Polish Grammar

Gramatyka Języka Polskiego

A Grammar of the Polish Language

by Maurício Carvalho

Written from October 1998 through January 1999. Major corrections August 17th 2000.

Spis Treści


  1. Introduction – Explains what the Polish language is
  2. How to view Polish characters on your computer
  3. Polish pronunciation – with some orthographical rules and sound alternations
  4. Nouns, adjectives and pronouns – an introduction
  5. Case usage and formation – further explanations on declensions of nouns and when to use each case
  6. Prepositions – with the cases they demand
  7. Verbs – all about them
  8. Numerals – their declension and usage
  9. Formation of words – vocabulary builders and diminutivesmorphological account of verbs, adjectives, adverbs and nouns. Diminitives included
  10. The structure of the language – conjunctions and word order
  11. Non-slavic vocabulary – short list of loan words
  12. Slavic vocabulary – comparison of six Slavic languages
  13. Conversations, texts and explanations – real Polish without mystery
  14. Dictionary of gramatical terms – learn grammar words in Polish
  15. Bibliography

1. Przedmowa.

1. Introduction.

A Foreword to the “ Second Edition” August 2000

After being slightly flooded by huge e-mails of Poles correcting my (mainly phonetic) mistakes (hey, I learned Polish without hearing it!), I decided to actually correct them instead of just posting their e-mails...

The Polish Language is a member of the Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family. Other Slavic languages are Czech, Slovak, Sorbian, Russian, Ukranian, Bielorussian, Slovene, Serbian, Bosnian, Croat, Macedonian and Bulgarian. The first three ones along with Polish are of the Western sub-branch, the next three are of the Eastern sub-branch, and the remaining are of the Southern sub-branch.

The Indo-european language family includes most of European languages and many of India, Iran, Pakistan and nearby regions. Other branches of the family are Germanic (with English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German and Dutch), Italic (Latin and its descendents), Baltic (the closest to Slavic, with Lithuanian and Latvian), Aryan (Sanskrit, Hindi, Bengali, Nepali), Iranian (Persian, Kurdish, Tadjik), Albanian (Albanian alone), Greek (modern and ancient Greek), Celtic (Irish, Scottish, Welsh) and Armenian (Armenian alone).

European languages that don’t belong to Indo-Eeuropean are Hungarian, Estonian, Finnish, Lappish (which belong to Finno-Ugric, related to Turkish and maybe Japanese) and Basque, a language that’s not related to any other.

Slavic languages, after Baltic, are the today’s most conservative languages in relation in comparison to old Indo-European languages. That means they keep characteristics that most other languages already lost, only found in languages like Latin, Ancient Greek and Sanskrit. And Polish is perhaps the most conservative of Slavic languages, keeping nasal vowels and a very complicated phonetic system and declensions systems.

Fourty million people speak Polish in Poland, practically all the population. Outside Poland there are Polish-speaking communities in the US, in countries bordering Poland, in Brazil, in Canada, in Argentina and in Australia, summing up another 10 million speakers. The Kashubian language of Poland is an independent language, since it is not intelligible for those who speak only Polish.

The first literary monuments in Polish date back to the XIII and XIV centuries, called Kazania Świętokrzyskie and Kazania Gnieznieńskie. Poland was always linked to Western culture and the Roman Catholic Church, and its language was always written in the Latin alphabet, unlike some other Slavic languages such as Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian or Bulgarian. Poland, however, differs from Western Europe in what concerns literary lay production, which only starts in the XVII century with graphic centers brought by the Germans. Untill then, all literary production in Polish was of religious content. What boosted this change was the Counter-reformation, which in order to successfully keep Protestantism out of Poland, had to publish in Polish and not in Latin any more- ironically that was the thought of the Reformists who started preaching in the vernacular in order to convince the people of their faith. It also lead to the uniformization of the spelling rules, which by the XVII century was chaotic: what today is spelt “sz” could the be written “s”, “sch”, “sy” or “ssy” for instance. Modern Polish is a uniform language throughout the territory, due to the desperate attempts to keep the language alive during the centuries of foreign occupation by Germany and Russia.

Famous Poles are Mikołaj Kopernik (Nicholau Copernicus); Fredrik Chopin (composer); Lech Wałęsa (founder of the Solidarność [Solidarity] Party against communism and former president); Karol Wojtyła (Pope John Paul the 2nd/ Papież Jan Paweł Drugi), Krzysztof Kieślowski (movie director), Henryk Sienkiewicz (writer of “Quo Vadis”) and Marie Curie (discoverer of radioactivity).

With Brazil, Poland has many ties. For instance, Brazil has welcomed hundreds of thousands of Polish immigrants which build up much of the population of the Southern States, especially Paraná and its capital city Curitiba. Brazil had early in the 20th century a Constitution dubbed a polaca (the Pole) due to its inspiration on Polish models, and on the economic side, one can add that Poland is the country most indebted with Brazil, although our President has recently pardoned much of that debt.

This grammar is not what is called a systematic work. That means subjects are not introduced gradually. I wrote it mostly for my own enjoyment and self-study. So you see in the verb chapter examples with nouns and pronouns, which are explained earlier. The recommended way of studying via this grammar is reading every chapter several times so that every aspect of the language can be understood. And it was written intended to those who speak at least English, no knowledge of other languages is required.

Abbreviations used in this grammar: pf= perfective verb; im= impefective verb; acc= accusative; gen.= genitive; nom.= nominative; locat.= locative; instr.= instrumental; pres.= present; pl.= plural; sg.= singular; im.=imperfective; pf.= perfective. When I say only “singular” or “plural” I mean nominative singular or plural.

2. Jak adaptować komputery dla polskich znaków.

2. How to view Polish characters on your computer.

I believe all computers are able to read the Polish fonts used in this Grammar. But if yours isn’t, here’s a guideline:

Windows 98 (and maybe 95) is enabled with a feature called Multilingual Support which can be optionally installed from the original CD. If you never installed that option, run the Windows 98 CD and, from the first screen, choose the last option. Click then on Multilingual Support (I don’t know if that is the exact name) and choose Central European or CE. You can choose the other options too, Cyrillic, Turkish, Greek and Baltic. When installation is complete, find keyboard properties on control panel and choose to install some Slavic language. You may then, if you do not chose Polish, but instead, let’s say, Czech, click on properties and change the codification to whichever language you want, in our case, Polish (“Polish programmers” is better). This will facilitate the typing because only Polish signs will be available. All depends also on your keyboard. You don’t have to make Polish the standard language. You can alternate between languages by pressing Alt+Shift. If the acronym that may appear on the work barr changed then your computer is set to not only read but also write Slavic languages, Albanian, Hungarian and Romanian. If you want to write in Central European characters you are going to have to find out which keys correspond to which symbol, but that´s not too difficult. Usually the special signs are located on the non-letter keys like “ ; : > < ` ~ - + = ? / \ | and so on. Again, it depends on your keyboard.

I don’t know whether Windows 95 had that feature, but I believe so.

3. Polska wymowa.

3. Polish pronunciation.

Polish at first sight might seem difficult to pronounce, but there are steady rules and once you master them it’s easy figuring out a word’s pronunciation from its spelling. Word stress is nearly always on the penultimate syllable. The groups “ia”, “ie”, “io”, “yj”, “ji”, “iu”, “ja”, “je” count as one sillable: “historia” and not “historia”; “mieszkanie” /mieszkanie/ (apartment). But a vowel other than “i” or “j” (“j” is actually a semi-vowel) followed by another one. count as separate syllables: “nauka” /nauka/ (science); “alei” /alei/ (genitive plural of “aleja”, avenue; it has three syllables).

Between brackets are the name of the letters in Polish. Vowels are called after their sound. The special signs of Polish are called „kreska” or „kreseczka”. Thus you call „ź” „ze z (with) kreseczką”, „ą” „a z kreseczką”, „ś” „es z kreseczką”, „ł” „el z kreseczką”, etc. But the „ż” is called „ze z kropką”. (z with a dot). But you can call these letters after their sound too: „ ł”= „eł”; „ś”= „eś”; „ż”= „że”. Except „ó”, which is always called „o kreskowane”, „o z kreską” or „o z kreseczką”

Note that the consonants “d”, “b”, “g”, “z”, “ż”, “rz”and “w” are pronounced respectively as “t”, “p”, “k”, “s”, “sz”, “sz” and “f” when at the end of words and before or after hard consonants (t, p, k, s, f, c).

There are no short or long vowels in modern Polish, all have the same length. Medieval Polish, like modern Czech or Slovak, had long and short vowels.

The letters “k” and “g” are very touchy: they cannot be followed by “y” or “e” (but “ę” is ok). When they for some reason have to be followed by “e”, an “i” must be inserted between: “kie” and “gie”. The “i” is not pronounced. And the “y” must be replaced by “i”: “ki” and “gi” and never “ky” or “gy”. “Kiełbasa” /keubasa/ (sausage); “giełda” /geuda/ (stock exchange).

The letter “ó” occurs mainly when its the final vowel. When an ending in added, it returns to “o”. So we conclude the spelling “ó” is etymological, showing the origin of the word and that /o/ to /u/ must have been a recent phonetic development. It was originally a long [o], but evolved into a [u] sound and thus its special spelling was mantained.

The origins of the cluster „rz” are the palatalization of the old „r”, different from „ż”, which is a palatalized „z”, therefore their distinction is purely etymological. Notice that the palatalization of the „r” has happened partially in Czech, where the letter „ř” is pronounced between /r/ and /ż/.

The letters „z” and „s”, comming immediately before a softened consonant (i.e., a consonant with kreska or followed by „i”), gain a kreseczka (= becomes soft too): „ściana” (wall); „jeździć” (go)

4. Rzeczowniki, przymiotniki i zaimki.

4. Nouns, adjectives and pronouns.

4.1 Wpowadzenie do deklinacyj– An introducton to declensions

The Polish language, even more than the other Slavic languages, is very complex and full of intricacies. One could define it as one of the most complex of all Indo-european languages of Europe (the Sorbian language manages to be even more complicated). It’s very logic however.

In Polish all nouns belong to one of three genders: masculine, feminine or neuter. Masculine nouns usually end in a consonant, feminine nouns in “a” and neuter nouns in “o” or “e”. The adjectives that qualify them have rather different endings, “y” or “i” for masculine, “a” for feminine, and “e” for neuter. In the plural the endings are “i” or “y” for masculine animate (nouns describing men and masculine animals) and “e” for others. Among Slavic languages, Polish is the only one that such a clear division between masculine animate and inanimate (and animate in the plural should also be subdivided in to personal and animal- therefore one could say Polish has five genders...).

In addition to the formation of plurals, Polish knows a feature called declension, which causes the adjectives, nouns, pronouns and numbers to change their form according to their function in the sentence (or clause) in which they are found. This feature is also found in Latin, Greek and in most other Slavic languages so if you have some knowledge of these languages it will help a lot. But, unlike in Latin, nouns don’t fit in a few declension categories (five in Latin), but they may present many more difficulties. See chapter on Case Usage and Formation for more.

4.1.1 Deklinacja męskich rzeczowników i przymiotników- Declension of masculine nouns and adjectives.

Notes: As there is no article in Polish, “nowy dom” can mean “a new house” “the new house” or simply “new house” depending on the context. Also note that adjectives can come after the noun if they are given emphasis or in an expression: “Teatr Wielki”, Great Theater (name of a theater). And from this example is already clear the Indo-european characteristic of Polish grammar and vacabulary (in Latin, “nowy dom” =“novus domus”).

