"I was writing that letter all day."

Translation:Psal jsem ten dopis celý den.

December 3, 2017

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I can't understand, why the sentence like "She was already speaking" translates as "Uz mluvila", i.e. without jsem, and "I was writing that letter all day" goes as "Psal jsem ten dopis celý den", with jsem. What is a rule or a logic of using it in Past Tense?


3rd person doesn't use the verb "být" for the past tense:

  • Já jsem psal

  • Ty jsi psal

  • On psal

  • My jsme psali

  • Vy jste psali

  • Oni psali


"Celý den jsem psala ten dopis" is correct too I suppose...


what about "cely den ja jsem psala ten dopis", it was marked wrong


"jsem" as the past tense auxiliary verb must be in the second position.


Thanks Vladimir, you are so precious !


what about Celý den jsem ten dopis psala


It does not really work as a normal sentence with normal pronunciation. Czech is a SVO language, I don't know why so many people insist on the verb in the final position, it isnot too common there. It would be there if you were cntrasting this verb with some other verb, but which one? I did not do ... with the letter all day, I was WRITING it all day. What would ... be?

The swntence could acually work as a form of reproach or reminder how long it took. In that case you can't use normal pronunciation, you have to strongly stress Celý den.


What about "Jsem psala ten dopis cely den?" Do you need the "Ja?" If so, why in this sentence but the subject pronoun is understood in so many other sentences?


You can't start a past-tense sentence with "jsem" or any of the various present-tense forms of "být" (as I learned when I made the same mistake...) But in this sentence you can say either "Já jsem psal/a..." or "Psal/a jsem..."

As I understand it, the "subject" personal pronouns generally can be omitted unless they're needed or wanted for clarity.


What about "Cely den ten dopis jsem psal"?


This is my understanding: Jsem must be in 2nd position. It actually takes priority in 2nd position over other clitics.


I will offer two GUESSES, neither of which may be correct...

  1. It's often said that the part of the sentence that you want to emphasize is placed at the end. In this case, the important part could be that you spent ALL DAY writing that letter. So if "Cely den ten dopis jsem psal" was not accepted, that MAY be a reason why.

  2. This is the scary one... "Cely den ten dopis jsem psal" sounds weird. Given that I'm learning too, that in itself is weird... unless some of this word order stuff that's been making me crazy is starting to sink in and I don't even realize it.


What is the difference between "psal" and "napsal" please? Thank you


Please see the Tips and notes about verbal aspect.

psal is imperfective - he was writing, he was performing the writing but we do not know how much, whether he finished anything...

napsal is perfective - he wrote something and finished writing that part that he "napsal", it could be anything, a word, a sentence, paragraph a book... Here we have a letter. Napsal dopis. He wrote a letter. We know that he finished it and the letter is written now.


Am i correct in thinking "ten dopis" and "celý den" are both in masculine inanimate singluar accusative? And that if it was "all night" it would be "Psal jsem ten dopis celou noc"?

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