"Why do I have to know more than one language?"

Translation:Proč musím umět víc než jeden jazyk?

March 5, 2018

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What is the difference between umet and vedet (sorry for lack of accents)? I know that one is for practical knowledge and the other for theoretical, but in actual practice I get confused. For example here you can learn a language and then know the words, grammar, etc. as well as know how to use it.


"Vědět" is to know, to have some knowledge. To know some fact. It may some theoretical knowledge how to do something, even though you are not able to do that practically. "I know how it is supposed to be done, but I never tried that." "Vím, jak se to má dělat, ale nikdy jsem to nezkusil."

Very similar is "znát". That is also to have some knowledge or to be able to recognize something. "I know this city." "Znám toto město.", "How many languages do you know?" "Kolik jazyků znáš?" (this is a set phrase but this usage of "znát" is otherwise obsolete.)

"Umět" is to have the skill to do something. Either physically or mentally, it can be both. But you are practically able to do that thing. "Umím hrát na kytaru." "I can play guitar." "Umí násobit velká čisla." "He is able to multiply large numbers."

It is not uncommon to be able to use both. Especially "znát" can be used in the same meaning as "umět", but it will be bookish or obsolete. You cannot say "Znám mluvit francouzsky." without sounding like someone from the 19th century.

As always, to get all the fine points you have to refer to dictionaries which present all the meanings with examples. Unfortunately, these dictionaries are in Czech - the English ones are in English as well...

You basically have to practice and get the feeling when you can use which. It comes with time and with practice.

Don't try to understand these, but just have a look how many fine points there are:




(and don't worry about the -ti endings in the links, it is an obsolete historical thing)


I might have to have this answer made into a poster so I can hang it up in my home.


Great. More complicated Czech stuff!

More seriously, thank you so much for the detailed answer and for the links. I understand a bit better how the different verbs differ, and why they are used in various sentences. I doubt that I'll be always able to use them correctly but I sound funny in czech in any case...


Actually English is about the only language around indo european languages that does not make this difference. I see you are taking Italian. Vedet =sapere and znat=conosere. So now you learned something in Czech that will be useful in Italian :D


That's very useful. I'm only starting in Italian but I know French quite well so it would be like savoir and connaitre. Now it's much clearer.


Thanks for the explanation!

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