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  5. "Když nevím, ptám se."

"Když nevím, ptám se."

Translation:If I do not know, I ask.

April 16, 2018



Sometimes czech language really bewilders me with many different words but have the same meaning and do not know if they can be interchangable or not. Like in this example, as I know "pokud" also means "if" so i wonder whether it can replace"když"


I think it is almost the same difference as the difference between when and if.


Would a sentence like "Když nevím, ptám." be possible? When I first saw "ptám se" I translated it as "I ask myself", although it made no sense. But why is the reflexive "se" needed in this example?


No. The se does not mean asking yourself. It is just a part of the reflexive verb.

"ptát se"="ask"


Ok thanks, I got it now. It looks like it's just another Czech-Croatian false friend getting in my way. :)


By the way, "I ask myself" would be "Ptám se sebe." (I believe it's "pitam sebe" in Croatian.)


I take it that se can be put in front of ptam as well as after it?


It can, but the second position rule must be observed.


Is the first clause considered as the first position, so se should go before ptam to occupy the second position? Or do you not count a clause as an element, unlike in German or Dutch?


No, the first clause is a separate entity.


"Whenever I don't know, I ask" was rejected, though it seems to have the right sense here.

I wonder how helpful it would be to test substituting "whenever" in place of "if" to see if "když" is the appropriate sense needed in Czech? (It's tempting to make this link because English speakers see "kdy" inside "když" ;) )


whenever — kdykoli


I should have known... why wouldn't Czech have multiple words in this instance as well? :)


AND there are two equivalent forms: kdykoli and kdykoliv :)


My guess is that "if I don't know, I ask" and "if I don't know, I'll ask are slightly different at least in the context of when they're used. Is it okay to translate this to the latter or will it be something else in Czech?


For the latter (I'll ask), you can say "zeptám se", which is future perfective (I'll ask once) as opposed to "ptám se", which is present imperfective (I ask in general or I'm asking now.)

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