These Tips & Notes contain an overview of the concepts introduced in the skill. Studying them will give you a better understanding of the way Polish language works.
Before starting, please know one crucial thing. Despite what you may have heard, Polish DOES NOT have a free word order. It has a relatively free word order. That means that some word orders will be correct and natural, some will be 'technically not wrong, but weird', some will only suit poetry and songs, and some will simply be wrong.
In general, the new and most important piece of information lands at the end of the Polish sentence. This makes certain word orders 'technically not wrong, but weird' - some things are just a lot less likely to be stressed than others.
Another thing that the beginners often get wrong: the special character ł (capital: Ł) is a variant of L, not of T. We highly recommend using all special characters, as they are simply different letters with different pronunciation, but if you decide to not do that, please don't try writing "chtopiec" or "jabtko" with a T.
Being an inflected language, Polish has seven grammatical cases. Pronouns, nouns and their accompanying adjectives take different forms that indicate their role in the sentence.
Most of the nouns you are going to encounter in this skill are in the Nominative case (shortened as Nom.) This “basic” case is used when the noun is the subject of the sentence – the entity that is doing something. A noun in the Nominative does not have any special ending, as it is the most basic form of the word.
Polish cases are so essential that it is often impossible to form a simple phrase without the use of cases other than the Nominative. Still, Polish people should still be able to understand you even if you happen to use a word in the incorrect case. Do not get discouraged and remember that practice makes perfect – the more you interact with the language, the better your grammar will be.
In these initial lessons you may sometimes stumble upon nouns in the Instrumental or Accusative. For now, you should be able to form basic sentences with the help of the hints attached to particular words. In the following skills we will gradually introduce you to the rules governing Polish declension.
Polish verbs have three basic tenses for indicating past, present and future. There are some quirks to this, but we will deal with them much later. At first, you will be only using Present Tense verb forms.
Polish verbs conjugate – they take various forms depending on the person performing the action. The first few skills will teach you the basic rules of Polish conjugation.
Unlike in English, there is no distinction between Present Simple and Present Continuous verbs at the basic level (He drinks. vs. He is drinking.). Both English variants are translated into Polish exactly the same way (in this case: On pije.)
When translating from English, please remember not to make the relatively common mistake of treating the Present Continuous construction as two separate verbs. "He is drinking" has just one verb, you cannot translate it as "On jest pije", which would basically mean the same as "He is he drinks".
There are some exceptions (Present Simple and Present Continuous being translated into completely different Polish verbs), but almost all of them are Verbs of Motion and will be discussed later in this course.
Polish does not have any articles. Nonetheless, when translating from Polish, you have to remember to form correct English sentences. It is not acceptable to skip articles if it results in the English sentence being ungrammatical – “He is boy” is not going to be accepted.
Here is a table containing all Polish pronouns, along with examples of their use:
|English Pronoun||Polish Pronoun||Example|
|I||ja||Ja lubię mleko — I like milk.|
|you (singular)||ty||Ty lubisz mleko. — You like milk.|
|he||on||On lubi mleko. — He likes milk.|
|she||ona||Ona lubi mleko. — She likes milk.|
|it||ono||Ono lubi mleko. — It likes milk.|
|we||my||My lubimy mleko. — We like milk.|
|you (plural)||wy||Wy lubicie mleko — You like milk.|
|they (only groups of people including a male)||oni||Oni lubią mleko. — They like milk.|
|they (all other groups)||one||One lubią mleko. — They like milk.|
Note how verbs conjugate when the pronoun changes. Present tense verb forms for on, ona and ono are always identical.
ono is really rarely used – mostly when referring to children when their gender is not specified, but even then it may be easier to just say "to dziecko" (this child). It does not work like "it" in a sentence "It is a child".
oni and one are both translated as they. However, they are used in different contexts.
oni is used to refer to groups that contain at least one male person. In other words, both all-male and mixed male and female groups are referred to as oni. We often refer to this plural category as masculine personal, or alternatively, virile.
one is used to refer to groups that do not contain any male persons. As personal pronouns are relatively rarely used in Polish to denote anything else than people, that means that almost always one will be used for all-female groups. We call this plural category not masculine personal, or alternatively, nonvirile.
Unlike standard English, Polish has a clear distinction between singular 'you' (when talking/referring to one person) and plural 'you' (when talking/referring to two or more people). What is important to remember is that unlike such languages like Russian or French, "wy" CANNOT be used as a formal way of addressing one person.
There are five possible ways of addressing someone formally: pan (sir), pani (ma'am), panowie (gentlemen), panie (ladies) and państwo (to a mixed couple/group). They use 3rd person verbs, singular or plural respectively.
Those forms are taught later in the Formal You skill, but it is advisable to be aware of them from the beginning, as addressing strangers informally is pretty rude in Polish - although they will likely be more forgiving to a foreigner who learns to speak their language.
In Polish, a sentence where the subject pronoun has been omitted is still perfectly grammatical and in fact often more natural.
When talking about yourself, you usually skip the ja pronoun, unless you want to emphasize something. The same goes for all 1st and 2nd person pronouns.
This is because of the way conjugation works. The verb forms used with 1st and 2nd person pronouns are unique for these pronouns. Even if you omit the pronoun, the verb still reveals who the person performing the action is, so there is no need to mention it explicitly.
Omitting 3rd person pronouns may be a bit less common. However, as in real life you have context, it often won't be necessary to use the pronoun. A sentence like "Ma jabłko." ([He/She/It] has an apple) will be understood to refer to a subject that is already known from the context.
As there are separate 3rd person pronouns for different genders, they contain information about the gender of the subject that cannot be in any way deduced from the form of the verb.
Consequently, 3rd person pronouns cannot be ommited in sentences where the gender of the pronoun is used to differentiate between subjects, such as On je jabłko, a ona je chleb (He is eating an apple and she is eating bread).
This lesson does not introduce any new grammatical concepts, so let's use this opportunity to have an overview of Polish letters and their corresponding sounds.
|letter||Polish example||English approximation||IPA|
|ą||mają||rose||[ɔw̃] / [ɔm] / [ɔn]|
|ę||mężczyzna||sense||[ɛw̃] / [ɛm] / [ɛn] / [ɛ]|
|y||ty||roses||[ɨ] / [ɘ̟]|
Note that u and ó are used to represent exactly the same sound.
ą and ę are nasal vowels. When ę is the final sound of the word, the majority of native speakers pronounce it just like a normal e.
When u is preceded by a vowel, it makes the same sound as ł ([w]).
|letter(s)||Polish example||English approximation||IPA|
|cz||ciasteczka||chip||[t͡ʂ] / [ʧ]|
|dż||dżem||jam||d͡ʐ] / [ʤ]|
|sz||proszę||ship||[ʂ] / [ʃ]|
|ż/rz||mężczyzna/dobrze||treasure||[ʐ] / [ʒ]|
Note that some sounds are represented by a combination of two letters. This is a purely orthographical matter – they are not “longer” or “double” in any way.
ż and rz are used to represent exactly the same sound, the same goes for h and ch.
We have omitted some consonants here (b, d, f, g, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, z). Some of them are pronounced exactly as in English, while in case of the others the difference is rather minor – if you pronounce them like in English, your Polish should still be perfectly understandable.
These are very basic and simplified guidelines. There are still other things that you should learn if you want to fully understand why some words are pronounced the way they are, but we will focus on them at a later stage.
If these tables overwhelm you, remember that you will not encounter all of these right away. While making your way through the course, you will probably be able to slowly get accustomed to Polish letters and sounds. Feel free to come back here later if you have any doubts.
Dzień dobry is the greeting used mainly in formal situations. You say dzień dobry to greet your teacher, a bank clerk or any person you barely know. Literally, it means good day, but is more often translated as good morning or good afternoon.
Cześć is the usual greeting used in informal situations: between friends, co-workers etc. It is roughly equivalent to hello orhi, but is sometimes also used as a way of saying bye.
Do widzenia is the more formal way of saying goodbye. It is generally used in the same situations where you would use dzień dobry, so it is best translated as goodbye.
Pa or pa pa are a lot less formal – roughly the same as bye and bye bye, they can be considered childish by some.
Dobranoc is reserved for saying goodbye just before you go to bed or generally in the evening – similarly to goodnight.
To say that you speak in some language you use the preposition po and a form of the name of the language ending with -u. polsku and angielsku are in fact old Dative forms and they are not to be found anywhere apart from this one construction. po polsku could be understood as the Polish way.
All Polish nouns belong to one of three gender categories: masculine (masc.), feminine (fem.) and neuter (neut.)
Grammatical gender is quite significant. Among others, it determines the case endings that the noun takes. So, for example, the way in which the Accusative form is created is different for feminine and masculine nouns.