You see, singular and plural words may fall into one of the seven cases depending on the the word’'s function in the sentence. Notice that in the case above, there is no difference either in meaning or in form between the nominative (which is the dictionary or base form of words) and the accusative. However one should use the accusative for words that are the object of the sentence’s action like in “he bought a new house” (on kupił nowy dom), andbecause the accusative form differs from the nominative in feminine words and masculine words denoting animals and people. “Biała kobieta” = “white woman”, is in the nominative. But “I saw the white woman” is “ja widziałem białą kobietę”, thus “białą kobietę” is the accusative of “biała kobieta”. As I said, for masculine nouns indicating animals and people there is a difference between nominative and accusative. This difference is that in those cases the accusative has the same form as the genitive. Thus “wielki chrząszcz” (big beetle) becomes “wielkiego chrząszcza”. “Żaba zjadła wielkiego chrząszcza”, “the frog ate the big beetle”; “Ja znam polskiego chłopca”, “I know a Polish guy” (polski chłopiec= Polish guy, young man). But in the plural only those indicating men go to the genitive, those indicating animals have accusative plural like the nominative plural: “żaba zjadła wielkie chrząszcze”, “the frog ate the big beetles”; but “Ja znam polskich chłopców”, “I know Polish guys”. See the femine declension:

4.1.2 Deklinacja żeńskich rzeczowników i przymiotników – Declension of feminine nouns and adjectives

You realize that in the singular adjective the endings vary very little, only “a”, “ą” and “ej”. You probably also noticed that there are stem changes in the locative and dative singular of “kobieta” (kobiecie). That is due to the fact that the endings for these cases is “ie” and when the letter “i” comes after a “t”, the “t” is pronounced like “ć” and must be written “ci”. The combination “ti” is found only a few in foreign words in Polish. See chapters on Pronunciation and sound alternations

4.1.3 Deklinacja nijakich rzeczowników i przymiotników – Declension of neuter nouns and adjectives:

The neuter declension is very similar to the masculine one:

You realize that, like in the feminine case, the ending for the genitive plural of nouns is zero. However why did “okno” become “okien”? It’s that “okn” would be too difficult to pronounce (even for Poles!) so the vowel “e” (the so-called “fleeting e”) must be inserted. The actual historical reason for this is the Proto-Slavic ultra-short vowels, which are mantained alive in such cases. In this case “ie” was inserted, for the combination “ke” is prohibited in Polish spelling, because a “k” (as well as a “g”) cannot be followed by “e”. The pronunciation however is /ok’en/ not /okjen/, since the “i” is a mere orthographical palatalization mark.

Neuters from Latin ending in “um”, like “muzeum”, are not declined in the singular, only in the plural: “muzea, muzea, muzeów, muzeom, muzeami, muzeach”.

4.2 Przymiotniki - Adjectives

There are adjectives that in the masculine singular nominative (base form) end in “i” instead of “y”, usually ending in “ni”, “ki” or “gi”, like “ostatni” (last); “drugi” (second); “długi” (long); “wysoki” (high); “brzydki” (ugly). Here’s the differences:

-The endings “ym” and “ymi” become “im” and “imi”.

-In those in “ni”, the “i” never disapears: “ostatnia” (not “ostatna”, but “brzydka”).

-Of course because “g” and “k” can’t be followed by “e”, the endings “ego”, “emu” and “e” become “iego”, “iemu” and “ie”: “wysokie”, “długiemu”, “drugiego”, and again the “i” is not pronounced.

As I said, the base form of adjectives, just like it happens in Latin languages, is the masculine singular nominative form. So in the dictionaries if you search “biała” you won’t find it, you’ll find „ biały”. From that form you deduce the other forms: „ biała” is feminine, „ białe” is neuter and so on. „Nowy” makes „nowa” and „nowe”. „Dobry” (good) makes „dobra” and „dobre”. Plural is always like neuter, except for masculine nouns indicating people and animals. See next item.

In addition to the normal forms of adjectives you will see here, there are the short endingless forms used predicatively with masculine singular nouns. Only a few adjectives have such forms however, the most important of which are ciekawy (ciekaw- curious), zdrowy (zdrów - healthy), wesoły (wesół, joyful), pełny (pełen, full).

4.2.1 – Forma męskoosobowa mnoga przymiotników – Masculine plural of adjectives.

In the masculine personal plural the ending for adjectives is “i” or “y” instead of “e”, as stated above. But it should be remarked that these endings cause changes in the stem of the adjective, the softening, like in the locative of nouns. Thus “dobry” becomes “dobrzy”; “drogi” (dear)> “drodzy”; “lepszy” (better)> “lepsi”; “nasz” (our)> “nasi”; “duży” (big)> “duzi”; “zajęty” (engaged)> “zajęci”; “jaki” (which)> “jacy”; “taki” (such)> “tacy”; “polski” (Polish)> “polscy”; “mały”> “mali”; “biały”> “bieli”; “ciepły” (warm)> “ciepli”; “młody” (young)> “młodzi”.

Another one: “wszystko” (everything, all) makes normal plural “wszystkie” (every) but masculine personal “wszyscy” (everybody, all, every).

If the plural expression contains both masculine and feminine (or even masculine with neuter) nouns, still masculine personal plural is used: “Drodzy Mężczyźni i Kobiety”(dear men and women- “drogi”= “dear”).

Note: The reason why Polish adjectives follow such a different pattern than nouns is that in some point of history the Slavic adjectives began to use the endings of the third person pronouns. See the declension of pronouns in a following item.

4.2.2 Stopniowanie przymiotników – Comparison of adjectives

Comparison of adjectives is made through the suffix “-iejszy”, “-szy”, and others with help of the word “bardziej” (more), itself a comparative of the adverb “bardzo” (very). The ending “iejszy” is only used for adjectives ending in a cluster of consonants. Superlatives are formed from the comparative plus prefix “naj-”, or through “najbardziej”. The “-szy” causes softening.

Irregular ones:

Adjectives that take “bardziej, najbardziej” are: gorzki (bitter); leniwy (lazy); uparty (stubborn), those ending in “-ski”, “-owy”, “-liwy” and with the prefix “nie-”.

The conjunction they use for comparative is “niż” plus nominative or “od” plus genitive. But when “bardziej” is used only “niż” is used. And “z” plus genitive for superlative. To say “less, the least” use “mniej, najmniej” for all adjectives:

Kobiety są trudniejsze od gramatyk- women are more difficult than grammars

Kobiety są trudniejsze niż gramatyki- women are more difficult than grammars

(trudny= difficult; gramatyka= grammar; są= are)

Polish adjectives agree with the noun they qualify even in the predicate (i.e. not immediately close to the noun, like when they’re after the verb “to be”, “to become”, etc.): “Okno jest dobre”, “dom jest nowy”, “kobieta jest biała” (“jest” = “is”). The basic form of adjectives is the masculine nominative singular, which you will find in dictionaries. The base form of the adjectives above are: “dobry”, “nowy” and “biały”.

The adverbial form of the comparative is the same obtained by removing “sz” from the adjective form and adding “(i)ej” or some other change. Thus “lepszy”> “lepiej”; “gorszy”> “gorzej”; “dalszy” > dalej” ; “krótszy”> “krócej”; “szybszy”> “szybciej”. Add “naj-” to form the superlative.(najlepiej, najgorzej, najdalej, etc.).

4.3 Zaimki - Pronouns

Pronoun declension types are subdivided into two main categories: a) those of 1st and 2nd persons; b) those of the 3rd person.

As you can see, 1st and 2nd person pronouns are very similar to those of the Germanic and Romance languages. The second (short) forms “mię, cię, mi, ci” are unstressed in the sentence, theiry long counterparts are emphatic. In today’s speech it must be noticed that mnie has replaced mię. In the dative and instrumental plural, they already show, in the dative and instrumental, similarities with the endings of adjectives and nouns in the same cases. And notice that their genitive and accusative are always the same: pronouns behave like masculine nouns in this matter. With some two exceptions, the same is valid for 3rd person pronouns:

Note: “Oni” is masculine personal plural and “one” is everything else plural.

The exceptions are the accusative of “ono”, “ona” and “one”, which are not the same as the genitive. So they behave like neuter adjectives. These pronouns are the source for the endings of adjectives!!!

In the cases that have more then one form, the one beginning with “n” (niego, niej, nich, niemu, etc.) come after prepositions only. The short forms (go, je, mu, jej, im, etc.) come unstressed in the middle of the sentence. And the full forms (jego, jemu) occur only when emphasis is given. Examples:

Dzisiaj go widziałem –Today I saw him (widzieć= to see)

Jego widziałem dzisiaj/ widziałem jego dziasiaj – I saw him today

Szedłeś do niego- You were going to him. (“szedłeś”, past of imperf. “iść”, to go; “do” prep. “to”)

Take care, for pronouns should be used according to the grammatical gender of the word they stand for. “Kupiliśmy pióro” (we bought the/a pen); “Kupiliśmy je” (we bought it). “Przeczytałam książkę” (I read the/a book) “Ją przeczytałam” (I read it); “(Oni) budowali kościół” (they built the/a church) “(Oni) go budowali” (they built it).

Also note that Polish pronouns remain in the nominative when they stand alone, unlike English: “Kto, ja?” (Who, me?).

Possessive words are: 1st person singular: mój/ moja/ moje (my); 2nd person singular: twój/ twoja/ twoje (your [singular]); 1st person plural: nasz/ nasza/ nasze (our); 2nd person plural: wasz/ wasza/ wasze (your [plural]). They are declined like adjectives. For the 3rd person (his, her, its, their) they are like the genitive of personal pronouns (jego, jej, jego, ich) and indeclinable, without short or “n-” forms.

Mój przyjaciel – my friend; “widziałeś mojego przyjaciela”- you saw my friend.

Moja kobieta- my woman; “dałeś coś mojej kobiecie”- you gave something to my wife (dative).

Twoje dziecko- your child; “jestem z twoim dzieckiem” – I am with your child.

Jego dom- his house; “byłam w jego domu”- I was in his house.

Jej ciastko jest bardzo dobre- Her cake is very good

There is in addition the reflective possessive “swój, swoja, swoje”, which is used to refer to the subject of the sentence. “Ja sprzedałem swojego psa” (I sold my dog; “sprzedać”, pf, to sell; “pies”, dog, fleeting “e” like in “okien”). This avoids a lot of confusion with the third person possessives: “On czytał jego książkę”= “he was reading his (sombody else’s) book”; but “on czytał swoją książkę”= “he was reading his (own) book”.

In the masculine personal plural nominative “nasz” and “wasz” become “nasi”, “wasi”; and “mój, twój, swój” become “moi, twoi, swoi”. See adjectives above. Also notice that with the endings “-ym”, “-ymi” the forms are “moim”, “moimi”, “twoim, twoimi”, “swoim, swoimi”. And sometimes longer forms of the pronouns “twój” and „swój” lose the „oj” syllable when the declension ending is added: „twemu” (=twojemu); „twej” (=twojej); „swego” (=swojego).

Note: pronouns, like adjectives, have their vocative like their nominative. And there is no such distinction like the English “my/mine”, “our, ours”, etc: “Mój dom”= “my house”; “Dom jest mój”= “the house is mine”..

The reflexive pronoun “siebie” (eachother, oneself) is declined: “siebie, siebie, sobie, sobie, sobą, sobie”. “Kupiłem sobie dom”= “I bought myself a house” (kupiłem= I bought)

Polish is the only Slavic languages with distinct formal address words. Instead of using “wy” for respectful treatment, as Russian does, Polish uses the nouns “pan” (sir) and “pani” (lady) to address elders, superiors and so on. The verb goes to the third person. Their plural is “państwo”. “Czy pan chce wino?”= “Do you want wine, sir” (“czy”= question particle; “chce”= 3rd person singular of “chcieć”, to want; „wino”= wine). They are declined like nouns, but the accusative singular of „pani” is irregular: „panią” (if regular it would be „panię”)

The pronoun “czyj, czyja, czyje” (whose) is declined like an adjective (masc. pers. pl. “czyi”). “Który, która, które” means “which”, declined as an adjective also (masc. pers. pl. “którzy”)

The pronouns “nic” (nothing) “co” (what) and “kto” (who)are as follows:

Many indefinite pronouns are formed by the suffux “ś”: “coś”= “something”; “ktoś”= “someone”. Their declension is like that of their base form plus “ś”: czegoś, kogoś, czemuś, komuś, etc. “Nikt” (nobody) is declined like “kto”: nikogo, nikomu, nikim.

Demonstrative pronouns are declined in similar fashion:

Note: Colloquially the accusative of “ta” is “tą”. The same pattern is followed by “tamten, tamta, tamto, tamci, tamte” (that, those; from “tam”= “there”), but the accusative of “tamta” is always “tamtą”. And “ci”, used for masculine personal plural, is nothing but “t” + “i”.

5. Użycie i powstawanie przypadków.

5. Case usage and formation.

5.1 Co jest deklinacja? – What is a declension?

For those who do not have a clue as to what is a case or a declension, here I go: all sentences possible in every human language possess a limited number of parts. Usually the one that makes the action expressed in the sentence is the subject, in Polish it goes to the nominative case. The action itself is represented by the verb, which agrees with the subject. There’s no case for the verb, obviously, since the verb is the central part of the case system which will determine to what case other words go. The thing or person that suffered that action is the direct object, usually going to the accusative in Polish. But if this whole action is made to somebody or something and this is expressed in the utterance, these are the indirect object, represented almost invariably by the dative case. However in the sentence we can’t only say who did what to whom, but also when, why, where, etc, elements which are called adverbs or adverbial expressions or even circumstatial expressions. That’s basically it, practically all human utterances in history followed that pattern.

