"How many times have you been to Austria?"

Translation:Kolikrát jste byla v Rakousku?

September 14, 2017

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Why is "Kolikrát jste byli v Rakousku?" wrong as a translation from English? I thought that would be OK for masculine plural 2nd person, but I don't know if there's something else I'm missing.


Can I use "byls" in place of "jsi byl"?


Not in questions.


Can i use "máš ty byl"


That does not make an sense.


I wrote : kolikrat jste byl "do" Rakousku and I see that it is wrong because of "do" instead of "v" for English "to". Can you explain the difference please? Thanks


In Czech it is "být někde"/"to be somewhere" in the sense of a location ("where"), not in the sense of a direction ("to where","whither") and we use "v" or "na" for that.

Kam jedeš? (To) where are you going? - Do Rakouska. To Austria.
Kolikrát jsi jel do Rakouska? How many times did you go to Austria?

Kde jsi? Where are you? - V Rakousku. In Austria.
Kolikrát jsi byl v Rakousku? How many times have you been to Austria?

Also notice, that "do" requires the genitive case.


Excellent ! I understand ...Dekuji moc!


Also, this is just English complicating things because you say, e.g. "How long have you been in Austria?" - "be" simpy goes with "in", not "to". It's pretty much an idiomatic exception that when you go somewhere and come back, you say "been to" in English. This exception is specific to English.



Are "kolikrát" and "jak často" interchangeable or are they used in different contexts?


They mean different things:

  • kolikrát -- how many times
  • jak často -- how often

i.e. used in different contexts in both EN and CZ.


English is not my native language and in my native language it's the same phrase. That's why I asked.


Hmm, may I ask what your native language is?

Here are the typical uses:

  • Kolikrát v životě jsi byl v Rakousku? -- How many times in your life have you been to Austia?
  • Kolikrát za měsíc chodíš nakupovat? -- How many times in a month do you go shopping?
  • Jak často si čistíš zuby? -- How often do you brush your teeth?
  • Jak často jezdíš do Rakouska? -- How often do you go to Austria?

The main difference is that "kolikrát / how many times" is asking for a (more or less) specific number of times something happened or happens in a given period of time. There is a overlap where in some situations you can use both, but then "jak často / how often" will be asking for a less specific answer (does it happen often, sometimes, seldom, rarely, never?).

In many situations, they are not interchangeable at all:

  • Kolikrát jsi zamíchal karty? -- How many times have you shuffled the cards?
  • (Jak často jsi zamíchal karty? / How often..? -- is an unusable question)
  • Jak často chodíš k zubaři? -- How often do you see the dentist?
  • (Kolikrát chodíš k zubaři? / How many times...? -- this makes no sense. You would have to specify a period of time for the question to be correct)


Thanks! That really helped! My native language is German. We say "Wie oft" (literally "how often") both for "how often" and "how many times".


Interesting. So German doesn't have something like "wievielmal"? That would be the literal translation of "kolikrát".

  • kolik? -- how many/much?
  • kolikrát? -- how many times?
  • jednou, dvakrát, třikrát, stokrát... -- once, twice, three times, a hundred times...
  • Pětkrát tři je patnáct -- 5 x 3 = 15


If someone asks "Wie oft warst du in Österreich?" (lit. "How often were you/have you been in Austria"), I would expect a (more or less) concrete number, but it would be ok to answer with "oft" (often) or "selten" (seldom). If I want to trigger an answer like "oft" or "selten", I would use the present tense ("Wie oft fährst du nach Österreich?", lit. "How often do you go to Austria?"). If I want to ask about a specific time frame in the past, it's trickier. "How many times have you been to Austria in the 90's?" would be "Wie oft warst du in den 90ern in Österreich?" (lit. "How often …"). If I want to ask "how often", I think I would frame it as a yes/no-question like "Warst du in den 90ern oft in Österreich?" (lit. "Have you often been to Austria in the 90's?"), expecting an answer like: "Ja, sehr oft" (Yes, very often), "Nein, eher selten" (no, rather seldom), "Nein, nie" (No, never) or the kind.

In other cases, "wie oft" is "how often". "Wie oft putzt du dir die Zähne?" is "How often do you brush your teeth?", except when you get very specific: "Wie oft hast du dir gestern die Zähne geputzt?" ("gestern" is yesterday). There might be a grey area, like "How often did you brush your teeth this weekend?". This can be disambiguated by adding "insgesamt" (in total) or "allgemein" (in general).

And it's only the question word. Everything else has a clear equivalent in German. Well, "many times" would be "sehr oft" ("very often"), but I guess there is really no difference, or is there?

That's an oddity of my native language I never thought about. I might even made mistakes in English because of that and I don't even know, how often (I mean, how many times, I guess).


@Rolf, thank you, that's interesting. So how then would you phrase these in German: How many times did you shuffle the card deck? (imagine a tarot reading, for example, or a board game); How many times have you seen this movie? How many times did you infuse these tea leaves? (when making tea from loose tea leaves, you can usually pour water over the leaves multiple times, depending on the quality of the tea).

These are examples where "kolikrát" would be used, and "jak často" would make no sense at all, because the question is not about frequency, but about the specific number of repetitions.


It's all just "Wie oft". "How many times" is kind of the default meaning of "Wie oft", donno why. And since the other meaning is nonsensical, there is no need to disambiguate.

It's funny: I checked it on deepL.com and google translate and they both translate "Wie oft" alone with "How often" (deepL gives the alternative "How many times") but when you continue typing "Wie oft hast du den Film gesehen?" ("How many times have you seen the movie?") both will switch to "How many times" but deepL does it much earlier. Translating German to Czech, both switch only at the end to kolikrát.


Interesting, thanks!

AFAIK, translation programs always translate via English, that would explain the delay in correcting to "kolikrát" when translating from German to Czech.


No, modern machine translators do not use English as a intermediate language. That way, a lot of information would get lost (like the difference between formal/informal singular/plural you). I once heard that there is some kind of a abstract computer language that works as an intermediate but that was before neural networks. AFAIK, Modern translators are neural networks trained on multi-language corpora.

But I checked it: I tried formal/informal singular/plural you for the translation form German to Czech and the other way around and it is always translated the same way. (deepL chooses German formal you ("Sie") und google translate German informal singular "du". In Czech, both use informal plural masculine ("jste viděli")) I tried it for other languages as well (even some I do not speak at all) and there is never a difference between singular and plural you. I tried "Ich sehe euch"(="I see you[pl]") and deepL translates to "Vidím tě" and gives the alternatives "Vidím vás" (which is true), "Já tě vidím" and "Chápu tě" (which only makes sense in English) This is quite disappointing; but thanks for grounding me. That shows that there is no use in translating things between languages when English is not involved.


Yes, it's disappointing, but it's still true, even today with the neural networks. They still use English as the central language when translating between two other languages. It's silly, really. A lot of information is lost this way.

Speaking about "grounding" you :-) I checked just now, and it's still (not) working in Google translate: It translates the Croatian word "mljeven" to Czech "přízemní".... In Croatian, "mljeven" means "ground" as in minced, past participle of "grind". The corresponding Czech word is "mletý", quite similar to "mljeven". But what Google translate gives you is "přízemní", which means "ground" as an adjective related to the ground floor (přízemí). When clicked on, it also gives alternative translations such as "země" (ground/earth), but nothing like "mletý". The information is completely lost in English even though you want a translation from Croatian to Czech.

But interestingly, as soon as you give it context, the neural intelligence kicks in. The neuter form "mljeveno" still becomes "přízemní", but as soon as you add "meso" (meat), it translates correctly to "mleté maso" (ground meat).

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