Slovak language is an Indo-European language used in Slovak Republic, Czech Republic, USA and in other countries (almost 6 million people). It belongs to a large family of Slavic (Slavonic) languages (subgroup of Indo-European languages):

  • West Slavs: Slovak, Czech, Upper & Lower Sorbian (minority languages in Germany), Polish
  • East Slavs: Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Rusyn
  • South Slavs: Serbian, Croatian, Slovene, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Macedonian

Czechs and Slovaks can easily understand each other. Polish is also very similar to Slovak, some words can be understood by slovaks.


Slovak-English Dictionary

We always recommend buying Slovak language dictionaries on Amazon:


Translator

The tool above can translate from any language to any language. For translation from or into Slovak language, please, follow the easy instructions:

  1. Enter the text to be translated.
  2. The text can be of any lenght.
  3. In the left box choose the language of the original text. (If you’re translating from Slovak to other language, pick “slovak” here.)
  4. In the next box choose the desired language which the text should be translated into. (Pick “slovak” if you are translating into Slovak.)
  5. Click on “Translate” button, the translation should appear on the right side.
  6. Sometimes, the translation might be too long and you won’t see the whole translated text rightaway. In that case just use the scrollbar(s) (up & down or right & left).


Useful phrases

Here is a small, but handful Slovak-English dictionary, so you can learn to speak Slovak language. Please, note that the adjective “Slovakian” or phrase “learn Slovakian” are not correct according to the English grammar!

Conversation

Yes – Áno
No – Nie
Maybe – Možno
Good morning – Dobré ráno
Good evening – Dobrý večer
Good night – Dobrú noc
My name is … – Volám sa …
You’re welcome – Nemáte za čo (or Prosím)
Thank you – Ďakujem
Please – Prosím
It is nice to meet you – Teší ma
Welcome – Vítajte
How are you? – Ako sa máš?

Signs

Entrance – Vstup
Exit – Východ
Information – Informácie
Open – Otvorené
Close – Zatvorené
Prohibited – Zakázané
Police – Polícia
Toilet – Záchod/Toaleta/WC
Man – Muž
Woman – Žena

Language difficulties

I (don’t) understand – (Ne)Rozumiem
Do you speak English? – Hovoríte po anglicky?
Does anyone here speak English? – Hovorí tu niekto po anglicky?
What does it mean? – Čo to znamená?
Can you show me …? – Môžete mi ukázať …?

Transport

Boat/Ship – Loď
Bus – Autobus
Plane – Lietadlo
I would like a one way/return ticket. – Chcel by som jednosmerný/spiatočný lístok.

Accommodation

I’m looking for … – Hľadám …
Guesthouse – Penzión
Hotel – Hotel
Hostel – Hostel or Ubytovňa
Where is there a cheap hotel? – Kde je tu lacný hotel?
What is the address? – Aká je to adresa?
Could you write it down, please? – Môžete mi to, prosím, napísať?
How much is it? (per night/per person) – Koľko to stojí? (na noc/na osobu)
Do you have any rooms available? – Máte nejaké voľné izby?
Is breakfast included? – Sú raňajky v cene?

Reservation

I’d like to book … – Chcel by som si rezervovať …
Date – Dátum
From (date) – Od
To (date) – Do
Credit card – Kreditná karta
Number – Číslo
Please confirm – Prosím o potvrdenie
Price – Cena
One night – Jedna noc
One person – Jedna osoba
Room – Izba
Bathroom – Kúpeľňa

Directions

Where is? – Kde je?
Which way? – Kadiaľ?
Go straight ahead – Choďte rovno
Turn left/right – Zabočte do ľava/prava
Stop! – Stop!/Stojte!
At the corner – Na rohu
Behind – Za
In front of – Pred
Far – Ďaleko
Close – Blízko
North – Sever
South – Juh
West – Západ
East – Východ

Numbers

0 – zero – nula
1 – one – jeden
2 – two – dva
3 – three – tri
4 – four – štyri
5 – five – päť
6 – six – šesť
7 – seven – sedem
8 – eight – osem
9 – nine – deväť
10 – ten – desať
11 – eleven – jedenásť
12 – twelve – dvanásť
13 – thirteen – trinásť
14 – fourteen – štrnásť
15 – fifteen – pätnásť
16 – sixteen – šestnásť
17 – seventeen – sedemnásť
18 – eighteen – osemnásť
19 – nineteen – devätnásť
20 – twenty – dvadsať
21 – twenty-one – dvadsať jeden
22 – twenty-two – dvadsať dva

