"Jaká je barva vašich nových dveří?"

Translation:What is the color of your new door?

December 18, 2017

This discussion is locked.


How do we know that door is singular in that sentence if the word is always plural?


Door is plural. Even in the sentence above. The verb JE is referring to its color, which seems to be only one on them.


I think Fabien was asking: how do we know if "dveře" is to be translated as "door" or "doors in English? If the word is always plural in Czech, how can we count doors (one door, two doors... etc.)? Her house's door : dveře její domu Her house's doorS (as in "both the front door and the back door") : ?


We normally know from the context whether it's one door or more doors. It's like the words "fish" or "sheep" in English - they also don't show grammatical number. Or "pants" and "scissors" - these are always plural, just like in Czech - "kalhoty" and "nůžky" respectively.

The sentence in this exercise has no context. As such, when I read it as a Czech native speaker, I automatically assume it's talking about one door. The context for more doors would be, for example, knowing that you have been renovating the whole house- AND I would have to assume somehow that you painted all doors the same color, to understand this as "doors" plural.

As for counting doors... Czech has a special set of numbers dedicated for counting these "plurale tantum" (Latin for plural only) words:

  • jedny dveře
  • dvoje dveře
  • troje dveře
  • čtvery dveře
  • patery dveře / kalhoty (pants) / nůžky (scissors) / šaty (dresses)...
  • and so on...

These same numbers can also be used to count sets of items, which is very handy. For example:

  • dvě rukavice = two gloves
  • dvoje rukavice = two pairs of gloves = four gloves
  • tři boty = three shoes
  • troje boty = three pairs of shoes = six shoes
  • dvě cigarety = two cigarettes
  • dvoje cigarety = two packs of cigarettes = 40 (usually) cigarettes
  • tři papíry = three sheets of paper
  • troje papíry = three sets of documents = lots of paper
  • kolik klíčů? = how many keys?
  • kolikery klíče? = how many sets of keys?


As an amateur in this language, I would believe that it depends on the contexti n which the door(s) is/are mentioned. If more than one door was spoken about, their locations may be mentioned as well, so that translators or non-native conversation partners could recognise the amount of doors.


For me, Duo accepted "what is the color of your new doors" unlike the main translation. Assume either singular or plural is acceptable if no context to tell which is correct?


While dveře is always plural in Czech, in English, it can be either "door" or "doors." If there is no clear context, there is no way to know how many "doors" are being discussed, and both singular and plural are accepted.


Similar to the English word “pants”. “What color are your new pants?” would be the same question if you’re asking about one pair of new pants or five pairs of new pants. I believe the Czech word for pants - kalhoty works the same way.

  • 1020

Ok. In English, if I want to count pants, I can talk about "pairs of pants". How do the Czech count doors?


jedny dveře, dvoje dveře, troje dveře
jedny kalhoty, dvoje kalhoty, troje kalhoty

  • 1020

Thanks, that is interesting. I did not know that there exists the plural "jedny". Nice.


I don't understand why is this sentence is genetive here? Who can help me


"Which colour is your new door?" should be accepted in my opinion


In a general sentence like this, I (native AmE) don't think that "which" works as well as "what." "Which" is not entirely wrong, but it suggests that you are asking what particular color was selected from a range of known colors, and we lack that context. But if the Czech natives on the team feel that "which" is acceptable in the absence of context, I will be happy to add it.


Perhaps I can imagine such a context, in a large building with only a few possible door colours, although I am not 100% sure if which is appropriate in this case. We would still use "jaká" and not "která" in Czech.

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