1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Czech
  4. >
  5. "Jeho hlava nemohla být větší…

"Jeho hlava nemohla být větší než jablko."

Translation:Its head could not have been bigger than an apple.

October 5, 2017

22 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dsarkarati

My translation: "His head could not be bigger than an apple."

Translation: Its head could not have been bigger than an apple.

Why can't "jeho" be translated as "his"? What does "jeho" refer to in this sentence? If "nemohla být" means "could not have been", how would you say "could not be"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kacenka9

We accept both ITS and HIS. It could have been a marionette or some animal we are talking about here, which in English would be IT, while in Czech it could be anything. The Czech sentence suggests that the 'something' is masculine in Czech but it might not be the case in English. But both ITS and HIS are among accepted translations.

Could not be = nemůže být


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/vor23

Does not "nemůže být" mean "cannot be"? There's a difference, at least in English: "cannot be" is not possible right now, whereas "could not be" cannot be made possible.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/walkinwolk

How would I say "could not be"...it appears "nemohl být" only works for "could not have been"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dsarkarati

The verb tense in this sentence is still unclear to me. How would these be translated: He can't be there. He couldn't be there. He couldn't have been there.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VladaFu

Nemůže tam být. Nemohl tam být. Nemohl tam být.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dsarkarati

Very interesting! There is a definite difference between "he couldn't be there" and "he couldn't have been there" in English, but apparently not in Czech. "He couldn't be there." because he had some other obligation or was ill, for example, at the time of the event, which prevented him from being there. "He couldn't have been there." As in a court case, the evidence shows that it was impossible for him to have been there because he was somewhere else, such as taking a class or at a party, where there were witnesses to prove where he was, so he is innocent of the crime, for example. I hope this is not too confusing, but for American English speakers, the difference should be clear.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VladaFu

Well, there is a difference in the meaning and we can feel it easily even in Czech. The past tense and the modal just use the same words in both meanings, but the meanings are different.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dsarkarati

Thank you. It must be the context, then, that helps to differentiate meaning.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AgnusOinas

But note that "could be" has two meanings in English - the first is the one you described, the past tense meaning, which translates to Czech as "mohlo být" (same as "could have been") - but the other meaning is conditional ("it could be fun to try this") which translates as "mohlo by být" (using the conditional). So here it's the other way around - English combines two meanings into one expression, from the Czech perspective.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MiguelGS12

Then this sentence has to be corrected as it only accepts one of the options (couldn't have been there)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/blflame

Well, since "couldn't be" and "couldn't have been" are translated the same into Czech, I think Duo should accept both translations here, and not only the one with "have," shouldn't it?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LetitiateT

Mohl by mi to někdo vysvětlit česky? Proč nemůže být "His head couldn't be ..."? Ale jen "... couldn't have been..."?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AgnusOinas

Protože to nedává smysl. S "couldn't be" by to znamenalo, že jeho hlava nemohla být větší proto, že tomu něco bránilo - že ta hlava nedokázala dostatečně vyrůst. Taková věta by šla použít snad jen v nějakém hororu o šíleném vědci, který pěstuje těla v umělých líhních. Druhý možný překlad toho "couldn't be" by byl "jeho hlava by nemohla být větší"... s úplně stejným omezením použítí na jakýsi obskurní horor.

S "couldn't have been" to znamená v podstatě, že "jeho hlava určitě nebyla větší..." - což je úplně normálně použitelné.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VladaFu

What would be the meaning with "couldn't be"? Could you post an example situation?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nueby

Still waiting for the example.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bill697237

I'll try: I saw a strange dog yesterday. Its head could not have been bigger than an apple. Do you see that strange dog over there? Its head couldn't be bigger than an apple. (Or so it seems. I can't be sure.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AgnusOinas

The second sentence translates to Czech with the plain old present tense, indicative mood (i.e. non-conditional): "Jeho hlava nemůže být větší než jablko".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LetitiateT

A ještě otázka. Znamená ta věta něco jako "Jsem si jist že jeho hlava nebyla větší..." nebo "Jeho hlava nesměla být větší..." Nebo oboje?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VladaFu

To první, to je pointa celé té předchozí diskuse.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LetitiateT

Ďakujem. A to druhé by sa anglicky povedalo ako?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VladaFu

Jak píše kacenka, "Could not be = nemůže být".

"Jeho hlava nesměla být větší..." "His head was not allowed to be bigger...".

Mimochodem, my teď to "could not be" uznáváme, i když je to divné, nejspíš to znamená, že nemohla vyrůst.

Learn Czech in just 5 minutes a day. For free.