Download my FREE ebook about language learning!

Natural Language Learning
Without a Teacher!

A step-by-step guide about how to learn a language naturally on your own!

Subscribe to my blog (FREE) to download my ebook!

Polish Grammar Overview for Complete Beginners

24 Nov 2010
Girl with inquisitive look
I wonder about Polish grammar? Photo by caryatidxx on Flickr.

A big part of language learning is paying attention to patterns. But when first starting a language, everything is so new, it's hard to even know what you are looking for!

I don't advocate starting to learn Polish by studying the grammar. But having a general idea of what the grammar is about, can help you recognize patterns and pick up some of the grammar naturally, just from exposure to the language.

What follows is a brief overview of Polish grammar. None of the actual grammar rules are given! Just a quick description of what you can expect to find in Polish, intended for the complete beginner.

Genders

In Polish, all nouns (person, place, thing) have one of three genders: masculine, feminine or neuter. Even inanimate objects have a gender! When the words refer to people or animals, the genders mostly match the biological gender. There are rare exceptions with very young humans and animals. For example, these words are neuter: "dziecko" (human child), "pisklę" (chick).

90% of the time, you can tell the gender of a noun from its ending. Of course, there are exceptions. But at least it's better than other languages where you have to simply memorize the gender (for example, with Spanish you learn all the vocabulary with "el" and "la" to help remember the gender).

When an adjective (descriptive word) is used to describe a noun, it must be changed to match its gender and case (more on cases below). All adjectives are listed in the dictionary in the masculine form. So, let's say you want to say "nice woman". You look up both in the dictionary: "miły" (nice) and "kobieta" (woman). The adjective "miły" has to be changed to "miła", the feminine form: "miła kobieta"

Verbs

Like most European languages, verbs (action words) change depending on who is doing the action. For example, the word "to read" in Polish is "czytać". Here are its forms in the present tense:

czytam I read czytamy we read
czytasz you read czytacie you (plural, ie. "y'all") read
czyta he/she/it reads czytają they read

In the past tense, the form also shows the gender of the thing doing the action, as well as who is doing it.

In English, there are many different verb tenses, formed by adding "helper verbs", for example: I read, I am reading, I have been reading, etc.. In total there are sixteen different tenses! In Polish, the system is much, much simpler. For example, all the tenses of "to read" I just listed would all be translated as "czytam" in Polish!

To form all the tenses, there are two types of verbs: imperfective and perfective. Imperfective can be in the past, present and future, while prefective in only the past and future. Those are the five tenses!

Almost all verbs come in pairs (one imperfective, one perfective) with the same meaning. A good dictionary will tell you which kind each verb is and what its pair is.

Cases

This is most often discussed part of Polish grammar. If you take a traditional Polish class at the University level, the first year will be spent simply learning all the cases. But it really doesn't deserve all that attention! As I said previously, you can largely ignore the cases when you are first starting.

Anyway, this what all the fuss is about...

In English, we use word order to tell who is doing an action and who the action is being done to. For example:

  • "John loves Janine"
  • "Janine loves John"

In the first sentence, it is John who does the loving. Maybe Janine doesn't even like him! But in the second sentence, Janine is doing the loving, and it is John who is loved.

In Polish, the word order doesn't matter. For example:

  • "Jan kocha Janinę"
  • "Janinę kocha Jan"

In the first sentence, Jan loves Janina. In the second sentence, it's still only Jan who loves Janina! How can we tell? The case!

In Polish, the ending of nouns (and the adjectives that describe them) change depending on their function in the sentence. Above "Jan" is the subject (the doer) so it doesn't change. "Janina" is the object (the one being loved) so she becomes "Janinę" ("a" -> "ę"). These different forms are called cases.

We have this a little bit in English. For example, "he" becomes "him" and "she" becomes "her" when those words are the object. We say "He loves her" not "He loves she", right?

Its the same thing in Polish, except it happens with all nouns and there are more than just two cases (seven in total). Words also change case when used as the "instrument" of the sentence (ex. We went by car), as the indirect object of the sentence (ex. I sent it to him), with prepositions (ex. We talked about him) and a few other situations.