Grammatical gender is not the same as natural gender (or sex). Apart from nouns for people and animals (animate nouns), it is also assigned to plants, objects and abstract concepts (inanimate nouns).
Grammatical gender is entirely arbitrary and depends mostly on the given word's ending. There is nothing in the meaning of woda (water) that would make you think that it is a feminine noun, just as there is nothing particularly masculine about chleb (bread).
When it comes to animate nouns, the distinction is just as “random”: kaczka (duck) is of feminine gender, while pies (dog) is of masculine gender. The gender of the noun is always fixed – even if we are referring to a male duck or a female dog. There exist certain nouns that can be used to describe animals of a specific sex – such as kaczor (male duck) or suka (female dog) – but obviously, they are not as common as the general nouns.
Masculine nouns usually end in a consonant, for example: chłopiec (boy), kot (cat), ser (cheese).
However, some masculine nouns for persons end in -a, for example: mężczyzna (man), kolega (colleague), artysta (artist).
Feminine nouns tend to end in -a, for example: dziewczyna (girl), ryba (fish), kawa (coffee).
There are some exceptions to this rule – mysz (mouse) is feminine, even though it ends in a consonant. Other exceptions that are feminine despite not ending with -a include words like twarz (face), noc (night) and miłość (love).
Neuter nouns most often end in -o, -e or -ę, for example: dziecko (child), jedzenie (food), zwierzę (animal). Another common ending is -um (muzeum = museum), which makes the word neuter and not masculine, despite ending with a consonant.
The Accusative case (Acc.) is usually the case of a noun functioning as the direct object in a sentence.
In other words:
Nouns in the Accusative follow verbs that require some object to act on. So if a noun is in the Accusative, it usually means that something is being done to it.
Verbs that are usually used together with the Accusative case include, among others, very basic words such as mieć (to have) and lubić (to like).
In this particular skill, the key verbs are jeść (to eat) and pić (to drink) – both of them are used with nouns in the Accusative case.
The Accusative form is created in several ways, depending on the gender of the declined noun.
For masculine animate nouns, you add the ending -a.
|Noun (masculine animate)||I like + Accusative|
|kot (cat)||Ja lubię kota.|
|chłopiec (boy)||Ja lubię chłopca.|
|pies (dog)||Ja lubię psa.|
Note that apart from adding an ending, declension may involve a change in the root of the noun, as it is in the case of chłopiec and pies, where the -ie segment disappears in all cases other than the Nominative.
For masculine inanimate nouns, there is no change. The Accusative form is exactly the same as the Nominative form.
|Noun (masculine inanimate)||I like + Accusative|
|sok (juice)||Ja lubię sok.|
|chleb (bread)||Ja lubię chleb.|
|ser (cheese)||Ja lubię ser.|
The same goes for neuter nouns - no change.
|Noun (neuter)||I like + Accusative|
|dziecko (child)||Ja lubię dziecko.|
|zwierzę (animal)||Ja lubię zwierzę.|
|jajko (egg)||Ja lubię jajko.|
In the case of feminine nouns, you arrive at the Accusative form by changing the final -a into -ę.
|Noun (feminine)||I like + Accusative|
|kobieta (woman)||Ja lubię kobietę.|
|ryba (fish)||Ja lubię rybę.|
|woda (water)||Ja lubię wodę.|
There are some exceptions to these rules. In the above examples, we assumed that all nouns that end with -a are feminine, but this is not always the case.
Let's consider the most obvious exception: mężczyzna (man). Although the word is of masculine gender, it ends with -a. Therefore, it declines as if it was a feminine noun – its Accusative form is mężczyznę.
To make things even more interesting, there are also feminine nouns that do not end with -a and consequently decline in a different way. But since they are mostly words for abstract concepts, we will discuss them later.
You may notice that the Accusative form of pomidor (tomato) is pomidora, despite not being animate. Some Polish nouns are treated as grammatically animate without any particular logic. The widest group of such nouns is fruits and vegetables. There are Polish speakers who treat them as inanimate, but for fruits and vegetables that is rather rare.
Obiad is the main meal of the day, usually eaten around midday (12PM to 4PM). It is usually translated as lunch (because of the time of the day when it is eaten), sometimes as dinner (since it is the main meal which is often eaten socially – with family members, in a restaurant etc.)
Kolacja is a medium-sized evening meal, usually eaten between 6PM and 9PM. Again, since the conventions for naming a meal of this kind in English vary, it can be translated in two ways: mainly as dinner, but sometimes also as supper.
The Instrumental case (Instr.) is used to express the means (or the instrument - hence the name) by which something is done.
The Instrumental case is essential when defining things. If you want to describe something by means of a noun, the noun should be in the Instrumental case.
Verbs that are used for defining things include the most fundamental verb – być (to be), for which the following noun phrase is in the Instrumental case.
|Person||być (to be)|
|ty (singular you)||jesteś|
|on / ona / ono (he / she / it)||jest|
|wy (plural you)||jesteście|
|oni / one (they)||są|
The Instrumental form is created in several ways, depending on the gender of the declined noun.
For masculine nouns, you add the ending -em (or -iem after k and some other consonants).
|Noun (masculine)||He is + Instrumental|
|chłopiec (boy)||On jest chłopcem.|
|człowiek (human)||On jest człowiekiem.|
|pies (dog)||On jest psem.|
Note that apart from adding an ending, declension may involve a change in the root of the noun, as it is in the case of chłopiec and pies, where the -ie segment disappears in all cases other than the Nominative.
In the case of feminine nouns, you arrive at the Instrumental form by changing the final -a into -ą.
|Noun (feminine)||She is + Instrumental|
|kobieta (woman)||Ona jest kobietą.|
|dziewczynka (girl)||Ona jest dziewczynką.|
|ryba (fish)||Ona jest rybą.|
When it comes to neuter nouns, you have to delete the final -o and replace it with -em (or -iem after k and some other consonants).
|Noun (neuter)||It is + Instrumental|
|dziecko (child)||Ono jest dzieckiem.|
|zwierzę (animal)||Ono jest zwierzęciem|
|lustro (mirror)||Ono jest lustrem.|
Note that zwierzę is an exception – an additional consonant appears before the ending.
Another way of defining things is using to + a noun in the Nominative. This method is quite common, and definitely easier to use for learners.
There is, however, one crucial difference: you usually cannot use this construction with pronouns. Sentences such as On to chłopiec or Ona to dziewczynka sound rather sloppy.
Using it with nouns is easy – all of them are in the Nominative form:
Unlike English, Polish does not have verbs that would be used as auxiliary verbs when asking questions such as: Are you a boy? or Do you eat meat?
However, there is a word which you can use to start questions: the interrogative particle czy.
Forming questions with czy is rather easy: just place it at the beginning of the sentence. The word order remains the same, you just use rising intonation to mark that it is a question.
If you see czy at the beginning of the sentence, you can be sure that it is a real yes/no question.
But questions can also be formed in another, even more simple way: by simply adding a question mark at the end of the sentence (or using rising intonation). No need to change the word order.
(She has a child. -> Does she have a child? / She has a child?)
(He likes milk. -> Does he like milk? / He likes milk?)
As you can see, those can also be understood as expressing surprise ("What?! She has a child?!"), not necessarily being a real question. So while it is by no means mandatory, questions with czy are usually more emphatic than those without it.
Don't be surprised if you come across the word czy later in the course, when it's used mid-sentence. It can have two more meanings:
1) A so-called 'exclusive or' in questions (which means that you offer two or more possibilities, only one of which is true):
2) A conjunction. The rule here is that whenever you can put 'whether' in English, you must use 'czy':
Some of the sentences used in this skill (and in the examples here) may seem a bit far-fetched. However, what matters the most is their purpose – teaching you the basic grammar rules while practicing basic vocabulary.
Demonstrative determiners are used to point at things.
When talking about something that is immediate or nearby, you use ten (and its forms):
You know that Polish has no articles, but in many cases English "the" means virtually the same as "this" or "these". Therefore forms of ten can potentially be translated also as "the", although it's a bit more of an interpretation than a translation.
When referring to something that is more distant, you use tamten (and its forms):
In some cases it can also be translated as the other one or the other.
Pronouns share many properties with nouns. Just like nouns, they take different forms depending on the gender and case of the noun they accompany (or replace: this one, that one).
The table below shows the forms of the pronoun ten (this):
|demonstr. pronoun in singular (this)||masculine||feminine||neuter|
|Accusative||ten (inanimate) / tego (animate)||tę||to|
Here are the forms of the pronoun tamten (that):
|demonstr. pronoun in singular (that)||masculine||feminine||neuter|
|Accusative||tamten (inanimate) / tamtego (animate)||tamtą||tamto|
Apart from the difference between tę and tamtą, all other corresponding forms, both in the cases you already know and those that you don't, differ only by the prefix tam- used in the that/those determiners.
