"Viděla jsem je odcházet spolu."

Translation:I saw them leave together.

February 10, 2018

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Why not "Viděla jsem je odcházeli spolu"? Why "odcházet" is in infinitive for here?


In English you have also 'I saw them leave together.' and not left.

To be correct from linguistic point of view: declination is done on verb called predicate which creates with a noun/pronoun called subject foundation for syntagma. On these two are connected all other words in sentence. Like objects, adverbial of place, time, manner... or attribute. For example in sentence "Já jím jablko" is "já" subject, "jím" predicate and "jablko" is an object connected to noun in 4th case.¨

In upper sentence the first verb is predicate, so it is declinated to express tense etc. Odcházet on other hand is here in form of object, so it is in infinitive form.

I hope it helps.


> In English you have also 'I saw them leave together.' and not left.

I think it is not always correct to compare English and Czech constructions. For example in Russian language construction like this is not correct.

> I hope it helps.

Not much. Because what is the role of "je" in your description? I see here the full second part: "je odcházet spolu" as object. And "je odcházet" I cannot understand. It might be "je odcházeli", "je odešli", "je odchází" or even "je odcházejíce" (not sure the word form is correct).

I can suppose that such constructions are allowed in Czech like in English too. But I would prefer to have some description of that.


Comparing with English is not totaly out, they are both Indoeuropean languages and both follow the same principle in the deepest roots :) I don't know Russian, but declination of non predicate seems strange to me.

OK, I did mistake (partly for simplification) but it does not change anything. Syntax is not necessary to learn Czech, it's just to explain certain things and for linguistics.

"Viděla jsem je odcházet spolu."

  • "viděla jsem" = (I) saw, predicate
  • "je" = them, object
  • "odcházet" = to leave, complement (not object)
  • "spolu" = together, adverbial of manner

TLDR: "odcházet" is not predicate, thus it is not declined


Yes, but at the same time Czech is closer to Russian than to English, I think. I understand word-by-word translation. And even if I do it to Russian, it will be bad phrase, but still some meaning could be extracted from it. But with English-Russian example - there is many constructions that can not be mapped directly. And I sure in Czech-English too, like double negation for example. So what I want to understand is why this construction is allowed in Czech and some generic rule how it is used and when.

> TLDR: "odcházet" is not predicate, thus it is not declined

I do not understand why it is not a predicate when it is bound to "je". It is obviousely to me that "je odcházet" is subject+predicate.


There are several reasons why it is not a predicate:

  • subject has to be in 1st case, "je" is 4th case (Koho, co) :)
  • "je" is an object in this sentence clearly bound to verb to see: "I saw them"
  • there is only one clause in the sentece, so only one subject+predicate

Though it is possible to have "odcházet" as subject in sentence with the same meaning, but there are 2 clauses.

  • "Viděla jsem je, jak odcházeli spolu"
  • I saw them, how they left together.

Two clauses, two subject+predicate. First is (já)+viděla jsem, the second "oni odcházeli". Is it more clear to you? :)


I'm sorry, but the discussion above didn't make the structure of this phrase clearer for me. "Viděla jsem je, jak odcházeli spolu" - I would choose this version if I didn't have the words that were offered in the exercise.


Choose where? This discussion has the Czech sentence as the starting point, so what exercise would you be choosing for?

If English is your native language, then just mirror in Czech what English does. Both use the infinitive. I saw him do something. Viděl jsem ho něco dělat. What makes this structure hard to accept? If we knew that, maybe a better explanation could come to mind.

The more complicated version you seem to want, with a subordinate clause, is a case of "why do it simply when a harder way exists." I would have chosen no backshift and kept the subordinate clause in the present tense:

  • Viděl jsem je, jak odcházejí spolu.


Thank you for your reply. I'm not a native English speaker (and it's certainly my problem, not the Duo course's) and so the first thought that comes to me when I see the sentences like that is to use the transgressives (odcházejíce?..) So I would like to ask if there were some special explanation about using the infinitive in such structures. Thanks again.

I see that the topic starter had the same problem :D


The use of the infinitive constructions differs significantly among various Slavic languages. The previous native Russian speaker may have set unrealistic expectations based on Russian and Czech being more closely related than either is to English. Czech simply uses the infinitive with perception verbs like English and unlike Russian.

At one point in its evolution, Czech did use transgressive-like forms for this but abandoned them, and today's transgressives are beyond the abilities of most native Czech speakers. Delving into the linguistic history explaining the different paths our languages took may be interesting, but it is a detour I will leave for others to explore.

Until then, I would encourage you to simply accept the present situation and the convenient similarity to the intended L1 for this course.


Thank you. I'm a native Russian speaker too so maybe it's the main reason for my difficulties here.


I figured, and it is still a significant advantage over learning Czech just from English. If only I remembered what I struggled with in my Russian classes back in the day. But it's all a blur.

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