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Lesson Transcript

Martin: Hi everyone. I’m Martin!
Gabriella: And I’m Gabriella. Welcome back to CzechClass101.com. This is All About, Lesson 12: Top 5 Tips for Avoiding Common Mistakes in Czech.
Martin: Listeners, you're in for some useful tips in this lesson.

Lesson focus

Gabriella: That's right - we're here to give you some tips on how to avoid common mistakes made by learners of Czech.
Martin: Now remember, nothing is wrong with making mistakes. It's how you learn!
Gabriella: We just want you to be aware of some common mistakes, so that you can try to avoid them! We’ve prepared a list of dos and don’ts for learning Czech to help you every step of the way. So let's get started! Okay, Martin. What’s tip number one?
Martin: Do pay attention to prepositions
Gabriella: It's somewhat different to English, so please be aware.
Martin: Many foreign learners of the Czech language get mixed up when it comes to prepositions.
Gabriella: What are the most important prepositions to know?
Martin: ‘’do’’ (into), ‘’na’’ (to) and ‘’k / ke’’ (to). Generally speaking, these prepositions have two uses - ‘’do’’ is used for ’‘motion into’, such as into closed or limited places, while ‘’na’’ is used for the purpose of actions and activities. ‘’K’’ then is used as a motion to a point, or in connection with visiting a person or people.
Gabriella: It’s not always easy for learners of the Czech language to distinguish which preposition is related to motion or activity, and so on. But learning becomes easier as you listen to native speakers, and how they use them in different situations and contexts.
Martin: Here are some examples for you. Let me give you some Czech examples using these prepositions. First, ‘’do’’ -
Gabriella: meaning “Motion into: ”
Martin: Jdu do krámu .
Gabriella: I’m going into a shop.
Martin: Jdu do divadla.
Gabriella: I’m going to a theater.
Gabriella: Okay, what’s the next one?
Martin: ‘’na’’
Gabriella: meaning “purpose, action, activity.”
Martin: Jdu na poštu.
Gabriella: I’m going to the post office.
Martin: Letím na Jamajku.
Gabriella: I’m flying to Jamaica.
Martin: Jdu na zápas.
Gabriella: “I’m going [to see] a match.” Okay, what’s the last one?
Martin: ‘’k / ke’’
Gabriella: “visiting people, motion to a point: ”
Martin: Jedu k dědovi.
Gabriella: I’m going to grandpa’s.
Martin: Jdeme k řece.
Gabriella: We are going to the river.
Martin: Jdu ke kamarádovi.
Gabriella: “I’m going to my friend’s.” Okay, what’s the second tip?
Martin: Don’t mix up genders. The Czech language uses genders for all objects to distinguish male (on/ten), female (ona/ta) and neutral (ono/to).
Gabriella: Right. The most important thing is not to mix male and female genders when referring to yourself or other people, as it may sound funny or be confusing who you are talking about.
Martin: If you are a male, do not say ‘’byla jsem’’ meaning “I was”), ale ‘’byl jsem’’ “I was”. Any verb in its past tense form ending with [ l ] refers only to a male gender, i.e pracoval jsem (I was working), napsal jsem (I wrote), vařil jsem (I cooked), spal jsem (I slept).
Gabriella: and any verb in its past tense form ending with...
Martin: [ la ]’
Gabriella: ...refers to female gender. Can you give us some examples, Martin?
Martin: pracovala jsem (I worked), napsala jsem (I wrote), vařila jsem (I cooked), spala jsem (I slept).
Gabriella: Okay, now let’s talk about tip number three.
Martin: Learn basic classifiers.
Gabriella: Usually, a noun phrase relating to the number of an item is formed by using number, followed directly by the single or plural form of the noun. But in Czech, the cardinal numbers change depending on gender and the nouns according to quantity.
Martin: English users often forget about the genders as well as that plurals change the form of nouns.
Gabriella: Oh I see. It’s easy for English speakers to make a mistake because of the changes in the noun pronunciation.
Martin: Yes, and that’s why we should mention it here in this lesson!
Gabriella: Can you give us some examples?
Martin: Yes. Firstly, the gender and numerals.
Male gender: - Jeden pes (one dog)
Female gender - Jedna kočka (one cat)
Neutral gender - Jedno kuře (one chicken)
Gabriella: I see, so how do you count and form the plural?
Martin: I will give you an example with the word “pivo”.
Gabriella: “Pivo” means “beer” and it is a neutral gender in Czech (to pivo). When counting, the numerals go as follows:
Martin: jedno pivo: = one beer
dvě piva: = two beers
tři piva: : = three beers
čtyři piva: = four beers
Gabriella: The noun form again changes from five up...
Martin: Yes. It changes from five, but the form remains the same for all the higher numbers.
pět piv: = five beers
šest piv: = six beers
sedm piv: = seven beers
osm piv: = eight beers
devět piv: = nine beers
deset piv: = ten beers
Gabriella: So once you know the pattern, you can apply it to all nouns?
Martin: Yes, you only need to know the pattern for each individual gender.
Gabriella: Good to know! Now let’s continue with the next tip.
Martin: Learn the pronunciation now.
Gabriella: Don’t delay. Pronunciation is the hard part of Czech. It doesn't matter how well you know the grammar. If you don't pronounce it right, it will be hard to understand.
Gabriella: And we have a complete pronunciation series to cover that. I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun studying Czech pronunciation with us!
Martin: That’s right! And the last tip we want to mention is...
Gabriella: Be careful when using personal pronouns
As we’ve learned, personal pronouns are very important in the Czech Republic, so using an inappropriate one may sound rude. Using the wrong pronoun is also a common mistake when learning Czech.
Martin: It’s not common for Czech people to ask about the other person’s age when first meeting, so you need to remember to use honorific title ‘’Vy’’ for addressing anybody older than yourself, and people you meet for the first time. Unless you’re told to use the more friendly title ‘’Ty’’ at a later stage, it is advisable to keep using the more polite form. Never use the honorific title ‘’Vy’’ for a child, because the child will be totally puzzled by you.
Gabriella: Alright! Well, these were our top five tips for avoiding common mistakes in Czech.
Martin: Keep these in mind, and your Czech learning experience will be made a lot easier!
Gabriella: And you'll be right on track!


Gabriella: Thank you for listening everyone. See you next time!
Martin: Ahoj!

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What do you think is your most common mistake while speaking Czech?