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Glossary

animate noun— An animate noun represents a living thing (person or animal). In Czech, masculine nouns take different endings, depending on whether they're animate or inanimate.

augmentative— An augmentative suffix added to a noun changes it to mean "a big" whatever, or to suggest the emotion of the speaker toward the thing being described. -isko is one such suffix.

cardinal numeral— Cardinal numbers are "counting" numbers: one, two, three, four.

case— Czech nouns, adjectives, and pronouns show "case"; that is, they take different endings depending on how they're used in a sentence. There are seven cases: nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, prepositional, instrumental, vocative. Each case can be used under a variety of circumstances, but as a rule of thumb nominative is used for the subject of a sentence; accusative for the direct object; dative for the indirect object; genitive shows possession; prepositional follows the prepositions "in" "at" "about" (though other prepositions can be followed by other cases); instrumental shows the thing "by means of which" something is done; and vocative is used for calling out to someone.

collective noun— A singular noun that refers to a group of things or people taken as a unit (i.e., "family") or a mass that can't easily be divided into individual elements (i.e.,"sugar" "flour").

colloquial Czech— Colloquial (that is, conversational spoken) Czech is quite different from standard, written Czech. It uses different vocabulary, different rules of pronunciation, and sometimes different grammatical endings. These grammar explanations are based on standard Czech, but you will also be given some of the colloquial forms.

comparative adjective— The form of an adjective that means "more" whatever ("better", "longer").

conjugation (to conjugate)— Verbs are conjugated; that is, they take different forms, depending on their subject ("I go" but "she goes"). In Czech a present-tense verb has six distinct forms, to agree with the six persons (see "person" below).

declension (to decline)— Nouns are declined; that is, they take different case endings in different circumstances (see "case" above).

definite article— The definite article in English is "the" (we also have an indefinite article, "a"). Czech has no articles, but sometimes the demonstrative pronoun ("ten" - "that") can be used in a similar way to the English "the".

diacritical mark— Diacritical marks are the "accents" that are used to modify the pronunciation of a letter. Czech has three: kroužek, which makes an u long (ů ); čárka, which makes other vowels long (á, é, í,...); and háček, which can be added to certain consonants and one vowel (čřš ž, ě).

diminutive— A diminutive suffix added to a noun changes it to mean "a small" whatever, or to suggest the speaker's affection for the thing being described. -íčko is one such suffix.

gender— Nouns in Czech can be masculine, feminine, or neuter. The gender of nouns is either "natural"— they represent a person or animal ("father", "sister", "tomcat") and the gender reflects their actual sex— or "grammatical"— they represent an object or an abstraction ("table", "dignity") and their gender is simply a matter of grammatical endings. Adjectives and the past tense forms of verbs agree in gender with the nouns they modify.

imperfective verb— Czech verbs have two "aspects": imperfective and perfective. Imperfective verbs portray the action they describe as something continuous, repeated over time, or habitual. Imperfective verbs have present, past, and future tense. (see "perfective verb" below)

infinitive— The infinitive of a verb is its general, unconjugated form. It corresponds to the "to-" form in English ("to be" "to go"). If you look up a verb in a Czech dictionary, you'll be given its infinitive.

inflection— The changes a word undergoes to make it fit into the grammatical structure of a sentence. Inflection for nouns, pronouns, and adjectives is "declension" (see above), inflection for verbs is "conjugation" (see above).

ordinal numeral— Ordinal numbers show "order": first, second, third, fourth.

paradigm— A pattern to help you remember how a group of words declines or conjugates. You learn all the forms of one word ("hrad" "žena"), then think back to it when declining or conjugating other words of the same type. That word is often used as shorthand to refer to the whole group.

passive voice— Passive voice in English is a construction like, "Mistakes were made." The subject of the sentence receives the action of the verb, and it's not always clear who performed that action.

perfective verb— Czech verbs have two "aspects": imperfective and perfective. Perfective verbs portray the action they describe as something fixed in time; a single, complete action. Perfective verbs have only past and future tense.(see "imperfective verb" above)

person— Pronouns in Czech are categorized according to "person" and "number". First person singular is "I/", plural is "we/my" ; second person singular is "you/ty", plural is "you/vy"; third person singular is "he, she, it/on, ona, ono", plural is "they/oni, ony, ona". Present-tense verbs agree with their subjects in person and number.

pluralia tantum— A plural noun that refers to a single object (i.e., "pants", "glasses").

superlative adjective— The form of an adjective that means "the most" whatever ("best", "longest"

verbal noun— A noun derived from a verb ("reading" "swimming").


 

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