But not all languages show this function of words in their form. The languages that do are called declension languages and are numerous in Europe. Slavic languages are such, except for Bulgarian and Macedonian, which lost their declension systems. Here’s the basic human language clause structure:

Note:This is not the necessary order, and not all elements are present in every clause. The cases shown in the bottom line areis not the only one possible for the corresponding function, but they’reit’s the most common in Polish.

The number of adverbial expressions a clause can have is enormous, so there are many y cases for them. A pure adverb (a single non-derived word that expresses circumstances of time, reason, space, means, etc.) like “today, there, here, far, now, again” (in Polish: “dzisiaj/ dziś, tam, tu/tutaj, daleko, teraz, znów”) can be used there to, and they are of course indeclinable. In the examples above the indirect object was used by a preposition and therefore could also be classified as a circumstantial expression (of aim).

5.2 Każdy przypadek wyjaśniony – Each case explained

Here rules are given for the declension of nouns. Adjectives are always declined according to the patterns shown above.

5.2.1 Mianownik - Nominative

Nominative case is used for the subjects of clauses. Nominative singular is the dictionary form, or base form, of nouns. From this form you get the other ones. Nominative plural is no problem for neuter nouns – they always form it by replacing their final “e” or “o” with “a”: “okno” > “okna”; “mieszkanie” (apartment) > “mieszkania”, “morze” (sea) > “morza”, etc (exception: “dziecko” (child) > “dzieci”). For masculine nouns, however, many problems can arise. Some are irregular, like “człowiek” (human being) > “ludzie”; “brat” (brother) > “bracia”; “ksiądz” (priest) > “księża”; “rok” (year) has plural “lata”, a normal neuter plural noun declined as such; masculine nouns ending in “anin” (usually describing nationality) such as “warszawianin”, “rosjanin” have plural “warszawianie”, “rosjanie”. Most masculine take “y” or “i” in the nominative plural; some take “owie” or “e”. Many nouns denoting persons take “owie”: “syn” (son) > “synowie”; “mąż” (man) “mężowie”, others: ojciec (ojcowie); dziadek (dziadkowie, grandfather); “wuj” (wujowie, uncle); generał (generałowie); kapitan (kapitanowie); oficer, inżynier; pan. Some masculines ending in “er”, “ar” and “or” can take either “y” (with change of the final “r” to “rz”) or “owie”, the latter denoting more importance and respect: “autor” (author) > “autorzy” or “autorowie”, others are “doktor”, “aktor”, “bohater” (hero); “dyrektor”; “profesor” etc. Masculines that take “i” without ending in “k” or “g” (which cannot be followed by “y”, the normal plural masculine ending) are “chłop” (peasant) > “chłopi”; “biskup” (bishop) > “biskupi”; “Szkot” (Scot) > “Szkoci”; “Szwed” (Swede) > “Szwedzi”. Several masculines ending in “-ak, yk, ik” if denoting persons have those endings changed into “acy, ycy, icy” (Polak, Polacy; śpiewak (singer), śpiewacy; rzeźnik (butcher), rzeźnicy, etc.). But denoting things: “słownik” (dictionary, vocabulary) > “słowniki”. Masculine personals with the Greek suffix –ista make nom.pl. –iści: “komunista”> “komuniści”. Others in “t”, “r”, “d” and so on suffer palatalization too: “wariat” (madman)> “wariaci”..

In addition, a few have change in the stem vowel, usually “ą” becomes “ę”: “błąd” (mistake) “błędy”; “rząd” (goverment)> “rzędy”.

A few gain “e”...

The following list makes unnecessary any rules for masculine nominative plurals in “e”.

The plural of “tydzień” (week, derived from “dzień”) is “tygodnie”. In the singular this noun is also irregular: “tydzień, tydzień, tygodniu, tygodniowi, tygodniem, tygodniu”. The plural cases are regular from “tygodnie”. “Dzień” is declined likewise.

Feminine nouns ending in “–a” and have plural in “y” (except those in “ka” or “ga”, which repalce the “a” with “i”, and those in -ca or -c gain -e). “Kobieta”> “kobiety”; “żona” (wife)> “żony”; “księga” (book)> “księgi”; “łyżka” (spoon)> “łyżki”; “noc” (night)> “noce”. Those in soft consonants gain “i”: “pieśń” (song)> “pieśni”; “zazdrość” (jealousy)> “zazdrości”; “pamięć” (recollection)> “pamięci”. If ending in “ia” or “ja”, replace the final “a” with “e”: “księgarnia” (bookstore)> “księgarnie”; “instytucja” (institution)> “instytucje”; “historia” (history)> “historie”; “aleja” (avenue)> “aleje”.

Remeber that the subject of a clause can come in the genitive plural if this subject is masculine personal preceded by numbers from 5 on or indefinite numbers (see numbers). In this case the verb remains in the singular (neuter form in the past).

5.2.2 Wołacz – Vocative

The vocative case is used to call someone or something, especially used in literature and poetry. Nouns ending in “a” have “o”, neuters don’t change, masculine and feminine nouns ending in consonant have the same form as locative singular. In the plural there is no change from the nominative. Adjectives, numbers and pronouns have the same form as nominative too. It’s necessary to use the vocative to call someone.

5.2.3 Biernik – Accusative

The accusative case, used normally for the direct objects and with some prepositions (see Prepositions) is the same as nominative for neuter nouns singular and plural. Most masculine nouns don’t have any distinction either, except those in”a”, which form accusative in “ę”: “kapitalista”> “kapitalistę” and those describing animals and men (called animate masculine). For those, accusative has the same form as genitive in the singular, but only for those describing men the accusative plural is like genitive plural, for those describing animals, accusative plural is like nominative plural. With feminine nouns, which 90% of times end in “a”, make the accusative in “ę”. Those ending in “ni” also gain “ę”: “gospodyni” (housekeeper), accusative: “gospodynię”. Those ending in consonant don’t change: elektryczność (electricity), noc (night), pamięć (recollection).

Remember that the direct object of a verb comes in the genitive if the verb is negated with “nie”.

Prepositions that govern the accusative usually do so as an alternative to their other case (locative, dative) when instead of location, they indicate movement. See Prepositions.

5.2.4 Miejscownik – Locative

The locative case is the only case that always must be used with a preposition, not only to convey the meaning of place, but with any prepositions that require the locative case (which should be called “prepositional” like in Russian) such as “o” (about). The accusative and the dative are required by some prepositions, and the genitive by several. See chapter on prepositions for more.

Nouns in the locative singular:

Stems ending in –n, -m, -r, -t, -p, -s, -f, -z, -b have locative singular in –ie.

Those masculine or neuter ending in –j, -k, -l, -ń, -ć, -ż, ł, -ch, -k, -g gain “u”.

Feminine nouns whose stems end in –ć, -ń gain “i”, those ending in –c, gain “y”.

Feminine and masculine nouns ending in “ta”, “ga”, “ka”, “ra”, “ła” make “cie”, “dze”, “ce”, “rze”, “le”; others in –a gain “ie”


Masculine and neuter nouns that have –ie/ -e are:

Note: The change from “ia” to “ie” occurs only in originally Polish words, thus “wariat”> “wariacie” and not “wariecie”, for this wors derives from Romance languages (c.p. Portuguese “variar”= “to vary”, or colloquially “to be crazy”). And notice that “list” (letter) and “lista” (list) both have locat. sing. “liście”.

Locative plural always in “ach” with no exceptions, and no unusual sound changes: “światło”> “światłach”; “miasto”> “miastach”; “kościół”> “kościołach”. But “błąd”> “błędach”, for this change from “ą” to “ę” occurs in some masculine nouns whenever they gain an ending (see below), with “rząd”, genitive is “rzędu”: plural “rzędy”. “Ciąg”, locat. and gen.”ciągu”. Did I say no exeptions? Well, “Niemcy” (Germany), “Czechy” (Bohemia or Czech Republic) and “Włochy” (Italy), which are plural-only feminine nouns, have locative “Niemczech”, “Czeszech” and “Włoszech”.

5.2.5 Narzędnik -– Instrumental

The instrumental can be used with or without preposition. But, if without one, always conveying means. There’s one exception: the instrumental is used with the verb “być” when it means “a = b” like in “ja jestem Ppolakiem” (I am a Pole), where “Ppolakiem” is the instrumental of “pPolak”. Or “Jan jest pPolakiem” that means “Jan is a Pole”, compare “Janem jest Polak”, “A Pole is Jan”. Also the verb “zostać”, to become, demands instrumental. Some short nouns ending in “ć” and “ń” make instrumental plural (which is usually in “-ami”) in “mi”: “gość” (guest), “gośćmi” (with the guests); “dziecko” (child); nominative plural “dzieci”, instrumantal plural “dziećmi”, “ksiądz”, nominative plural “księża”, instrumeltal plural “księżmi”, “braci” (brothers)> “braćmi”; “ludzie” (people) > “ludźmi”, “koń”> “końmi”; “ręka” (hand) which besides “rękami” can have “rękoma”. There’s seldom an irregularity in the formation of instrumental singular or plural. In the singular, feminine nouns end always in “ą”, even ending with consonant: “noc, nocą”, “miłość, miłością” (night, love). Masculine and neuter nouns are always in “em”.

5.2.6 Dopełniarz -– Genitive

The basic meaning of the very important genitive case is that of the English preposition “of”. “Książka kobiety”, “the book of the woman”, where “kobiety” is the genitive singular of “kobieta”. A special use of the genitive is for direct objects of negative verbs. “Ja kocham kobietę”, “I love the woman”, where “kobietę” is the accusative of “kobieta”; but: “Ja nie kocham kobiety”, “I don’t love the woman”, “kobiety” being the genitive singular form. Also not that “jest/ są” mean “there is/ there are” but if negated become “nie ma” (there isn’t, there aren’t), then the complement goes to the genitive: “Jest chleb”= “there is bread”; “nie ma chleba”= “there isn’t bread” (but negated past is “nie było chleba”). Genitive singular of masculine nouns is either in “u” or “a”, the latter being the only one possible for animate nouns. For inanimate nouns, those describing a substance or abstract concept or ending in “-j” gain “u”. Those describing objects not ending in “j” gain “a”(but “deszcz” , rain; “stół”, table, gain “u”). Genitive plural is in “ów” for masculine words ending in hard consonants (p, k, t, d, s, g, c, r, z, f, cz, sz, rz, ł jetc.) and in “i” for those ending in soft consonants (ń, ć, l, dź, j- but “kraj”, country> krajów). Latin words in –um lose this ending: muzeum- muzeów.

The curious thing is that genitive plural ending of neuter and feminine nouns is zero! You remove the final –a, -e or –o and you get the genitive plural. But some feminine nouns end in an consonant, like “ć”, “c” and some even in “l”. Those cases have genitive plural in “i” or “y”: “miłość (love), miłości”; “noc (night), nocy”; “sól (salt) soli”. Genitive plural of “cło” (customs) and “szkło” (glass) is “ceł” and “szkieł” (insertion of fleeting “e”). Here’s a list of the most important changes in feminine and neuter nouns in the genitive plural:

Note: one masculine noun has genitive plural like that: mężczyzna (man)> mężczyzn. Other masculines in –a. mMake all cases like a feminine except genitive plural. And “żona” is the only wexception for ord not suffering the “o”> “ó” change.

Feminine nouns in “–ia” make genitive plural in “ii” or “yj”: “historia> historii” or “historyj”. Those in “-nia” make “ni” or “ń”: “księgarnia” (bookstore)> “księgarni”/ “księgarń”, but “kuchnia” (kitchen)> “kuchni”. Those in “ja” can make either “ji” or “yj”, the latter one being used to avoid confusion with the genitive singular: organizacja”> “organizacji”, which can be both genitive singular and plural, or “organizacyj”, which can be only genitive plural. However if the ending “ja” is preceded by a vowel it becomes “i” in the genitive plural: “aleja” (avenue)> “alei”.

Some masculine genitive plurals can have two forms, one with “y” or “i” and the other with “ów”: “deszcz”, rain> “deszczy” or “deszczów”; “nóż”, knife> “noży” or “nożów”; “cień” shadow> “cieni” or “cieniów”; “pokój”, room, peace> “pokoi” or “pokojów”; “złodziej”. thief> “złodziei” or “złodziejów”. “Przyjaciel” (friend) has an irregular genitive/ accusative plural: “przyjaciół” (the same with “nieprzyjaciel”, enemy).