The dummy pronoun "to" (which is identical to the neuter singular form of "this") is used as the subject of a sentence. It doesn't change regardless of the gender nor the grammatical number, it always stays as "to". Therefore it can be a translation of all the following words: this, that, it, these, those.
In a sentence like "This duck eats", "this" is a determiner. Because it describes a noun, its Polish equivalent has to match this noun: "Ta kaczka je". In a sentence like "This is a duck", "this" is the subject, and it could potentially also be "that" or "it". "[This/That/It] is a duck" are exactly the same from the point of view of Polish and they all translate to "To jest kaczka".
You haven’t encountered all those words yet, but you will soon, at it is worth showing that “to” is the subject for any gender.
|This boy eats.||Ten chłopiec je.||This is a boy.||To jest chłopiec.|
|That duck drinks.||Tamta kaczka pije.||That is a duck.||To jest kaczka.|
|This child has an apple.||To dziecko ma jabłko.||It is a child.||To jest dziecko.|
|These boys are…||Ci chłopcy są…||These are boys.||To są chłopcy.|
|Those girls are…||Tamte dziewczynki są…||Those are girls.||To są dziewczynki.|
In the sentences from the last column, you could potentially even omit “jest”/”są”, but that works mostly as a short answer to some question. (- Co to jest? - To kaczka. = - What is it? - It’s a duck.)
Although tamten and its forms are the direct equivalent of that, the Polish determiner is used a lot less often than its English equivalent. Basically, Polish and English think differently about the 'closeness' of objects. Simplifying, we can show it by using the following table:
|this||that||that (that one over there)|
We can see that tamten and its forms are really used only for objects that are quite far from the speaker. The basic translations in this course are always direct (this -> ten, that -> tamten), but the accepted answers are as in the table. Therefore any form of "tamten" can only be translated as "that", but any form of "ten" can be translated (without context) as [this/that/the]. This also means that the word "that" can not only be translated as "tamten", but also "ten" (and their forms).
Polish adjectives appear before the noun they modify. There are few exceptions to this (they are mostly categorizing, things like names of animal species etc.)
Just like nouns, adjectives have different gender forms. The gender of an adjective depends on the noun it describes.
So if you want to use the adjective mały (little) to describe the feminine noun girl (dziewczynka), you have to use the feminine form of the adjective – mała – to form the phrase mała dziewczynka.
The table below contains the singular gender forms of some simple adjectives:
Luckily, there is a clear pattern there. Most masculine adjectives take the -y ending (some take -i). Feminine adjectives take the -a ending. Finally, the neuter ending is -e (sometimes -ie).
Learning the adjective endings can sometimes help you take advantage of their regularity. For example, if you forget the gender of the noun mysz, but then see it together with an adjective ending with -a, you can safely assume that the noun is feminine.
This would be suspiciously easy, if it was not for another feature adjectives share with nouns: case. Once again, the case of an adjective agrees with the noun that follows it.
The table above has taught you the adjective endings in the most basic case – the Nominative. Now, let's examine the other two cases that you have already encountered when learning about nouns: the Accusative and the Instrumental.
Note that not all of the forms below are used in this skill – some are going to appear a bit later. This is to allow you to focus on learning the general rules, instead of cramming too many individual forms.
|Adjective||masculine + Accusative||feminine + Accusative||neuter + Accusative|
|mały (small)||mały / małego||małą||małe|
|dobry (good)||dobry / dobrego||dobrą||dobre|
|stary (old)||stary / starego||starą||stare|
|wielki (huge)||wielki / wielkiego||wielką||wielkie|
Seems a bit complicated. To make things clearer, let's take a look at some examples:
Wino is a neuter noun. In this sentence it is the object of piję, so it appears in the Accusative form. Therefore, the adjective dobry assumes the Accusative neuter form – dobre.
The situation is pretty much the same, but the noun is feminine, so we need the feminine Accusative form – dobrą.
Masculine adjectives have two forms – the first one (-y or -i) is used to modify inanimate masculine nouns and therefore is identical to Nominative, just like them. The other one (-ego) goes with animate masculine nouns.
|Adjective||masculine + Instrumental||feminine + Instrumental||neuter + Instrumental|
Again, let's consider some examples:
Chłopiec is a masculine noun. Here it is the object of jestem, so it takes the Instrumental form. Therefore, the adjective mały assumes the Instrumental masculine form – małym.
Just as above, but this time the noun is feminine, so we need the feminine Instrumental form – małą.
The most important thing you have to know about Polish plurals is that they DO NOT divide into masculine, feminine and neuter ones. The Polish plurals are:
masculine personal / virile (used for ‘groups with at least one male person’)
not masculine-personal / nonvirile (used for everything else)
Their names may be complicated, but at least they are descriptive. So, let’s check if we all are on the same page:
mężczyźni (men) belong to the ‘masculine personal’ plural, as this noun describes a male-only group.
ludzie (people) also belong to the ‘masculine personal’ plural, as this noun describes a group with at least one male person – otherwise we would use a word for “women” or “girls”.
kobiety (women) belong to the ‘not masculine-personal’ plural, as logically, there are no men here.
koty (cats) also belong to the ‘not masculine-personal’ plural, as they are not persons. It doesn’t matter that the singular word kot (cat) is masculine, it doesn’t denote a person.
dzieci (children) are ‘not masculine-personal’ plural as well, because the singular word dziecko (child) is neuter. Even if the particular children you are talking about are all boys, if you decided to call them “children” and not “boys”, then we are still talking about ‘not masculine-personal’ plural.
This distinction is also a reason for which oni will be used even if there is one man and 99 women in the group, and one will only be used for an all-female group.
Please note that only some part of the following sections will be used in this skill, but it is good to put it all in one place.
There are many possible endings in Nominative plural, this table shows the most common ones.
|English||Nominative sg||Nominative pl|
You may remember that masculine inanimate and neuter nouns in singular had the Accusative form identical to the Nominative one. Luckily, the same goes for all the ‘not masculine-personal’ plural nouns, those forms are also identical.
A different form is needed for the ’masculine personal’ plural nouns. The most common ending is -ów (Widzę chłopców = I see boys).
The majority of nouns, regardless of their gender, have -ami ending in Instrumental.
As mentioned before, the distinction between two plurals is important for adjectives. You already learned adjectives in Nominative for all three singular genders, now we will add the two plural genders. In Nominative, the ‘not masculine-personal’ plural adjective is identical to the neuter singular one. The ‘masculine personal’ one, on the other hand, is quite different from the other forms. It is kinda softened. Compare: dobre and dobrzy, złe and źli, małe and mali.
|Adjective||‘Masculine personal’ Nominative||‘Not masculine-personal’ Nominative|
Compare between mężczyźni (men) and kobiety (women): dobrzy/źli/wielcy mężczyźni; dobre/złe/wielkie kobiety.
Just like with nouns, in Accusative the ‘not masculine-personal’ plural form of the adjective is identical to the Nominative form, so you only have to remember the ‘masculine personal’ ending which is -ich or -ych.
|Adjective||‘Masculine personal’ Accusative||‘Not masculine-personal’ Accusative|
Widzę dobrych/złych/wielkich mężczyzn.
Widzę dobre/złe/wielkie kobiety.
This is where everything becomes easy: both plurals have the same ending, which is -mi.
Oni są dobrymi/złymi/wielkimi mężczyznami.
One są dobrymi/złymi/wielkimi kobietami.
Last but not least, it’s time to introduce the plural demonstratives. Just like with adjectives, the ‘masculine personal’ plural form is kinda softened and it’s (tam)ci. The ‘not masculine-personal’ plural form is (tam)te. The only cases in which the plural demonstratives differ are Nominative and Accusative, in all the other cases they are identical for both plurals.
This is a problematic skill, because an important construction has been forgotten during the process of creating this course and cannot be added to an already released tree.
So far all the Polish verbs you learned were correct translation of both Present Simple and Present Continuous. In this skill you learn the first verb that does not work like that.
The verb nosić taught in this skill does mean "to wear" (or "to carry"), BUT NOT "to be wearing".
"to be wearing" in Polish translates to "mieć na sobie" (literally "to have on oneself") and is unfortunately not taught in this course. This is one of the rare examples where the Polish verb does not have both the meaning of Present Simple and Present Continuous.
Both nosić and the not-taught mieć na sobie take an object in Accusative.
bluza is an umbrella term for a sweatshirt/jumper/hoodie/etc., BUT NOT a blouse. It's a false friend, "blouse" translates into "bluzka". Almost the same, but very different.
kapelusz has a brim. It can be an elegant top hat or a straw hat for farmers, but it IS NOT a baseball cap nor a winter beanie.
A cap (or a winter beanie) translates to czapka. Many native speakers of English would however also use the word "hat" for a "czapka", which makes the translations confusing.