In the dictionary, words are listed in nominative case (the one where the word is the subject of the sentence, the one doing the action). Good dictionaries will also have a table at the front showing all the endings for different groups of words. The groups are usually labeled with roman numerals and letters (ex. VIb) and these will be listed next to every noun in the dictionary. This way you can look up all the forms of that word.

Word Order

Because of the cases, word order is very liberal in Polish. You can say the words in almost any order and it will still make sense! Polish poetry takes full advantage of this.

That said, there are definitely patterns in the way Polish people order their words. There are two basic tendencies:

  • Subject Verb Object - The same word order as English is frequently the default and most neutral!
  • Putting the emphasized words last - In English, we say a word louder and with a different intonation when we want to emphasize it. For example, "JOHN loves Janine, not Jack!" In Polish, they do this too but to a much lesser degree. Instead, emphasized words are moved to the end of the sentence.

Conclusion

Of course, there is more to Polish grammar, but those are the main things. This should be enough to help you know what to look out for!

In the future, I plan to write more articles discussing the basic rules behind some of these grammar points. Stay tuned!

Anonymous's picture

I love your site. I'm a native Polish and I work as a French and English translator. It's incredible that you've learned Polish on that level in just 1 year! I really can't believe how this is even possible. Maybe our language isn't the worst difficult in the world, but hell it's hard... at least that's what I always thought.

I really like your posts about differences between Poland and USA, this really helps me to get better as a translator.

I'm planning to go to France with my girlfriend in 1 year. She learned French at school, but it was exactly as in your case - she just learned the grammmar and she barely remembers anything. I hope your remarks would help me teach her the language so hopefully she could do the same amazing progress you did with Polish :)

Thanks again!

Posted by: Sedov (not verified) | Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 16:02
Anonymous's picture

Spanish nouns that end in -o or -e are masculine, those ending in -a are feminine, exceptions are rare, so gender matter is almost always clear in Spanish. German would be the right example here.

Pozdrawiam.)

Posted by: Alec (not verified) | Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 16:49
David Snopek's picture

Hmm! It's been a really long time since I learned Spanish but I remember they made us memorize "el" or "la" in front of the words because (they said!) you needed it to remember what gender the word was. I definitely don't recall them teaching us rules connecting the noun endings to genders. But maybe that's just because classes in school aren't very good! :-)

What about words that end in consonants? Right now I can only remember two: corazon, ciudad. But I've already forgotten the articles that go with them so I don't know their genders! ;-)

Pozdrawiam,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 11:58
Anonymous's picture

Well, racja, David, there's more to it. The rules are: words ending in -a, -dad and -ción are feminine, while those ending in -o and -ma (problema, dilema) are masculine. Corazón is kind of exception, because it's actually an augmentative of another word (corazo), which has become an.. independent? word. Don't really know how to say it correctly.

As I was writing 'corazon is kind of exception', I remembered what you'd said about articles in Engish, that foreigners never get them right. =) Couldn't agree more. Is it 'a kind of exception' or 'kind of an exception'? No idea!

Alec.

Posted by: Alec (not verified) | Friday, April 1, 2011 - 03:54
David Snopek's picture

Aha! Maybe they just avoided the noun ending rules because they thought they were too complicated to be really useful. Kind of like how I avoid the Polish case ending rules. ;-)

"Kind of an exception" is correct. :-)

Regards,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Friday, April 1, 2011 - 04:43
Anonymous's picture

I have an answer for Spanish gender determination that works almost all of the time. First a word ending with a is femenine, and with o is masculine. The exceptions are words that have Greek derivation. They are the masculine words that end with a. So there is el programa, el diorama, el drama, el drama, el dia. Then also any word ending with -cion or -dad is femanine.

Also, I have noticed something about the grammar that the Spanish speakers don't want to admit, but I think is true: If following the rules will make it more difficult to pronounce, then they make an exception of it. An example is "cada dia". Dia is masculine-- el dia. So why modify it with an femanine adjective? When I have asked about this I receive some BS answers. The real answer is that it is a lot easier to say "cada dia". The grammarians will never admit this, though.