30 – thirty – tridsať
40 – fourty – štyridsať
50 – fifty – päťdesiat
60 – sixty – šesťdesiat
70 – seventy – sedemdesiat
80 – eighty – osemdesiat
90 – ninety – deväťdesiat

100 – hundred – sto
1000 – thousand – tisíc
1000000 – million – milión

185 – onehundred-eighty-five – sto-osemdesiat-päť
943 – ninehundred-forty-three – deväťsto-štyridsať-tri
1215 – onethousand-twohundred-fifteen – tisíc-dvesto-pätnásť
8532 – eightthousand-fivehundred-thirty-two – osemtisíc-päťsto-tridsať-dva

Time and Date

What time is it? – Koľko je hodín?
When? – Kedy?
In the morning – Ráno
In the afternoon – Poobede
In the evening – Večer
Today – Dnes
Tomorrow – Zajtra
Yesterday – Včera
Day – Deň
Week – Týždeň
Month – Mesiac
Year – Rok

Monday – Pondelok
Tuesday – Utorok
Wednesday – Streda
Thursday – Štvrtok
Friday – Piatok
Saturday – Sobota
Sunday – Nedeľa

January – Január
February – Február
March – Marec
April – Apríl
May – Máj
June – Jún
July – Júl
August – August
September – September
October – Október
November – November
December – December

Paperwork

Name – Meno
Nationality – Národnosť
Date of birth – Dátum narodenia
Place of birth – Miesto narodenia
Gender – Pohlavie
Passport – Pas
Visa – Víza

Word “Slovakia” in Other Languages

Translation of the word Slovakia into 35 different languages: Eslovaquia • Slovacia • Slofacia • سلوفاكيا • Eslováquia • Slovakkia • Slovákia • Slovakije • Slovakya • Σλοβακία • Slovakiet • An tSlóvaic • 斯洛伐克 • Slovaquie • Slovaška • Slovakien • Slovakio • Slovachia • Словакия • Slovačka • Słowacja • סלובקיה • Slovakija • Словаччина • स्लोवाकिया • スロヴャキァ • Slowakei • Sllovakia • Slovacchia • Eslovakia • Szlovákia • 슬로바키아 • Slovakkja • Slowakye • Slowakije


Slovak Grammar

Slovak language uses Latin alphabet, certain letters in certain circumstances have diacritics: ˇ, ´, ¨, ^ above them. Most letters (without any diacritics) are pronounced more or less the same as you read it.

The acute mark (or prolongation mark) indicates a long vowel, for example: í = ee. This mark may appear on any vowel and it may also appear above the consonants l and r (which, in such cases, are considered vowels).

The circumflex exists only above the letter o. It turns o into a diphthong, for example: “ôt” is read as “what”.

The umlaut (two dots) is only used above the letter a. It indicates a raised vowel, almost as “ae” in Vanessa Mae.

The caron (palatalization mark or softener) indicates either palatalization or a change of alveolar fricatives into post-alveolar, in informal Slovak linguistics often called just palatalization. Eight consonants can bear a caron. Not all “normal” consonants have a “caroned” counterpart:

  • In printed texts, the caron is printed in two forms: (1) č, dž, š, ž, ň and (2) ľ, ď, ť (looking more like an apostrophe), but this is just a convention. In handwritten texts, it always appears in the first form.
  • Phonetically, there are two forms of palatalization: ď, ť, ň, ľ are palatalized consonants, while č, dž, š, ž are post-alveolar affricates and fricatives.
  • To accelerate writing, a rule has been introduced that the frequent character combinations: ďe, ťe, ňe, ľe, ďi, ťi, ňi, ľi, ďí, ťí, ňí, ľí are simply written without the caron: de, te, ne, le, di, ti, ni, li, dí, tí, ní, lí. These combinations are usually pronounced as if there were a caron above the consonant. There are exceptions:
    1. foreign words (for example: TV = televízor is pronounced with a hard t and a hard l)
    2. the following words: ten = that, jeden = one), vtedy = then, teraz = now
    3. nominative masculine plural endings of pronouns and adjectives do not soften preceding d, t, n, l (for example: tí smelí mladí chlapi = those brave young guys)
    4. short e in adjectival endings, which is derived from long é shortened by the rhythmical rule, does not soften preceding d, t, n, l (for example: krásne domy = beautiful houses, červené domy = red houses)
  • ľ has always been pronounced by many speakers, particularly from western Slovakia, as a non-palatalized l, especially in li and le where the caron is not written. Some western Slovaks consider palatalized pronunciation of li and le a middle and eastern dialect feature only, or a sign of hypercorrectness.

