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  5. "Třináctou knihu už nenapsal."

"Třináctou knihu nenapsal."

Translation:He never wrote his thirteenth book.

September 22, 2017



This is certainly a very unnatural translation to English! I had to copy-paste the answer to advance!


The Czech sentence means that he wrote 12 books and was likely planning on writing the 13th but died. Or was prevented in some other way to do it. Though the hint strongly suggest he is dead.

What form of English sentence would make sense here if not the one above?


As was suggested earlier, there is no sensible word-for-word translation. The meaning is: "He never wrote a thirteenth book". The simple "He didn't write a thirteenth book" carries much the same sense--in czech, the "už" doesn't really change the meaning much, the very statement carries the implication that there was a thought of a thirteenth book. I suppose "He was unable to write a thirteenth book" would also work, but it is just not a good sentence for this kind of exercise.


For me, the problem is the combination of "už" and "nenapsal," because "no longer" and "not any longer" have a present-tense feel, while "did not write" is definitely past.

Here are a couple of thoughts, which may or may not quite make the point that the Czech original wants to make...

-- He is no longer writing a thirteenth book. (He was planning to write one, but now he won't for some reason. Or he started to write one, but now he doesn't want to, or can't, finish it. But he's not dead.)

-- He did not write a thirteenth book. (He may or may not have been planning to write one, but he didn't.)

Hope this helps, and thanks for asking for Learner Input!


Yeah, "no longer" or "anymore" don't really work with the past simple tense.
You could use the past continuous, ("He was no longer writing the thirteenth book" or "He wasn't writing the thirteenth book anymore").

Present continuous, as BoneheadBass suggested is even better for what you're trying to say, but if it must be past tense (since this is a past tense lesson), you should use the continuous form.


Good point about this being a past-tense exercise. I like your suggestion!


'He no longer wrote a 13th book' sounds passable, given some context ('although intending to complete his series of novels, after the loss of his hands, he no longer wrote a 13th book'). It just looks very odd in isolation.


not to interfere with the pending duel, but we replaced the controversial (passable or utterly unacceptable, TBD at dawn) "no longer wrote" with "never wrote" some time ago. imo it is the only english expression that conveys (much) the same meaning without causing or contributing to violence.


I never had a problem with "never wrote" - it seems fine to me. I am willing to stand down, place my pistol on the ground, or else delope in the pursuit of non-violent resolutions. Coffee instead, garpike?


You are, as they say/used to say in some parts of the US, THE MAN. Thank you (from a lot of people) for this!


No, sorry, as a native English speaker, I have to disagree. "He no longer wrote a 13th book" is not passable. It's not English.


Well, as a native speaker too, I must vehemently disagree with your disagreement. Whereabouts is it that we must fight to the death to settle this matter? And pistols or rapiers?


Pistols at dawn on Hampstead Heath... name your seconds!


How about "after all" as a translation for už? "He did not write his thirteenth book after all."


I would translate this as "nakonec" (in the end), not "už".


The answer is WRONG - it is not English. How about "he is not writing his thirteenth book any more"? There are surely lots of places where English uses the present tense and Czech the past tense - and vice versa?


This is not one of those places. It would be "(svou) třináctou knihu už nepíše".


Would "He was not writing his thirteenth book anymore" be a reasonable translation? Because as many others have said, the given solution is just terrible English


This is už nepsal (imperfective), not už nenapsal (perfective, implies finishing).


Why can't it be, "he hasn't written the thirteenth book yet"?


It would be: "Třináctou knihu ještě nenapsal."


Thank you. My first reasoning was like Blflame's but I was wrong about “už.” I had interpreted “už ne…” as not yet but the correct reasoning behind it obviously is something like “it is already too late for him to write…” It was important to point that out.


I wrote pretty much that and it was rejected. I reported the "correct solution" as unnatural.


I wrote the same but it seems it's not the expected meaning here... I'm still very confused with "už". Sometimes it is a rough equivalent of the English "yet", sometimes it's translated as "already". I think a whole chapter of this course should be dedicated to this confusing adverb.


Correct me if I'm wrong please, but I'm interpreting it this way:

psal = wrote napsal = finished writing nenapsal = did not finish writing už nenapsal = until this moment, it has been true that the writing was not finished

(he never did finish it) - even up until now


The difference between psát and napsat is in the aspect. Psal is imperfective, and would likely be translated to English as was writing. Napsal is perfective, and would be translated as wrote. Finish doing something is expressed in Czech with the prefix do-, so did not finish writing would have an equivalent in nedopsal.


This was fascinating, although not very instructive. I am deaf to the nuances of Czech, but I assume that the Czech sentence makes sennse. If there is a sensible sentence in one language, one assumes that it should be translatable into another. Since UŽ in previous cases was translated as YET, I vote for: He hasn't written his 13th book yet, as others have suggested. Someone who knows Czech could tell us whether this translation carries the same meaning as the English sentence.


This is a completely different meaning. Třináctou knihu ještě nenapsal.


Teď, když rozumím lépe češtinu, ta věta zdává vice smyslu. Chápu že v čestině máte jiné výrazy jako co máme v angličtině, ale, nemůžete to také říct "Třináctou knihu nikdy nenapsal" nebo "Třináctou knihu už nikdy nenapsal"? Nemají tyto věty stejný význam, nebo je to cizí způsob říkat? Zdá se mi že obojí jsou jasnější, ale to může být protože jsem cizinec :-)


Ano, toto jsou také možné formulace. Přemýšlím o tom, jak tuto větu udělat jasnější.


It seems that the problem we foreigners have with the original sentence is: what does UŽ mean here. If not YET, then is it just a way to emphasize the fact that the book hadn't been written?


I've come to the conclusion, in my off and on Czech learning experience, that the tendency to overthink things is the biggest destructive force when trying to get fluent in this language. It should have been obvious to me right from the start. Sometimes an expression just doesn't translate the same way in another language. If you look further up in the comments, you'll see I was very critical of this sentence a year ago. Context would have helped a foreigner, but the native Czech speaker is going to understand immediately, apparently without context. Once I stopped overthinking the translations and started focusing more on the grammar, learning got a lot easier.


A second consideration, apart from the yet/already angle for that you and others point out, is that when is combined with a negative verb, it attaches the meaning of "no longer" or "not any more" to the verb.

So while the sentence may be perfectly understandable in Czech, a reasonable translation to something like, "He did not write his thirteenth book anymore" or "He no longer wrote his thirteenth book" gives us sentences that just sound wrong in English. On the plus side, I guess, clearly there's a lot of interest in mastering this one! :-)


I thought of another possible way to translate this sentence, which is "He didn't get to write his 13th book". I think it also implies the 13th book was never written due to the circumstances. I am not necessarily suggesting it needs to be added - just wondering if my version works here


Yes, that is even accepted - with numbers spelled out. We may think about allowing "13th" here, the sentence is difficult enough.


Thank you, good to know:)

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