Posted by: tumpliner (not verified) | Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 08:53
Anonymous's picture

"Cada" doesn't have a masculine form, there's not such thing as "cado".
The rule you might be referring to is that "la" changes to "el" before a substantive that begins with a stressed "a".

Posted by: Tebo (not verified) | Friday, August 8, 2014 - 02:42
Anonymous's picture

Where did you learn that nonsense? Corazo is not a word in Spanish, and corazón is not an augmentative of any kind. Please, don't go making stuff up about other languages.

Posted by: Anonymous (not verified) | Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 12:50
Anonymous's picture

I've taken three years of Spanish. Sure, there are many words that have ending that denote their gender. However that is not the case every time, or even most of it. In fact, just because a word ends in the ways you mentioned does not mean it is the gender you would expect. Other times gender of a word changes depending on its form. For instance, "la radio" is different than "el radio". One is the medium, and the other is the actual machine.

Posted by: Anonymous (not verified) | Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 20:32
Anonymous's picture

Cześć Dawid:)

Mam 3 pytania:

1. czy uczyłeś się dalej gramatyki odkąd zacząłeś czytać i słuchać Pottera?
2. Ile czasu dziennie poświęcałeś na czytanie/słuchanie/naukę słówek polskich, a ile na gramatykę (jeśli się jej uczyłeś)?
3. Jaki rodzaj ćwiczeń gramatycznych polecasz?

Pozdrawiam słodko i niedzielnie!
Justyna;)

Posted by: Geek (not verified) | Sunday, August 21, 2011 - 04:30
David Snopek's picture

Cześć Justyna!

1. W wielkiej mierze nie uczyłem się gramatyki "świadomie" po kursie j. polskiego, na którym byłem na uniwersytecie i to było przed tym, jak zacząłem czytać Pottera. Zamierzam kiedyś wrócić do gramatyki polskiej. Ale przez czytanie tych książek moje umiejętność gramatycznie wyrosła znacznie!

2. Kiedy czytałem Potter, spędziłem 2 godziny dziennie na czytanie/słuchanie/naukę słowek - nic na gramatykę. :-)

3. Ee, no trudno polecać. Ćwiczenia gramatyczne mogą być pomocne w nauczeniu zasad. Ale wcale nie pomogły mi w używaniu tych zasad w praktyce. Musiałem mieć dużo doświadczenia z językiem (w tym przeważnie słuchanie i czytanie) przed tym, jak w ogóle mogłem mówić gramatycznie lub rozumieć tę gramatykę na bieżąco.

Mam nadzieję, że jest coś pożytecznego w mojej odpowiedzi!

Pozdrawiam serdecznie,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Monday, August 22, 2011 - 07:36
Anonymous's picture

moje umiejętność gramatycznie wyrosła znacznie! => moje umiejętności* gramatyczne wzrosły* znacznie.

Kiedy czytałem Potter => Pottera lub Potter'a czytajac na pewno zwrociles uwage na odmiane jego imienia Harry'ego Harry'emu itp. dzieje sie to z powodu przypadkow szczerze to nie pamietam juz ktory odpowiada na jakie pytania ale chyba Mianownik odpowiada na pytania Kto?co? zadając pytanie czytałem co? Pottera.

inny przypadek odpowiada na pytanie Kogo?Czego? np. Kogo nie ma? Harry'ego. Czyta sie to bez y czyli Harrego.

Posted by: Anonymous (not verified) | Saturday, January 5, 2013 - 16:36
David Snopek's picture

Dziękuję bardzo za poprawki. :-)

Posted by: David Snopek | Monday, January 7, 2013 - 10:08
Anonymous's picture

[...] While using these techniques, it's often helpful to have a basic understanding of Polish grammar, so you know what patterns to look for. (See my overview of Polish grammar.) [...]

Anonymous's picture

[...] don't need to memorize any rules or take any tests, but just a quick overview of the grammar (like I made for Polish) can be very [...]