You have already learned several verbs, now it is time for a separate skill only for verbs. Apart from the remaining forms of mówić (to speak) in Lesson 1, every other lesson introduces all forms of a completely new verb. All those verbs take an object in Accusative.
This is a good moment to remind that Accusative of masculine nouns depends on whether the noun is animate or inanimate. If the noun is masculine inanimate, the Accusative form is identical to the Nominative one, and if it’s masculine animate, then Accusative is identical to Genitive. Which you don’t know yet, but you will learn in the next skill, so it’s worth knowing already.
Most Polish verbs have relatively regular conjugation, with two most common patterns, which will be shown on the following examples from the skill:
|Grammatical person||(pronoun) + conjugated form of “widzieć” (to see)|
|1st person singular (I)||(ja) widzę|
|2nd person singular (you)||(ty) widzisz|
|3rd person singular (he/she/it)||(on/ona/ono) widzi|
|1st person plural (we)||(my) widzimy|
|2nd person plural (you)||(wy) widzicie|
|3rd person plural (they)||(oni/one) widzą|
|Grammatical person||(pronoun) + conjugated form of “kochać” (to love)|
|1st person singular (I)||(ja) kocham|
|2nd person singular (you)||(ty) kochasz|
|3rd person singular (he/she/it)||(on/ona/ono) kocha|
|1st person plural (we)||(my) kochamy|
|2nd person plural (you)||(wy) kochacie|
|3rd person plural (they)||(oni/one) kochają|
This is mostly for speakers of Russian, who tend to mix them up. kochać and lubić are very different in Polish, “kochać” being a lot stronger – it is either romantic love or love between members of family. Please keep to the direct translation of “kochać” = “to love” and “lubić” = “to like”.
Some native speakers of Polish do not like the idea of using “kochać” with inanimate objects, but it is possible and used in this course. A better verb for ‘loving’ inanimate objects may be uwielbiać, which with people is something between "to love" and "to adore".
You don’t have “wiedzieć” introduced yet, but it is worth to be aware of it, as the difference between them is often problematic for the learners. znać is more like “to be familiar with something/someone”, while wiedzieć is “to have some knowledge”. Generally, “znać” will be translated as “to know X” and “wiedzieć” will be “to know about X”, “to know, that X”, and similar. They are absolutely not interchangeable and almost always when one is correct, the other will be completely wrong.
As you see, the Tips & Notes use the infinitive forms of the verb (the basic ones, those that you will find in a dictionary), although none of them has been introduced in the course yet. Time will come for that, we are still in the very basics.
Another point for which it is too early, but it is good to know that already: Polish verbs are either perfective or imperfective. The Polish names (dokonany and niedokonany) may be literally translated as ‘accomplished’ and ‘not-accomplished’, which show their functions well.
Perfective verbs focus on the effect of finishing the action. Imperfective verbs focus on the process, on the duration. Because of that, by definition, all verbs in the Present Tense are imperfective. It is impossible to use a perfective verb in the Present Tense. They will be introduced later in the tree.
“Negations? Wait, I did already encounter some negative sentences!” – Sure you did, but this skill will introduce a special kind of negation – negating Accusative.
So normally, if you negate a Polish sentence, you just put the word “nie” before the negated part. We already had sentences like:
Ser to (nie) warzywo. = Cheese is (not) a vegetable. (Nominative)
Lew (nie) jest psem. = A lion is (not) a dog. (Instrumental)
As you can see, negating them didn’t change much. But although you learned Accusative since the very first skill, there weren’t any negated Accusative sentences.
CRUCIAL RULE: If a verb that takes Accusative gets negated, it takes Genitive instead.
EVEN MORE CRUCIAL: No other case changes when negated. Negated Nominative is still Nominative. Negated Instrumental is still Instrumental. Negated Genitive is… well, Genitive. Taking ‘the negation rule’ too far is common among the learners and hopefully this text will make it a lot less common.
Moreover, if it’s a preposition that governs the usage of Accusative, and not a verb, it also doesn’t change the case.
Having said that… welcome to Genitive, the fourth case you encounter in this course. Genitive has many usages, out of which the most important is negating Accusative verbs, showing ownership (Adam’s horse = koń Adama) and also several verbs that you’d expect to take Accusative, but they don’t. Still, this section is about negating Accusative. Let’s compare:
|I love this woman.||Kocham tę kobietę.||I don’t love this woman.||Nie kocham tej kobiety.|
|I have a child.||Mam dziecko.||I don’t have a child.||Nie mam dziecka.|
|They have a key.||Oni mają klucz.||They don’t have a key.||Oni nie mają klucza.|
|You see these cats.||Widzisz te koty.||You don’t see these cats.||Nie widzisz tych kotów.|
|I like those women.||Lubię tamte kobiety.||I don’t like those women.||Nie lubię tamtych kobiet.|
|I know this boy.||Znam tego chłopca.||I don’t know this boy.||Nie znam tego chłopca.|
|Adam has a horse.||Adam ma konia.||Adam doesn’t have a horse.||Adam nie ma konia.|
As you can see, in the last two rows the bolded forms are identical. Why? Well, you remember that Accusative of masculine nouns differed between the animate nouns and inanimate nouns, right? The inanimate nouns had the Accusative and Nominative forms identical. Now you can see that the animate ones have Accusative and Genitive identical.
There are several other things that are worth noticing about nouns in Genitive.
Firstly, the plural Genitive of feminine nouns usually ends with a consonant, which confuses many learners, because to them the word look singular (and masculine).
Secondly, the singular Genitive of almost all feminine and neuter nouns is identical to Nominative (and Accusative) plural. This is often very confusing to learners, for whom cases are difficult (not a surprise, they are) and suddenly you see a word that you know as plural but according to the translation it is singular in the given sentence. So you have to take into consideration what verb is there in the sentence, if perhaps it’s negated (negated Accusative = Genitive, as above), or perhaps if there is a preposition. Also, other words, like determiners, pronouns and adjectives, may be helpful as they will show the grammatical number more clearly.
Kobiety jedzą. (The women are eating, Nominative plural)
Lubię kobiety. (I like women, Accusative plural)
Nie znam tej kobiety. (I do not know this woman, Genitive singular).
Masculine animate nouns take -a ending in Genitive. Masculine inanimate nouns take either -u or sometimes also -a. Most neuter nouns have -a ending. The feminine ending is mostly either -y or -i, and as was mentioned, it’s identical to Nominative/Accusative plural.
In plural, the masculine nouns mostly take -ów ending or -i ending. Most neuter and feminine nouns have no ending in plural, with the last vowel dropped. -ie- or -e- are inserted into some forms.
Masculine and neuter singular ending is -ego. The feminine one is -ej. Both plurals end either in -ych or -ich.
|Basic form||masculine/neuter sg + Genitive||feminine sg + Genitive||both plurals + Genitive|
Possessive pronouns show which grammatical person 'possesses' the given object. In Polish, like adjectives, they have to match the noun phrase in terms of number, gender and case. They are put before the noun phrase.
Some good news: the 3rd person possessives ("his", "her" and "their") are identical for all numbers, genders and cases, so you have less to worry about. They are as follows:
his = jego
her/hers = jej
their/theirs = ich
For this reason, they are not put in any of the tables below.
|Possessive||my/mine||your/yours (sg)||our/ours||your/yours (pl)|
|'Masculine personal' plural||moi||twoi||nasi||wasi|
|'Not masculine-personal' plural||moje||twoje||nasze||wasze|
Like with parts of speech discussed before, Accusative of masculine animate nouns looks like Genitive and masculine inanimate nouns have it identical to Nominative. As before, the neuter singular and 'not masculine-personal' Accusative is also identical to Nominative.
|Possessive||my/mine||your/yours (sg)||our/ours||your/yours (pl)|
|'Masculine personal' plural||moich||twoich||naszych||waszych|
|'Not masculine-personal' plural||moje||twoje||nasze||wasze|
The feminine ones are the same as in Accusative. Masculine and neuter forms are identical. There is no difference between the plurals.
|Possessive||my/mine||your/yours (sg)||our/ours||your/yours (pl)|
|‘Masculine personal’ plural||moimi||twoimi||naszymi||waszymi|
|‘Not masculine-personal’ plural||moimi||twoimi||naszymi||waszymi|
Masculine and neuter forms are identical. There is no difference between the plurals.
|Possessive||my/mine||your/yours (sg)||our/ours||your/yours (pl)|
You will later also encounter the locative case. Singular locative possessives are identical to the genitive when feminine and identical to the instrumental when masculine or neuter. Plural locative possessives are identical to genitive.
swój is not taught until "Possess. 2", but it is worth knowing it now. "swój" and its forms (declension analogous to "mój" or "twój") refers back to the subject of the sentence. See examples:
Ja kocham swojego kota. = I love my cat.
Ty kochasz swojego kota. = You love your cat.
