Moving to a new country can be overwhelming. With many changes taking place all at once, it’s inevitable to feel scared and stressed.
This can be even more true when moving to a country of which we do not know the language.
If you are planning or considering moving to the Czech Republic, we have compiled this list of useful words and sentences for you: knowing how to communicate basic needs, in fact, will help you get settled easier, move around with less trouble and reduce the stress of the entire procedure.
Which are the most useful phrases to know in Czech?
Learning how to say “Good Day!” is an important step. As a matter of fact, it is probably one of the most used sentences and one you can learn easily. It’s a simple way to establish connections with the locals and also be polite: the perfect opening for any interaction.
“Dobrý den” can also be used in the evenings or just as a phrase to say “Hello” in a polite manner, for example when entering a store or when someone joins you in the elevator. When greeting friends, however, you can use the informal “Ahoj”.
Second on the list, we couldn’t have anything other than “Thank you”.
You can say it both in its extended form “Děkuji Vám” or in its shortened one “Děkuju”. If “Good day!” is the perfect opening expression, this has to be one of the perfect closing ones!
Of course, we don’t always need to thank someone to end an interaction. Sometimes, we might just want to say “Goodbye”.
For every time you will be leaving a shop or a store or at the end of a day at work, you can say “Na shledanou” (or “Ahoj” to your closest colleagues) to take your leave in perfect Czech style.
Nerozumím / Mluvíte anglicky? / Nemluvím česky
These next few sentences will be useful to you before you start learning the language. If someone starts speaking to you in Czech, you can use one of them to express that you do not understand (“Nerozumím”) or that you do not speak Czech (“Nemluvím česky”). If the exchange is important, for example during a bureaucratic procedure, you can ask instead if they speak English (“Mluvíte anglicky?”). These sentences will help you navigate your most complex interactions.
Prosím, napište to
It can happen, however, that it is not possible to have a conversation in English. In that case, if no external help is available, you can ask to please write down what they are trying to communicate by saying “Prosím, napište to”. This can enable you to have a copy of the message to double check with a friend or a mobile app, thus making sure to avoid potential misunderstandings.
Platit, prosím / Kartou, prosím
Of course, not every interaction has to be difficult and it can feel empowering to be able to handle smaller ones in the local language. At a restaurant, you can ask for the check by saying “Platit, prosím” or “Ucet, prosím” and, if you would like to then pay with a card, it will be sufficient to say “Kartou, prosím”. This latter one can also be used to pay by card in other stores, not only in restaurants.
Chcete tašku? / Mám tašku
Another extremely useful sentence, which you will hear often in any store you visit, is “Chcete tašku?” or “Do you want a bag?”. If you do have your own bag you can simply reply “Mám tašku”, otherwise you may need the words of our point number 8.
Ano / Ne
In Czech, “Ano” means “Yes” and “Ne” means “No”. In some cases, for yes, the contracted form “Noo” may be used, which can cause confusion in foreigners. So beware!
Muži / Ženy
This set of words will allow you to find the correct toilet in any public setting! In Czech “Muži” is “Man” while “Ženy” is “Woman”. Learning the two can avoid stalling at the bathroom stalls. Sometimes, the alternative “Páni” for “Men” and “Dámy” for “Ladies” may be used.
Otevřeno / Zavřeno
Is the shop open or closed? Learning these words will help you know the answer! “Otevřeno” in fact means “Open” while “Zavřeno” means “Closed”. Knowing them will also help you interpret Shop Opening Hours, also called “Otevírací doba”.
Pomoc / Pozor
Towards the end of our list, we find two extremely useful words that appear quite similar but have slightly different meanings.
If someone tells you “Pomoc” they will be calling for “Help”. It may not necessarily mean that they are in need of SOS help, but they might be simply asking for support: carrying a heavy bag for example or crossing the street. You can also use this word yourself if you are in need of assistance.
If you see, instead, the writing “Pozor”, this means “Attention”. For example, crossroads can present the writing “Pozor Tram”, to invite you to pay attention to potential Trams passing by (as they have precedence, also over pedestrians!). These are two very useful words to both know how to ask for help if needed and to know if there is anything you should be careful about.
Promiňte / Pardon
Last but not least, we have “Promiňte/Pardon”. Ever been on a bus or tram, approaching your stop and needing to ask for space to get off? These words will help you do just that! All locals are familiar with them and will react more promptly to it than to the English “Excuse me”.
Which other words or phrases would you have included in this list?