Anonymous's picture

[...] need to memorize any rules or take any tests, but just a quick overview of the grammar (like I made for Polish) can be very [...]

Anonymous's picture

Cześć David od wczoraj postanowiłem poczytać Twojego bloga:) Powiem Ci, że bardzo ciekawie to przedstawiasz wszystko. Czytając Twojego bloga łącze przyjemne z pożytecznym bo i sam poznaje nowe słówka w języku angielskim i dodatkowo staram się jeśli widzę jakiś błąd to też o tym wspomnieć;) Więc powiem Ci, że to działa trochę tak, że jak uczę Ciebie Ty uczysz mnie:P Jak to jeden z polskich kabaretów śpiewał. "English is easy, english is cool, You teaching me and I teaching you" Czy jakoś tak to szło:P Jak widać i Polish też taki jest;P Co do samego tekstu to "kaczę" raczej powinieneś zastąpić słowem "kaczątko".
Pozdrawiam:) Wypatruj moich kolejnych komentarzy:)

Posted by: Lnk (not verified) | Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - 14:49
David Snopek's picture

Cześć!

Dziękuję bardzo za miłe słowa. Bardzo się cieszę, że podoba Ci się mój blog i, że z niego czegoś się uczysz. :-)

Co do słowa "kaczę": jest w słowniku i kiedyś jakoś nauczyłem się tego słowa. ;-) Dlaczego nie mogę go używać tutaj?

Jeśli naprawdę nie mogę go używać, muszę zastąpić go słowem, które ma "ę" na końcu bo właśnie z tego powodu to słowo jest w tym artykule. Czy masz jakieś propozycje?

Dziękuję bardzo za Twoją pomoc!

Pozdrawiam serdecznie,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - 21:17
Anonymous's picture

Jest jeden prosty powód bardzo mało polaków używa słowo kaczę, mówiąc szczerze to ja spotkałem się z nim pierwszy raz:P Na małą kaczkę mówimy kaczątko albo kaczuszka, może bardziej gdybyś użył słowa określającego ogólnie małego ptaka świeżo wyklutego z jaja "pisklę" i wtedy problem byłby rozwiązany:) Pozdrawiam.

PS. Co do słownika nie ufaj mu zupełnie bo jest np. słowo "chędożyć", a nikt tak już w języku polskim nie mówi, a przynajmniej zdecydowana mniejszość.

Posted by: Lnk (not verified) | Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 01:28
David Snopek's picture

Aha, zmieniłem słowo na "pisklę". Poprzednio nie wiedziałem tego słowa - codziennie uczę się czegoś nowego! ;-)

Nie jestem pewien skąd znam słowo kaczę, ale znam go od dawna, bo zawsze jest moim przykładem kiedy potrzebuję słowa z "ę" na końcu. :-) Użyłem go znowu w moim przedostatnim artykule! Poznałem większość polskich słów dla zwierząt, które znam, z książki "Folwark Zwierzęcy", którą przeczytałem krótko po Harrym Potterze. Jest całkiem możliwe, że były w niej kaczęta. ;-)

W każdym razie, dziękuję bardzo za poradę!

Pozdrawiam,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 05:38
Anonymous's picture

"Poprzednio nie wiedziałem tego słowa - codziennie uczę się czegoś nowego! ;-)"

Nie chce się czepiać, ale chodzi o pierwszą część zdania to powinna brzmieć "Nie znałem tego słowa" Albo "Nie wiedziałem o istnieniu tego słowa"
Słowo- rodzaj nijaki, więc powinno być "znam je" w rodzaju żeńskim było by "czytałem ją (książkę)" "znam go" rodzaj męski.

Powiem Ci, że fajnie jest tak komentować, chce żebyś wiedział, że robię to w dobrej wierze i nie dlatego, żeby Cię wyśmiać albo pokazać jakie masz braki:) Tak mówiąc między nami to myślę, że nie jeden Polak radzi sobie z ojczystym językiem gorzej niż Ty:) Może kiedyś się wysilę i napiszę coś po angielsku i wtedy Ty będziesz mógł dodać cały artykuł. Mam nawet tytuł "Ile błędów językowych można popełnić w krótkim komentarzu":) Pozdrawiam.

