Wouldn't this be translated as "Matěj is intersted in Žofie."? Žofie is declined while Matěj is not.
No, this is correct. She is interested in him. Not sure I am able to explain why. Maybe because 'zajímat" is a reflexive verb. You can also say "Žofie SE zajímá o Matěje" to express the same meaning.
Matej interests Zofie perhaps? In this case, Zofie becomes the object which would make this construction more understandable.
Yes, I think this is the correct explanation. Matěj sees Žofie, Matěj loves Žofie, Matěj interests Žofie are all gramatically the same. We are simply much more accustomed to saying (and thinking!) I am interested in that rather than That interests me.
If it's relevant, it's similar to German, Italian, Spanish and so on. Even Hebrew.
"I like it": German: es gefällt mir = it does pleasure TO ME. Italian: mi piace = TO ME it is pleasant. Spanish: me gusta. עברית: זה מוצא חן בעיניי. "זה" מוצא החן, אבל הכוונה היא שאני אוהב את זה. לא הוא אותי.
Hope it's understood!
why is Zofie in accusative and not Matej , when she seems to be the subject and he the object of the sentence?
No. Matej is the subject and Zofie is the object. (who?) Matej (does what?) zajíma (to whom?) Zofii. There were a more straight translation already mentioned in the thread: "Matěj interests Žofie".
Okay. I've read all comments and made notes and i think i have a relatively simple way to put it
"Žofie se zajímá o Matěje" is best to translate "Žofie is interested in Matěj"
And to make it the other way round as in this exercise "Žofii zajímá Matěj" (or Matěj zajímá Žofii) "Matěj is interesting for Žofie"
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And: what you wrote seems correct to me (I'm not a native speaker of Czech, though).
I somewhat understand the grammar that goes along with this, but I was wondering how one would actually hear whether a phrase means "Matej interests Zofie" or "Zofie interests Mataj" in spoken Czech.
So "Matej interests Zofie" translated can be:
"Zofii zajima Matej"
but I'm assuming can also be
"Matej zajima Zofii"
And if that's the case, how would one go about not mishearing my latter example as "Matej interests Zofie"? If that's not the case, what is grammatically wrong or unorthodox about the example I made up?
The word order is unimportant. You have to listen to the endings carefully. At least that is what we do.
Okay - so my main question with this construction is that if this is available, why would you ever use the more complicated version with se and o (the one we're meant to be learning at this point)? I understand that there's a difference in structure (Matej interests Zofie/Zofie has an interest in Matej) but is there a difference in meaning that we need to know about? Or, apart from learning se/o to satisfy the duolingo requirements, can I just work with this simpler version in conversation? Thanks for any thoughts.
Well, one is slightly more about the interesting person and the other more about the object of interest. One is more active (zajímá se o), the other more about the object (Matěj zajímá Žofii.) but sometimes is stressing that he really interests her (Matěj Žofii zajímá.)
The longer one is actually not that complicated and is quite common. Please understand that a language is not a mathematical theory and is not always unique or or uses the shortest expression possible.
And sometimes simply one of them sounds more natural. To mě zajímá! Zajímám se o hudbu. These are the defaults. You can use the other forms, "Hudba mě zajímá." to stress you are really interested in music. You use "Zajímám se o hudbu." when you are just informing about your hobbies and interests.
Perfect - great to have such detail, and to know the subtler differences. That's exactly what I love about languages - not their mathematics, but their nuance and detail and possibilities. Thank you.
No. It is the opposite: "Matěj is interesting for Zofie". You can switch the words order. The subject and the object here are defined by the case of the words, not their order. "Žofii zajímá Matěj" is the same as "Matěj zajímá Žofii". And your variant "zofie is interesting for matej" is translated as: "Žofie zajímá Matěje".
Can anyone explain why Žofií zajímá Matěj is Zofie is interested in Matěj but when writing Matěj is interested in Žofie you must write Matěj se zajímá o Žofie?
You can use both constructions in both directions. You only have to select the correct cases:
accusative zajímá nominative (here the accusative contains the one who is interested and the nominative the object of interest)
nominative se zajímá o accusative (in this case the nominative contains the one who is interested and the accusative the object of interest).
If this helps, you can think of "zajímá" as "is interesting for" and "se zajímá" as "is interested in".