Czech by Numbers - Lesson "One"


Welcome to Radio Prague's new Czech language series - "Czech by Numbers". We are going to take the title quite literally. In the coming weeks we'll be exploring Czech numbers, numerals and their derivations in different contexts, as well as idioms and collocations.

Let's start from one. Czech being an inflected language with a developed grammatical category of gender, there is more than one word to express the meaning of "one". One man is jeden muž, one woman is jedna žena and one child is jedno dítě. To make it even more complicated, a pair of scissors is jedny nůžky because, grammatically, it is a plural even though it is only one object.

The word jeden or one can be used in the same sense as in English, as in the expression "one would expect..." - "jeden by čekal...".

The neuter form jedno can be used on its own meaning one beer. Pojď na jedno means let's go for one. The expression "Je mi to jedno" means "it's all the same to me, I don't care either way."

The name of the actual figure one is jednička, and it can be also used to mean "the best" as in "ty jsi jednička" - you're number one. A number one tram would also be jednička. The same word also means the best mark in school. Mít samé jedničky means to have straight A's.

A similar word, jednotka, means unit. The word jedináček means an only child. Jedinec is an individual and the adjective jedinečný means unique.

All those words are derived from the same root. But just like in English, the ordinal number comes from a different root. The first is první, a word which is the same for all genders and numbers.

That's all for our lesson number one - první lekce. Until next week - na shledanou.


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