Ona kocha swojego kota. = She loves her cat.
My kochamy swojego kota. = We love our cat.
As you can see, the word "swojego" stays unchanged, but it changes its meaning depending on the subject of the sentence.
Wherever using a form of "swój" is correct, it is preferred to the 'normal' possessives.
In 1st person, both the 'normal' one and "swój" sound quite natural.
In 2nd person, the 'normal' possessive doesn't sound very natural if "swój" could be used instead.
In 3rd person, they have different meanings. For example "Adam kocha swojego kota" means "Adam loves his (his own) cat", while "Adam kocha jego kota" means "Adam loves his (Marek's) cat".
Because of the course creators' decision to not teach "swój" here together with other possessives, some sentences are unfortunately a bit unnatural, using 'normal' possessives when "swój" should be used instead.
Remember: as "swój" refers to the subject of the sentence, it is impossible to use it in Nominative!
Personal pronouns, like most words in Polish, also undergo declension. This may be less surprising if you realize that even English has some remnants of cases, as some of them have a different form when used as an object pronoun.
The table below shows the neutral forms of Polish pronouns in all four cases you encountered so far. By "neutral" we mean that those are the basic forms, which don't show any additional emphasis. Some pronouns have more than one form. Most of the pronouns shown in these T&N will not be used immediately in this skill, but it is easier to show them all at once.
Widzisz go? (Do you see him?)
Nie lubię ich. (I do not like them.)
Oni jedzą z nami. (They are eating with us.)
Some pronouns have accented forms, which give an additional emphasis on the pronoun, usually showing some contrast. This works like "I love YOU, not her!" or "She hates HIM, not me!". Those pronouns are also obligatory after a preposition, unless a third version of the pronoun exists (see the next section).
The table shows all the accented forms in the cases you know already, but they are also to be found in Dative.
Kocham ciebie, a nie ją! (I love you, and not her!)
Ona nienawidzi jego, a nie mnie! (She hates him, and not me!)
You think that's a lot? Some pronouns have also a special form which we will call an "n-form". By n-form we mean a special form of the pronoun, not the basic one - because several pronouns have forms starting with the letter "n" which for them is the only variant, used in every context.
If such an n-form exists for the given pronoun and case, it has to be used after a preposition and only then.
The table shows all the n-forms in the cases you know already, but they are also to be found in Dative.
|they/them ('masculine personal' plural)||nich||nich|
|they/them ('not masculine-personal' plural)||nie||nich|
Idę do niego. (I am going to him/to his place.)
Martwię się o nią. (I am worried about her.)
Duolingo sentences are just some sentences without a context, so there is no capitalizing pronouns. However, if you are writing to someone directly (a letter, a comment, a private message, a text, etc.), it is highly recommended to capitalize every form of "you" or "your". For example when texting someone you love, you should rather write "Kocham Cię." and not "Kocham cię".
Please note that capitalizing such pronouns would be wrong in such contexts as subtitles for a movie or dialogues in a book - this is just writing down what a character says, it's not addressing anyone directly.
While we're discussing politeness, please remember that at this point in the course you still haven't encountered the formal pronouns.
Firstly, apart from rare cases with accented forms of pronouns, no pronoun other than the subject pronoun should start a sentence.
Secondly, one should avoid putting any pronoun at the end of the sentence if only it is possible. The course may still have some sentences that contradict this advice, but that doesn't change the fact that according to grammar rules, this should not happen.
Lubię cię. (I like you.)
Ja cię lubię. (I like you.)
Kocha go. (She/He loves him.)
Ona go kocha. (She loves him.)
In the first examples of each pair, the sentences were so short that there was just no alternative other than putting the pronoun at the end, so it's perfectly fine. However in the other two, putting the subject explicitly created room for putting a pronoun in a different place. Those sentences are better than "Ja lubię cię." or "Ona kocha go.", which should be avoided.
Every lesson of this skill focuses on one new verb. "potrzebować" (to need) and "słuchać" (to listen to) take Genitive. The same goes for the preposition "do" (to).
Please note that "słuchać" does not take any preposition. It itself means "to listen to", you do not translate "to". See an example:
Please also do not confuse "słyszeć" (to hear) and "słuchać" (to listen to), they are different verbs.
So far all the verbs you learned, apart from "nosić" (which meant "to wear" and also "to carry", but not "to be wearing" or "to be carrying") worked both for Present Simple and Present Continuous. In the first two lessons of this skill you will learn two new verbs that do not work for both tenses.
The problem with Verbs of Motion is that there are a lot of nuances and although it can be explained how it is in general, sometimes some nuance will contradict that explanation. Another problem is that because of the fact that this skill is placed quite early (those are rather basic verbs), there was no grammar nor vocabulary to give you more context, which makes many sentences feel incomplete.
Let's write down some most important things about those verbs:
Both "iść" and "chodzić" generally refer to moving on foot, not by any vehicle.
Both verbs translate to forms of "to go" (if it happens on foot) or "to walk".
"iść" happens 'right now' and it refers to one-way motion, so it generally translates to Present Continuous (Idę do domu = I am [going/walking] home).
"chodzić" happens repetitively, habitually, so it generally translates to Present Simple (Chodzę do szkoły = I [go/walk] to school).
"chodzić" can also be close to "to attend" in some contexts. For examples "Chodzę do szkoły" in fact rather means that I'm a student there.
Sometimes both "iść" and "chodzić" don't guarantee that the movement happens on foot, but just that the vehicle is totally irrelevant. For example I can say "Jutro idę do kina" (Tomorrow I am going to the cinema) despite the fact that I will take a bus. The only important thing is that I will end up in the cinema.
When someone is "walking" (Present Continuous) without any specified direction or destination (which happens several times in this skill), just 'walking around', it also translates to "chodzić".
The same general rules apply to all other Verbs of Motion, for example "jechać" and "jeździć", which are equivalents of "iść" and "chodzić", but for going somewhere by a road vehicle. Those are the basics, and you will learn the nuances while learning.
In this skill you will learn Polish words for the members of one's family.
While this has some degree of subjectivity, generally "matka" and "ojciec" are more formal words than "mama" and "tata". They not only are more formal than "mom" and "dad", they also seem more formal than "mother" and "father", but there's just no better translation.
As we want to teach you some nuances of the language, we try to keep to the direct translations. Therefore you cannot translate "mom" and "dad" into "matka" and "ojciec", because those are strangely formal translations.
Those two words surprise many learners. They are grammatically neuter singular despite referring to more than one person.
"małżeństwo" means "marriage" (the state of being married) as well as "married couple". It cannot be translated to simple "couple" because nothing about the word "couple" mentions anything about being married.
"rodzeństwo" translates most easily to "siblings". It's a word for any brothers and/or sisters you may have.
This skill includes what seems to be the first sentence with showing possession by other means than possessive pronouns. This is very similar to English Saxon Genitive. So for example "this woman's son" translates to "syn tej kobiety". The 'owned' noun (son) stays in whatever case it is needed to be and the 'owner' (this woman) takes Genitive, which is visible even in English. Remember that the owned noun comes before the owner, unlike in English.
You may not see it in this skill yet, but it is most visible with family members, so it seems like a good place to discuss it. Basically, possessive pronouns are used a lot less in Polish than in English. Some things are just obvious for us and we don't feel the need to specify it. For example, English "I am putting my hand into my pocket" translates to "Wkładam rękę do kieszeni", because it's obvious that I am putting my own hand to my own pocket. And if the situation is different, only then we specify it.
The same happens with family members. If I say "Kochasz mamę?", it seems logical that I am asking if you love your own mom, I don't have to specify it - although I can, it's not wrong.
Therefore basically we assume that a family member 'belongs' to the subject of the sentence. The same happens with many objects. In the course you will observe more thoroughly how it works.
Names of the colors in Polish are adjectives, although almost all (apart from blue) have also counterparts which are nouns. They are used differently though and are not taught in this course.
This is the first time that you encounter adjectives used in Genitive, therefore let's take a look at the declension tables. Firstly, the singular:
And secondly, the plural:
|Adjective||masculine personal plural||not masculine-personal plural|
As you can see, adjectives in Genitive are pretty straighforward. Both plurals have identical forms, and the neuter form is identical to the masculine one.
You may also be reminded that the Accusative for masculine animate nouns is identical to Genitive. Compare:
Widzę różowego konia. = I see a pink horse.
Nie widzę różowego konia. = I cannot see a pink horse.
One surprising thing is that among the basic colors for the Polish people is "fioletowy", for which the closest equivalent is "violet". Meanwhile, for English speakers "purple" is a more basic color than violet. "purple" translates to "purpurowy". However, we consider those colors close enough to accept both "violet" and "purple" for "fioletowy".
Welcome to the skill about question words! As usual, this is not as easy in Polish as you may hope it to be. Some of the question words also undergo declension.