In addition, the following rules hold:

  • When a voiced consonant having a voiceless correspondent (that is b, d, ď, dz, dž, g, h, z, ž) stands at the end of the word before a pause, it is pronounced as a voiceless consonant (that is p, t, ť, c, č, k, ch, s, š, respectively), for example: ship = loď is pronounced as loť
  • When v stands at the end of the syllable, it is pronounced as non-syllabic u, with the exception of the position before n or ň, for example: home = domov is pronounced as domou, but uprise = povstať is pronounced as povstať because the v is not at the end of the syllable (po-vstať), funny = zábavný is again pronounced as zábav because v stands before n.
  • The assimilation rule: Consonant clusters containing both voiced and voiceless elements are entirely voiced if the last consonant is a voiced one, or voiceless if the last consonant is voiceless. For example: pictures = obrázky is pronounced obrásky. This rule applies also over the word boundary, for example: to be at home = byť doma is pronounced as byď doma. The voiced counterpart of ch is h.
  • The rhythmical rule: A long syllable (that is, a syllable containing á, é, í, ý, ó, ú, ŕ, ĺ, ia, ie, iu, ô) cannot be followed by another long syllable in the same word. This rule has morphonemic implications, for example: to women = ku ženám but to daughters = ku dcéram) and conjugation (for example: I wear = nosím but I judge = súdim). There are several exceptions to this rule. This rule is typical only for Slovak language, it does not appear in Czech, or in some Slovak dialects.

Slovak Alphabet & Pronunciation Guide

Slovak Alphabet is basically the same as English, both use the so-called Latin alphabet, however some letters are with diacritical marks.

Grapheme IPA In “English”
a a a – spa
á prolonged aaah – bath
ä æ, ɛ ae – Vanessa Mae
b b b – bean
c t͡s ts – tse tse fly
č t͡ʃ ch – cheese
d d d – desert
ď ɟ, dʲ dy – deuce
dz d͡z ds – heads
d͡ʒ j – joke
e e e – bed
é prolonged eeeh – sad
f f f – fish
g ɡ ɡ – god
h ɦ h – hall
ch x kh – kharisma
i ɪ i – pink
í ee – bees
j j y – you
k k k – kid
l l, l̩ l – love
ĺ l̩ː prolonged l – wellll
ľ ʎ, lʲ ly – lurid
m m m – money
n n n – nose
ň ɲ, nʲ ny – new
o ɔ o – dot
ó ɔː prolonged oo – door
ô u̯o uo – what
p p p – price
r r, r̩ r – random
ŕ r̩ː prolonged r – rrrice
s s s – system
š ʃ sh – shield
t t t – tears
ť c, tʲ ty – tyune
u u u – put
ú oo – pool
v v v – very
w v w – window
x ks x – sex
y ɪ e – defend
ý ee – deer
z z z – zone
ž ʒ s – treasure


Using Other Languages in Slovakia

When you travel to Slovakia for a short stay, you do not have to learn Slovak, although it is a good idea to master some simple words and phrases (see the small distionary above).

If you speak Czech, you may freely use this language in all communication, most people will understand what you say. Most likely they will answer in Slovak as it is usual in a Czech-Slovak conversation. That’s why, if you are not native Czech and have only learned the language, you may encounter some problems with several (actually quite a lot of) words which are different in Slovak and these you will not even find in your Czech-Whatever dictionary. The Czech natives understand them only thanks to the fact, that for several decades, there was a common Czechoslovak television and therefore they had the possibility to get used to the Slovak language. Czech youngsters born after the split, have problems understanding Slovak as well.

In Southern Slovakia many people understand Hungarian, so if you enter a shop, the assistant will greet you in both languages and will continue to converse according to your preferences. Same situation exists near the Polish and Ukrainian borders, the only difference is that Polish and Ukrainian are somewhat similar to Slovak, while Hungarian is not at all related to Slovak.

