"Fungovaly mu před nehodou brzdy?"

Translation:Were his brakes working before the accident?

March 28, 2018

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Could you explain "mu" (that is... the short of jemu, dative singular of the pronoun "on") as related to the translation given? Would it translate incorrectly but literally "Were the brakes working to him before the accident"?


Yes, literally it is "to him", dative of "on", an alternative to "jemu" which is used when it is stressed. Mu is unstressed (clitic).


Did the breaks work to him before the accident? Is it possible?


I do not think so.


Would “Fungovaly jeho brzdy před nehodou?” work as well as the given translation?


Yes, it's grammatically correct and accepted. But it's much less natural. Czech prefers to assign the "possession" of the brakes to him by using the dative. The dative creates a more tight, consequence-based relation, as in "Did his brakes work for him? - i.e. he was the one using them at that time" as opposed to just "yeah, they were his brakes, but maybe someone else was using them, no direct relation". Compare:

  • Umřela mu babička. - His grandma died and it affected him.
  • Jeho babička umřela. - Just stating the fact that his grandma died with no direct relation to him.

The difference is a bit blurry, but in many situations the dative is a lot more natural.

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