"She is looking at it."

Translation:Dívá se na něj.

September 21, 2017

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My husband, who is a native Czech speaker, insists that nej is incorrectly translated as 'it' or conversely, that 'it' can never be translated as .'nej'. In the above sentence the correct form should surely be 'to'.


He has not considered the fact that some nouns in English you'd refer to as "it", while in Czech they are masculine (and it works similarly also for neuter nouns).

She is looking at the house. -> She is looking at it.

Ona se dívá na ten dům. -> Ona se dívá na něj.


Thats a huge leap to make on behalf of the learner as it makes them think they can use něj for 'it' in any sentence


That is how Duolingo works. There is no context here and we have multiple possible meanings.

Here even to město calls for na něj.


We may all need to consider the possibility that your husband is wrong.

First, let's compare these three tables, this one, this one, and this one. They are the personal pronoun declensions for masculine animate, masculine inanimate, and neuter genders. You will find "něj" in all three tables for "4. pád" and "jednotné číslo", or the accusative singular. This should convince even casual observers that "něj" is applicable to more than just the masculine gender pronouns, namely to the neuter pronoun "ono". (You did not quite say that your husband claimed "něj" is only masculine, but the alternative to that assumption would be that "něj" is not applicable to anything at all, so that is why I addressed it.)

Now we need to consider the challenging fact that the English "it" can correspond both to one of the forms of the demonstrative "to" and to a form of the personal "ono" in Czech, depending on what we are doing or which English "it" we are dealing with. A blanket statement like "you can never translate it as něj" is so sweeping that it should raise red flags immediately. How much thinking did he put into making it? "Ono" is rare in the nominative, but much more common in other cases.

Some people only respond to examples. Here's mine; others are under the third table I linked above.

Say we are talking about looking at a car. That verb object, "auto", is neuter even in Czech. I would challenge everyone to tell me whether it is really more appropriate to use TO than NĚJ in the following exchange:

  • Did you look at the car yet? She is looking at it.
  • Už jste se dívali na to auto? Ona se na [něj/to] dívá.

If you stuck TO in that answer, it would be rather disjointed, similar to answering "She is looking at that." At what? Do you mean the car or some other thing? This confusing level of reference disconnect is similar to what you often get from using the wrong article in English. Not only can this "it" be translated as "něj", but it cannot properly be translated as "to".

As far as the "ono" forms applicable to the singular accusative with a preposition, there are two shown in the table, "něj" and "ně". Of the two, "něj" is more common and is more useful to foreign learners because it overlaps with the masculine, so they get more bang for the buck. A lot more about that angle here.

Unfortunately it is always easier to make misguided assertions, even if they are made in good faith, then to fix them. I hope this helps someone.


Why not - diva se na TO?


It is accepted.


Why not "Dívá se na něho"?


I think that your version would be "I am not looking at HIM," while the word in the Czech sentence is "IT."


I said "Na něj se dívá." What makes this incorrect?


This is quite a specific wording. You must strongly stress eith NA NĚJ or DÍVÁ and the meaning depends on that. But we accept a very similar one, so I will add it.


Is the stress coming from whichever thing is listed last? So the way I wrote it could be for something like: "What is he doing to it? He is LOOKING at it"?


Yes, that is one of the options.

But you can also pronounce it with Na něj stressed. It may sound a bit rude or that you are correcting someone. This wording has two options.


Dívá se na něho je totéž jako dívá se na něj. Tak proč nebylo uznáno?


Už je to nahoře zodpovězeno. Česky: je tam IT, ne HIM. Tedy střední rod. Něho a něj NENÍ totéž. Můžeme diskutovat, jestli it nemůže být neživá věc mužského či ženského rodu. Že je něj a něho totéž ale tvrdit nemůžeme.

To je ale zvíře. Podívej se na něj! (not *Podívej se na něho????)

Pozor na to ....o nešlápni na něj! (ne na *něho?)


Jaký je rozdíl mezi :Dívá se na něho? a:Dívá se na něj? Děkuji


stejný, jako jsme ho tady už několikrát vysvětlili.


Why "ona dívá se na něj" is not accepted here?


It isn't, because "se" must be in the second position. (Ona se dívá na něj. OR Ona se na něj dívá.)


what about ho?


You can't use that after a preposition.


Dívá se na něho je správný tvar, možné obojí něj i něho...nebylo uznáno


Why not 'ona dívá se na to'?


Why is 'ona diva' rejected here?


This is a GUESS, since I don't know what the whole sentence was (and I am learning, too).

If you got this as a Write This in Czech exercise, and if your answer started out with "Ona dívá se....", it would probably have been considered incorrect because of the placement of "se," which generally wants to be in the second position. If you had written "Ona se dívá...", I think it would have been correct, assuming DL didn't find something else that it didn't like in the sentence.


I tried "Ona se diva na nej. " and it was rejected. I don't know why. Without the ona how do you know if it is he or she.


"Ona se dívá na něj." is accepted. Try to report next time, likely you made some mistake.

Without "Ona" the the sentence "Dívá se na něj." could mean all of "(On/Ona/Ono) se dívá na něj." so all of he/she/it.


"Ona dívá se na něj" was not accepted, so I presume this is the "se" in the 2nd position guideline?


Yes; and "Ona se dívá na něj" is among the accepted translations.


was "jej"not accepted because it's used for inanimate and it's masculine?


No. You use něj instead of jej after prepositions.


The hints are only hints. They work like a dictionary, they list many possible translations of that word but normally some of them cannot be used in the current sentence.

Here jej is use without prepositions and něj is used after a preposition, please read also our Tips and notes.


Ahoj ! Why do I have to add "ona" at the end of this sentence "na to se divá" ? Dekuji !

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