Using English you may talk to most young people (10-35 years old). Older people (mostly businessmen and other people who work in travel and commercial services, as well as people in larger cities) speak it also, to varying degrees. Maybe you will be pleasantly surprised by the eagerness with which some people are trying hard to communicate with you in their poor English. Please, appreciate their endeavour. For many of them the short conversation with you represents a rare opportunity to practice their English.

German was taught also during the communist era (thanks to the existence of the “friendly” German Democratic Republic), so it is spoken by wider range of ages, professions and social groups, although numerically not by that many people. If you can communicate only in French, Spanish or Italian you will find things more difficult.

Russian is a very special case. It was the only compulsory foreign language taught in schools before 1989, so everybody had to learn it. However, after 1989 it almost disappeared from our schools, quickly lost what little popularity it may have had, so young people born after 1979 do not speak it at all. The language is related to Slovak, but the intonation is very different and that makes it hard to understand. You may always try to speak Russian to people over 35 although the nature of their reactions cannot be predicted.

You can just forget about your Portugal, Dutch, Swedish, Chinese, Japanese or Swahili. Some of these languages are taught at some special universities, but in Slovakia people with these language skills are very rare.

In general, if you cannot speak Slovak or Czech, then English and German are your best choice.

Finally one little hint: if someone seems not to understand you, do not raise your voice, but try to use another language (if you speak one), think of more international words like “automobile” instead of “car”, “problem” instead of “trouble” and if you are thirsty, ask for “pivo” instead of “beer”. When all else fails, use your hands. :)


Greeting in Slovakia

Saying “hello”, shaking hands, raising hats, kiss on the face or hugging someone are only a few forms of greeting. Learn some do’s and dont’s in Slovak greetings.

Greeting is the absolutely best way to show your respect to a person you meet. The various forms of greeting in different societies are based on local culture, and this can differ widely from region to region. When you are traveling to Slovakia, it is wise to learn about the traditions prevailing in this country. Of course, the people will very probably accept your own ways without too much drama, but why should you show your differences at each step?

In towns and busy tourist centers it is impossible and absurd to greet everyone you see. However, in small villages or when meeting other hikers in the woods and on mountains trails, strangers greet each other spontaneously.

The basic Slovak formal greeting when meeting someone is dobrý deň = good day. If you want to be more time specific, in the morning, until about 8 or 9 am, the greeting is dobré ráno = good morning and in the evening, when it gets dark, you can say dobrý večer = good evening. The formal word for good-bye is dovidenia and means roughly until we see us again. Definitive farewell, such as when you do not expect to meet the person again soon, for example when foreign tourists are leaving a hotel, can be expressed by zbohom = go with God. All expressions apply equally for men and women, singular and plural.

Hello and bye: the most common informal greetings are ahoj and čau. If you meet several friends or speak to several children or young people, then you can use the plural form ahojte or čaute. The same words are used for informal farewell. Ahojte/čaute is a grammatical monstrosity, so remember preferrably ahoj/čau.

The difference between the formal and informal applies to the rest of the conversation equally. If you say ahoj, then you automatically use the ty form (du in German, tu in French). Dobrý deň and the other variants (see above) go together with the vy form (Sie in German, vous in French).

Greeting does not always need to be spoken aloud. If you see someone on the opposite side of the street – you won’t shout dobrý deň. In this case you can simply raise your open hand to about eye level and move it from side to side. Men can raise their hats. You may smile and move your lips to make it look like you are saying dobrý deň without actually pronouncing the words.

When you meet someone with whom you expect to spend more than a few minutes, for example a business partner, you will have to shake hands. It is customary that the older person, a woman or a person of senior rank offers his or her hand first. Shake it briefly, firmly, with a smile, while looking into the eyes of the other person.

Kiss on the cheek (or both cheeks) and embrace (hug) are common only among family members or very good friends. Never do it with casual acquaintances.

“To greet is good manners, to return a greeting is an obligation.”always return a greeting, if you don’t, the other person will very probably feel offended. It is OK to reply the same way the other person has greeted you.


Translation & Teaching Agencies

Slovak Language Lab

Language Lab offers individual or group Slovak language courses for foreigners, beginners and advanced speakers as well. There are special Slovak language conversation courses ready for children. The courses are held in the centre of Bratislava.