5.2.7 Celownik - Dative

Dative is used for the indirect objects, like “man” in “I gave it to the man”. (je dałem mężczyznie). For feminine nouns, dative singular is like the locative. Masculine nouns ending in consonant have usually “owi”, but a few have “u”. “Gość (guest), gościowi”, “pan, panu”. The few that end in “u” are: bóg, brat, chłop, chłopiec, diabeł, ojciec, lew, kot, pies and świat (god, bother, peasant, boy, devil, father, lion, cat, dog and world). Note that the “ie” in “chłopiec”, “pies” and “ojciec” is fleeting: “chłopcu”, “psu” and “ojcu”, and “bóg” becomes “bogu”. Neuter nouns have their dative singular always in “u”, and in the plural all nouns have dative in “om”.

5.3 Inne rzeczy o deklinacjach – Other things about declensions

There are consonant and vowel changes in some cases for certain nouns. For instance, in the locative the ending is usually “ie”, and as the vowel “i” requires softening of preceding consonants, words like “kobieta” (woman), “Polska” (Poland), “krzesło” (chair), and “kolega” become “kobiecie”, “Polsce” “krześle”, and “koledze”. As the dative ending for feminine nouns is always the same as the locative, such changes also occur.

In a few masculine nouns ending in a consonant and containing “ą” in the stem, this “ą” becomes “ę” when an ending is added: “błąd” (mistake) > nom. pl. “błędy”; “mąż” (husband)> “mężowie”; “miesiąc” (month)> “miesięcy”. Notice that when a word that contains “ę” loses its ending making “ę” the final vowel, it becomes “ą” too. Thus “ręka” (hand), gen.pl.> “rąk”. So we conclude that “ą” doesn’t like being the final vowel just like “o”, which becomes “ó” in the position of final vowel, but this is far more frequent.

The fleeting “e” is a very common phenomenon in Polish, as it is in other Slavic languages. An “e” (or “ie”) sometimes exists to avoid a difficult to pronounce consonant cluster at the end of a word. So the theoretical word for “April”, “kwietń-” (from “kwiat”, flower) becomes “kwiecień” (with “t” > “c” due to contact with “i”) but locative singular “kwietniu” (with “iu” instead of only “u” to preserve the softness of the “ń”). Others, with nominative and locative forms shown: “dzień, dniu”; “ogień, ogniu”; Sometimes a word gains a fleeting “e”, it’s the case of the genitive plural of feminine and neuter nouns, whose ending is zero and exposes the stem of the word: “okno, okien”; “wojna, wojen”(war), “kreseczka, kreseczek” (dash marks). Some fleeting “e’s” cause irregularities: “dech”, breath, gen.: “tchu”, dat.: “tchowi”; etc. “Deszcz”, rain, can have fleeting “e” optionally, but it’s rare: gen.: “dżdżu”, nom. pl. “dżdże”, etc.

5.4 Inne przykłady – Other examples

Some masculine nouns end in –a. They are declined like feminine ones, except in the genitive plural, when they take “ów”: “poeta, poetę, poetów” (exception: “mężczyzna”, man, makes genitive plural “mężczyzn”).

5.5 Deklinacje nieregularne – Irregular declensions

Oko” (eye) and “ucho” (ear) have slightly irregular declensions in the plural: oczy, oczy oczu/oczów, oczom, oczami, oczach; uszy, uszy, uszu/uszów, uszom, uszami, uszach.

Ręka” (hand) has the following declension: singular: ręka, rękę, ręki, ręce, ręką, ręce; plural: ręce, ręce, rąk, rękom, rękoma/ rękami, rękach. These declensions are the sole reminicence of the old dual number in Polish, which was a plural of two in Old Slavic, also found in ancient Indo-european languages like Sanskrit and Greek. The only Slavic language that mantains dual throughout is Sorbian, with forms even for verbs.b

5.6 Nijakie rzeczowniki w “ę” – Neuter nouns in “ę”

Nouns ending in “ę” in the base form (i.e. nominative singular) are neuter and are declined in two main ways: like „zwierzę” (animal) or like „ramię” (arm). Those ending in „mię” are conjugated like „ramię” and the others like „zwierzę”.

Notes: It’s a small group. Another one, „dziewczę” means „young girl, maiden” but it’s neuter too! Thus „piękne dziewczę” (nice girl) instead of „piekna dziewczę”. The word „niemowlę” comes from „nie” (not) and „mówić” (to speak) or „mowa” (speech).

The declension of „zwierzę” reminds me of the Greek neuter nouns in „a” like „problema”, or „thema” that lost their final „t” in the base endingless form but retain it in other forms: nominative plural in „a”, thus, „problemata”, „themata”, genitive plural in „on” thus „problematon”, „thematon”. That’s the same phenomenon that has happened in Polish, the lost of the final „t”.

5.7 Miesięcy i dnie tygodnia – The months and the days of the week

Names of the months in Polish, except for “may” and “march”, are pre-Christian:

Notice what perfect examples of fleeting “e” the months are! Some of the names of the months come from natural phenomena or activities related to their time of the year. Relate the following words to the names of months:kwiat, flower; sierp, sickle; list, leaf, letter; padać, to fall. The preposition for locative is “w”: w marcu, we wrześniu, etc. “Luty” is declined like an adjective.

Days of the week are: niedziela, poniedziałek, wtorek, środa, czwartek, piątek, sobota. Their preposition is “w” with accusative: w niedzielę, w czwartek, w środę, we wtorek, w sobotę, etc.

5.8 Imiona osobowe – Personal names

The declension of Polish personal names follows the patterns above. If the surname ends in “ski”, “cki” its declined like an adjective, otherwise like a noun: “Ja czytałem artykuł o Monice Lewinskiej” (I was reading an article about Monika Lewinski”). “Ja nie lubię papieża Jana Pawła Drugiego” (I don’t like Pope John Paul the 2nd). “Cała Polska kochała Lecha Wałęsę” (The entire Poland loved Lech Wałęsa”). “Ja widzę film Krzysztofa Kiesłowskiego” (I’m watching a movie of Krzysztof Kiesłowski). Foreign names should also be declined “Cena Rolls Royce’a” (the price of a Rolls Royce). “Nie kup Forda Escorta” (Don’t buy a Ford Escort). “W Kadetcie” (In the Kadett). “To problem Billa Clintona” (This is Bill Clintons problem). “Sytuacja trudna Kohlowi” (The situation is difficult for Kohl).

6. Przyimki.

6. Prepositions.

They cause the words to go to a specific case. Some may demand more than one case.

bez (gen.)- without, out of.

dla (gen.)- for

do (gen.)- to, into, toward, for, until

ku (dat)- to

na (locat./ acc.)- to, in, on, for

nad (locat./ acc.)- at, to, by, over

o (locat./ acc.)- about, at (hour)

obok (gen.)- by, next to

od (gen.)- from, since

po (locat./ acc.)- after, at (price, hour)

pod (instr./ acc.)- under

przeciw, przeciwko (dative)- against

przed (instr./ acc.)- before

przez (acc.)- through

u (gen.)- by, at (store, house)

w, we (locat./ acc.)- in, on, into , onto

z, ze (gen.)- from

z, ze (instr.)- with

za (instr./ acc.)- behind, in (time), for (price)

Those prepositions of place that can demand two cases, one of them the accusative, do so when they refer to motion and not rest. “Idę w budynek” (accusative)= “I am going into the building”, but “Jestem w budynku” (locative)= “I am in the building”

“W” becomes “we” and “z” becomes “ze” when the next word starts with a group of consonants difficult to pronounce, especially if the word starts with the same letter as the preposition: “We wtorek” (on Tuesdays); “ze zdania” (from the sentence).

The preposition “o” (about) requires accusative instead of locative when it’s used in other senses as a helper of verbs: “Ja proszę o cierpliwość” (“I beg for patience”; “prosić o”= “to beg”, “to ask for”)

Notice that “z” has two meanings which are only distiguished by the case demanded, instrumental for “with” and genitive for “from”. In Russian they are different: “s/so” for “with” and “iz” for “from”; but in Polish both forms have converged.

Before the personal pronoun “mnie”, not only the prepositions “w” and “z” gain “e”, but also “od”, “bez” and “przez” (ode mnie, we mnie, ze mnie, beze mnie, przeze mnie= from me, in me, from me, without me, through me).

Compound prepositions are “zza” (from behind), “znad” (from... downward); “poza” (in addition); “naprzeciwko” (up against) “spoza” (z+po+za, behind). They demand genitive.

7. Czasowniki

7. Verbs

7.1 Wpowadzenie - Introduction

As regarded to verbs, they are in many aspects simpler than in Romance languages. They only have present and past forms. But each verb has an aspectual pair. So, an English verb would normally have two translations into Polish. To explain better, let’s translate “to do” into Polish: “robić”/ “ zrobić”. This is the aspectual pair. The first form (“robić”) means “to do”, of course, but it indicates no specific beginning or end to the action of doing. It’s in the imperfective aspect. The second form (“zrobić”) means “to do” but with an implicit limit to the action, indicated that it was initiated, realized and then completed and ended. It’s in the perfective aspect. Do not confuse perfective and imperfective aspects with perfect and imperfect tenses of the Germanic and Romance languages, for aspect is not tense, since both perfective and impefective verbs have infinitives, present forms and past forms. Their conjugation is totally independent, but I should remark that a perfective verb in the present tense form actually has the meaning of an action that will have begun and ended sometime in the future. Let’s see (present corresponds also to present continuous for imperfectives):

7.2 Czas teraźniejszy i nieosobowe formy czasownika “robić” – Present tense and impersonal forms of the verb “robić”.

Note: verbs are neagated with “nie” before them “ja nie robię”= “I don’t do, I am not doing”

You see that the present continuous form, “robiący”, of course, is derived from the imperfective form, for it is an undergoing process indefinite in time, whilst the past participle active, “zrobiwszy”, could only have been formed from the perfective form, for their action has already taken place and is completed. It is remarkably difficult to explain the aspects, and only practice will teach the student how to use the right aspectone. In a way, the marking of the verbal aspect in the form of verbs is a way of compensating for the poverty of verb tenses in the Slavic languages. In the past tense, unlike the other Slavic languages, there is a variation according to the person of the subject, alongside with the traditional Slavic gender and number variations of verbs. If the plural subject include both masculine and feminine nouns, the verb remains in the masculine plural.

7.3 Czas przeszły czasownikaod “robić” – Past tense of “robić”

In the past tense, unlike the other Slavic languages, there is a variation according to the person of the subject, alongside with the traditional Slavic gender and number variations of verbs. If the plural subject include both masculine and feminine nouns, the verb remains in the masculine plural. The reason why the past tense of today’s Slavic languages varies in gender is that the origin of the Slavic past is an old active present participle (“doing”), which today has become the past form. Slavic languages used to have other past forms similar to those of other Indo-European languages, which are preserved only in some Southern Slavic languages (Croatian, Serbian and Bulgarian as far as I know).

Note: In the plural, stress of the 1st and 2nd person of verbs falls on the same syllable as the 3rd person plural: “robiliśmy”, “zrobiliście”, since the personal endings are only .the present shortened forms of “być” (see below).

7.4 Więcej o czasie przeszłym/ “być” – More on the past tense/ “to be”

All verbs have these endings in the past. The origin of the personal endings of Polish verbs is probably the endings of the present tense of the verb “być” (to be) which, like in Czech or Croatian, was used most likely also by Polish as the auxiliary for the past. Check out the present of “być”: ja jestem, ty jesteś, on jest, my jesteśmy, wy jesteście, oni są (which can be omitted in the present). It’s likely that the old form of the past was “ja robił jestem” and then “ja robił em”. In Croatian and Serbian it happens until today: “ja radio sam” (I did/have done), from the verb “raditi” (to do) in the past masculine plus the first person singular present of “biti”, to be. The same in Czech and Slovak: “ja dělal jsem” in Czech (dělat, to do); “ja robil som” in Slovak (robit’, to do).

In the plural, like in adjectives, there is only the distiction between the masculine personal and non-personal forms. Another proof of my theory on the the origin of Polish personal endings for the past tense is that in many cases, especially in colloquial speech, tThe personal endings of the 1st and 2nd persons singular and plural may come detached from the verb and be attached to some other word. This is a very weird characteristic of Polish, totally unknown in Ukrainian and Russian but similar to the position of the auxiliary “to be” for the past tense in Czech, Slovak, Croatian and Serbian when the sentence doesn’t start with the verb. See:

“Pytasz się, cośmy robili” (instead of „Pytasz się, co robiliśmy”) „You are asking what we were doing” („pytać się”, to ask; „co”, what). In this case the ending „śmy” had to came attached to the word „co”. Nouns can atract verbal endings too: „W szkoleście nie były?” instead of „w szkole nie byłyście” (weren’t you at school?; „szkoła”, school; „w”, at, in). Other examples:

Dobrześ to zrobił (dobrze to zrobiłeś) = you have made it well (dobrze, well; to, this)

Dobrzem to zrobił (dobrze to zrobiłem) = I have made it well

Dobrzem to zrobiła (dobrze to zrobiłam) = I have made it well

Dlaczegoście wrócili? (dlaczego wróciliście?) = why did you return? (dlaczego, why; wrócić (pf), to return)

In biblical Polish it goes even farther: „Jam jest Bóg, twój Pan” instead of „Ja jestem Bóg, twój Pan” (I am God, your Lord). Notice that in formal Polish it is less common for the verb „być” to require instrumental, therefore „Bóg” doesn’t appear above as „Bogiem”.

