially one that might be repeated or done more generally:

Teď můžete kupovat lístky na internetu.

Now you can buy tickets on the internet.

  • Here the action of buying tickets is something that one can generally do now over the internet.

A perfective infinitive is used when you are referring to a single instance of a completed action:

Můžete mi koupit lístek na ten koncert?

Can you buy me a ticket for that concern?

  • Here someone is making a concrete request to buy a ticket for a concert.

Mám vždycky odpovídat na e-maily hned po doručení?

Should I always reply to e-mails immediately after receiving (them)?

  • Here the person is asking about general e-mail etiquette and whether in general they should respond right away.

Filip mi napsal e-mail a měl dobrou otázku, a tak bych měl asi odpovědět hned.

Filp wrote me an email and had a good question a so I should probably answer right away.

  • Here the person is talking about how they should answer a particular email right away.

Musím vstávat každý den v sedm hodin.

I have to get up every day at 7 o’clock.

  • Here the person has to wake up regularly (every day) and so the imperfective is more appropriate.

Zítra musím vstát v šest, protože ráno mám důležitou schůzku.

Tomorrow I have to wake up at six because I have an important meeting.

  • In this sentence the person has to wake up on a single instance early in the morning. This makes the perfective more appropriate.

Lenka má malé dítě a potřebuje prát prádlo hodně často.

Lenka has a small child at home and needs to do the laundry.

  • In this example, Lenka has a general need to do laundry all the time (as opposed to a single instance).

Mám jenom špinavé oblečení, a tak zítra potřebuju všechno vyprat.

I have only dirty clothes and so I need to wash everything tomorrow.

  • Here a particular single instance of doing (all) the laundry makes the perfective verb appropriate.


In some instances Czechs will use the perfective where it might seem like they are talking about a general instance if they want to stress completion of the action on a regular basis.

Každý víkend musím vyprat všechno prádlo.

Every weekend I have to wash all the laundry.

So while the rules above work, you will notice some divergences from it sometimes for added emphasis.