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Czech Prepositions

Every Czech preposition determines the grammatical case, and therefore the ending, of the noun that follows it. It may be a good idea, although a somewhat hard task, to memorize which case each preposition is used with. One preposition can sometimes be used with several different grammatical cases, having a different meaning each time. Below is a list of the most common Czech prepositions sorted by the five grammatical cases with which they are used.

Note: Nominative (e.g. "Pes je venku" - "The dog is outside") and vocative (used when calling or addressing someone/something - "Pavle!" - "Paul!") are never used with prepositions.

Nominative
NEVER with a preposition


Genitive

Can be with or without a preposition
bez - without
bez přítele - without a friend
bez lásky - without love
blízko - near
blízko domu - near a house
Kutná Hora je blízko Prahy. - Kutná Hora is near Prague.
do - to, into, until
do školy - to school
Děti chodí do školy od září do června. - Children go to school from September to (until) June.
od - from
od kamaráda - from a friend
Kutná Hora je hodinu od Prahy. - Kutná Hora is an hour away from Prague.
okolo / kolem - around, about
okolo/kolem města - around the city
Kolem hradu jsou lesy. - There are forests around the castle.
u - at, by (location)
Pavla je u kamarádky. - Paula is at her (girl)friend's.
Dům stojí u jezera. - The house stands by a lake.
vedle - next to
Dům stojí vedle jezera. - The house stands next to a lake.
z / ze - from
Jsem z Prahy/z Brna/ze Švédska. - I'm from Prague/Brno/Sweden.
Lidé vychází z budovy. - People are coming out of (from) the building.


Dative

Can be with or without a preposition
k / ke - to, towards
Petr je k Evě hodný, ale ke Karle ne. - Petr is nice to/towards Eva, but not to/towards Karla.
Nemůžeš přirovnávat kočku k vráně. - You can't compare a cat to a crow.
kvůli - because of, due to
Dělám to kvůli tobě. - I'm doing it because of you.
Kvůli povodni je zavřená silnice. - The road is closed due to flooding.
navzdor(y) - in spite of, despite
navzdory jeho námitkám - in spite of his protests
Navzdory povodni je silnice otevřená. - The road is open in spite of flooding / despite the flooding.
proti - against
Učinili jsme opatření proti případným škodám. - We took measures against possible damages.
Ty jsi vždycky proti mně. - You are always against me.
vůči - towards, to, against
Petr je vůči Evě hodný. - Petr is nice to/towards Eva.
Učinili jsme opatření vůči případným škodám. - We took measures against possible damages.


Accusative

Can be with or without a preposition
na - on, onto (direction)
Dej knihu na polici. - Put the book on(to) the shelf.
Helena pořád myslí na Petra. - Helen is always thinking about Peter.
o - for, against
opřít kolo o zeď - to lean a bike against a wall
Mám o tebe starost. - I'm worried for you.
pro - for
pro tebe - for you
Pohádky jsou pro děti. - Fairy tales are for children.
přes - in spite of, across
přes jeho námitky - in spite of his protests
Přes řeku vede most. - A bridge spans across the river.
za - for, on behalf of, in the course of
lístek za deset korun - a ticket for ten crowns
Půjdu tam za Martina. - I'll go there on Martin's behalf.
Vrátím se za chvilku. - I'll be back in a moment.


Vocative

NEVER with a preposition


Locative

ALWAYS with a preposition
na - on (location)
Kniha je na polici. - The book is on the shelf.
Na pláži je hodně lidí. - There are many people on the beach.
o - about
Mluvíme o Petrovi. - We're talking about Peter.
Tato kniha je o historii České republiky. - This book is about the history of the Czech Republic.
po - after
Po večeři vždy chodíme na procházku. - We always go for a walk after dinner.
Lenka je po tatínkovi. - Lenka takes after her father.
v / ve - in
v zásuvce - in a drawer
ve sklepě - in the cellar
V televizi je dnes večer zajímavý film. - There's an interesting film on television tonight.


Instrumental

Can be with or without a preposition
mezi - between
číst mezi řádky - to read between the lines
Jihlava je mezi Prahou a Brnem. - Jihlava is between Prague and Brno.
nad - above, over
Nad náměstím létají ptáci. - Birds are flying over the town square.
pod - below, under
Pod stolem spí pes. - A dog is sleeping under the table.
před - in front of, before
Sejdeme se před divadlem. - We'll meet in front of the theatre.
s / se - with
Jsem s tebou. - I'm with you.
za - behind
Stojím za tebou. - I'm standing behind you.
Zahrada je za domem. - The garden is behind the house.
Jdu za tebou. - I'm following you.


s, z, v, k versus se, ze, ve, ke

There is no official rule as to when to use "s/z/v/k" versus "se/ze/ve/ke". The general common-sense rule is to use whichever is easier to pronounce in connection with the word that follows the preposition. The more consonants are placed next to each other, the harder the pronunciation (the perfect example being the Czech tongue twister "Strč prst skrz krk"). The purpose of the -e in prepositions like "se", "ze", "ve" is to make the pronunciation easier when the preposition is placed in front of a word that begins with a consonant or a consonant group that would be difficult to pronounce had the -e not been there.

Examples:

- Use "se" and "ze" in front of a word that begins with a "s-" or "z-". You need the -e in between to make the pronunciation easy.
"se sýrem" (with cheese), "ze země" (from the ground), "ze Sicílie" (from Sicily)

- Use the version with -e in front of a word that begins with multiple consonants. The -e will break up the consonant grouping.
"se mnou" (with me) BUT "s tebou" (with you)
"ze školy" (from school) BUT "z města" (from town, from the city)
"ve snu" (in a dream) BUT "v lednu" (in January)
"ke strýci" (to one's uncle) BUT "k tetě" (to one's aunt)

- Use "s", "z", "v", "k" in front of a word that begins with a vowel (a-, e-, i-, o-, u-)
"s ovocem" (with fruit), "z Evropy (from Europe)", "v únoru" (in February), "k autu" (to the car)

Unfortunately, there are exceptions. E.g. one would say "v knize" (in a book), not "ve knize". But in general, one should be able to follow the guidelines above.

 
     
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