The verb “być” can be ommited in the present tense when its past endings are atached to some word of the sentence (rare). “Tyś zawsze ostatni” (zawsze, always; ostatni, last) “you are always last one”. The adjective “powinien”, which means “obliged to” and is used as English “should, ought” also gains those endings in the present tense: “on powinien”= “he ought”, “ona powinna” (she ought); but: “ty powinieneś” (you ought), “ty powinnaś” (you ought, feminine), “my powinniśmy” (we ought, masculine personal plural) “my powinnyśmy” (we ought, all other plurals). “Pióro powinno być na biurku” = “the pen should be on the desk” (“biurku”, locative of “biurko”; “na” preposition “on”). “Powinien” can be put on the past if followed by the past of “być”. “Pióro powinno było być na biurku”.

7.5 Inne koniugacje – Other conjugations

The verb “robić” is not the only kind of verb in Polish, there are other conjugations (i.e. kinds of endings) for the present of verbs (as to the past, there’s only one though). Like in the Romance languages, Slavic verbs fall into various conjugation groups, but you can’t always tell from the infinitive to which group a verb belongs. Their endings in the present vary a little:

Observe that basically what changes is the vowel between the endings and the verb stem. In verbs whose infinitives end with “ać” there is no safe way to know if they are conjugated like “pisać” or “czytać”. In the case of “pracować” the past is formed from the infinitive: “ja pracowałam”, etc.

7.6 Czasowniki nieregularne – Irregular verbs

In addition there are a few irregular verbs (all imperfective except threewo):

Some of the above have irregular past:

Forms that are not shown are assumed to be naturally derived: “mogli”> “mogły”; “wzięliśmy”> “wzięłyśmy”, etc. “Brać”, “mieć”, “wiedzieć” and “jechać” have regular pasts. “Wieźć” has its plural exactly like “nieść”: “wiozłem”, “wieźliście”, etc. “siąść” has past “siadł-” or “siedl-”; “począć” makes “począł-” or “poczęl-”.

7.7 Czas przeszły czasowników w “eć” – Past tense of verbs in “eć”

Note on pasts: if the infinitive ends in “eć” the past is as follows (“mieć”, to have):

So you conclude that whenever the final vowel is followed by “ł” it is “a” and by “l” it is “e”. Likewise: “wiedzieć> ja wiedziałem” etc.

The past of “być” is regular.

7.8 Inne problemy – Other problems

Some verbs ending in “nąć” lose this ending in the past: “biegnąć”, to run, “ja biegłem” I ran. Others are “rosnąć/róść”, to grow; “kwitnąć”, to blossom (which also has less commonly the past with “nąć”).

Many irregularities are due to phonetic/orthographical rules. When the “irregularity” is purely phonetic/orthographical, the verb is considered regular. Its the case of “pisać” that becomes “pisz-” in the present because the final “s” became palatalized by the ending “ie”: “pis-” + “ię”= “piszę”, etc. Even insane verbs like “ciąć; ja tnę” (to cut; I cut) are deemed regular. See why: “t” + “i” + “ąć”= tiąć= ciąć (because “t” before “i” becomes “c”). Infinitives in “ąć” form in many cases their present in “ne”, thus remove the endind “ąć” and put “nę” for the 1st person: “ja tnę”. It couldn’t be “ćnę” because “ć” never comes before an “n”. “Płakać” (to weep) becomes “ja płaczę, ty płaczesz...” due to the palatalization of the “k”, thus belonging to the same conjugation as “pisać” and “czesać”. Verbs ending in “ść” , “c”, “ąć” and “źć” can present difficulties to form present and past. Here is a list of some of them, plus others of difficult formation, but not necessarily irregular (given in the following order: infinitive: 1st p.pres, 2nd p.pres; past):

3rd person plurals have the same stems as the 1st person singular in the verbs above, so: “ja strzegę, ty strzeżesz, on strzeże, my strzeżemy, wy strzeżecie, oni strzegą”.

“Umrzeć” makes “ja umrę, oni umrą” because the “rz” was originated from the palatalization of “r” (r+i; old form “ty umriesz”> now “ty umrzesz”) just like “g” becomes “ż” of “strzec”. Usually all forms have their stem’s final consonant palatalized except 1st person singular and 3rd person plural past and those derived from them (present participle “-ący”). But those like “pisać” are palatalized throughout the present.

For those verbs ending in –ać, there are many possibilities. First there’s the easiest distiction: those ending with the suffixes awać, –ować, iwać or ywać make present in –uję, ujęsz (see “pracować”). But some in –iwać/ -ywać can optionally have present in –iwam/ ywam: wykonywać: ja wykonuję, ty wykonujesz or ja wykonywam, ty wykonywasz. In doubt, use –uję. Their pasts however mantain the infinitive form: pracował, wykonywał. Others in –ać present trouble. Some like “kochać” and “czytać” have present in “-am, asz”. The verb “dać” (to give, pf) is irregular in the 3rd p.pl: “ja dam, ty dasz, on da, my damy, wy dacie, oni dadzą” This is to avoid confusion with the 3rd person pl. of “dawać” (give, im): “dają”..Most like “pisać” , “płakać”, “łapać” gain -ę/-ię, -esz/ -iesz, with change in the last consonant of the stem: ja piszę, ty piszesz; ja płaczę,ty płaczesz; ja łapię, ty łapiesz. Stems ending in a consonant that can’t be changed (b, p, m, n, w) gain “ię/ iesz” like “łapać” (grasp) and others gain only “ę, esz” plus consonant change: “karać(punish): ja karzę, ty karzesz”; “skakać (hop): ja skaczę, ty skaczesz”. The changes are: -jać> -ję; -kać> -czę; -tać> -czę/ cę; -gać, -zać> -żę; -rać> -rzę; -sać> -szę; -stać/ -skać> -szczę; -zdać> -żdżę; -słać> -ślę; -spać> -śpięSome imperfective verbs in –awać make present in aję: dawać (to give, im) ja daję; stawać (to stop, im) ja staję. Another group in –ać makes present in –eję. Like “grzać (warm up); ja grzeję”.

Infinitives in “ąć” are not too difficult. If they end in “nąć”, their present is in “, niesz”. Otherwise you insert “mę, miesz” or “nę, niesz”: “kląć (swear), ja klnę, ty klniesz” “ciąć (pull), ja tnę, ty tniesz”; “dąć (blow)ja dmę, ty dmiesz”. Their past forms are in ął, ęła, ęli. Their past participles are in –ty, but those in “nąć” can optionally have “iony”: “ciągnąć” (to pull); “ciągnięty/ ciągniony”. Many verbs present double infinitives, one in “ąć” the other in “nąć”.

Those in “” have three main groups: -em; -eję; and –ę. The last one is by far more common. “Umieć” and derivates belong to the first one: “ja umiem, ja rozumiem” (“rozumieć” to understand). The second group is not too numerous either: “istnieć (to exist) ja istnieję, ty istniejesz, on istnieje”; “mdleć (become powerleass) ja mdleję”, etc. Their past forms are like those of “mieć” shown in a past section of this grammar (-ał, -eli).

Verbs whose infinitive end in “” or “” are very simple: “bronić (to protect) ja bronię, ty bronisz, on broni, my bronimy, wy bronicie, oni bronią”; “mówić (to speak) ja mówię, ty mówisz... oni mówią”; “palić(smoke) ja palę, ty palisz, on pali... oni palą”; “uczyć (teach) ja uczę, ty uczysz, on uczy... oni uczą”. The only problem is the 1st p. sing. and the 3rd p.pl., which may or may not contain i. Verbs in “yć” never do. Verbs in –cić, -lić, -dzić, -sić, -ścić, -zić, -ździć make 1st. person present –cę, -lę, -dzę, -szę, -szczę, -żę, -żdżę, keep the same stem changes for the 3rd p.plural (but with ending “ą”, of course, instead of “ę”) but other persons keep the infinitive stems “jeździć” (go)> “ja jeżdżę, ty jeździsz... oni jeżdżą”. Their past participles are in –ony, but masculine personal plural is in –eni. However, when monossylilabic (dicounted prefixes), they gain a “j” before the endings: “żyć” (to live) “ja żyję, ty żyjesz, on żyje, my żyjemy, wy żyjecie, oni żyją”; “pić” (to drink) “ja piję, ty pijesz, on pije, my pijemy, wy pijecie, oni piją”. For these the past participles are in “ty”: “żyty”; “pity”. Monossyillabics in “” are like “pić”: “czuć” (to feel)> “ja czuję...”; “żuć” (to chew)> „ja żuję, ty żujesz...”. „Musieć” (must) is conjugated as if its infinitive were „musić”: „ja muszę, ty musisz, on musi, my musimy, wy musicie, oni muszą”. But its past is regular „musiałem, musieli...”

Prefixes can be a little boring, for they must conform to orthographical rules similar to those for prepositions: “W”+ “iść”= “wejść” (to enter); “ja wejdę, ty wejdziesz...”; past: “ja wszedłem, ona weszła, my weszliśmy”. “Roz”, corresponding to English prefix “dis-”, does not exist as a preposition but gains an “-e” if followed by a stem beginning in a cluster of consonants just like if it were a preposition: “roz”+ “brać” (take)= “rozebrać” (to undress); “ja rozbiorę, ty rozbierzesz...”. The prefix “z”, which becomes “s” before voiceless consonants (s, p, k, t, c) can be tough, for it becomes “ze” some where in the middle of a conjugation. Thus “spiąć” (to put together), “ja zepnę...”.

7.9 Czas przyszły – Future tense

But you might be asking yourself how do I form the future, the conditional and the imperative? Well, let’s take a look at the future first. As I said earlier, verbs of the perfective aspect already have a built-in future meaning in their present conjugation. Imperfective verbs, however, need an auxiliary verb to form their future. This auxiliary is the only verb that has a true future conjugation: “być”. It’s future is : będę, będziesz, będzie, będziemy, będziecie, będą. If you add this to the third person past of a verb you get its future. Very weird, I admit it. So “ja będe robił” is literally “I will be did” but means “I will do” (so think of “będę” as “will”) said by a man but “ja będę robiła” said by a woman. And “my będziemy robili” “we will do”. Remember that the main verb is always on the 3rd person past! A more formal and unfortunately less usual form of the future is the use of the future of “być” plus the infinitive of the verb, usually before the future of “być”, which is the way it happens in some other Slavic languages. Thus “ty robić będziesz” = “you shall do”. Remember that this kind of future can only be formed from imperfective verbs.

7.10 Tryb przypuszczający – Conditional mood

The conditional however can be formed from all verbs and is very simple: add the syllable “by” between the verb stem and its personal ending in the past tense:

When a verb in the Conditional is in a sentence that begins with a conjunction or some particle, the “by” is (mostly in colloquial speech) attached to that particle. Example: “Ona powiedziała, żeby ona chciała coś innego” = “She said that (=że) she wanted something else”. “Ty powiedziałaś, żebyś chciała coś innego” = “you said (feminine) that you wanted something else”. (“coś”= “something”, followed by an adjective the adjective goes to the genitive neuter/masculine singular; “inny”= “other”).

7.11 Tryb rozkazujący – Imperative mood

The Imperative is also easy to form:

The Imperatives are formed from the present stem, but the last four are irregular.

The Imperative for the 1st and 2nd persons plural is formed by adding “my” and “cie” to the imperatives above: “słuchajmy, słuchajcie”, “piszmy, piszcie”, “bądźmy, bądźcie”, “myślmy, myślcie” (don’t ask me how to pronounce these!). For the 3rd person, used mostly for “pan, pani, państwo”, use particle „niech” + 3rd person present of verbs: „niech pan pisze!”.