Yes, they do undergo declension through cases. When you try to figure out which case to use, imagine the answer to your question.
In such a sentence, "Kasia" takes Nominative ("To jest Kasia"), so "who" also takes Nominative: "Kto to jest?"
"Kasia" takes Accusative in the answer ("Kocham Kasię"), so the form of "who" also takes Accusative: "Kogo kochasz?"
So, you see the rule - just imagine the answer. And now, let's see a table for the cases you know already:
Those are more problematic, as apart from the declension through cases, they also need to take into consideration the grammatical number and gender of the noun phrase they describe. Luckily, the declension is very similar to declension of adjectives.
Let's start with "whose". As usual, in masculine Accusative the animate variant is identical to Genitive (czyjego), and the inanimate one is identical to Nominative (czyj).
Now, let's move to "który" and "jaki". "który" simply translates to "which", so that is pretty straightforward. The more problematic thing is "jaki". It translates to what I call 'adjectival what', and sometimes it's easier to imagine it as "what kind of". For example "Jaki chleb lubisz?" is "What (kind of) bread do you like?" - it is a different type of "what" than in "What are you doing?".
And now, the table with both:
|which, what||masc.||fem.||neut.||masc-pers.||not masc-pers.|
|Nom.||który, jaki||która, jaka||które, jakie||którzy, jacy||które, jakie|
|Acc.||którego / który, jakiego / jaki||którą, jaką||które, jakie||których, jakich||które, jakie|
|Instr.||którym, jakim||którą, jaką||którym, jakim||którymi, jakimi||którymi, jakimi|
|Gen.||którego, jakiego||której, jakiej||którego, jakiego||których, jakich||których, jakich|
This is a common problem among the learners, when to use which one. The rule of thumb here is:
If the English sentence has "what" on its own, use a form of "co":
What is she eating? (Co ona je?)
What do you need? (Czego potrzebujesz?)
If the English sentence has "what" and a noun/pronoun, use a form of "jaki":
What is your answer? (Jaka jest twoja odpowiedź?)
What color is your shirt? (Jakiego koloru jest twoja koszula?
Those two words mean the same thing: "why". "czemu" can be considered a bit colloquial by some people, but generally they're both natural and completely interchangeable.
The problem is that this course only teaches "gdzie", which simply means "where". It doesn't teach "dokąd", which means "where to" (as in "Dokąd idziesz?" = "Where are you going (to)?").
"gdzie" is in fact used for "where to" very often, but the dictionaries would call it rather a colloquial usage.
There's not much more to write about verbs, you generally know how they behave and there is nothing new here apart from new vocabulary.
Almost all verbs in this skill take a direct object in Accusative.
spać (to sleep) - it's intransitive.
dotykać (to touch) - takes Genitive in the literal sense of physically touching something, but Accusative for a metaphorical one.
szukać (to look for) takes Genitive. Note that you don't translate the 'for' part at all.
In this section you will learn Polish words for days, months, seasons and time of day.
Time of day
"rano" is an adverb equivalent to "in the morning".
"wieczorem" is an adverb that means "in the evening". It is also identical to the Instrumental form of the noun "wieczór", meaning "evening".
"po południu" is literally "after noon"... so it means "in the afternoon".
"w" is a preposition that mostly means "in", "inside", usually literally. The preposition it takes in this meaning is Locative, therefore in this way you encounter a new case for the very first time. The skill uses such phrases as "w domu" (at home = in the house), "w nocy" (at night), but most importantly "In [name of the month]".
However, "w" can also take Accusative. This is mostly for situations connected with movement, but what is important that it takes Accusative with days of the week and the word "weekend" (yes, "weekend", pronounced the English way, is used in Polish).
w styczniu, w czerwcu, w październiku (in January, in June, in October) - those take Locative.
w poniedziałek, we wtorek, w niedzielę (on Monday, on Tuesday, on Sunday) - those take Accusative.
You may also notice that Polish doesn't capitalize days of the week nor months.
"we" is a variant of "w" used when "w" would be unpronouncable, i.e. if the next word starts with W or F followed by another consonant. Also in "we mnie" (in me).
"a season" as in "spring/summer/autumn/winter" translates to "pora roku", which means "time of the year".
The word "sezon", which is not taught here but you may easily encounter it, means "a season" as in the new season of your favorite TV series or the current Champions League season.
The word for "birthday" is "urodziny" and grammatically it's always plural, therefore "My birthday is..." translates to "Moje urodziny są...".
Incidentally, although it's not the time to learn it yet, the most basic birthday wishes are "Wszystkiego najlepszego!" (All the best) and "Sto lat!" (100 years!).
As this is a vocabulary skill, there is not much to discuss. However, one can always find something.
a bottle of water, a bowl of soup
If you consider a noun phrase constructed as "X of Y", with both X and Y being nouns, then X takes whatever case the sentence needs it to be in, but Y always takes Genitive. You may consider it a rule that if in English you see the word "of", this is expressed in Polish by putting the next noun in Genitive. See:
a bottle of water = butelka wody
a bowl = miska
To ask about the color of something, you start with "Jakiego koloru...", for example:
Jakiego koloru jest twój kot? = What color is your cat?
Jakiego koloru są twoje ściany? = What color are your walls?
That construction takes the noun phrase "jaki kolor" in Genitive. Think of it as asking "Of what color...?".
Apart from saying "Moje ściany są czerwone" (My walls are red) you can also say "Moje ściany są koloru czerwonego". But that is not the most common way of saying it.
Yes, we know that "television set" is a lot less common nowadays than just "television", but at least it makes it clear that we mean the device, not the medium. The device is "telewizor" and the medium is "telewizja".
"ściana" is a wall of a building, not a wall bordering your garden from your neighbor's garden. That is "mur".
zegar vs zegarek
It is technically possible that someone will use "zegarek" for a small clock, but generally it means "a watch". "zegar" is a bigger "clock".
drzwi, okulary, nożyczki
All those words are plurale tantum, which means that they have no singular form, they are always grammatically plural. Think of English "pants". You can have "two pairs of pants" but not just "two pants".
The first thing you have to remember about prepositions is that they can work totally differently between two languages. It is not the safest way to think about them as equivalent. You may learn that "dla" means "for" and that will work in many contexts, but then you will find a sentence in which they are not correct translations of each other. It is better to learn them in collocations.
This skill presents a mix of various important prepositions which have not been introduced so far. Let us discuss the basic meanings (as written above, that is not that straightforward and it's not easy to list them all) and the cases they need.
"na" mostly means "on" (X is placed on Y) and takes Locative. However, it can also be used with Verbs of Motion with some places (jechać na lotnisko = to go to the airport) and if it's connected with motion, it takes Accusative. Among other usages are such phrases as "for breakfast", which is "na śniadanie" - also Accusative.
"pomiędzy" (or "między") means "between". It is used as "pomiędzy X i Y" or "pomiędzy X a Y", which basically mean the same. Both X and Y take Instrumental.
"z" mostly means "with", taking Instrumental, but also "from" (as in "I come from Italy", or "made from wood"), and takes Genitive then.
"w", as mentioned in the previous skill, means "in", "inside" and usually takes Locative. Remember that it takes Accusative with days of the week and the word "weekend", though.
"dla" generally means "for" as in "for someone". It takes Genitive.
"od" means "from" as in "from someone" and it also takes Genitive.
"do" mostly translates to "to", but don't expect it to cover all meanings of English "to". It's mostly "to some place" or "to someone", it may also mean "until". Genitive again.
"o" is usually translated as "about". When it means "on the topic of" (a book about birds, a conversation about sport), it takes Locative. There are some contexts that take Accusative though, e.g. "Martwię się o ciebie" = "I am worried about you".
The locative singular endings for nouns may get a bit complicated, but in this lesson you only need to worry about locative plural, whose endings are perfectly recognizable and the same for all genders, as you can see in this table:
|nominative plural||locative plural|
"po" - you know it from "po polsku", where it takes an old Dative form that doesn't exist anywhere else, but its basic meaning is "after", taking Locative. It may also refer to movement on some surface - still Locative.
"za" in its first meaning means "behind" (being located behind something), and takes Instrumental. Another meaning is "in some period of time" ("in an hour" = "za godzinę") and takes Accusative.
"przed" means either "before" or "in front of", and takes Instrumental.
"stać" and "leżeć" - unlike English, which usually just states that "The book is on the shelf", Polish commonly also mentions its position. If it's horizontal, the book 'is lying', i.e. "Książka leży na półce". If it's vertical, the book 'is standing', i.e. "Książka stoi na półce". Of course there's nothing wrong with the literal translation of "Książka jest na półce".
