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An intriguing feature of Czech verbal agreement?

Ahoj everybody!

I was using the book Pour les francophones qui veulent parler tchèque of the Chcete mluvit česky? collection earlier and I found out that in the case of an enumeration, the verbs (or at least the verb být) doesn't have to be in plural in the 3rd person. Let me use the example given:

Jsou tady František a Anna? Je tady František a Anna?

That IS weird. But I see no way I could misunderstand the book. But also, I can't find any literature on-line about this feature of Czech.


PS: I can almost remember that this is also a thing Celtic languages do, or at least Breton, I have a friend who might confirm that.

October 22, 2017



This may help start sorting things out for Czech. We have enough raw pieces available in the course to add content illustrating these issues. That must come no earlier than Tips & Notes for the skills involved. Some of the rules are enough to confuse even us natives, and I would even say most of us natives. Citing and translating from the linked reference what applies to your question:

2 Přísudek předchází podmětu

Předchází-li přísudek podmětu, máme dvojí možnost, čím řídit shodu. Řídíme ji buď pravidlem o přednosti rodů (viz bod 2.1 a bod 2.2), nebo shodu určuje to podmětové jméno, které je nejblíže přísudku. Bližší podmětové jméno pak v těchto případech stanoví rod a číslo příčestí: V porotě zasedla Ema Lhotecká a Jiří Jach. U vrátek postávalo dítě a jeho otec.

Uvedená dvě pravidla se vztahují jak na podmět několikanásobný v množném čísle, tak na podmět několikanásobný v jednotném čísle i na podmět skládající se ze jmen v různém čísle.

2 The predicate precedes the subject

When the predicate precedes the subject, two possibilities govern their agreement. Either the rule of gender precedence applies (see 2.1 and 2.2), or the component of the subject nearest the predicate governs. In the latter case, the nearest component of the subject determines the gender and the number of the predicate: [emphasis mine, examples follow in the original].

The stated rules apply to compound subjects in the plural, compound subjects in the singular, as well as compound subjects with components differing in number.


Ok so actually it's a bit like in Latin, old French and old Norse and stuff like that, where in some occasions the verb would take the agreement of whatever is closer. Interesting! Thanks for the information!

Btw, I got an answer from my friend teaching Breton. He translated my Czech sentence like that: "Emañ Alina ha Frantisek amañ", literally "Is Alina and František here", where one would expect the plural of the verb "emaint".


I have only ever noticed it with the verb být but I wouldn't be suprised to find it in others :P Czech grammar is rough


I am afraid it can be nearly anything. Čistí si Anna a František zuby? = Do Anna and Frantisek brush their teeth? , Jde Jan a Pepa dneska do školy? Are Jan and Pepa going to school today?

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