Lesson 1: Greetings

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You just arrived in Slovakia, and checked into a hotel. You meet some fellow travelers, and get in a little conversation with them…

Mišo: Ahoj! Vy ste američan?
You: Yes, I am American. And you, are you Slovak?
Mišo: Áno, ja som Slovák. Volám sa Mišo.
You: Hi Mišo. My name is also Michael.
Mišo: No tak ahoj Michael! A tu je Lucia. Ona je tiež slovenka.
You: Hi Lucia! My name is Michael.
Lucia: Ahoj Michael! Tam je Bob, on je tiež američan.
Lucia: Bob, vy ste američan, že?
Bob: Áno, som. Prečo?
Lucia: Tu je Michael, on je tiež američan.
Bob: Oh, hi Michael, nice to meet you!
You: Nice to meet you, Bob!


Let’s go over this dialog. You are approached by a Slovak guy named Mišo. This is a very common Slovak name. It’s the short form of Michal, just like Mike is the short form of Michael. He says hi (ahoj), and asks if you are American. Vy ste means you are. Note that you don’t have to reverse the verb and the noun as is done in English. Instead, the fact you are asking a question is indicated by your intonation.

Mišo next tells you that he is Slovak. Áno mean yes and ja som is i am. To say my name is … you say volám sa …. Literally this phrase means (I) call myself …. Neat, you guys have the same first names! No tak ahoj is a little embellishment which the Slovak language is full off. It means, roughly, well, in that case, hi. Mišo next introduces his (female) friend Lucia. A tu je is and here is. Ona je tiež Slovenka means She is also Slovak. Note that the female form of “Slovak” (slovenka) is different from the male one (slovák). This is very common in our language. The endings of most words change based on whether they are referring to male, female or neuter items, and also based on what form they serve in the sentence. This behavior is called conjugation.

Lucia next introduces her friend Bob. Tam je means there is. Bob has been living in Slovakia for a while, and speaks good Slovak. Lucia double checks his origin. The že added to the end of the sentence serves the same role as right in you are American, right?. Bob confirms. Note that he just says som, and not ja som. You will notice that the pronouns (ja, on, ona, my, vy, etc…) are not used very often. This is because the form of the verb indicates which pronoun it refers to. This is just as if you were saying “Am Slovak” instead of “I am Slovak”. You could do this in English with the verb “to be” (but it would sound strange) . In Slovak, you can get away with not using the pronoun with ANY verb. Pretty neat, right? Finally, prečo simply means why.