The locative suffix which is added to the noun stem is either -ie or -u. Note that the letter i can merge with certain letters of the stem and become a different letter. For example, ł + i will become l and k+ i will become c. Here are the locative forms of a few nouns that are used in this lesson:
|nominative singular||locative singular|
"oprócz" means "except for" and takes Genitive.
"u" is used with people and means basically "at someone's place". Theferofe "u babci" means "at grandma's (place)". The owner of the place is in Genitive.
"przy" may translate to "by", but "near" and "next to" are also acceptable answers. It takes Locative.
"bez" means "without" and it takes Genitive.
"pod" means "under" or "below" and it takes Instrumental. You may note that English "in the shower" is Polish "pod prysznicem".
"obok" means "next to" and takes Genitive.
"naprzeciwko" means "opposite to" and also takes Genitive.
"wśród" translates to "among" and takes... surprise, also Genitive.
"nad" means "above" or "over" and needs Instrumental.
"przez" can mostly mean either "through" or "because of", and if it means "because of", it's usually considered something negative. The case it needs is Accusative.
"blisko" means "close to" or "near" and takes Genitive.
"według" means "according to" and also takes Genitive.
"podczas" means "during" and... also takes a noun phrase in Genitive.
For sentences like "There is [a noun] in [the location]", the Polish translation should be built as "In [the location] there is [a noun]". Trying to start such a sentence with "jest" will make it look like a calque of the English word order.
Prepositions that denote location can sometimes take Accusative if movement rather than location is involved, for example a book that 'falls behind' the bed (versus a book that 'is behind' the bed). That's rather outside the scope of this course, though.
Male and female professions
You know how English slowly goes in the direction of making all profession names gender-neutral? Polish goes exactly the other way. More and more feminine variants of words that didn't use to have it are created. Some of them enter the language quite easily, some others tend to be heavily mocked (by women as well). Generally, the matter is complicated and rather quite subjective.
With many professions, despite the feminine variant being well and long established, it may also sound quite natural to use the masculine variant sometimes. For example for "Anna is a teacher" both "Anna jest nauczycielką" (feminine) and "Anna jest nauczycielem" (masculine) are acceptable. Again, it's hard to say exactly when this is okay and when it is not.
The phrase "pracować jako", meaning "to work as", is one of the very few situations when Nominative is used for something else than the subject of the sentence.
On pracuje jako model. (He works as a model.)
Ona pracuje jako policjantka. (She works as a police officer.)
"personel", "policja" and other words for groups of people
In English, depending on the dialect or even a bit on the way you look at the word, words denoting a group of people may be considered either grammatically singular or plural. That is the situation with the word "staff", for example.
There are no such situations in Polish, based on the word itself and what its ending is, the word is undoubtedly either singular or plural. "personel" ends with a consonant, therefore it's masculine singular. Likewise, "policja" (the police) is feminine singular (and it cannot refer to just one police officer).
"uczeń" vs "student"
Unlike American English, which usually uses "student" both for people learning in primary school and on a university level, Polish makes a clear distinction.
uczeń (masc.) and uczennica (fem.) did not reach the university level (yet).
student (masc.) and studentka (fem.) are studying on a university level.
That is why the main translation of "uczeń" and "uczennica" is "pupil", so it's less ambiguous.
-ta vs -tka
You know already that although -a ending of a noun (in its basic, Nominative form, of course) generally means it's feminine, there are exceptions from that ("mężczyzna" = "man", "tata" = "dad"). There is also a group of words in which both the masculine and feminine variant end with -a. The masculine noun of such a word ends with -ta and the feminine with -tka. Some examples include:
It is very important for you to know, that every single sentence with the words "you" or "yours" that you encountered so far was in fact an informal sentence. One that you can use with your friends, colleagues, generally people you know well enough to address them just with their first names.
But in Poland you should address most adult strangers formally. Even if they're younger than you (but still adult), you shouldn't use the "ty" (or "wy") form. A cashier in a store will be a "pan" (sir) or a "pani" (ma'am). Same goes for the fast food employee. Even a homeless person deserves the same amount of respect.
When not to use formal addressing? Well, this is pretty subjective. Your colleagues in a university surroundings - that would be too much. Trying to flirt with someone at the bar? I guess "ty" should be enough. You're at a party where people do not wear tuxedos? Probably no need to be formal. But in most everyday situations with strangers, you will use pronouns from this skill all the time.
Although English does have formal addressing, it is not very common and it is indeed very formal. Polish 'Formal You' is an everyday thing. You will hear "Co pan robi?" a lot more often than its equivalent "What are you doing, sir?".
These are all the Formal You forms in the cases you already encountered. As you can see, they are dependent both on the number and the gender of people you're talking to.
You may thus see that:
Nie lubię pana. = I do not like you, sir.
Co panie tu robią? = What are you doing here, ladies?
Of course in English you will normally just use simple "you". We could think of using formal addressing in the best answers, but we don't have any natural option for "państwo" - "ladies and gentlemen" may work in some contexts, but more commonly you will use it for just two people (e.g. couple) or not many more.
Using formal pronouns as nouns
All those pronouns may also be treated as nouns. However, they should have another word (usually a determiner) added to make sure that it's a noun and not a pronoun.
Pan kupuje chleb. = You are buying bread, sir.
Ten pan kupuje chleb. = This [gentleman/man] is buying bread.
Yes, it is a bit problematic to find appropriate translations for those formal words when they're used as nouns. For example, "pan" is something in between "gentleman" and "man", "panie" are both "ladies" and "women", nothing is a perfect translation. As the noun "państwo" is concerned, the most common translations would simply be "people" or "couple" (if it makes sense in the context).
This skill is mostly a vocabulary one, although it introduces adjectives in another case. We have covered Nominative, Accusative and Instrumental in "Adjectives 1" and Genitive in "Colors", let's see the declension tables for Locative now.
Firstly, the singular:
Mieszkam w starym domu. - I live in an old house.
On mówi o dobrej książce. - He talks about a good book.
Schronisko znajduje się przy małym stawie. - The mountain hut is located alongside a little pond.
One wystąpiły na wielkiej scenie. - They perfomed on the big stage.
Odpoczywamy na małej plaży. - We are resting on a small beach.
Wszystko w dobrym guście - Everything in good taste
And then the plural:
|Adjective||masculine personal plural||not masculine-personal plural|
Kobieta o wielkich oczach - A women with big eyes
Przy dobrych warunkach - Under good conditions
Nasza firma kontynuuje swoją pracę po małych zmianach personalnych. - Our company continues its work after minor personnel adjustments.
W starych filmach nie ma efektów specjalnych. - There are no special effects in old movies.
As you can see, the situation is very similar to the one with Genitive, in fact the feminine singular and both plural forms are identical to the Genitive ones. Again, masculine and neuter singular look the same.
Both those words translate to English "short", however their meaning is very different.
niski is short in height, it's the opposite of wysoki (tall), and therefore sometimes it can also be translated as "low".
krótki is short in length, it's the opposite of długi (long).
So far you have learned the words dziewczynka (a girl) and chłopiec (a boy). However, now it's time to learn new words for boys and girls.
The difference between dziewczynka and dziewczyna is her age. Basically, dziewczynka is a little girl, and dziewczyna is an older one, including young women. There is no clear line, you may start calling a girl dziewczyna at 8, you may start it at 13 - that's a subjective choice.
The same goes for chłopiec (a little boy) and chłopak (an older one).
When it's "someone's dziewczyna/someone's chłopak", those words mean "girlfriend" and "boyfriend", respectively.
Although this is not the first time you see those words, it is worth pointing out the difference.
mężczyzna is an adult male human being. człowiek is simply a human being. But in many sentences, the natural translation of człowiek is still "a man", just like with "mężczyzna".
When talking about one, specific man, it is often more natural to use the word "człowiek" than "mężczyzna". It is assumed then that this "człowiek" is male, otherwise you'd be more specific and say "kobieta".
Polish has three separate words (with masculine and feminine variants, of course) where English usually just uses "friend".
przyjaciel (masculine) and przyjaciółka (feminine) are words for closer friends, people you really trust. This is the most basic translation, however you should be aware that it's not always the proper one.
kolega (masculine) and koleżanka (feminine) are rather vague words. kolega resembles English "colleague" and may indeed mean that. But it may also mean " a friend" (just not a very close one), "a classmate",. "a schoolmate", and so on. It depends on the context and may be quite subjective.
znajomy (masculine) and znajoma (feminine) are here translated as "acquaintance", but a more natural translation is often simply "friend". This is the word used usually for people you just 'know', but not very well. This is what is used for social media "friends".
Although osoba means "a person", it is not used as often as its English equivalent. It is, however, used a lot more in plural, where English rather prefers "people" to "persons".
Unlike English "youth", which may be also used for a single person, młodzież is undoubtedly a collective noun, meaning "youth" in general.
While English "name" can mean both those things (separately or combined), imię is your given name and nazwisko is your last name. For a "full name", you just say imię i nazwisko.