7.12 Aspekty – Aspects

What about those aspects that I still don’t understand?, you might be thinking. Let me explain a few things about them to you. Every aspectual pair has a base form from which its pair is drawn. In the case of “robić/zrobić”, “robić”, imperfective, is the base form. Adding the prefix “z” you get its perfective correspondent (pair). Usually if a verb’s base form is imperfective, you add prefix (na-, po-, prze-, z-/s-, wy-, za- etc.) to make it perfective; if the base form is perfective, you add a suffix (-wać, -ować, -ywać etc.) to get the imperfective pair. Another common way of alternating aspects is replacing the ending “ać” of imperfectives with “yć” (or “iać” to “ić”) to form the perfective. In this case there’s usually the change from “a”> “o” in the stem vowel. Some aspectual pairs have totally different stems though.

Sometimes the prefix added has something to do with the meaning of the verb. The prefix “prze” means “through”, so its idealperfect for “żyć” and “czytać”. “Pić” gains “wy”, which means “out”, so “wypić”= “drink out, finish drinking”.

7.13 Strony zwrotna i bierna – Reflexive and passive voices

Reflexive verbs always have by them the reflexive pronoun “się” which is valid for all persons, singular and plural. “Czesać się” – to comb oneself; “ty czeszesz się”= “you comb yourself”. In English sometimes a passive construction corresponds to a Polish reflexive. “Tutaj nic nie się robi” = “here nothing is done” (tutaj= here; nic= nothing).

Passive voice is done in a similar way to English, with the verb “być” plus the verb’s past participle. “Lekcja była ulepszona” = “the lesson was/ has been/ used to be corrected”. This has imperfective meaning. With “zostać” plus past participle, you form the perfective passive: “Lekcja został ulepszona” = “the lesson was/ has been (already) corrected”. (“ulepszyć”, pf of “ulepszać”= to correct).

7.14 Nieosobowe formy – Impersonal forms

The past participle is obtained from the present stem, thus depending on the verb’s conjugation class. They can be formed from perfective and imperfective stems.

Note: “uniknąć”, pf. of “unikać”, avoid.

“Strzec” (keep) and “piec” (bake) have those past participles because their present is “ja strzegę, ty strzeżesz...” and “ja piekę, ty pieczesz...”. As I said, the past participle is formed from the present stem, and not directly from the infinitive.

Notice that, like “wypić” (drink) all originally one-syllable verbs (“wypić” comes from “pić”) ending in “ić”, “yć” and “uć” make past participle with “ty”.

Past participles are declined like adjectives, which is what they are indeed. But as verbs, they can take the ending “-o”. The usage of this form is similar to that of the past participle active (see below), but also possible for imperfective verbs.

Present participles have not only adjectival value but also verbal and are formed from the imperfective 3rd person plural present stem plus “-cy” (which is etymologically related to Latin “-ant”, Greek “ont” and German “end”): “kupować, oni kupują”; present participle: “kupujący”. Their usage is very similar to the English “-ing” form, but never along with verb “być”. They are declined as adjectives as well, when they are used as such.

Note: Present of “wisieć”: “ja wiszę, ty wiszesz...”

Czytający książkę, widziałem kobietę” - “(When I was) reading the book, I saw the woman” (said by a man, a woman would say “czytająca”.)

Którego mężczyznę? Mężczyzna czytający książkę” – “Which man (acc.)? The man reading the book”.

Mówimy o rzeczach dotyczących ludzkości” – “We speak about things concerning humanity” (“dotyczyć się”, concern; “ludzkość”, humanity [here in genitive sing.])

As a verb, the present participle can assume the endingless form: “czytając”.

There is also the adverbial participle of antecedence, which ends in “–wszy”: “kupiwszy”= “having (already) bought; after buying”. It’s formed from the perfective verbs. Irregular verbs: iść: szedłszy, jeść: jedłszy; kłaść: kładłszy and so on. They are not used in informal conversations.

Przeczytawszy książkę, widziałem kobietę” – “After having read the book, I saw the woman” (if said by a woman: “przeczytawsza...”)

Verbal nouns are used when you have to join a verb and a preposition. They are actually nouns and as such are they declined. “To trudne do zrobienia” (“zrobienie”, verbal noun from “zrobić”, pf., to do) = „It’s difficult to do”. The sentence could be rendered in Polish also by „To trudne zrobić”, but the other form is more sophisticated. Verbal nouns can be derived from both perfective and imperfective verbs. See chapter on Word Formation for more.

7.15 Czasowniki częstotliwe i jednokrotne – Iterative and semelfactive verbs

In addition to the distinction between aspects, a few verbs of motion present the distinction of frequency, the so-called iterative verbs and the semelfactive verbs. Iterative verbs imply in a usual action, semelfactive ones (semel: “once” in Latin) imply in a single unrepeated action.

Iterative verbs: (base form> iterative form) czytać> czytywać; pisać> pisywać (ja czytuję, ty pisujesz...); iść> chodzić; nieść> nosić; jechać (go by means of transportation)> jeździć; wieźć> wozić; “biec” (run)> “biegać”; “płynąć” (swim)> “pływać”; “lecieć” (fly)> “latać”; “spać” (sleep)> “sypiać”; “jeść” (eat)> “jadać”; “mówić” (speak, say)> “mawiać”, “być”> “bywać”

Note: when “jeździć” gains a prefix, it becomes “-jeżdżać” for perfective but remains “jeździć” for imperfective (e.g. “przyjeżdżać” [arrive], but perfective “przyjeździć”);

Iterative verbs are always imperfective.

Semelfactive verbs: very small group: “kopnąć” (kick); “krzyknąć” (cry out); “jęknąć” (utter a groan); “błysnąć” (flash). Semelfactive verbs are always perfective.

8. Liczebniki.

8. Numerals.

8.1 Liczebniki główne – Cardinal numbers

Numbers can be declined, following a pattern similar to that of adjectives and pronouns.

0-zero; 1- jeden/jedna/ jedno; 2- dwa (m/n)/ dwie (f); 3- trzy; 4- cztery; 5- pięć; 6- sześć; 7- siedem; 8- osiem; 9- dziewięć; 10- dziesięć

11- jedenaście; 12- dwanaście; 13- trzynaście; 14- czternaście; 15- piętnaście; 16- szesnaście; 17- siedemnaście; 18- osiemnaście; 19- dziewiętnaście

20- dwadzieścia; 30- trzydzieści; 40- czterdzieści; 50- pięćdziesiąt; 60- sześćdziesiąt; 70- siedemdziesiąt; 80- osiemdziesiąt; 90- dziewięćdziesiąt

100- sto; 200- dwieście; 300- trzysta; 400- czterysta; 500- pięćset; 600- sześćset; 700- siedemset; 800- osiemset; 900- dziewięćset

1000- tysiąc; 1000000- milion

Note on colloquial pronunciation: In “piętnaście” and “dziewiętnaście” and their other declension forms the “ę” is not nasalized; 500= pięcet; 600= szejset; 900= dziewiecet

Try and say this: dziewięćset dziewięćdziesiąt dziewięeć (999)!!!

8.2 Więcej o liczebnikach – More on numerals

From five on, numbers require genitive plural of words: jeden mały chrząszcz; dwa mali chrząszczy; trzy mali chrząszczy; cztery mali chrząszczy; but: pięć malich chrząszczów (mały= small). In this case if the expression is the subject the verb remains in the singular (neuter for the past): “sześć kobiet było tutaj”= “six women were here”. The same happens with quantity indicators such as “kilka, ile, wiele, para” (some, how many/much, many, a couple).

Compound numbers ending in one to four (21, 34, 51, 342) require only normal plural.

With masculine personal nouns the nominative and accusative of numbers from 2 onward is like the genitive and the verb that agrees with them go to the singular (neuter form for the past). This somehow is beyond weird!!! The origin of that phenomenon is that these expressions were considered collective words, therefore they are deemed neuter singular.

Jeden polski mechanik jest/ był tutaj – One Polish mechanic is/ was here.

Dwóch polskich mechaników jest/ było tutaj – Two Polish mechanics are/ were here.(this means that the subject of a sentence can stand in the genitive!)

As an alternative to the insanity above for 2, 3 and 4 there is another one: with personal masculine use “dwaj, trzej, czterej” , with normal verbal regency:

Trzej mechanicy są/ były tutaj- three mechanics are/ were here.

Czterej panowie czytają/ czytały książki- four gentlemen are/ were reading books.

Numbers from 5 to 99 preserve their base form in accusative and gain –u in other forms (optionally –oma for instrumental). “Pięć, pięciu, pięcioma”; “siedem, siedmiu, siedmioma”; “dwanaście, dwunastu, dwunastoma”; “dwadzieścia, dwudziestu, dwudziestoma”; “pięćdziesiąt, pięćdziesięciu, pięćdziecioma”. But for masculine personals they go to the genitive like other numbers (see above).

Numbers from 100 to 900 follow a similar pattern of those above, but with no special alternative form for instrumental: “sto, stu”; “dwieście, dwustu”; “trzysta, trzystu”; “pięćset, pięciuset”, “siedemset, siedmiuset”, others like 700.

Numbers “tysiąc” (1000) and “milion” behave more like masculine nouns.

On compound numbers, either is the entire number declined or only the tens and unities: “z tysiącem pięciuset dwudziestu pięciu osobami” or “z tysiąc pięćset dwudziestu pięciu osobami”= “with 1525 people” (“osoba”, person). And “jeden” at the end of a compound in never declined: “w dwudziestu jeden godzinach”= “in 21 hours”

8.3 Liczebniki porządkowe – Ordinal numbers

1st, pierwszy (pronounced “pierszy”); 2nd, drugi;3rd, trzeci; 4th czwarty;5th piąty;6th szósty;7th siódmy;8th ósmy; 9th dziewiąty; 10th dziesiąty

11th jedenasty, 12th dwunasty; 13th trzynasty; 14th czternasty; 15th piętnasty; 16th szesnasty; 17th siedemnasty; 18th osiemnasty; 19th dziewietnasty

20th dwudziesty; 21st dwudziesty pierwszy; 30th trzydziesty; 40th czterdziesty; 50th pięćdziesiąty; 60th sześćdziesiąty; 70th siedemdziesiąty; 80th osiemdziesiąty; 90th dziewięćdziesiąty

100th setny; 101st sto pierwszy; 200th dwusetny; 300th trzechsetny; 400th czterechsetny; 500th pięćsetny; 600th sześćsetny; 700th siedemsetny; 800th osiemsetny; 900th dziewięćsetny

1000th tysięczny; 1000000th milionowy

They are declined exactly like adjectives.

8.4 Inne liczby – Other numbers

There is yet another class of numbers, the collective numbers, which are used with nouns that only come in the plural (“drzwi”, door; “schody”, stairs; “nożyczki”, scissors, etc.). They are declined as follows: 2- dwoje, dwoje, dwojga, dwojgu, dwojgiem, dwojgu; 4- czworo, czworo, czworga, czworgu, czworgiem, czworgu. „Troje”, three, is declined like „dwoje”, others are declined like „czworo”: 5- pięcioro; 6- sześcioro; 7- siedmioro; 9- dziewięcioro; 13- trzynaścioro; 15- piętnaścioro; 17- siedemnaścioro; 19- dziewiętnaścioro.

When a noun comes after a collective number in all cases but dative and locative, it goes to the genitive.

Not to mention indefinite numbers, like „kilka, tyle, ile, wiele, pare” (some, so many, how many, many, a couple). They always demand genitive plural. For nominative and accusative of masculine personal nouns, they assume the form „kilku, tylu, ilu, wielu, paru”, which are the form for all other cases for all other words. They behave like numbers from 5 on. So:

Kilku Polaków jest w budynku- Some Poles are in the building

Widzisz ilu panów? – How many gentlemen do you see?

Widzisz ile sklepów? – How many shops do you see?

Mówimy o wielu panach – We speak about several gentlemen.

Similarly „kilkunaście” (a few [between 10 and 20]), declined like “jedenaście”.

9. Powstawanie słów.

9. Formation of words.

Pretty much like every Indo-european language, Polish can form its vocabulary through the addition of suffixes and prefixes. We have already seen that aspectual pairs are obtained mostly by this means. But now we will concern ourselves with the formation of adjectives, nouns, adverbs, and also new verbs.

9.1 Przymiotniki - Adjectives

The most common ending a word can gain to become an adjective is “-ny” (originally “en”+ “y”, which is the masculine singular nominative ending – see declensions). For example, “trud” (work, effort, trouble) makes adjective “trudny” (difficult) “Krew”, blood > “krewny”, relative (person in the family). Another common one is “-owy” which can be attached to almost every noun meaning “of”: benzina (gasoline) > “benzinowy”, like in “stacja benzinowa”, gas station. Likewise “karta kredytowa” (credit card, from “kredyt”). Others are “-liwy”: “możliwy” (“possible”, from “może”, can); “szczęśliwy” (happy, from “szczęście”, joy, happiness); “-iwy”: “prawdziwy” (prawda, truth).

