The documents were lost

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New Member

I am trying to translate the "The documents were lost" sentence into Czech and I am somewhat confounded by the two alternatives:
  1. Doklady se ztratily
  2. Doklady se ztratili
I am just not sure which of the two homophones to pick.

As far as I can tell, it should be the first one if my intention is to relay the fact that there were some documents in existence but somehow they are no more, e.g. perhaps someone left them somewhere, they cannot be found, or maybe someone stole them.

The other version, if I am not mistaken, would pertain to some magical pedestrian documents that, say, went out for a picnic but they perhaps cannot find their way back home from a deep forest and, poor souls, they are lost now.

This time around, I am interested in the first meaning (non-magical) and I am just not sure if "Doklady se ztratily" is the way to express it.

Thank you.
  • Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Welcome to the Forum, markus.123. The issue here is simple. Doklad is a masculine inanimate noun - it's a thing, not a living being, and therefore the only option here is ztratily. If whatever got lost were male living beings (animate nouns) of some sort, it would be ztratili.

    Chlapci se ztratili, psi se ztratili, turisté se ztratili, houbaři se ztratili - these are all masculine living beings (animate nouns), so the boys/dogs/walkers/mushroom-gatherers got lost.
    Doklady se ztratily, peníze se ztratily, kufry se ztratily, soubory se ztratily
    - these are all masculine inanimate nouns, they're things that are not alive, so the documents/money/suitcases/files got lost.

    Doklady se ztratil
    i :cross:isn't possible.

    Here's a table which uses mít (not ztratit) as the example verb, but the respective past-tense endings are the same. (source
    Past participle
    Sing.měl = he hadměl = it hadměla = she hadmělo = it had
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    New Member
    Ah, I understand it now - it will be "Doklady se ztratily" in the case of non-magical inanimate documents here :)

    That was a very clear explanation, thank you.

    I will consult my dictionary to check if similar phenomena apply to feminine and neuter nouns.


    Senior Member
    nope, the discussed phenomenon applies solely to masculines:)

    and no, Doklady se ztratili :cross: is not possible even if the documents in question are magical and animate, as there is still inanimate plural used. Hypothetical living documents used with ztratili would be dokladi or better dokladové.

    (The phenomenon is named shoda podmětu s přísudkem, correspondence between subject and predicate, and is nowadays mostly grammatic, not so much rooted in real (in)animatedness of the subject: one would normally use doklady se ztratily even in your fantasy setting)


    The simple way how to distinguish a masculine inanimate noun and a masculine animate noun is to compare Nominative and Accusative of the singular form. From the singular form you can determine and use i or y in the plural form.

    For example:
    Nominative of doklad is doklad
    Accusative of doklad is doklad
    the same means inanimate

    and compare
    Nominative of pán is pán
    Accusative of pán is pána
    the different means animate


    And my advice to the end, use this web and see an note below the word. = doklad = rod: m. neživ. = means inanimate noun = in plural always y = Doklady šly. = pán/men = rod: m. živ. = masculine animate noun = in plural always i = Páni šli. = žena/women = rod. ž = feminine = in plural always y = Ženy šly. = děti/children = rod: s = neuter = in plural always y = Děti šly.
    and to the end when all do something, (women, men and children togehter), you have to use always i. = Ženy, muži a děti šli.

    Všichni šli.
    (All went) (Even in a case you don't know who in a group is you have to use i.)
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