Posted by: Lnk (not verified) | Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 14:41
David Snopek's picture

Dziękuję bardzo za poprawki! Wiem, że to robisz w dobrej wierze. :-) Pozdrawiam, David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 16:27
Anonymous's picture

Olá, David. O estudo e a aprendizagem da gramática são importantíssimos. Tenho observado aqui no Brasil os estrangeiros que vivem há muitos anos neste país e continuam tendo dificuldades com a gramática e sintaxe portuguesas justamente porque eles foram instruídos desde suas origens a preocupar-se apenas com o aprendizado da conversação para adquirir fluência. Entendo que a conversação e a gramática devem andar de braços dados. Sempre que eu tenho a oportunidade de ter acesso a diálogos e textos produzidos por estrangeiros que se comunicam em português, posso verificar uma grande deficiência no uso do idioma. Obviamente, isso ocorre em outros idiomas também. O fato é que eu não creio que alguém consiga dominar um idioma perfeitamente se negligenciar o estudo da gramática. Poderá falar com fluência, mas sempre cometendo muitos erros, fato este que vem indicar claramente a dificuldade de realmente dominar o idioma. Há muitos fatores que levam os estrangeiros a desprezarem o aprendizado da gramática. Entretanto, se tais pessoas precisarem fazer um teste de proficiência não lograrão obter a certificação, justamente por causa dessa precariedade no uso da gramática. Felicidades.

Posted by: Rildo Brasil (not verified) | Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 09:04
David Snopek's picture

So that people know what I'm responding to, here is what I get in Google Translate:


Hello, David. The study of grammar and learning are critical. I have seen here in Brazil foreigners living for many years in this country and continue to have difficulties with grammar and syntax Portuguese precisely because they were instructed from their origins to concerned only with learning to get the conversation fluency. I understand that the conversation and grammar should go arms data. Whenever I have the opportunity to have access to dialogues and texts produced by foreigners who communicate in Portuguese, I can check a major deficiency in the use of language. Obviously, this occurs in other languages ​​as well. The fact is I do not think anyone can master a language entirely neglecting the study of grammar. You can talk with fluency, but always making many mistakes, and this fact is indicated clearly the difficulty of really master the language. There are many factors that lead foreigners to despise the learning of grammar. However, if such people need to do a proficiency test is not succeed in achieving certification, just because of this instability in use of grammar. Cheers.

Hello!

I agree that grammar ability is important. But I don't agree that grammar study leads to grammar ability. I believe that true language ability (including grammar ability) develops by using the language. Learning about the language can be interesting and can serve a few purpsoses but won't lead to the type of subconscious language ability that native speakers have.

As an example: Many beginning/intermediate students who study in a traditional courses know the grammar rules in Polish a lot better than I do. But I'm willing to bet that, even though I don't know the rules or don't think about them as I'm speaking, I speak more grammatically than them. Of course, I still make lots of grammar errors in Polish and probably always will! :-)

But that's OK, because (1) I've never heard a non-native speaker of English who makes no mistakes in English :-) and (2) as time goes by, even without studying grammar, my grammar ability is improving.

Best regards,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 13:37
Anonymous's picture

