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Looking for Help Picking the Right Word for "For"

I an very often confused about which preposition to use to mean "for," particularly when I go off the Duolingo reservation and try to write something original in Czech.

I know that at times (often, usually, always?) the right preposition is coupled with the verb itself, which is helpful. But if I'm writing something that involves a verb to which I haven't been properly introduced, there's a pretty good chance that I'll pick the wrong "for" for what I want to say.

Apart from the just-learn-that-X-verb-takes-Y-preposition, are there any other rules?

Can anyone recommend an online resource that, for example, would give the Czech definition for the English verb along with sample phrases using the verb-plus-"for" construction (or, for that matter, any other preposition with which the verb is used)?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

July 12, 2018



Native Czech speaker here, basic translation of the word "for" is "pro" E.g.: "for him" => "pro něj".

But describing the purpuse of an object is a different story. E.g.: "Boats for hire" (you could see this on a sign for instance) ==> "Lodě K vypůjčení/pronajmutí". Here, the word "for" translates rather as "k".

Also describing time with "for" is a different story too: "We walked for hours." ==> "Chodili jsme (PO) celé hodiny." (You can take out the "po" without changing the meaning. The word "celé" is there to show how tired we are after walking for so many hours.)

"for" - occassion: "What did you buy him for Christmas?" => "Co jsi mu koupil K vánocům?"

"for" - responsibility/paying: "He can't take responsibility for that." => "Nemůže vzít odpovědnost ZA to." "Can I pay for it later?" => "Mohu ZA to zaplatit později?"

There are probably more uses of "for" in english that does not translate as described, but I hope I still helped you to better understand. Please note that phrasal verbs such as "look for" translate usually to one word. ("look for" => "hledat")

Also note, that while "for" stays the same in English, it changes in Czech, thus noun case changes too.


Thank you very much for taking the time to explain these uses, several of which I haven't encountered yet. I really appreciate your help.

But now I realize it's even worse than I thought! Multiply multiple uses by multiple prepositions, and Prepositions just may replace Word Order as My Least Favorite Thing About Czech So Far... :-)


Thanks for the reply, you are welcome.

Yep, I don't know any trick or something to memorize the prepositions and word order as it's natural to me. But it looks like you could assign each preposition to use of it. I can't think about any situation where a preposition in front of a noun somehow changes word order.

I think the main problem with learning Czech if you know only English is that English uses one preposition for so many situations that it's impossible to really translate the preposition. You should learn to think in Czech as soon as possible rather than translating words to English as it makes no sense.

Anyways, good luck with it, I am always happy when I see someone learning Czech :)


I suggest going through Chapter 8.8 in Naughton's Essential Grammar.


Oh! I know the confusion, I know it well. Learning "for" was one of the first times I realized how different Czech pronouns are. I learned pro is for a person, na is for a purpose and za is for prices. Of course there are other uses too. But when you use za with time it is not for (za pět minutes-in five minutes). Then I was told that if something like if you go "for" lunch and eat there, it is a different "for" than if you go and pick up lunch and come back Then I saw pro in a lot of places I thought I would have used na. Then there are all the single letter prepositions depending on if you are going to a place or a person!


I appreciate your helpful reply, and I'm happy to see that I'm not the only one struggling with this! Maybe there should be a Support Group for Those TRYING to Master Czech Prepositions? :-)


:) I sometimes feel like just giving a list when I write or speak. "Jdeme pro/na/za/do oběd.


"Za" and "do" doesn't make sense in this situation, though.

Pro oběd means just going there to buy/take a lunch.

Na oběd means going to somewhere like a restaurant and eating the lunch there.


The thing is, for some (many?) of us, we just don't KNOW yet why one preposition makes sense in a given context, and another doesn't. That knowledge, or even the "feel," can be a long time coming... :-(


But I know that za is sometimes for, so I not always sure which is the right one. Then do (I think) can be "to" which is something people say often in English. I am going to lunch.


When using "going to" as a phrase used in English to express future tense, you don't translate it exactly word by word. But I think you mean something like "I am going to the shop" - then yes, you translate "to" as a "do". (Jdu do obchodu.) Simply put, "do" can almost always be used to express going inside some building.

Interestingly enough, in this scenario, the noun after "do" is in genitive noun case and not locative although it has something to do with location.


yes, sometimes going "to" a place does become "do". do školy. do kostela. but never with "oběd" and always with a noun in the genitive. "do oběd" does not work at all. "do oběda" is used only in time expressions.


I know EXACTLY what you mean!

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