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Preparing for a trip to Prague? While chances are you’ll do just fine with English, knowing a few Czech words and sentences will go a long way to making your trip easier. Here are 10 essential phrases.
Dekuji (dye-ku-yi) = Thanks
Czechs say “thank you” a lot, so this is one word you’ll hear constantly.
Prosím (pro-seem) = no exact translation / see below
Prosím is a very strange word. It doesn’t have an exact translation and it can be used to mean many things. The most traditional meaning of the word is “please,” but it’s also used as “You’re welcome” after somebody has thanked you for something. Prosím is also used to say “Here you are” when giving something to somebody, and “What did you say” (as a replacement to “excuse me” when you didn’t understand what somebody said).
Dobry den (do-bree den) = Good day (Hello)
Na Shledanou (nas-khledanow) = See you
Czechs also use the informal word Ahoj (ah-hoy) to mean both hello and goodbye. It’s a word you’d use with friends, family, coworkers and generally people you already know. But not as you leave the doctor’s office or after talking to your boss.
Kde je pivní zahrada? (kdeh yeh peev-nee zah-hra-da) = Where is beer garden?
No visit to Prague is complete without stopping by a beer garden. Beer gardens are about more than just drinking, they are a social institution where people gather at large communal tables and bring the family and even their dogs along. If you don’t know which beer garden you want to reach, just learn this general phrase and people will point you to the closest one. Lucky for you, they are everywhere so there’s bound to be one nearby.
Kde je toaleta? (kdeh yeh toh-ah-le-ta) = Where is bathroom?
Let’s face it, this is something you might need to ask sooner or later, especially if you find yourself spending some time at a beer garden. If you can’t remember the entire sentence, you can just say “toalet?” (toh-ah-let) and people will still understand you.
Platit, prosim (pla-tyit pro-seem) = Pay, please!
As a general rule, Czechs are quiet people, there’s no shouting in public places or loud talking on the phone while riding public transportation, so avoid yelling for your check/bill across the room. Instead, gesture for the waiter to approach the table and then ask for your check. If they are looking your way, you can also just mouth the words and chances are they will understand.
Jsem vegetarián (ie-sem dcdvege-tarianh) = I am a vegetarian
The Czech Republic is very much a meat and potatoes country. So if you want to eat meat free, you can’t just say “no meat” or you’ll end up getting a dish containing fish or sausages – both of which are somehow considered “meat-free” by many. So even if you’re not a vegetarian and just want to have a meatless meal at a restaurant, these are the magic words that will get you an alternative.
Mluvíš anglicky? (mloo-veesh an-glits-kee) = Do you speak English?
While English is widely spoken anywhere where tourists congregate, not everybody (especially people over 50 years old) can speak English. So if you need help or wish to ask a question, it’s considered polite to first inquire whether that person speaks English.
Nemluvím česky (nem-loo-veem chehs-kee) = I don’t speak Czech
Inevitably, you’ll run into people who’ll try to explain something in Czech or attempt to start a conversation you can’t follow, which is why learning to say, “I don’t speak Czech” is so important. Don’t be surprised if the person switches to English right away after this. Young people in particular are very likely to speak English.
Dobry (do-bree) = Well/good
While most people will understand when you say Okay, Czechs don’t use the word themselves. Their equivalent to our Okay is Dobrý, a word that technically means “well” but it’s used to agree with you when you ask for something and to ask if everything’s okay (for example, a waiter may come to your table and ask Dobrý? to make sure everything’s alright with your meal).