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  5. "Byla to dobrá žena."

"Byla to dobrá žena."

Translation:She was a good woman.

November 29, 2017



Why was “That was a good woman” incorrect?


I'm also baffled why "That was a good wife" is considered incorrect. In my opinion it's a perfectly good translation of the Czech sentence.


Could someone please explain the function of "to" in this sentence? I would have expected "ona," but since it's "to" instead, there must be a reason!


Please! Someone explain why we need “to” here. I’m having the same problem.


I think this is because that phrase is simply the past tense of the "je to" (to je, to jsou, jsou to) structure which we have all struggled with in earlier lessons.


How would you say, "it was a good woman" (ex. Who brought these coats to the orphans? It was a good woman.)


I think "Bylo to dobřá žena" right? Since now the verb is referring to the thing in the general sense.


No, grammatically still "Byla to dobrá žena.". The participle must agree with the subject žena.


Would it work to put "to" up front since it is referring to the subject of the discussion in annicehofman's example?


You may want to read my older note on this subject: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/30304525

Keep in mind that in some sense English structures like "It was a good woman who did this." result from the fixed word order in that language. In Czech, replicating that mechanism is like driving a manual transmission car in second gear all the time for fear of touching the clutch. We would instead simply switch it up, such as to "Toto udělala dobrá žena." This is what the word order really lets you do; it's not just "anything goes" with nothing to show for it.


Thanks. Your note is very helpful.


This is less likely to be uttered exactly in this form in this situation. More likely "nějaká dobrá žena", "jedna dobrá žena". I am not sure if "It was a good woman." and some related ones should be accepted here.


Yes, I see your point. The "byla" is indicating that the woman is the subject, and you wouldn't call a woman "it".


could it also mean "She was a good wife"?


Yes, "She was a good wife" is also accepted.


I got this wrong because I put "the" instead of a - I realised that did not sound correct in english but thought that "to" could not be translated as "a" but would just be missed out - so now I'm a little uncertain of the rule


I'm not sure I really understand your question, but...

This is the familiar to je/to jsou construction in the past tense. As I understand it, when that construction moves into the past tense, the verb aligns with the noun on the receiving end, so to speak, if that noun can be the subject of a sentence. Here we have žena. which certainly can be the subject of a sentence. So we also have byla, matching up with žena, rather than bylo, matching up with to.

This explanation may be a little rough, but but one of the Czech natives on the team will weigh in if I've missed or misunderstood something.


Did you consider "to" a demonstrative adjective (modifying "dobrá žena)? That doesn't work, it would have to be "ta" to agree with the feminine noun.

"Ta dobrá žena" could be translated as "the good woman" (implying there is only one?).


I am thinking that perhaps "to" is the general designation of a "thing" whatever gender, but in English we do not usually say "that" when referring to a person, so it has to be translated as "she". However, for emphasis we could say "THAT was a good woman!" Am I right in suggesting that "to" is a general, all-inclusive designation?

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