Slovak Language Lessons for Beginners - Lesson 1

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Lesson 1
You can download the entire Slovak course as a book in PDF format [here]. I am thankful to Alan Morelli of Bergamo, Italy for putting the book together.


Dobré ráno! = Good morning!

Dobrý deň! = Good day! (formal "hello" that is appropriate at any time of day)

Dobrý večer! = Good evening!
Dobrú noc! = Good night! (before going to bed)
Ahoj! = hello/bye (informal; when talking to one person)
Ahojte! = informal hello/bye (informal; when talking to two or more people)
Čau! = hello/bye (informal and more relaxed than 'ahoj'; when talking to one person)
Čaute! = hello/bye (same when talking to two or more people)
Dovidenia! = goodbye (formal)

When picking up the phone, you can say "Haló?" ('Hello?'), "Prosím?" ('please?') or "Áno?" ('yes?').



Ako sa voláš? = What's your name? (informal)
Ako sa voláte? = What's your name? (formal)
Volám sa Marek. = My name is Marek.


Ako sa máš? = How are you? (informal)
Ako sa máte? = How are you? (formal)
Dobre. = Good. (Literally: Well.)
Veľmi dobre. = Very good. (Literally: Very well.)
Zle. = Bad. (Unlike in the US, it is not taboo to say so in Slovak.)
Veľmi zle. = Very bad.
Áno. = Yes.
Hej. = Yes. (very informal; like 'yeah' in English)
Nie. = No.
Neviem. = I don't know.
Viem. = I know.


Nech sa páči.
 = Here you are. / Here you go.
Ďakujem. = Thank you.
Ďakujem pekne. = Thank you very much. (Literally: I thank you nicely.)
Ďakujem veľmi pekne. = Thank you very much. (Literally: I thank you very nicely.)
Prosím. = You are welcome. (Also means 'please' and 'pardon?'.)

THE VERB "TO BE" (byť)

= to be (infinitive)
Note: The infinitives of Slovak verbs end in -ť.

ja som (I am)                              my sme (we are)
ty si (you are - sing. informal)        vy ste (you are - sing. formal, and plural)       
on je (he is)                                oni sú (they are - group of males, and mixed groups)
ona je (she is)                            ony sú (they are - group of females)

ja som = I am
ty si = you are (informal one person 'you')
on je = he is
ona je = she is
my sme = we are
vy ste = you are (when referring to multiple people, or formal one person)
oni sú = they are (groups of males, and mixed groups)
ony sú = they are (groups of females)


ja nie som (I am not)                              my nie sme (we are)
ty nie si (you are not - sing. informal)        vy nie ste (you are not - sing. formal, and plural)       
on nie je (he is not)                                oni nie sú (they are not - group of males, and mixed groups)
ona nie je (she is not)                            ony nie sú (they are not - group of females)

ja nie som = I am not
ty nie si
on nie je
ona nie je
my nie sme
vy nie ste
oni nie sú
ony nie sú

ABECEDA = Alphabet

- Like English, Slovak uses the Latin alphabet, with some minor modifications:

a á ä b c č d ď dz dž e é f g h ch i í j k l ľ ĺ m n ň o ó ô p q r ŕ s š t ť u ú v w x y ý z ž

- The small / accent mark (dĺžeň - the "lengthener") above a, e, i, y, o, u, l, r makes the sound longer: á, é, í, ý, ó, ú, ĺ, ŕ
- The small \/ accent mark (mäkčeň - the "softener") above č, ď, dž, ľ, ň, š, ť, ž softens the consonant: It turns a c sound into an English "ch" sounds, a s sound into an English "sh" sound, and so on.

In e-mails, it is common to not include any accent marks.

In general, you read as you write, and vice versa. The one major exception to this rule is that you read

de, te, ne, di, ti, ni

softly as:

ďe, ťe, ňe, ďi, ťi, ňi  (you would never write this, though)
So, for instance, you would write dovidenia (goodbye) and nedeľa (Sunday), but pronounce it as if it was Doviďenia and ňeďeľa.

Rejoice: You can now read anything written in Slovak.


name --> nickname (English translation)

Ján --> Jano (John = Jack)
Jozef --> Jožo (Joseph = Joe)
Michal --> Mišo (Michael = Mike)
Martin --> Maťo (Martin = Marty)
Marián (male name) --> Majo
František --> Fero (Francis = Frank)
Lukáš (Lucas)
Matúš (Matthew)
Karol --> Kajo (Charles, Karl)
Vladimír --> Vlado

For male names that end in -slav (such as Miroslav, Jaroslav), the nickname is usually whatever comes before the ending (i.e., Miro, Jaro).

Katarína --> Katka (Catherine)
Zuzana --> Zuzka (Susan)
Mária --> Maja, Majka, Maruška (Mary)
Jana --> Janka (Jane)
Júlia --> Julka (Julia)


- Slovaks distinguish between the informal ty, which is used with friends, family and children, and the formal vy, which is used when talking politely to strangers (including young adults). 
- When in doubt, use vy.

- We do not usually have middle names. My full name is Marek Hlaváč, and consists only of my first name (meno) and my family name (priezvisko)
- Female last names usually end in -ová. My mother's and sister's last name is thus Hlaváčová.
- We commonly add -ová to foreign last names as well: Hillary Clintonová, Michelle Obamová, Condoleeza Riceová.

pán Novák = Mr. Novák
pani Nováková = Mrs. Nováková or Ms. Nováková  (both for married women, and women in general)
slečna Nováková = Miss Nováková
- If you are not sure whether a woman is married, or is a stranger, always use pani - it is much safer than slečna, which can occasionally come across as slightly derogatory.


- It is customary to shake hands, like in the US, when meeting strangers in formal situations. In informal situations, a handshake is common, but not always necessary.
- Strangers do not kiss when they meet for the first time.
- However, it is common to kiss once on each cheek when meeting a family member or a good friend of the opposite sex. Such kisses are common, but (again) not necessary - some people kiss, others don't. In general, it is best to go with whatever your counterpart is going. I am not aware of any rule about which cheek goes first - just do what your counterpart is doing, and things will work out.

You can download the entire lesson in MP3 format [here]. Just right click, and choose "Save as..."