In this skill you will encounter most basic Polish conjunctions. It is worth to discuss some of them a bit.
While they look almost identical, they are in fact quite different.
dlatego means "therefore" or "that is why".
dlatego, że simply means "because".
There are more ways to say "because" in Polish. The options are:
bo (probably the most common one)
ponieważ (a more formal alternative)
dlatego, że (could be understood as 'for the reason that')
gdyż (probably the rarest one).
There are three ways to translate "or" into Polish.
albo is the most basic one
lub is a common alternative
czy is almost only used in questions
In theory, "albo" should be an 'exclusive or' (only one of the options is correct) and "lub" should allow both options to be correct. In real life, however, the native speakers either don't know it or don't care, therefore in most contexts they are interchangeable.
You know "i" as the Polish translation of "and", now you will encounter "a". The difference is quite crucial: while "i" is the basic conjunction, "a" shows contrast. Compare:
Piję mleko i jem chleb. (I am drinking milk and eating bread).
Ja piję mleko, a on je chleb. (I am drinking milk, and he is eating bread.
The first sentence simply lists the actions I am performing, the second one contrasts the actions of "me" and "him".
Notice that the second sentence actually uses subject pronouns explicitly. This is because the subject changes in the middle of the sentence. The first one ("ja") could possibly be omitted (although it's still preferred to keep it), but the second one is definitely necessary. "Piję mleko, a je chleb" would make no sense.
Compare another set of sentences:
Ja jestem chłopcem, a ona jest dziewczynką. (I am a boy and she is a girl).
(wrong) Ja jestem chłopcem a on jest chłopcem. (I am a boy and he is a boy).
(wrong) Ja jestem chłopcem i ona jest dziewczynką. (I am a boy and she is a girl).
Only the first sentence makes sense. The second one tries to use contrast when there is none, and the third one doesn't show contrast although it is present.
"i" and "a" are almost never interchangeable, although both make sense in sentences like "Ser jest pomiędzy chlebem [a/i] pomidorem" (The cheese is between the bread and the tomato").
You may think of "a" as of something between "and", "while" and "whereas". If all of those make sense in the English translation, than the right word is "a".
There is also "oraz", which is very similar to "i". Sometimes it's used simply to avoid repetition, sometimes it suggests 'a bigger structural division'. It is not taught in this course.
Welcome to the skill about adverbs. One important thing that you should know: Polish adverbs do not like to be placed at the end of the sentence. If possible, they should be placed somewhere else. The rule not to put a pronoun at the end of the sentence is more important though.
With the introduction of nigdy (never), this is the first time you observe the usage of double negative in Polish. While it is incorrect in English, it's actually present in quite a lot of languages, therefore you may have encountered it somewhere else before.
Double negative is obligatory. The sentence won't make sense without it.
We never eat soup.
My nigdy nie jemy zupy.
The Polish sentence, if we were to translate it word-for-word, would be "We never don't eat soup", which is definitely incorrect in standard English.
However the same happens if we translate the English sentence word-for-word, we arrive at "My nigdy jemy zupę", which isn't just incorrect, it's utter nonsense.
Therefore remember, if you see a word like "nigdy" (never), "nikt" (no one) or "nigdzie" (nowhere), you must add "nie".
The meaning of those words depends on how they are used, similarly to the English "yet".
jeszcze means "yet" in negative sentences (or maybe rather "jeszcze nie" means "not yet").
jeszcze means "still" in declarative sentences.
już means "already" in declarative sentence.
*Thank you, but I already have a bicycle.
już can mean "yet" in questions.
już means "anymore" in negative sentences (or maybe "już nie" means "not anymore").
Those words have more meanings, but those are the most basic ones, which you should know at this point.
They really mean exactly the same, i.e. "here". The difference is only a stylistic or a preferential one. If you want to end a sentence with a word for "here", "tutaj" is preferrable.
You already encountered "za" as meaning "too" (as in "too much"), "zbyt" is a synonym. A linguist would say that they are not 100% interchangeable, but there are no clear rules, so on a learner's level it seems safe to assume they are.
Similarly to before, those are pairs of synonyms, meaning "again", "sometimes" and "usually". One may be sometimes better for stylistic reasons, but generally they're interchangeable.
A one word exclamation, like "Great!" "Good!" or "Wrong!", which does not have any subject to describe, is translated into Polish using an adverb (or perhaps it's better to say that the exclamation is identical to the adverb):
There are two types of places in Polish, grammatically speaking, but they are not really that easy to define. In theory, we could divide them into 'closed spaces' and 'open spaces', but there are some exceptions to this, and their number is not that small.
Anyway, let's assume for a moment that it is a clear division. The closed spaces take the following cases:
If you are in a closed space, that takes "w" + Locative
Jestem w kinie. = I am at the cinema.
Oni są w restauracji. = They are in a restaurant.
If you are going to a closed space, that takes "do" + Genitive, as you have already seen before
Idę do domu. = I am going home.
Adam chodzi do szkoły. = Adam goes to school.
Now, the open spaces take the following cases:
If you are in an open space, that takes "na" + Locative
Jestem na lotnisku. = I am at the airport.
One są na rynku. = They are at the town square.
If you are going to an open space, that takes "na" + Accusative
Idę na plażę. = I am going to the beach.
On idzie na stację. = He is going to the station.
So those are the basic rules, however there are many exceptions, like "las" (forest) or "park" (park) using the 'closed spaces' cases, or "poczta" (post office) using the 'open spaces' ones. Sometimes both options could work in some way, but that is rather outside the scope of the course.
While it is quite clear that you go "na korytarz" (na + Accusative), it is unclear whether to say "na korytarzu" or "w korytarzu" for being "in/at the corridor". This is the 'both options could work' scenario, "w korytarzu" is treating it more like a closed space and "na korytarzu" like an open one.
You will be surprised, but there are some nouns that do not undergo declension in Polish! Granted, that is rare.
"zoo" looks identical in absolutely every case.
"muzeum", "centrum" and other nouns ending with -um look identical for every case in singular, but they undergo declension in plural.
The thing about those words is that they are rather vague. "okolica" (neighborhood, vicinity, surroundings) is not something that has any official status, unlike "neighborhood" in the US.
Similarly, "obszar" (area) is not anything precise. It may have the size of Russia. Or it may be the size of your sandwich. It's just some area.
Let's quickly go through the forms of "this" and "that". The table below shows all forms of those words, including the Dative forms - you will encounter Dative for the first time in the very next skill, but it is easier to show everything at once.
Remember that the two lines for Accusative masculine are to show the difference between the animate (tego/tamtego) and inanimate (ten/tamten) nouns.
The table only shows the words for "this", but apart from feminine Accusative, the word for "that" is "tam-" + the word for "this".
|masc.||fem.||neut.||masc. pers. plural||not masc. pers. plural|
And another reminder: don't forget about the notion of closeness, which is different in English and in Polish. To simplify, it looks as follows:
|this||that||that (that one over there)|
That is why "that" is a correct translation of a form of "ten", although not the direct translation.
Probably the most problematic word in this skill. It is translated differently depending on a context, e.g. "no" ("No doctor works on Sunday"), "none" ("None of them is here") or "neither" ("Neither of them"). Speaking of "None of them is here", there is a problem with this word, because sometimes English would use a different grammatical number than Polish would. For more information, check the discussions.
|masc.||fem.||neut.||masc. pers. plural||not masc. pers. plural|
Those words are kinda their equivalents, with "każdy" (every, each) and "wszyscy/wszystkie" (all) used for singular and plural respectively. Here's the table:
|masc.||fem.||neut.||masc. pers.||not masc. pers. plural|
|A.||każdy każdego||każdą||każde||wszystkich wszystkie||wszystkie|
If you want to say "everybody", that implies "all people", so the right word is "wszyscy". Therefore unlike in English, this needs plural.
Apologies for the hideous abbreviations, but the table didn't fit otherwise.
"niczego" and "nic" are both valid Genive variants. They are interchangeable, but sometimes one may sound weird to a Polish ear because the other is just a lot more idiomatic in a given context.
Of course, a language like Polish cannot miss an opportunity to gender everything. This is also applied to the word "both".
If "both" refers to a masculine personal noun (both men), then it's "obaj".
If it refers to a masculine impersonal noun (both dogs) or to a neuter one (both boxes), it's "oba".
If it refers to a feminine noun (both women, both books), it's "obie".
If it refers to two animate nouns (people/animals) with different genders (a man and a woman); or when at least one of them is grammatically neuter (a woman and a child, two children), then it's "oboje". And for pluralia tantum as well, but that's a really odd thing to need to say.
Oof, that sounds like fun, doesn't it? OK, time for a table.
|both||masc. pers.||masc. n-pers. or neut.||fem.||collective|