EXISTE NOS MEIOS ACADÊMICOS UMA TEORIA QUE AFIRMA QUE A LINGUAGEM POPULAR, REBELDE ÀS REGRAS DA GRAMÁTICA NORMATIVA, É MAIS COMPLEXA DO QUE A LÍNGUA "CORRETAMENTE" UTILIZADA,A CHAMADA 'LÍNGUA CULTA', ESTA QUE SEGUE RIGOROSAMENTE OS PADRÕES E DITAMES DA GRAMÁTICA. EU CONCORDO COM ESSA TEORIA APENAS EM PARTE. VISTO QUE OS DIALETOS POPULARES DEMONSTRAM EXTREMA POBREZA DE VOCABULÁRIO E QUASE NENHUMA BELEZA ESTÉTICA, CONCLUI-SE QUE O ESFORÇO DA COMUNICAÇÃO ACABA TORNANDO-SE MUITO MAIS INTENSO, QUANDO HÁ A NECESSIDADE DE VERSAR SOBRE ASSUNTOS MAIS ELABORADOS. O POVO, EM GERAL, REPETE MUITAS PALAVRAS E LOCUÇÕES DESNECESSARIAMENTE, JUSTAMENTE PORQUE NÃO CONHECEM REGRAS E NÃO ENRIQUECEM SEU VOCABULÁRIO. DAVID, DESCULPE-ME, MAS SENDO VOCÊ PROFESSOR E TÃO PODEROSO NO USO DO IDIOMA POLONÊS, TENDO-O ESTUDADO COM TANTA PROFUNDIDADE, A SI MESMO SE COLOCA NUMA POSIÇÃO ANTAGÔNICA, POIS NA VERDADE SE VOCÊ NÃO TIVESSE GRANDES CONHECIMENTOS DA LÍNGUA POLACA CERTAMENTE SOFRERIA PARA CRIAR SEU UNIVERSO LINGÜÍSTICO PESSOAL NESSE IDIOMA. EM BREVE PODEREMOS CONVERSAR EM INGLÊS.MEUS CUMPRIMENTOS.

Posted by: Rildo Brasil (not verified) | Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 15:03
David Snopek's picture

Unfortunately, Google Translate doesn't do a very good job of translating this comment and I can't understand most of it. :-/ But I wish you best of luck with your English studies! I do hope we will talk in English soon. :-)

FYI, if anyone is following along, here is the translation I get:

In the academic THERE A THEORY THAT THE LANGUAGE THAT SAYS PEOPLE, THE REBEL RULES OF NORMATIVE GRAMMAR IS MORE COMPLEX THAN THE LANGUAGE "CORRECTLY" USED, CALL 'educated language', THAT THIS strictly follows the dictates of PATTERNS AND GRAMMAR. I AGREE WITH THIS THEORY ONLY IN PART. WHEREAS Dialects POPULAR SHOW VOCABULARY OF EXTREME POVERTY AND ALMOST NO BEAUTY AESTHETICS, CONCLUDES THAT THE COMMUNICATION EFFORT JUST BECOMING MUCH MORE INTENSE WHEN THERE IS A NEED FOR MORE PREPARED Verses on AFFAIRS. PEOPLE IN GENERAL, repeated many words and phrases UNNECESSARY, BECAUSE THEY JUST DO NOT KNOW RULES AND ENRICH YOUR VOCABULARY. DAVID, EXCUSE ME, BUT YOU BEING SO POWERFUL TEACHER AND USE OF LANGUAGE IN THE POLISH HAVING STUDIED WITH YOU AS MUCH DEPTH, IF YOU PUT YOURSELF IN A POSITION ANTAGONIST, FOR THE TRUTH IF YOU DO NOT HAVE GREAT KNOWLEDGE OF POLISH LANGUAGE surely suffer TO CREATE YOUR PERSONAL UNIVERSE LANGUAGE THAT LANGUAGE. SOON WE TALK IN INGLÊS.MEUS GREETINGS.

Posted by: David Snopek | Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 15:22
Anonymous's picture

NAPRAWDĘ, tłumaczenie jest straszne.

Posted by: Rildo Brasil (not verified) | Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 16:09
David Snopek's picture

Zgadza się! Nie powiedziałeś że piszesz po polsku!? ;-) To chyba byłoby o wiele łatwiej niż komunikowanie się przez Google Tłumacz, nie? :-) Pozdrawiam, David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 16:13
Anonymous's picture

The Brazilian poster seems to have been making the point that even though linguists who study colloquial speech discover great richness and complexity, the poster himself believes that this richness must have been achieved by means of repetition and exaggerated intensity, since the speakers' vocabulary is so impoverished. This would tie into the point the poster made in previous postings about the importance of grammatical precision and the value of formal study.

