"Moje sestřenice si čte v posteli."

Translation:My cousin reads in her bed.

September 26, 2017

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What does the reflexive particle "si" add here? The hint gives "to each other", but as the verb is in the singular, that doesn't make sense, does it?


"Čte si" = literally "She reads for/to herself"

There is even an English dialect that uses very similar "I read me" (I read me a letter).

"Čte si v posteli" without "si" sounds odd.


So is it still a reflexive particle after all? Following the same set of rules (2nd position, jsi si = sis, etc.)?


Yes, it is a reflexive particle. If used without it would not be clear if she reads a book alone or if she is in bed but reads out loud for the entire family.


This is the first time i have seen "si" used with číst. Does that mean for all the other exercises the participants were reading to someone else?

Or, if you are reading SOMETHING (which is probably what the other exercises were come to think of it) you would not use "si"?


No, it doesn't automatically mean that "číst" without "si" means reading to someone else. And no, when you read SOMETHING, you still CAN use "si".

The dative reflexive "si" is a bit tricky, because it can often be sort of semi-optional - it adds a flavor but doesn't completely change the meaning. The flavor it adds can be expressed as "for one's benefit, need, or pleasure".

  • Marie kupuje jídlo. -- Marie is buying (or buys) food, in general, it's not specified whether she's buying it for the family, or to re-sell it, or because she wants to eat it herself.
  • Marie si kupuje jídlo. -- Now it's clearly for herself - she won't share the food, she's the recipient of the action, the food is meant for her.

Apply the same logic to "číst". If non-reflexive, it's generic. Adding "si" makes it a private thing and conjures an image of sitting comfortably in a sofa or lying in bed. We still use the non-reflexive "číst" when we're not reading specifically to someone else, in statements like:

  • Marie čte dvě knihy za měsíc. -- Marie reads two books in a month.
  • Marie čte romány a detektivky. -- Marie reads novels and detective stories.

But when talking about reading in bed, the "for one's own benefit/pleasure" flavor is so strong that we really need the "si", even if we still include an object:

  • Marie si čte v posteli pohádku. -- Marie is reading a fairy-tale in bed.
  • Marie čte v posteli pohádku. -- We immediately imagine there's someone (a child) there with her in the bed, and the question "Komu čte pohádku?" comes up. It comes up because we're missing the DATIVE information. We would have expected to hear the dative pronoun "si" if she was reading for her own pleasure. If it's not there, we want to know "Komu?" (dative, to whom?)

Another example of a common verb that has a "fluctuating si" is "hrát":

  • Hraju hokej. -- I play (am playing) hockey. With other people.
  • Hraju na kytaru. -- I play (am playing) the guitar. It means I CAN play it (i.e. sometimes I play it), or I'm playing somewhere where someone can hear me (around a campfire).
  • Hraju na počítači. - a bit weird... as if the computer was a musical instrument, but used sometimes.
  • (X) Hraju s míčem, s Legem, s hračkou (with a ball, with Lego, with a toy) -- these are just wrong.
  • BUT, it's possible to say "Hraju fotbal s novým míčem".
  • AND NOW the same examples with "si":
  • (X) Hraju si hokej. -- doesn't work. "hrát si" can't take a direct object.
  • Hraju si na kytaru. -- I'm playing the guitar only for my own amusement. Someone may randomly hear me, but there is no target audience. I'm only doing it for myself.
  • Hraju si na počítači. -- I'm having fun on my own by playing on the computer.
  • Hraju si s míčem (or any s+object). -- It's me and the ball. Even if we include a friend by adding "Hraju si s kamarádem s míčem", because then it's basically the same as "Hrajeme si (já a kamardá) s míčem."
  • Hraju si. -- I'm having fun, playing with whatever I'm doing right now.

And one more example:

  • Uvařím čaj. -- I'll make tea. It's very likely that I will not be the only one drinking it (although not certain), because if I intended to be the only one, I'd rather say:
  • Uvařím si čaj. -- I'll make tea for myself. I'll be the only one drinking it (that's the intention), unless someone specifically asks me to share it later.

Is it clearer?


Thank you for this excellent explanation! I don't have time to save it now, but it's definitely one for The AO Files Collection!


MUCH clearer, thanks! The reflexives are quite difficult for me, and the "se" vs "si" is something I understand even less.


Yes, reflexives are difficult, because English doesn't have them (de facto) while they're pretty integral to Czech.

"se" usually changes the meaning of a verb (učit vs. učit se = teach vs. learn), and often is just a fixed part of some verbs (dívat se).

"si" often just adds the "for one's own benefit" meaning as I've described, which is not expressed in English, but it can also completely change the meaning of some verbs (vážit vs. vážit si = weigh vs. respect; půjčit vs. půjčit si = lend vs. borrow).


Why can we not use present continuous (... is reading...) here?