9.2 Rzeczowniki - Nouns

Nouns can be obtained from adjectives through various suffixes depending on which is the meaning to be conveyed.

Wolny”, free > “wolność” freedom, thus the (very common) suffix “-ość” indicates state (“the state of being free” = “freedom”, in that example); “Jakość” (quality, from “jaki”, which= qualis, in Latin); “Solidarność” (solidarity, from “solidarny”, solidary); “Przeszłość” (the past, from “przeszły”, past [adj] form “przejść”, to go by, from “przez”, through, and “iść”, to go). “Namiętność” (passion, from “namiętny”, passionate).“Narodowość” (nationality, from “narodowy”, national, from “naród”, nation, people)

The suffix “stwo” indicates a collective idea or enterprise: “mnóstwo” (amount, from ancient Polish “mnogio”, many); “przedsiębiorstwo” (company, from “przedsiębrać”, to undertake); “państwo” (the State; from “pan”, lord) “Małżeństwo” (marriage, from małżonek/ małżonka, husband/ wife).

To convey the idea of action Polish adds very often the suffix “-enie / -anie” to verb. Thus “wietrzyć”, to ventilate, becomes “wietrzenie”, ventilation. “Czytać”, to read, becomes “czytanie” , (the act of) reading.“Pisać”> “pisanie”; “robić”> “robienie”. For verbs that form past participles in “-ty” (see corresponding chapter) however this ending does not apply, one has to use “-cie”: “żyć”, to live > “życie”, life, living. “Czuć”, to feel > “czucie”, a feeling, the ast of feeling. The suffixes “-nik”, “arz” and “-owiec” are common for professions and activities: “naukowiec” (scientist, “nauka”= science”); “pracownik” (employee, “praca”, job); “robotnik” (worker, “robota”, work), “słucharz” (listener, from “słychać”, to listen).

Formation of feminine words: the suffix –ka is common: “przyjaciel”, male friend> “przyjaciółka”, female friend; “rywal”, rival > “rywalka”; “szwagier”, father-in-law> “szwagierka”. Many masculine nouns that end in –ca make feminine –czyni: “rozmówca”, conversation partner> “rozmówczyni”; “mówca”, speaker > “mówczyni”. Some add –owa: “krawiec”, tailor > “krawcowa”.

Family words:

Note: the forms after brackets indicate affection.


Note: The origin of such an unusual word for “Italian”, “włoski”, is the old denomination „Walachia”, used by Slavs to designate Romanians and other Southern European peoples. With the passage of time, it became specific for Italians, but today it’s only used in Polish.

Diminutives can be formed from almost every noun, usually with the suffix “ek” for masculine, “ka” for feminine and “ko” for neuter. And from a few adjectives too.

Some have even more forms, especially to indicate affection:

matka has: mateczka, mateńka, matusia, matuśka, matula, matuchna, matusieńka, mamunia, mamusieczka!

Mały still has: maluteńki and malusieńki.

Lekki has also: leciusieńki

Diminutive nouns have fleeting “e”: genitive plural of “lampka”= “lampek”, genitive singular of “piesek”= “pieska”, etc.

Some of those diminutives have already lost their base form, like “córka” and “łyżka”, and others are used more often than their base form, like “książka”, which is the commonest word for “book”, instead of “księga”, used for big important books like the biblical books or law books. Some assume another meaning in the diminutive, like “ogon”, which is used in the diminutive to mean “queue, line”, and “wódka”. Anyway, the formation of diminutives is extremely common in any level of speech in Polish and other Slavic and Baltic languages, especially in colloquial speech. In this matter Slavic is close to Romance languages, in which diminutives can be formed even from adverbs, not to mention augmentatives!

9.3 Przysłówki - Adverbs

Adverbs that are formed from adjectives often replace the normal final vowel of the adjective with “ie” or “o”. “Oczywisty” (clear)> “oczywiście” (clearly, of course); “prosty” (simple)> “prosto” (in a simple way); “wspaniały” (excellent)> “wspaniale”; “dobry” (good)>“dobrze” (well); zły (bad)> “źle” (badly); “czysty” (clean)> “czysto”. In “oczywiście” the final “t” had to become “c” for it can’t stand before “i”. And the preceding “s” becamed palatalized too (ś). See the section on Sound Alternations to understand such phenomena better. See adjectives to know how to make adverbs from comparatives and superlatives.

Adjectives ending in “ski” or “cki” make adverbs in “sku” or “cku” and must be preceded by “po”. This is especially common when saying what language you speak: “ja mówię po polsku”, I speak Polish; “Ten list jest po niemiecku”, this letter is in German. “Ty piszesz po portugalsku”,. you write (in) Portuguese.”.

Usually when adjectives are alone and refer to situations, conditions, they assume the adverb form: “Wspaniale!!!” (Excellent!!!), for example, commenting on sex. Notice the difference between “czy to dobrze?”= “is it ok/ well?” and “czy to dobre”= “ (is it good?”).

“Wieczór”, evening forms adverb using its instrumental singular: > “wieczorem” (in the evening, tonight), as well as “czas” (time)> “czasem” (at times) and “tymczasem” (while, instrum. of “ten czas”, this time).

9.4 Inne słowa – Other words

Many indefinite words are formed by the suffix “ś”: kiedy (when)> kiedyś (sometime); “co” (what)> “coś” (something), “gdzie” (where)> “gdzieś” (somewhere); “jaki” (which)> “jakieś” (some); “jak” (how)> “jakoś” (somehow). Others with prefix „nie”: „który” (which)> „niektóre” (pl, a few, some); „niejaki” (a certain); „nieco” (something). If qualified by an adjective, the latter comes in the genitive masculine/ neuter singular: „Ja chciałbym coś dobrego” (I would like something good)

9.5 Inne sposoby – Other ways

Prefixes can also be added to nouns, adjectives or verbs to change their meaning: “wy-”, prefix that means “out”: “iść”, to go > “wyjść”, to go out; “rzucać”, to throw > “wyrzucać”, to throw out. “Prze/ przez” means “across”; “prze/ przed” in front of; “przy” at; “od” from; “do” to; “nad” above, “w” into; “u” by; “na” on; “o, ob” about; “po” over, after; “pod” under; “roz” dis-; “s, z” with; “ws, wz” up; “za” behind. But prefixes not always keep their original meaning.

Here are examples with “pisać” (to write):

dopisać- add in writing; napisać- finish writing; nadpisać- write a heading; opisać- describe; odpisać- write an answer; popisać- write a bit; podpisać- sign; przepisać- copy; przypisać- attribute, write in the margin;rozpisać- send out (mail)/ copy parts from score (music); spisać- draw a list; wpisać- inscribe; wypisać- copy an excerpt, subscribe; zapisać- write down, bequeath.

10. Struktura języka

10. The structure of the language

10.1 Porządek i użycie słów – Word order and usage.

Word order in Polish is very free since declension shows the function of words pretty clearly. Adverbs usually precede the words they modify. Verbs are negated with “nie” before them. Unlike in English or other Germanic languages, double negatives are possible and extremely common. “Niczego nie rozumiem” (literally: “I don’t understand nothing”); “Nigdy nikogo nie widziałam” (literally: “I never nobody didn’t see”, thus: “I never saw anybody”; “nigdy”, never; “nikogo” gen./acc. of “nikt”, nobody, declined like “kto”; “widzieć”, to see). It’s like in Latin languages.

The most usual word order is subject-adverbs-verb-objects. Many times however the object comes first in the sentence, followed by the verb and then the subject. This can be done only if it’s clear from the object’s ending that it’s the object, or if the verb clearly shows the subject. In questions, there is no necessary subject-verb inversion, and the particle “czy” can be used in the beginning if there is no question word already there.

10.2 Spójniki - Conjunctions

Conjunctions are words that bind words or clauses together. When two clauses, one subordinate to the other, are bound together, there must be a comma between.

Coordinating conjunctions are:

i/ a (and);

ale (but);

niż (than);

lub/ albo/ czy (or);

zaś/ natomiast (on the other hand);

Subordinating conjunctions are:

aby/ żeby/ ażeby/ by (in order to);

że/ iż (that);

ponieważ (because);

bo/ bowiem/ gdyż (for);

kiedy (when);

gdzie (where);

gdy (whether, when);

jeśli (if)

jeżeli (if, whether);

choć/ chociaż/ jakkolwiek (although);

mimo to (despite that)

Relative pronouns work as subordinating words to. “Który” which; “co”, what, “kto”, who. They are declined according to the case they assume in their sentence, but their number and gender depend on the word they refer to in the main clause: “To pociąg, którym podróżowałem”= “This is the train, with which I travelled”. “Zobaczyłem młodego człowieka, który przyszedł”= “I watched the young person who was arriving”.

Subordinated clauses are always separated from the main clause by a comma, like in Russian or German.

“Aby” can introduce a clause in which the verb can be in the infinitive or in the past:

Musimy to robić, aby ułatwiać situację” (We must do it in order to relieve the situation)

Musimy to robić, abyśmy ułatwiali situację” (We must do it in order to relieve the situation)

11. Niesłowiańskie słownictwo.

11. Non-slavic vocabulary.

Due to its links with Western culture, Polish has thousands of culture word loans from Latin, Greek, French, German and English. Here’s a sample!

abażur – abat-jour

abonament – subscription (fr, abonnement)


adorować – adore

afektowany – affected


akcja – action


aklimatoryzować – climatize

akademicki – academic


aktualny – today’s (lat. actualis)







ambaras – embarassment


ambasada – embassy

aresztować – arrest




atrakcyjny – attractive


autostrada – road (ital. autostrada)

bagatela – bargain (ital. bagatella)

balon – baloon


bankructwo – bankruptcy

bariera – barrier

benzyna – gasoline (ital. benzina)

bezsensowny – senseless (Polish “bez”= “without” + “sens”)



biskup – bishop


budować – build (Germ. bauen)

cebuła – onion (Ital. cebula)


cukier – sugar

czekolada – chocolate

decydować – decide







elektryczność – electricity

erotyczny – erotic

eksces –excess




fizyczny – physical

fałszerstwo – forgeryalsification

formatować – format (floppy disk)


gwałt- violence (German “Gewalt”)


kształt- figure (German “Gestalt”)


perswadować – persuade

prezerwatywa- condom



reguła /re’guwa/ - rule (Latin “regula”)

wyzyta- visit

12. Słowiańskie Ssłownictwo.

12. Slavic vocabulary.

Here’s a list of comparative Slavic vocabulary (Polish, Slovak, Serbian, Russian, Ukranian and Bulgarian) for you to get a feeling of the largest language branch of Europe:

Note on pronunciation: č = cz; š= sz; t’= ć; ž = ż; ô= ou; other symbols= like in Polish. Russian, Ukranian and Bulgarian are transliterated from their original Cyrillic alphabet using the Slovak alphabet. Vowels in Slovak with accent marks on them are long (a distinction lost in all other Slavic languages but Czech). The ‘ in Bulgarian sounds like English „u” in „but”. Stress rules are: Slovak and Serbian: 1st syllable; Russian and Ukranian: unpredictable; Bulgarian: I have no idea.

13. Rozmowy, teksty i wyjaśnienia.

13. Conversations, texts and explanations.

1 “Przedstawiamy się” (“We introduce ourselves”)

A: Dzień dobry. Czy pani Katarzyna Żórawska?

“czy”= question particle; note omission of “jest”

B: Tak, to ja. Słucham pana?

“tak”: yes; omission of “jestem”; słuchać: to serve; “Słucham pana”= “Can I help you, sir?”; “pana” is the acc. of “pan”

A: Nazywam się Paweł Śniegocki.

“nazywać się”= “to call oneself”; “Nazywam się”= “my name is”

B: Przepraszam, jak się pan nazywa?

“Przepraszać” (im. of “przeprosić”) “to excuse”; “jak”, how

A: Jestem Paweł Śniegocki.

Note absence of instrumental when saying names

B: Ach, to pan. Czekam na pana już od godziny.

“ach”= “oh”; “czekać na” + acc. “to wait for”; “już”, already; “godzina”, hour; “od godziny”= “for an hour”, number “jednej” is unnecessary.

A: To niemożliwe. Jestem zwykle punktualny.

“niemożliwy”, “impossible”, here “niemożliwe” to agree with neuter “to”, “this”; Absence of “jest”, no instrum. for adjectives alone. “Zwykle”, usually; “punktualny” punctual.

B: Och, bardzo mi przykro. Mój zegarek jest zapsuty.

