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Czech Your Greetings … morning, day, evening, and night

I recently enrolled in Duolingo’s Czech course. It was one I had been looking forward to taking for some time now. I used to check its status daily to see when I could finally enroll in it. Well, I finally got around to enrolling in it and have taken a few lessons of it. It’s not bad, but much more difficult than I had originally thought. So much so that I decided to see what level of difficulty it falls under according to the Foreign Service Institute. It’s under Level IV. I would agree that it belongs in that category. If you are also taking the course, perhaps you would also agree. Regardless of its relative difficulty, one of the questions I’ve been seeing surface a lot revolves around whether to use

dobrý, dobré, or dobrou

with the Czech versions of morning (ráno), day (den), evening (večer), and night (noc).

In fact, I actually wrote a response to Melvinvand4 for

Good evening, thank you.
(Dobrý večer, děkuji.)

just last night. He had written:

In my exercise i answered with "dobré" which is a correct translation, but according to the exercise I should have used "dobrý".


My answer turned out to be rather long, and I wondered how many would actually see it. So, I have opted to post my answer in the general discussion for Czech instead, in the hopes that more people who need help with this will see it. My reply, with some slight modifications/enhancements, follows:

I am no expert on the Czech language, but, according to Wiktionary, "dobrý" is the declined form to be used with "večer."

dobrý večer

In many languages, adjectives agree in number, case, and gender with the noun they describe.*

*Duolingo’s Czech course will cover these aspects of the Czech language a bit farther up the tree, but if some of you are ready to peck into these topics now, the links in the sentence above will give you a good, broad overview of what these aspects of grammar are in general.

These phrases of daily greeting — good morning/day/evening/night — follow those rules of agreement, but what makes these phrases special is that they are actually in the accusative case in the Czech language. You will find this to be true of other languages as well. Usually the explanation has something to do with the fact that the phrase is a shortened version of the way people used to say it and one in which the phrases "good morning/day/evening/night" were in the accusative case. For a beginner, that explanation is good enough for now (but if anyone cares to give a more detailed explanation as it pertains to the Czech language, please add it to the comments section below). Below are some specifics, but before you read them, I highly recommend you pull up the page at this link here:

declension of dobrý

You will see columns for both "animate"* and "inanimate" on the page connected to the link above. Clearly, for the purposes of this post here, you want to pay attention to just the inanimate (but notice that it is the same form in many instances).

If you cannot link to that or you are concerned that a declension chart with all of the Czech cases might overwhelm you (there are a few more than just nominative and accusative!), then take a look at the chart below:

The word "dobrý" is the masculine form for "good" in both nominative and accusative cases. (I know, it's complicated having the same form used for more than one case, but stick with it ... it will make sense/feel natural after a while.) The Czech word for "evening" (večer) and "day" (den) are masculine nouns. They have the same form for both nominative and accusative. Adjectives describing them must be in masculine form also and must match the noun's case. (In this case, accusative, even though it's the exact same form as the nominative.)

The Czech word for "night" (noc) is feminine. It is the same form in the nominative as it is in the accusative — noc. The accusative form of "good" when used to describe a feminine noun is "dobrou."

The Czech word for "morning" (ráno) is neuter. It is the same form in nominative as it is in the accusative — ráno. The neuter form of the Czech word for "good" is "dobré" (in both nominative and accusative case).

This then explains why we use the following combinations to say the various daily greetings in Czech:

Good morning
Dobré ráno.

Good day.
Dobrý den.

Good evening.
Dobrý večer.

Good night.
Dobrou noc.

As always, I hope that helps and if you have any contributions to make to this discussion, please add them in the comment section below.

October 13, 2017


[deactivated user]

    I never knew those were in the accusative. I always asked myself "Why do we say Dobrou noc?". finally I have an answer, thank you!

    October 14, 2017


    Je to zkrácená věta (Přeji ti ) dobrý den, dobrou noc, dobrý večer - accusative, 4. pád koho, co. It is a shortened sentence (I wish you) good day, good night, good evening. Sometimes you can hear in spoken Czech even more shortened: dobrý (den), dobrou (noc), dobrý (večer)

    October 14, 2017



    October 16, 2017


    I knew that they are in accusative case, based on these:

    German: Guten Morgen, Guten Tag, Guten Abend, Gute Nacht (accusative)

    Hungarian: Jó reggelt, jó napot, jó estét, jó éjszakát. Also accusative.

    October 15, 2017


    Thank you for sharing that with us, jzsuzsi. I haven't actively studied German in a while, but I do recall having learned something about the cases of their greetings. Thank you for the refresher on that as well as the bit about Hungarian. I haven't studied Turkish in a while, but if memory serves me correctly some of its daily greetings are in a case other than the nominative, too.

    I have found that the more languages you dabble in, the easier it is to learn new ones because you have anchors of understanding you can then compare and contrast new information with. I 'm assuming, by your bar of languages, that you've already discovered this as well.

    Again, thanks for sharing.

    October 16, 2017
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