We can. Your report was not accepted because of the "the", not because of the "is reading". I will likely add it soon, but I have to investigate something.


Thank you for the quick and correct reply.


What about ... reads on the bed?. Would that be accepted? That sound more natural in English.

  1. She goes to her room, undresses, puts on her nightwear, gets in under the bedclothes and opens her book = She is reading in bed.
  2. She goes to her room sits fully clothed on her bed and opens her book = She is reading on the bed.


on her bed - na posteli. Why would it be more natural?


IMO, it wouldn't be more natural.

But to clarify the preposition usage in my own head... If she is just sitting on her bed reading something for a little while -- not lying in bed reading or, say, propped up on a pillow to read -- we would use na, otherwise we'd use v? Or is it not that simple? :-/


Yes, I would use it like that.


Thank you! And, for the benefit of others, I will add another thought that just came to mind.

What would be most natural -- at least in the US, it would be standard usage -- is "My cousin reads/is reading in bed." It would be generally be understood as referring to her own bed, but it would also allow for the possibility that she she might read/be reading in whatever bed she happens to be in at the time.


The benefit of including the possessive "her" is a gentle reminder of the gender of "sestřenice" which "cousin" is devoid of unless we reach for the less gentle club of My female/girl cousin reads/is reading in bed.


I would say, "She's reading in bed" and "She's reading on her bed." For some reason, specifying that it's her bed makes it more of a location to me, and therefore something to be "on" instead of "in"? Maybe?

(I'm mostly saying this because, "My cousin is reading on her bed" was counted correct but only because duo thought I had made a typo.)


Thank you BoneheadBass, It makes more sense now.


I suppose that if we added a direct object like 'casopis' or 'knihu', we wouldn't have the reflexive particle?


You would. The reflexive pronoun is there because the subject is "receiving the action". She is reading for herself.

If the pronoun was left out, she would be reading for someone else. It would be weird to leave it out when she's in the bed, but if you added for whom she's reading it, it would be possible. For example: Moje sestřenice čte v posteli pohádky své dceři. My cousin reads fairytales in the bed for her daughter.


You might notice that the English sentence leaves open all these possibe scenarios, whereas the Czech translation chose to specify that she is reading to herself.


Is posteli in singular locative form?


Why not My cousin reads on the bed?


Check the discussion above.


Dobre, chápem že v angličtine sa obvykle použije spojenie "her bed". Ale je použitie člena "on the bed" vyslovene chybou?

Zvlášť keď v ceskej vete nie je nijalo naznačené, že si číta vo svojej posteli? To sa mi vidí tiež vcelku bežná veta "Čte si ve své posteli".


Why HER in the English? This would not be usual


So I put "My cousin reads to herself in bed" and it was counted wrong. I'm not sure why. I know this course is NOT about hashing it out in English and I realize a lot of the discussions GO in that direction so I'm not trying to take up anyone's teaching time here. Since (in my long experience with French but admittedly LIMITED experience with Czech) the reflexive modifies the verb I GUESS you could take it to mean "My cousin HERSELF reads in bed". Which seems a very bizarre statement. As to "her bed", why is the possessive jeji (with accent on i) not being used if that's the intent of the sentence? I'm just curious why my translation would be considered wrong.


I'm just going to guess, Janmunroe, that although your sentence is likely correct in meaning it hasn't been added as yet another possible translation.


Why must it be "her" bed? In the czech phrase I don't see any possessive.


Because English likes possessives and prefers to use them much more than Czech does. In Czech there is no reason to use "své", it is obvious she would normally read in "her" bed (even if it is her bed in a hotel room, not just at her home). In English, the use of the possessive is very common in these contexts.


In English it would be more usual to say "reads in bed". I agree that English uses possessives a lot but not usually in this particular case.


"My cousin reads in bed." it's not necessary that she reads in bed of her property or ownership, could also be the bed of her possession or seizin , she reads in any bed anyhow.


Yes, and "My cousin reads in bed." is also accepted. And so is "...in the bed".


But "my cousin reads in garden." wouldn't be accepted what AmE "Boneh..." just told me, when i claimed, that "i wear (or was it 'm wearing) old trousers and a sweater in garden", wouldn't be accepted but "in gardens", what was not the czech sentence. Language is a difficult place, a lot of holes to stumple.


Yes, "in bed" has somehow become an acceptable "shortcut" in English, not requiring the article, whereas "in garden" or "in car" just don't work.

Can you say any of them without article in German? I think you need "im Bett", "im Garten" etc., or can you say "in Bett" and "in Garten" in some contexts?


The habit of reading in bed would usually be practiced in whatever bed one happened to be. It would, I believe, be unusual to only read in ones own bed. Of course, if your cousin happened to be in someone else's bed there might be other distractions which prevent her from reading. However, in the context of this lesson, the latter point may be irrelevant!

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