Czech Prepositions: the complete guide

Prepositions are linking words that we use to express the relations between other words and phrases. They can inform us about things such as location, direction, and time.

There are many prepositions in Czech that one should learn to be able to truly understand the language. Without a knowledge of prepositions, you might find it difficult to know what a Czech person is talking about – even if you understand all the other words.

Czech prepositions might not be the easiest part of Czech grammar , but they are important and should not be overlooked.

Czech prepositions: basics

There are a few things you should know before you start learning prepositions. These are:

1) Prepositions come before the noun.

2) Not all cases go with prepositions.

3) Always make sure you know the right case.

Czech Prepositions with the genitive grammatical case

The genitive case in Czech is the second case. The genitive can be used with and without prepositions, depending on the context and what you are trying to say.

These are the most common prepositions that you can use with the genitive grammatical case:

Table: common Czech prepositions which are used with the genitive grammatical case
Czech preposition Translation
bez without
do to, into, until
kolem around
kromě except for
místo instead of
od from, since
u at, by
vedle next to, beside
z, ze from

Example sentences:

Czech Prepositions with the dative grammatical case

The dative case is the third case in Czech. It can be used with or without prepositions.

The following Czech prepositions can be used with the dative grammatical case:

Table: common Czech prepositions which are used with the dative grammatical case
Czech preposition Translation
díky thanks to, owing to
k, ke to, toward
kvůli because of, due to
navzdory despite, in spite of
proti against
vůči towards, to, against

Example sentences:

Czech Prepositions with the accusative grammatical case

The accusative is the fourth case in Czech, and it can be used with or without prepositions.

These are some of the most common prepositions that can be used with the fourth case in Czech:

Table: common Czech prepositions which are used with the accusative grammatical case
Czech preposition Translation
na on, for
o for, against
pod under
pro for
před in front of
přes across, over, in spite of
za for, on behalf of, behind

Example sentences:

Czech Prepositions with the locative grammatical case

The locative is the sixth case in Czech. It can only be used with prepositions – you cannot use the locative case without it being preceded by a preposition.

Here is a list of prepositions that take the locative:

Table: common Czech prepositions which are used with the locative grammatical case
Czech preposition Translation
na on
o about
po after
při by, when (doing something)
v, ve in

Example sentences:

Czech Prepositions with the instrumental grammatical case

The seventh and final case in Czech is the instrumental case, which can be used both with and without a preposition.

Here is a list of the most common Czech preposition used with the instrumental case:

Table: common Czech prepositions which are used with the instrumental grammatical case
Czech preposition Translation
mezi between
nad above, over
pod below, under
před in front of, before, ago
s, se with
za behind

Example sentences:

Czech Prepositions rules

You may have noticed that sometimes, there are two options when it comes to some Czech prepositions, such as “s,” “z,” “v,” and “k.” Sometimes, Czech people might say “se,” “ze,” “ve,” or “ke” instead.

This depends on which word the preposition is in front of. The rule is simple: Czechs use the “-e” version of a preposition when the version without the vowel would be too difficult to pronounce.

This mostly happens in the following cases:

1) Words beginning with “s,” “z,” “f,” “v,” and “k”

If the word following the preposition begins with one of the letters above, it would be almost impossible for a Czech person to pronounce the phrase without adding a little “-e” to the end of the preposition.

For example:

2) Words beginning with consonant clusters

The Czech language is known for its consonant clusters. There are words in Czech that are solely composed of consonants (such as krk - neck or skrz - through). These can often be difficult to pronounce for native Czech speakers, as well as for new learners.

If a word starts with more than one consonant, Czechs will often opt for the “-e” version of the prepositions to make the pronunciation a little easier. For example:

Unfortunately, this second rule has some exceptions. While it may be a good rule of thumb you can often follow, it doesn’t apply in all cases. For example:

The best thing to do here is to listen to Czechs speaking and read Czech books. Because there are so many exceptions, you may ultimately have no choice but to memorize which words don’t follow the rules above and which do.

Conclusion

Czech prepositions are not the easiest part of learning the Czech language. There are many that you will have to memorize.

Some Czech prepositions can be used in many different ways, with different grammatical cases – others are more straightforward and can only be used with one particular grammatical case.

The best way to learn Czech prepositions is to try and memorize each one with the cases that it can be used with. Learning a list of prepositions with just their meanings, but without the cases, won’t get you very far. Declension is an important part of the Czech language, and without it, many speakers may struggle to understand you.

They may not be the most exciting things to learn, but prepositions are crucial. It’d be impossible to have a conversation without using many prepositions during it.

If you want to learn more about the Czech language, you can check out our guides to Czech pronouns and How to write an email in Czech.