"There were two right shoes and four left ones there."

Translation:Byly tam dvě pravé boty a čtyři levé.

September 30, 2017

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The natural way to say this in Czech (unfortunately unaccepted now) is "Byly tam dvě pravé a čtyři levé boty." In English, the natural way is to use a noun for its first occurrence and pronouns later, in Czech it is vice versa, the noun should be in the last case the object is mentioned in the sentence, and before the object is signalled by omission of the noun before "a" or the comma. Current "correct translation" sounds less unnatural than "there were two right ones and four left shoes there" would in English, but it still sounds clumsy. Perhaps it should be kept as acceptable, but not as preferred.


Your suggestion is now accepted.


If so, why was my "Byly tam dvě pravé a čtyři levé boty." not accepted?


"Byly tam dvě pravé a čtyři levé boty" is definitely accepted. But we have no current report for it, so we can't tell you why, if that was your exact answer, it was rejected. Please use the Report button, even if you also comment.


I disagree, the preferred translation (dvě pravé boty a čtyři levé) sounds completely natural to me. Your suggestion (dvě pravé a čtyři levé boty) might be better in some contexts, but to me they're quite interchangeable.


Why can't "tam" go at the end of the sentence?


It is a pretty strange place for it. It would make it the point of the message, the most stressed piece of information. It doesn't make good sense here. If you were speaking about some particular shoes and the information is that they are there, it is absolutely fine to say "Ty boty jsou tam.". But when informing about kinds of shoes that were there it doesn't make sense. The main information here are the shoes, not the place.


Why can't "Tam" be the first word in the sentance?


It can. "Tam byly dvě pravé a čtyři levé boty" is one of several correct solutions beginning with "tam" that are accepted. Note that it's not the default word order however.


Oh ok thanks. I also had a typeo on leve so i guess that exercise is a bit sensetive to spelling mistakes.


Could this sentence start by "Bylo je tam dvě..." instead of "Byly tam dvě..." ?


No, firstly it really must be "byly" for boty (feminine gender) and secondly Czech dropped the auxiliary verb in the third person centuries ago (and it wasn't even "je" back then).


Well, I was thinking about something on the model of "Bylo jich dvě". Maybe the accordance is mandatory when a noun follows the numelal ?


Or is it because the example is with 2 and not 5, for instance?


Yes, exactly.

  • Byla tam (jedna) bota.
  • Byly tam dvě, tři nebo čtyři boty.
  • Bylo tam pět, šest, deset bot.

And as a bonus information: Czech also has special numbers that count in whole sets instead of individual units:

  • Byly tam dvoje boty. = There were two pairs of shoes there. (= 4 shoes)
  • Byly tam troje boty. = There were three pairs of shoes there. ...and so on.


Thank you! I find Czech numbers even sexier now :)


Numbers above four use indeed the verb in singular and the genitive case. "Bylo jich pět." However, that is only true for numbers above four.


In other exercises I have been told that putting the verb at the start, it is for questions. But here the suggested correct translation starts with byly. Is it because there are no real alternatives? And would the order for a question be exactly the same here?

  • To je... - It/That is...
  • Je to... - same as above, usable as a statement even with the verb first
  • Je... - There is...

And this is true also for the plural (jsou), past (bylo, byli...), future (bude...), etc. Existential sentences (there is...) have no subject in Czech so there is really nothing to place before the verb, it's only the verb "být" on its own.

As for all other verbs (other than "být"), the main thing you need to ask is: Is there an expressed subject in the sentence? If so, do not place the verb first in statements. Place the verb first in questions (unless you want a declarative question where the word order is the same as in statements). But if not - if the subject is not expressed, you can (and often will) place the verb first anyway, even in statements. For example:

  • On chodí do práce. František chodí do práce. Chodí do práce.
  • Chodí on do práce? Chodí František do práce? Chodí do práce?
  • Já sedím doma. Sedím doma. Sedím doma?
  • Prší. Prší?

[deactivated user]

    Some exercises seem to accept the incorrect form of a correct word, but not others. Leve/levou could be acceptable here as both refer to the same thing, even if grammatically incorrect, no?


    No, "levou" is singular (accusative feminine). After the number 4, we need the plural form "levé".

    I don't think any exercises accept incorrect forms (unless perhaps as a typo).

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