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How Hard is it to Learn Czech?

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Let’s debunk this myth about Slavic languages being incredibly hard and almost impossible for English-speakers to learn.

Oh, please. 

How hard is it to learn Czech? Not at all. Sure, there’s going to be a lot of new things—things that seemingly make no sense, things you’ll hate, and things that will make your tongue twist. However, Czech isn’t that hard, complicated, or nasty. It’s just different from English.

Learning another language is always an exciting process. Yup, it’s hard at the beginning (beginnings are hard whether you’re learning Czech, training for your first half-marathon, or learning how to produce an edible dinner without setting your kitchen on fire). But once you turn the corner, things get easier and you start to make progress faster.

The trickiest part of Czech is probably a tie between the pronunciation and the declension. But with practice, effort, and determination, it’s nothing you can’t master.

We’ve got your back, buddy! Now. Sit back and let me convince you that Czech is just as easy as any language you already speak.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Czech Table of Contents
  1. Things That Will Require Some Effort: Sometimes Life Gets Hard…
  2. The Good News: The Easy Aspects of Learning Czech
  3. I Can’t Wait to Start Learning Czech! What Should I Do First?
  4. Tips!
  5. How CzechClass101.com Helps You Learn Czech in a Fun Way

1. Things That Will Require Some Effort: Sometimes Life Gets Hard…

…and so does the wonderful Czech language.

Why is Czech hard to learn, and what sucks the most?

A- Declension

There are seven cases in the Czech language:

1. Nominative

2. Genitive

3. Dative

4. Accusative

5. Vocative

6. Locative

7. Instrumental

  • That means there’s a whopping fourteen versions of each noun, adjective, pronoun, and numeral (singular + plural).
  • You need to know the gender of the word (masculine, feminine, neuter) in order to do the declension.
  • Each case changes the ending of the word and the preposition.

Yes, you need to memorize all of them. There’s no shortcut.

No, I’m not kidding.

    ➢ Thankfully, someone very nice and smart created fourteen paradigms of noun declension. Once you memorize the declension of these paradigms and learn to distinguish between words of different grammatical genders, the rest will be a smooth ride.

MasculineFeminineNeuter
Pán (“Mister”)Žena (“Woman”)Město (“City”)
Hrad (“Castle”)Růže (“Rose”)Moře (“Sea”)
Muž (“Man”)Píseň (“Song”)Kuře (“Chicken”)
Stroj (“Machine”)Kost (“Bone”)Stavení (“Cottage”)
Předseda (“Chairman”)
Soudce (“Judge”)
Jiří (“George”)

    ➢ Learn the genders: even though “-a” being at the end of a word is a pretty reliable indicator that the word is declined as žena, it can also be declined as předseda, resulting in completely different endings and meanings.
    ➢ The same goes for adjective declension. These babies are just as easy, and vary depending on the gender of the noun they’re related to.
    ➢ And…pronouns. Pronoun declension is a teeny bit more complicated because some of them are irregular. Teehee.

Check out this amazing article that will make the declension easy for ya.

A Girl Writing on Her Notebook

Be consistent; study every day.

B- Conjugation

Czech conjugation is the way a verb changes to show number, gender, person, and mood

  • There are four verb classes (that means four different verb endings).
  • There are six persons:, ty, on/ona/ono, my, vy, oni/ony/ona (“I, you, he/she/it, we, you, they”).
  • The verb form usually depends on the number of persons and the gender.

Conjugation is a pretty simple and straightforward process. 

Do you speak German, Spanish, Italian, or Latin? Great! Thanks to similar rules, Czech conjugation will be a piece of cake for you!

Watch for the ending of each word.

-at, -át singular + plural (Example: dát “to give”)-ovat, -ít, -ýt singular + plural (Example: kupovat “to buy”) 
1. Dám
2. Dáš
3.
4. Dáme
5. Dáte
6. Dají
1. Kupuji
2. Kupuješ
3. Kupuje
4. Kupujeme
5. Kupujete
6. Kupují
-it, -et, -ět singular + plural (Example: sedět “to sit”)-out, -ci singular + plural  (Example: zapomenout “to forget”)
1. Sedím
2. Sedíš
3. Sedí
4. Sedíme
5. Sedíte
6. Sedí
1. Zapomenu
2. Zapomeneš
3. Zapomene
4. Zapomeneme
5. Zapomenete
6. Zapomenou

Of course, there are a few irregular verbs that you’ll have to memorize and learn how to conjugate from scratch. This lesson is awesome for an avid Czech student! 

A Woman Studying on Her Laptop

There are things you will have to memorize.

C- Formal and Informal Speech

Formal and informal speech What can I say? I don’t understand this quirk either. It’s pretty useless and frustrating, but oh well.

    Formal speech (second person plural, vy) is used in a formal setting, with older people, with people you’ve just met, at work, etc.

    Informal speech (second person singular, ty) is used with family and friends, and in informal settings.

Formal:
Jste krásná. (“You are beautiful.”)