“Och”= “oh”; “bardzo”= “very”; “mi” dative unstressed of “ja”; “przykro”= “ill”; thus “bardzo mi (jest) przykro”= “I am very sorry”; “Zegarek”= “watch, clock”; “zapsuty”= “broken”. “Jest” could have been omitted.

A: Ach, nic nie szkodzi.

“nic” nothing; “szkodzić”= “to damage”; thus “nic nie szkodzić”= “no problem at all”. Notice that “nic” does not necessarily goes to gen. (niczego) when direct complement of negated verb.

B: To jest Małgorzata Łabędzka, moja koleżanka.

“koleżanka” feminine of “kolega”= “workmate, colleague”

A: Bardzo mi miło. A kto jest ten pan? Jak nazywa się ten pan?

“Miło”, adverb from “miły”, nice; thus “bardzo mi miło”= “nice to meet you” (compare with “bardzo mi przykro”). “A”= “and”, “what about”.

B: Ten pan to Krzysztof Ćmielowicz, mój szef.

“Ten pan to...”: unnecessary “to” is common when “być” is omitted. “Szef”= “boss”

“Być” is very often omitted when people are telling who they are. It’s not followed by instrumental then. “A” and “i” mean “and” but “a” implies in contrast, change of subject, while “i” means addition.

2 “Co zobaczymy w Warszawie?” (What do we see in Warsaw?)

K: Dzień dobry. Dobrze, że pan już jest. Mamy dziesiaj wiele spraw do załatwienia. Wkrótce przyjadą przecież nasi goście.

There’s always a comma between clauses, so “dobrze że...” is wrong. “Wiele”, many, demands genitive plural like numbers from five on; “Sprawa”= “thing”. “Wkrótce”= “soon” (from “w” + “krótki”, short)

“Do załatwienia” = “to deliberate, resolve” (from załatwić, pf of załawiać). When expressing “in order to” use “do” plus genitive of the verbal noun.

“Przyjadać”= “arrive” by vehicle, the iterative of “przyjeżdżać”. “Przyjść” also means arrive but “iść” and its derived can only be used for going by foot, like German “gehen”.

“Przecież”, indeed.

P: Naszą podróż po Polsce zaczniemy chyba od Warszawy.

“Podróż” (trip, from “po”, on, and “droga”, road) is feminine. “Chyba”, possibly. “Zaczniemy” from “zacząć”, begin, pf from “zaczynać”. “Warszawy” is genitive sg. of “Warszawa”, Warsaw.

K: Tak, tak. Trzeba zarezerwować hotel, kupić bilety do Teatru Wielkiego, zamówić przedwodnika po Starym Mieście.

“Tak”, yes, is commonly repeated. “Zarezerwować”, to book, pf of “rezerwować”. “Bilet”, ticket. “Zamówić”, to order, pf of “zamawiać”. “Przewodnik”, guide, from “przez”, through, “wozić”, to l bearead, and suffix of agent “-nik”. Nom. pl. “przewodnicy”.

“Starym Mieście”, locat. of “Stare miasto”, Old City, in Warsaw downtown (stary= old).

P: Przepraszam, która jest godzina?

“Która jest godzina”, the normal way of asking the time (godzina= hour).

K: Zaraz zobaczę. Teraz jest dziesiąta.

“Zaraz”, “right away”. “Zobaczyć”, pf, to see. “Teraz”, now. “Dziesiąta” feminine of “dziesiąty”, tenth. Hours are indicated by ordinals.

P: Już dziesiąta!? A ja jestem umówiony.

“Umówiony”, busy, past part. of “umówić”, pf of “umawiać”.

K: O której godzinie jest pan umówiony?

“O której godzinie”, at what time (it’s locative sg. of “która godzina”)

P: O jedenastej. Jestem umówiony z przewodnikiem na placu Zwycięstwa obok Ogrodu Saskiego. Stamtąd pójdziemy do Rynku Starego Miasta, a potem do Zamku Królewskiego. Potem pójdę jeszcze do Teatru Wielkiego kupić bilety na “Halkę”. O pierwszej pojadę do Parku Łazienkowskiego.

“Jedenastej” locat.sg. of “jedenasta”, fem of “jedenasty”, eleventh. “Placu” gen. of “plac” (from German “Platz”) (city) square. “Obok”+ gen.= in the vicinity of; “Zwyicięstwa” gen. of “zwycięstwo”, victory. Thus “na placu Zwycięstwa”= “on Victory square”

K: To świetnie. A pójdę do hotelu i hotelowej restauracji zamówić noclegi i posiłki, a o drugiej pójadę do Pałacu w Wilanowie.

“Świetnie”, adv. from “świetny”, great, marvellous. “Pójść” pf. of “iść”. “Hotelowa restauracja” the restaurant of the hotel. The suffux “-owy” can build adjectives from almost every noun. “Noclegi”, masc. pl. (sg.= nocleg), lodging. Posiłki, masc. pl. (sg. posiłek), meals. “O drugiej”, at two. “Pójadę” 1st person sg. of “pojechać”=, pf. of “jechać”= “to go (by means of transport)”. “Pałac”, palace. “Wilanowie” locat.sg. of Wilanów (suburb of Warsaw).

P: Trzeba jeszcze napisać list do Niemiec i przedstawić nasz program.

“Trzeba”= “it’s necessary”; “Jeszcze”, still, yet. “Napisać”, pf of “pisać”, to write. “List”, letter. “Niemiec” gen gen. of “Niemcy”, pl., Germany (declined like a feminine pl.); “Przedstawić”, to introduce (people), to present, pf. of “przedstawiać”.

K: Myślę, że zwiedzanie zaczniemy od Warszawy, a potem pojedziemy do Kazimierza, Sandomierza, Krakowa, i do Zakopanego.

“Myśleć”, to think. “Zwiedzanie”, the visiting. “Potem”, afterwards ((from “po”, after, and “tym” loc of “ten”). “Pojedziemy” 1st p. pl. present of “pojechać”. “Zakopane”, a city, is declined like an neuter sg. adjective (but locat. “Zakopanem”)..

P: Cieszę sięe, że się pani ze mną zgadza.

“Cieszyć się”, to be happy for. “Ze mną”, with me. “Zgadzać się z”, agree with.

K: No to do roboty.

“No”, so. “To”, this. “Robota”, work. “No to do roboty”= “so, on to work”

3 “Konwencja o Prawach Dziecka” (Convention on the Rights of the Child)

“We wszystkich działaniach dotyczących dzieci, podejmowanych przez publiczne lub prywatne instytucje opieki społecznej, sądy, władze administracyjne lub ciała ustawodawcze, sprawą nadrzędną będzie zabezpieczenie interesów dziecka”

“In every activities concerning children, taken over by public or private institutions of social care, judgement, administrative power or legislative body, the protection of the interests of the child will be prioritary”

“We” = “w”, before some clusters. “Działaniach” locat. pl. of “działanie”, activity; “Dzieci”, gen. pl. of “dziecko”, child; “Podejmowanych” gen. pl. of adj. “podejmować”, to take over, assume; “Publiczne” pl. of “publiczny”, public; “Lub”, or; “Prywatne instytucje”, private institutions; “Opieki społecznej” gen. of “social care”; “Sądy” pl. of “sąd”, judgement; “władze adminitracyjne”, pl. of “władza administracyjna”, administrative power; “ciała ustawodawcze”, pl. of “ciało ustawodawcze”, legislative body, “ciało”, body, “ustawodawczy” from “ustawa”, law, and “dawać”, to give; “Sprawa nadrzędna”, prioritary thing, here in the instrumental due to “będzie”, 3rd p.sg. future of “być”; “zabezpieczenie”, protection, assurance; “interesów”, gen. pl. of “interes”, interest (never in the finantcial sense).

4 “Emeryt wrócił z kosmosu” (“Retired man returns from space”) from Super Express

- Przeżyłem w kosmosie wspaniałe chwile – powiedział 77-letni John Glenn, najstarszy astronauta świata, gdy znów znalazł się na Ziemi. Prom kosmiczny Discovery, którym podróżował, wylądował w sobotę na przylądku Canaveral na Florydzie.

“I experienced great moments in space”- said 77 year old John Glenn, the oldest astronaut of the world, when he was again on Earth. The space shuttle Discovery, with which he travelled, landed on Saturday on Cape Canaveral in Florida.

“Przeżyć”- spend, experience (from “przez”, through, and “żyć”, to live; pf. of “przyżywać”); “Kosmos”, space, cosmos ; “wspaniały”, excellent, delightful; “Chwila”, while, moment (here in nom. plural); “powiedzieć” to say (derived of “wiedieć”; pf. of “mówić”); number+ letni= number+ year old, “letni” adjective from “lato”, summer. “Najstarszy”; oldest, from “stary”, old; “Astronauta” is masculine of course; “świata”, gen.sg. of “świat”, world; “Znów”, again (from “z” and “nowy”, new); “Znalazł się” past of “znaleźć się”, to be found, to be located. “Ziemi”, locat. sg. of “ziemia”, earth. “Prom kosmyczny”, space shuttle; “którym”, instr. sg. of “który”, “which”, therefore “którym”= “with which”; “Podróżować”, to travel (from “podróż”, trip); “Wylądować”, to land (from German “landen”, to land; pf. of “lądować”); “W sobotę”, on saturday, name of days of the week are used with “w” plus accusative; “Przylądek”, cape; “Florydzie”, locat. sg. of “Floryda” (I don’t know about stress there)

5 “Mili goście” (Dear Guests)

Mili goście!

Dziś mamy gości- drogich i miłych gości, bo matka nasza i ciotka z mężem to bardzo drodzy i mili goście.

Jest wieczór. Zimno dzisiaj było i deszcz padał, ale w domu ciepło, ogień pali się wesoło. Wszystko mamy już przygotowane na kolację, - zimne mięso, ser, jajka na twardo, chleb z masłem, owoce ładnie ułożone, siostra wyjmuje jeszcze ciastka z pieca.

Ja i siostra mieszkamy razem. Mieszkanie nasze jest małe, tylko dwa pokoje z kuchnią. Właścicielem domu, w którym mieszkamy, jest pan Stanisław Nowiński. Pan Nowiński i nasz ojciec to starszy przyjaciele. Nasz ojciec był słucharzem pana Nowińskiego, gdy ten był młodym profesorem. Wszyscy słucharze kochali profesora Nowińskiego, on wszystkich słucharzy znał i wielu pamięta do dziś. Ojciec nasz został potem dziennikarzem i właścicielem małego pisma, do którego pan Nowiński także często pisze.

Dziś nie spodziewamy się ojca na kolację, bo jest teraz bardzo zajęty.

Ale już czas się ubierać. Nie pamiętam gdzie jest mój nowy kołnierzyk.

- Zosiu, nie widziałaś mojego nowego kołnierzyka?

- Nie, nie widziałam. Tu szukałaś?

- Nie, tu nie szukałam. O, jest.

Już jesteśmy gotowe i czekamy na gości. Dzwonek. Już są. Matka nasza nigdy nie spóźnia.

- Dobry wieczór! Jak się macie, moje drogie!

Panie dają córkom mokre parasole, zdejmują płaszcze i kapelusze. Wszyscy rozmawiamy. Potem siadamy do stołu.

Notes: See how masculine personal plural adjectives are used for groups of people that include both women and men (mili goście, wszyscy słucharze). When the masculine personal in the plural can also include feminines, it still remains a masculine personal.

“Dziś”, today, is the same as “dzisiaj”. “bo”= “for” explaninig reason.

Notice that possessives can stand after the noun in familiar speech. As there is no particular verb for “to rain”, they use “padać deszcz” (to fall rain).

“Zimno”, “ciepło” are adverbs, see Adverbs, on Formation of Words, to know why they are in adverbial form and not in adjective form (zimny, ciepły).

“Wszystko mamy już przygotowane na kolację” means “we already have everything prepared for supper” and not “we have already prepared everything for supper”, for “mieć” does not form the past, unlike English “have”.

“Razem”= “together”.

Notice the use of instrumental for complement of “być” throughout, and also with “zostać”, to become.

“Ale już czas się ubierać”, litterally “but already time dress up”, so “but it’s already time to dress up”. No preposition can come with a verb in Polish.

“Już są”= “they are already here”, for “być’ dispensated “tu” or “tutaj” (here) in everyday speech.

“Dobry wieczór”, good evening; “dobranoc”, pronounced like a single word, “good night”.

“Jak się macie”- “mieć się” is used to greet someone asking “how do you feel, how are you”. “Miewać”, the iterative of “mieć”, is also commonly used: “Jak się miewasz?” How do you do?

14. Słownik oznaczeń gramatycznych.

14. Dictionary of grammatical definitions.

verb – czasownik