What is the difference between czech construction "býval + m.č." and m.č.? Harry by si přál mít aspoň čtyři páry oči navíc. Harry by si býval přál mít aspoň čtyři páry oči navíc.

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    bytebuster's answer is wrong, it's the past conjunctive.
    – Atamiri
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 11:13
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    @Atamiri Depends on how you translate the term to English, but there is usually no conjunctive in Czech.
    – IS4
    Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 1:17

1 Answer 1


It is the past tense of the conditional mood (kondicionál minulý, podmiňovací způsob minulý). A short official and authoritative description in Czech can be found at http://prirucka.ujc.cas.cz/?id=575#nadpis2

Note you should use genitive očí, not nominative oči.

Harry by si přál mít aspoň čtyři páry očí navíc.

Harry would like to have at least four extra pairs of eyes.

Harry by si býval přál mít aspoň čtyři páry očí navíc.

Harry would have liked to have at least four extra pairs of eyes.

See also: James D. Naughton (2006) Czech: An Essential Grammar:

To talk about what might have been in the past (but wasn't), you can add byl or býval to the conditional, making a 'past conditional', corresponding to 'would have done' in English. ...example... For the past conditional of the verb být 'to be' use byl býval.

It is not that archaic as some claim. See http://nase-rec.ujc.cas.cz/archiv.php?art=6175 (in Czech). I cite and translate: "We can therefore conclude that the thing is not that the past conditional would be disappearing from Czech; but it is used only when the past is not signified by other means or if the past is not understood from context.

The question explicitly asks for the difference with m.č. (minulý čas), so:

The past tense (minulý čas, složené préteritum (compound preterite), developed from the Old Czech perfect tense) is the only non-archaic past tense in Czech:

Harry chtěl mít aspoň čtyři páry očí navíc.

Harry wanted at least four extra pairs of eyes.

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    Could anyone comment what is wrong about my answer? I am a native Czech speaker (Common Czech dialect + standard Czech) and I do consider myself quite versed in this matter. I am not that stupid to assume that whoever comments was downvoting. I would like to know what is deemed wrong. Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 10:32
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    If it is just the form of the English past conditional, yes it is possible I translated it to English wrong. I had always problems with English conditional sentences. But it definitely IS the past conditional in Czech. Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 10:34
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    What? Old Czech was in the 15th century and before. Past perfect was common still in the 19th century which is modern Czech (not speaking about middle (humanistic) Czech). Past conditional with "bejval bych" is common in vernacular Czech and any native speaker should agree with that. And I DID INCLUDE REFERENCES. See nase-rec.ujc.cas.cz/archiv.php?art=6175 Yes, present conditional is used more, but it has always been true. Even in middle Czech times. Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 15:24
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    @Atamiri BTW, to let you know how much you were just bullying, Naughton's Czech essential grammar does also mention pluperfect as an "occasional" tense in Czech. which is now "semi-obsolete". Please admit you were completely wrong with your "old Czech", because that is the time of aorists and imperfects and is long gone. I never claimed it wasn't archaic. But pluperfect is no longer part of my answer, it was a reaction to other, now deleted, post and I don't think my answer deserves to bu downvoted that much. All claims in my answer are backed by references from real linguists. Commented Jul 23, 2017 at 10:29
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    Czech speaker here and a linguist - this is a perfectly cromulent answer
    – Eleshar
    Commented Jul 23, 2017 at 15:33

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