"Kateřinu já můžu poslouchat celý den."

Translation:I can listen to Kateřina all day.

August 10, 2018

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In this case I consider “já” as enfasizing or stress on “I” (já)


Why is "I can listen all day to Kateřina" not acceptable. Is the meaning different in some way?


That word order is non-standard and it sounds very unnatural.


I think this is an opinion. Where I live, either is acceptable. I'm really surprised it's not accepted here.


What about I could listen to Katerina all day? That is more natural to me. since listening to someone all day is not really literally meant.


I can - můžu
I could - mohl bych


'Could' is past tense of 'can' and that is reflected in your reply to Pollyhs. That is not, however, the context in which she uses it and, as she says, it would be a more natural and more usual way to express the phrase in English. I am not sure that English verbs have a Conditional Mood but if they have it would cover this case. This is just an unqualified opinion.


English verbs have a conditional mood, you used it in the very same sentence where you wondered if they do: "would cover" - that's the conditional mood. The word "could" is confusing for many because it's at the same time both the past tense of "can" and the conditional mood of "can". While in Czech:

  • I can - můžu
  • I could (past) - mohl jsem
  • I could (cond.) - mohl bych

The sentence in this exercise could (cond.) use "mohl bych" in Czech, which would then translate to "could" in English. It wouldn't really change anything in terms of meaning. It would theoretically make the situation more hypothetical - i.e. 1) Kateřina is here and talking -> I can listen to her all day, vs. 2) If Kateřina was here and talking, I could listen to her all day. But as standalone sentences, they are quite interchangeable in practice.


Thank you. Just one more question , is it possible in Czech to distinguish between the following uses of 'can' 1. Because I have nothing else to do I can listen to Katerina all day; and 2. Because she has such a beautiful voice I can listen to Katerina all day.


Well, it is always possible, but it may require additional words. Just like your "because..." we could have "protože...".

Both would normally use "můžu" just like you use "I can" in both of your examples.


Thanks to both Angus and Valdu for your clear, prompt and detailed replies. I think I understand now. and to pekarna, who answers my question exactly!


In the sentence of this excercise, the position of "Kateřinu" at the 1st place nad the additional "já" hints that it is your 2nd case.

If I wanted to express your case 1., I would say "Můžu poslouchat Kateřinu celý den.", or "Celý den můžu poslouchat Kateřinu", or "Můžu celý den poslouchat Kateřinu". That way I put stress on "I can" and "whole day", and that hints that I have time.

The word order in Czech is quite relaxed and has a lot of power when expressing things "between the lines".


I think that's what's confusing to me here, is that i assumed it meant the 2nd case BrianSille2 presented, and in this case i would never use "can"--i would use "could" 100% of the time. So my question would be, are "mohl bych" and "můžu" interchangeable in terms of the meaning in Czech in this sentence?


Why is 'Kateřinu" at the start of the sentence here? I would have made it: "Já můžu poslouchat Kateřinu celý den."


Yes, you can definitely do that. As always, we use the word order to stress whatever we want to stress. The first position is the topic, the base that we've been talking about and want to add some more information to. A typical dialogue would go like this?

  • A: František má nepříjemný hlas, nemůžu ho poslouchat. - František has an unpleasant voice, I can't listen to him.
  • B: A co Kateřina? - And what about Kateřina?
  • A: Kateřinu (já) můžu poslouchat celý den.

(In the above example, to avoid repeating the name, it's also possible to say: "Tu (já) můžu poslouchat celý den.")

Your version makes "já" the topic (and sure, "já" is very often the topic). For example:

  • A: Kateřina pořád mluví. Nemůžu ji poslouchat. - Kateřina keeps talking. I can't listen to her.
  • B: Já můžu Kateřinu poslouchat celý den. - Well but me, I can listen to Kateřina all day.

To exaggerate the difference, we can do this in English:

  • Já můžu poslouchat Kateřinu celý den. - As for me, I can listen to K. all day.
  • Kateřinu můžu poslouchat celý den. - As for Kateřina, I can listen to her all day.
  • Poslouchat Kateřinu můžu celý den. - As for listening to K., I can do that all day.
  • Celý den můžu poslouchat Kateřinu. - As for how I'm going to spend the whole day, I can listen to Kateřina.


Still it is rather uncommon right? That Ja isn't first or last. Btw : I can listen to Katerina whole day long would be a correct translation, although I see what you could have against the non literal long part


Yes, it may be a little less common than "Já můžu...", but perfectly valid. Putting "já" last is more uncommon and in this sentence it would be very uncommon. As soon as I decide to begin with "Kateřinu" and want to include "já" for emphasis, that's the most likely place to put it - right after "Kateřinu".

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