Informal:
Jsi krásná. (“You are beautiful.”)

Cute, isn’t it?

D- Pronunciation

Czech is a phonetic language, and as such, it’s pronounced the same way it’s written (just like Latin or Spanish, for example).

But the Czech language has a little surprise for you: additional letters with diacritics (marks above the letter). These can be a háček (“hook”), čárka (“length mark”), or kroužek (“circle”), and they change the pronunciation of the letter.

Make sure you know and practice the pronunciation of each Czech consonant and vowel.

Remember:

    Final consonants in the Czech language are fully pronounced, including the letter “h,” which is most often silent in English. 

    Voiced consonants (b, v, g, ď, z, ž, h) at the end of the word are silent.

    Ch is a single letter in the Czech alphabet, pronounced through the throat (like “mojito,” for example).

    The soft consonants ď, ť, ň and di, ti, ni don’t exist in English. To pronounce them correctly, try to put the tip of your tongue further back against your soft palate and pronounce the regular “d,” but much, much softer.

This article will help you deal with some of the hardest Czech words to pronounce, and show you how to correct any mistakes you’re making!

2. The Good News: The Easy Aspects of Learning Czech

1. Czech conjugation is somewhat similar to that of certain Latin-based languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and Romanian).

2. Czech vocabulary is made of subsets of word roots, prefixes, and suffixes linked together in easy-to-remember and logical ways. Many Czech words are combos of prefix + root. For example: Při-nést (“to bring”) / od-nést (“to take away”) / za-nést (“to take something somewhere”).

3. Declension changes only the end of the word, most often the last vowel. Other changes follow consistent and straightforward rules.

4. Czech is a phonetic language, pronounced the same way it’s written. This is similar to the pronunciation in Spanish, Italian, and Latin (and totally different from English pronunciation).

5. There are only three tenses in the Czech language: past, present, and future! How awesome is that!

6. Word order is way looser and easier than in English. It’s flexible, allowing you to put emphasis on different parts of the sentence. The typical Czech word order is subject-verb-object. To ask questions, it’s verb-subject-object. For example: Je těžké naučit se česky? (“Is Czech hard to learn?) / Není těžké naučit se česky. (“Czech isn’t hard to learn.”)

You can do this!

A Woman Carrying Book on Her head

Czech is fun and quite easy to learn!

3. I Can’t Wait to Start Learning Czech! What Should I Do First?

First of all, congrats! Yay!

Now let’s get to work.

1. Set a goal for yourself. This could be “I’m going to be able to order food and ask where the park is in two months” or “I’m gonna be fluent in a year.” Up to you. Get slightly out of your comfort zone; your goal should feel challenging, but doable.

2. Short-term goals seem to be very effective as well. How about learning thirty new words a day?

3. Write down your goals. Write them on several post-it notes and put them somewhere on display. This little mind game is super-effective and motivating.

4. Start with vocabulary. Here’s a list of the most commonly used Czech words. Then, move on to grammar.

5. There are about 300,000 root words in Czech. An average native speaker uses 35,000 words on average. As a beginner, you should master around 500 Czech words. To make small-talk, you should know 1,000-3,000 words.

4. Tips! 

The biggest advantage for you as you set out to learn Czech would be if you speak a language that uses similar grammar (German, Latin, Spanish, Greek)… Think cases, formal speech, and other fun things. Czech grammar is hard even for native speakers—it’s hard for me, too! 

How can you make progress faster?

1. Be consistent, and study every day.

2. Watch kids’ TV shows, and move on to regular TV shows when you feel confident.

3. Read books. Reading is amazing for passively building vocabulary and spelling skills.

4. Challenge yourself. Talk to natives as much as possible (or just listen).

5. Study smart: use flashcards on your phone, download an app, or sign up for an online class.

6. Make it fun and learn about the culture. There are many YouTube videos and interesting TV shows.

7. Visualize, listen, practice.

8. Find a buddy. You’ll push and motivate each other!

9. Talk to yourself, out loud and in your head. This is one of my secret tips that I used when I got serious about actually speaking English with real people (without having a heart attack).

10. Learn from your mistakes. There’s no need to be embarrassed or discouraged.

A Man Smiling while Holding His Earphone

Czech TV shows and podcasts are an excellent way of mastering the language in a pleasant and very effective way.

5. How CzechClass101.com Helps You Learn Czech in a Fun Way

CzechClass101.com will make learning Czech easy, exciting, and fun. With us, it’s not about endless memorizing or thick textbooks. Learn Czech with us and make progress faster than you can imagine!

What can you find here?

  • English-to-Czech translation and pronunciation tips/tricks
  • Over 630 audio and video lessons
  • Vocabulary learning tools
  • Spaced repetition flashcards
  • Detailed PDF lesson notes

Sign up now—it’s free!

One last thing: Let us know in the comments if this article helped you. And if you’ve been learning Czech for a while already, what’s your secret tip for avoiding mistakes? Did we forget to include anything you want to know about learning Czech fast? We’ll do our best to help!

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