Mam se

Good day all,

I have been learning for awhile now and I still do not understand the use of 'Mam se' vs 'jsem'.

I often see Mam se used in a place where I would expect jsem to be used. Example 'Mam se fajn', which to me translates as 'I have fine', rather than 'Jsem fajn', which would be 'I am fine'.

Can someone fill me in on this? I generally understand the use of the 'se', but I just dont get the use of Mam in these cases.

Any help would be appreciated.


August 2, 2018


first ask yourself why you expect the verbs will be the same. that issue will hinder your learning.

this is not in our existing course as far as i can tell. nearest we get to it is Je mi zima./I am cold.

we just cannot take for granted that the two languages will construct their idiomatic expressions using the same verbs, or even the same parts of speech for that matter. so I am fine. will only be Jsem fajn. if the speaker means that they are fine in the sense of being an OK person. if they meant that they are doing fine, it will be neither Jsem fajn. nor Dělám dobře. but Mám se fajn/dobře., Vede se mi dobře. or similar.

adjusting the word-for-word expectations will help you.

Thank you for responding!

I dont think I have an expectation that the translations will correspond in a one to one fashion. I have read and learned enough to know that this would not serve me well. That being said, I do not have any opportunity for immersion so I must rely on sites such as this and movies in order to get some context for the word usage. I have continually been confused by the uses of 'mit'. Another example I see often is 'Mam rad', which leaves me with the same confusion.

Does the concept of 'having' just mean something different in Czech?

Sorry if my questions a bit confusing. After two years of learning, I just would like to figure out this confusion.

You also appear to learn German. Notice that mám rád is the same as Ich habe gern in German.

Verbs to have, mít, haben... have many roles in a language. Often different ones in each language. They certainly are not just about the concept of having. They serve as auxiliaries in perfect tenses, but much more.

Just look how many meanings there are for the verb to have in an English dictionary

Czech mít will be similar. Tons of meanings and often different ones.

These verbs are simply not just about having something. Not even close.

I'd say that the Czech "mít" has a wider meaning than in English and can also refer to states of mind, feelings and so on. Inner states, something that is part of your being. You mentioned "mít se", which usually refers to how you feel, and "mít rád", to like, to be fond of. There's also "mít radost" - to be pleased or happy, that's another state of mind, or "mít hlad" - to be hungry. I can't explain why Czech uses there expressions, but maybe if you can accept that you can have these feelings, it'll be easier to learn.

I say: just do not think about having something with every have or mít unless you want to wonder how you can posses read after you have read a book.

well you have a good attitude. i would say "mít" is used across more expressions in czech than in english, where "be" tends to be favored. but that is a generalization of limited practical use.

"mít rád" with the accusative object is just one of the ways the verb "like" is expressed. some of the other ways are also confusing, by their reverse construction. I like it. = Líbí se mi to. (sort of an "it pleases me" spanish-like dative structure with the reflexive verb wrinkle.)

even more confusion happens with I miss you. as Stýská se mi po tobě. because neither I nor you appears in the subject, which is even entirely missing, skipped dummy "it" as appears in It is raining./Prší.

Thank you, everyone, for all of the responses!

I do not generally have any trouble reading the uses, I just find myself never using it when writing or speaking, so I am sure I would stand out if I was ever in a real context.

I think I understand most of the responses given. It was interesting to read the Marriam definitions of english 'have'. If I were to try to summarize what I am understanding, widle sort of hit what I am comprehending; a lot of the states of mind (or what I generally call states of being) are more likely to shift towards being used with mit instead of byt. So we are more likely to have or possess a 'like' (as though it were a thing) than to be in a state of mind of liking.

I am just writing this out so that everyone can tell me how I got it wrong. :) As an engineer, I tend to like to understand the 'why' and not just 'accept' things.

Again, I appreciate all of the help!

Well, of course there can be a reason, but often it is not logic.

I'd bet it is a phrastic borrowing from German (similarly to verb muset which is borrowed from German), but maybe I am wrong completely.

There is also "být rád, že..." - "to be glad that..." and "být rád čemu"(i.e. with dative) with a similar meaning.

But in a dictionary of Old Czech I found "býti rád čemu"="milovat co" (to love something) so it may have been different back than.

Maybe it helps you to look at a list of phrasal verbs in english (which learners of english have to tackle to speak idiomatic english, and let me tell you they are not logical either): These are combinations of common verbs with other words which can mean something completely different from the original verb. You just probably never noticed these beasts if your native language is english.

Languages do stuff like this. Words are put together, and in combination acquire new meaning which can't always be deduced from the parts. If you insist on only accepting this after you "understood" the reason you're in for a frustrating journey.

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