Czech Possessives: common forms vs alternate forms

Hi, I really like the Czech language course. However, as a teacher I would like to humbly suggest that some of the lessons should be split further in order to help alleviate an already confusing situation. One of the specific ones that I think should be split is Possessive Pronouns 1.

Specifically, I suggest that only the most common forms should be in lesson 1 and the others should be saved for somewhere either before or after Possessive Pronouns 2. I find that including the alternate forms in the first go-around adds a layer of frustration that is unnecessary. Just let us get really comfortable with the set of very common and correct pronouns and later we can learn the shortened versions. I realize that is more work but Mastery works better when starting out with a smaller set of correct choices.

Long before Duolingo came along, I studied Finnish, which has a similarly complex language structure to Czech, including shortened pronoun forms. Once I had the common pronoun declinations mastered, it was super-easy to learn the shortened forms and I recall that it even seemed like a cool bonus shortcut at the time.

May 24, 2019


thank you for your comment. we are (slowly) working on version 2. both possessive and personal pronouns are among the areas being split up so that the earlier portion teaches the minimium workable set, and later skills add to it.

note, however, that for standard czech the dividing line for the possessives cannot be drawn as conveniently as your post appears to suggest. we only have standard long forms for some gender/number/case combinations, yet it is the long forms that offer the better starting point. only plurals for nom., acc. and voc. have recognized long forms, and in the singular their availability ranges from none (masculine) to the same cases as the plural (neuter) to all seven cases (feminine). so even at the point where only nominative and accusative have been introduced, we will have to teach some short forms along with the long ones.

the only place we would consider non-standard forms (e.g. mojeho tátu) is in the semi-bonus skill devoted to common (non-standard) czech. but that skill must remain tucked away at the end.

the situation with personal pronouns is also a challenge because czech is losing some standard non-clitic forms whose absence will create holes in the non-clitic coverage of singular masculine inanimate and neuter pronouns (e.g. jej, je). apparently many, maybe most, native speakers do not recognize these anymore.

other areas being adjusted include similar staging of the demonstratives and the verb class system (postponed -ji/-jí endings in the third class). overall, we are shifting and re-staging the coverage to create CEFR zones in the tree.

May 24, 2019

I really like your comment about workable sets. That said, I think the current lesson is logical. However, while I understand your point about longer forms, I disagree that the longer forms would be easier. The way it's presented in the personal pronoun 1 grammar points is already one of the clearest grammar pages I've seen for something that complicated. What I'm talking about is simply a pedagogical approach more in line with the form of mastery pedagogy Duolingo uses and that shouldn't be confused with making a point about the language. Also, if I already know "moje" and am very comfortable with it after practicing it in other units not specifically addressing personal pronouns, then adding the option of using mé seems very natural. I teach music theory to university music majors and I studied Finnish, Ancient Greek and Hebrew before I came to Duolingo, which is to say I know a little bit about studying a complicated language. To be quite frank, I do not find anything particularly difficult about Czech except that there seems to be a traditional order of things taught that perhaps should be questioned. I wonder if it may partly be that, until Duolingo, there has been no great rush of people wanting to learn Czech in the modern era until the Velvet Revolution and perhaps a new look at the order of things is worth some thought.

None of my comments should be seen as criticisms, I am only looking at it from the teacher/learner perspective. I find it an enjoyable course and the only things that have consistently bugged me throughout it is the order. It is logical but there might be other logical orders of presentation that would enable me to read a newspaper sooner, which would really boost my Duolingo Czech learning in return. Just ideas. Thank you to all who contribute to it for an otherwise super enjoyable course.

May 24, 2019

perhaps i did not understand your proposal. "first go-around" and "lesson" might be confusing terms in the age of crown levels.

i did not claim that long possessives are easier, but rather that where duplicates (long & short) exist, the long form possessive is the better starting choice. i still do claim that.

and if we avoid duplication in the first skill teaching these pronouns, we should choose accordingly, postponing the short version, not because it is the harder one, but because it is less useful (less common in spoken czech, higher in register).

May 25, 2019

I think we‘re actually in agreement, though it didn‘t seem like it before. Thank you for clarifying.

May 26, 2019

Thank you for your feedback. It is important when deciding the structure of the next tree revision.

May 24, 2019

Thank you!

May 24, 2019
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