Slovak is the official language of Slovakia. The Slovak language is also one of the official languages of the European Union.
Slovak is a Slavonic language, a member of the West Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family. It is closely related to Czech and other Slavic languages. Other members of the West Slavic languages include Czech, Polish, Upper Sorbian, Lower or Sorbian.
The Slovak alphabet is a variation of the Latin alphabet and has 46 letters. Slovak alphabet includes all 26 letters used in English, plus 17 letters which include diacritic marks (ˇ, ´, ¨, ^) and 3 digraphs (letters that are written as two characters but are considered a single letter).
Read more about Slovak Alphabet
Slovak diphthongs: ia, ie, iu, ô, ou
Slovak pronunciation is rather simple. Every letter in Slovak alphabet has its unique sound and thus every letter is pronounced. Spelling is quite phonetic.
Vowels and some consonants can be short or long.
´ the acute mark: indicates that the sound of the base letter is lengthened (á, é, í, ŕ), however this is not equal to word stress.
Stress in Slovak words always falls on the first syllable of a word.
The circumflex over the ô and the umlaut over the ä change the basic sound of the letter.
Pronunciation of ä as [æ] is already archaic, but used in written form.
The caron, over short letters or an apostrophe next to tall letters, indicates that the sound is palatalized or softened (č, š, ľ, ť).
Rhythmic law: syllable with a long vowel sound cannot be followed by another syllable with a long vowel sound in the same word.
There is a distinction between 'soft' and 'hard' consonants which is important in pronunciation as well as in Slovak grammar.
i vs. y: these two vowels have the same pronunciation in Slovak words, however the use of either of them is based on strict grammar rules. This is considered to be the most difficult part of Slovak language.
Slovak language has elaborate inflections for its nouns and adjectives.
For nouns and adjectives, there are originally seven cases in Slovak language, but 5th case - vocative has almost completely disappeared:
Example of case use in Slovak languages and comparison with English:
nominative: Who? Peter and Anne. - Peter a Anna.
genitive: Without who? Without Peter and Anne. - Bez Petra a Anny.
dative: To whom? To Peter and Anne. - Petrovi a Anne.
accusative: Who do you see? Peter and Anne.- Petra a Annu.
locative: About who? About Peter and Anne. - O Petrovi a Anne.
instrumental: Who with? With Peter and Anne. - S Petrom a Annou.
Number is distinguished as is gender by inflectional endings on stems. There are two/three numbers:
Dual is used for things that consist of two things or a pair:
nohavice - trousers, dvere - door, okuliare - glasses
Slovak nouns are divided into four grammatical genders:
The gender in Slovak language is not identical with English gender and doest not strictly dependent on real gender of a person or thing, e.g. woman is feminine, man is masculine, but girl is neutral, and dog and castle are masculine. Slovak gender is similar to German and there are no rules to define the noun gender for a particular word in Slovak language.
There are four moods in Slovak language:
There are two voices in Slovak language: active and passive
There are 12 noun patterns in Slovak language; 4 for each gender:
Nouns are declined in six declensions, and adjectives agree in number, gender, and case.
There are three tenses in Slovak language:
Main verbs show tense and match their subjects in person and number.
Example: Ja pracujem - I work. On pracuje - He works. On pracoval - He worked.
There are no articles in Slovak language.
Subject pronouns are usually omitted unless the speaker wishes to emphasize the subject.
Example: Pracujem = Ja pracujem - I am working.
Adjectives come before nouns and change form to match the noun they are modifying.
Example: Starý dom - An old house
Word order is grammatically free with no particular fixed order. However, the neutral order is Subject-Verb-Object.
Slovak syntax can be rather free as much of the relevant grammatical information of a sentence is revealed in the inflections, suffixes and prefixes of the words. It usually depends on the focus or nuance that a speaker wishes to convey.