šest studentů pracuje - plural with singular verb

Discussion in 'Čeština (Czech)' started by Odriski, Sep 28, 2013.

  1. Odriski Senior Member

    I read a Czech Grammar book today, and I saw an explanation that third person plural subject can go with third person singular verb form, eg. Zde šest studentů pracuje. Is that correct?
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  2. Hrdlodus

    Hrdlodus Senior Member

    Yes, correct.
    Only right word order: "Zde pracuje šest studentů."
    ("Zde šest studentů pracuje." can be, but it means, that you say it to other person. That person know, who are that 6 students. And you say, that they work on this place. And still it sounds kind weird.)
  3. Odriski Senior Member

    So is that an impersonal sentence?
  4. Marty_89 New Member

    No, I don't think it's an impersonal sentence.
  5. Odriski Senior Member

    So it's really hard to understand why third person plural subject can go with third person singular verb form in Czech? :confused:
  6. wtfpwnage Member

    The subject is both "šest" and "studentů", not just studentů.

    Zde pracujou studenti - correct
    Zde pracuje šest studentů. - correct

    I can't tell you why is that but hope it helped
  7. Odriski Senior Member

    OK, one more question: is "Zde pracujou šest studentů." also correct?
  8. Marty_89 New Member

    No, that is not correct. The main part is "Šest pracuje." It doesn't matter who "pracuje".

    Zde pracuje šest studentů.
    Zde pracuje šest žen.
    Zde pracuje šest dětí.
  9. Odriski Senior Member

    Thanks, so I feel the weirdness of Czech language again.
  10. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    In fact the subject of the given sentence is "šest", formally it is singular neuter. Thus:

    šest studentů pracuje (not pracují)
    šest studentů pracovalo (not pracovali)

    BTW, English is weirder in this respect. Do you say "there is a lot of people" or "there are a lot of people"?

    In Czech you can mostly rely on the formal agreement:

    Je tam mnoho lidí. :tick:
    Never: Jsou tam mnoho lidí. :cross: (as mnoho is neuter singular like pět, šest, ..., deset)
  11. marsi.ku Member

    I only would like to attach that the singular verb depends on the number - from two to fore you say the plural verb as you are used to, but from five you use the singular verb:
    Jsou tam dva/tři/čtyři studenti
    Je tam pět/šest/sto padesát/mnoho/málo studentů.

    This is very useful.
  12. Hrdlodus

    Hrdlodus Senior Member

    And now... for something funny...

    Je tam jeden student.
    Není tam žádný student.
    Je tam nula studentů.
    Je/Jsou tam 2,2 studentů/a. -> Depends, how you say it: Je tam dva celých/celé dva studentů. Jsou tam dvě celé dvě desetiny studenta.
    Je tam nějaký student?
    Jsou tam nějací studenti?
    Je tam pět studentů?
    Jsou tam tři studenti?
    Kolik tam je studentů?

    And here I am not sure. Is correct: Je tam dvacet čtyři studentů. or Jsou tam dvacet čtyři studenti. ? I think, first sentence is correct.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013
  13. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    Je (sing.) or jsou (plur.)? It depends on the formal subject of a sentence. In Czech we cannot say "A bunch of bananas ARE ...". We always say "A bunch of bananas IS ...". The subject of the sentence is A BUNCH and not the bananas. It is ONE bunch, thus the verb is in singular: one bunch (of many bananas) IS ....

    If the subject is e.g. "šest studentů", assume that the English equivalent is "a set of six students" or better "(one) six-piece-set of students", thus "šest studentů JE ..."

    Nota bene: the noun in the genitive case is seldom the subject of a sentence.

    jeden student je (subject: student ... nom. sing.)
    dva studenti jsou (subject: studenti ... nom. plur.)

    šest studentů je (formal subject: šest ... nom. sing., studentů is in genitive!!)
    Kolik studentů je ve třídě? (formal subject: kolik ... nom. sing.)
    How many students are in the classroom?

    Another complication is the agreement in gender: šest, deset, kolik, mnoho, málo are neuter. Skupina, tlupa, ... are feminine. Hlouček, zástup, ... are masculine.

    kolik studentů je přítomno? šest studentů je přítomno (neuter sing.)
    skupina studentů je přítomna (a group of ... feminine sing.)
    hlouček studentů je přítomen (a knot of ... masculine sing.)
    desítky studentů jsou přítomny (tens of ... feminine plur., even if there are only men, the subject is desítky, desítka is feminine)

    In English: ..... of students are present. But I am not sure: a group of students IS or ARE present? (English is less predictable than Czech in this respect.)
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013
  14. Odriski Senior Member

    Thanks, it's very useful
  15. Odriski Senior Member

    Thanks, Bibax, very impressive
  16. marsi.ku Member

    Both are correct. :)
    The numbers in Czech are very, very complicated...
  17. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    It is an exaggeration. The numbers are complicated, maybe very complicated, but certainly not very very complicated. ;)

    There is one more complication. You have already learned that there is a subject-predicate agreement in gender and number. It is very simple rule and you cannot make a mistake if you identify the subject correctly, chiefly its grammatical number and gender. But what if the subject is multiple? For such case we have some rules, sometimes there is more than one correct variant.

    A typical example:

    Je tam dvacet čtyři studentů.
    tam dvacet čtyři studenti. 

    Marsi.ku is right, both variants are correct.

    In fact, the subject is multiple. I mean the subject as a grammar category, not the fact that a group of 24 students is a multiple object:

    "dvacet studentů + čtyři studenti"

    gives together

    either "dvacet čtyři studentů" or "dvacet čtyři studenti"

    the first expression is formally singular (DVACET), neuter gender
    the second expression is formally plural (STUDENTI), masculine gender

    Dvacet čtyři studentů je přítomno. (like dvacet studentů je přítomno)
    Dvacet čtyři studenti jsou přítomni. (like čtyři studenti jsou přítomni)

    N.B. the form "studentů" is in genitive plural, it cannot be a subject of the sentence.

    In written texts I personally prefer the second variant.

    Finally incorrect variants:

    Dvacet čtyři studentů jsou přitomni. :cross:
    Dvacet čtyři studenti je přítomno. :cross:
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013
  18. marsi.ku Member

    Very well explained, bibax ;). I think too, that the variant "dvacet čtyři studenti" is more formal and is used more for written texts.
  19. Tchesko

    Tchesko Senior Member

    Paris 12
    That's correct, see here.

    An interesting feature is that in the past, only the nominative-case possibility used to be considered as correct, which could give rise to curious sentences such as:

    „Pochodem v chod!“ zavelel důstojník a sto jeden voják, rázně vykročiv, spustil dvojhlasně písničku tak veselou, že se děvčata za ním ohlížela a zamilovaně se dívala na jeho opálenou tvář tak dlouho, až jeho poslední čtyřstup zmizel za rohem ulice...
    :)(in J. Chloupka: Pověry o češtině. Brno: Blok, 1968, s. 92; found on the internet)

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