Wednesday, October 21, 2009

No Means "Yes"

It’s a big challenge anytime you move to another country; having to learn a new language and figure out a different culture. But it can be really confusing here when no means “yes”.

The Czech word for “no" is ne and the word for "yes” is ano. However, ano often gets shortened to either no or jo (pronounced "yo"). When I ask a question in Czech and the other person responds with no, I have to think…are they saying “yes” or are they trying to answer in English and actually mean “no”. It can be quite confusing at times!!!

Here’s another one that gets me –
The expression fakt jo means “really?” or “is that right?” But when Czechs say it you don’t hear the “t” so it sounds like “f*** you”.

I was floored the first time I heard this said at work. Especially, since it was from this really sweet girl to her manager. It took me a couple of minutes to figure this one out.


  1. "No" in Czech is often used at the beginning of a sentence with the meaning of English "Well". It usually means that the speaker is not sure, wants to gain more time or is going to relativize your statement. I think you can hardly hear "No" as one word answer, but if so it means more like "maybe".
    Just my opinion, you are allowed to say "no" ;)

  2. I often use "no" as a statement of an agreement. "Takže Michal tam nakonec nepřišel?" "No."
    "So Michael didn't go there at the end?" "Yeah."

  3. Hi Chris, only recently discovered your blog. I like your very funny comments about 'fakt jo'!

    It shouldn't be too hard to get difference between NE and NO. NE is short & sharp, NO sounds longer & softer.