Posted by: Lee Goldberg (not verified) | Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 14:50
David Snopek's picture

Thanks! Portuguese is not a language I have had the pleasure of learning. :-)

Posted by: David Snopek | Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 20:50
Anonymous's picture

If "grammar study" doesn't lead to "grammar ability", then there's something wrong with the grammar study, either on the teacher's side, the student's, or both. A good grammar lesson teaches you the rule (ideally, perhaps, by leading you to discover the rule) and then gives you practice in applying the rule, so that you're able to apply it in actual communication.

If you and students who studied Polish in a formal setting both "know the rules" of grammar well enough to put "kaczka" in the accusative or locative case with the right form of the adjective and you get your meaning across with minimal confusion, then I would say that you both "know the rules". Opposing "understanding" to "experience" (or "natural" to "academic") doesn't seem helpful to me; I'd like a lot more of both!

Posted by: Lee Goldberg (not verified) | Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 15:45
David Snopek's picture

Hi Lee!

Thanks for the comment. :-)

This isn't about understanding vs. experience or natural vs. academic - but rather conscious vs. unconscious.

With the rules, you are actually attempting to apply them consciously. You're thinking about how to make the sentence. However, when you know the grammar unconsciously: you don't think at all! You just open your mouth and say something and correct (or for most learners as they slowly get better and better: mostly correct) comes out.

And the point is that many linguistics beleive that conscious understanding of the grammar is UNNECESSARY to form an unconscious ability with it. The understanding is optional.

Maybe this article will better explain what I'm trying to get at:

http://www.linguatrek.com/blog/2010/11/dont-start-learning-polish-grammar

I hope that helps!

Best regards,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 20:48
Anonymous's picture

[...] is known for its rich grammatical system. I asked Sussy how it's handled in her school: It depends on the student or group of students. Of [...]

Anonymous's picture

[...] interjecting sections that describe some cultural or grammatical point. For example, introducing accusative case, describing Polish cuisine, or explaining the difference between lubię and podoba mi się (both [...]

Anonymous's picture

Słuchanie języka polskiego jest naturalna metoda uczenia się Gdy byłem mały lubiłem słuchać audycji radiowych tzw. słuchowisk czy oglądać teatr tv, programy naukowe choć niewiele z nich rozumiałem. Z czasem dostrzegałem wymierną wartość tych praktyk. Słowa same znajdowały się w ustach, zauważyłem, że nagle mówię lepiej. Później trzeba duuużo czytać. Polecam sluchać prof. Miodka :)

Posted by: pico (not verified) | Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - 13:21
Anonymous's picture

[...] What grammar to learn first: Eventually, you will have to learn some grammar rules. Which ones should I learn first? [...]

Anonymous's picture

[...] Here is a Polish grammar overview for complete beginners. [...]

Anonymous's picture

The table that lists different forms of "czytać" has an error; should read "czytają" instead of "czytaja".

Posted by: Anonymous (not verified) | Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 14:31
David Snopek's picture

Ack, thanks! For such an old article I'm surprised that no one noticed this before. :-) Anyway, I've fixed it.

Regards,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 14:45
Anonymous's picture

In Polish the word order matters!

"Jan kocha Janinę"
"Janinę kocha Jan"

In 1st sentence we are talking about Jan. In 2nd we are talking about Janina. We're using this in different cases (depends what we want to tell and what is more important...

Posted by: Anonymous (not verified) | Friday, April 19, 2013 - 04:14
Anonymous's picture

Hi David.

Really interesting or should I say bardzo interesujacy (sorry no polish keyboard on phone ) artykul.

However I am curious about the point you make about emphasis in the Polish language. I have just finished the full Michel Thomas course and the teacher there advised that Polish shows emphasis by moving words towards the start of the sentence not the end.

For example .

Zrobie to: I will do it.

To zrobie . I will do IT !

That's my understanding of polish emphasis

Posted by: Declan (not verified) | Sunday, July 21, 2013 - 01:19
David Snopek's picture

Hi Declan,

Thanks!

Hmm. My impression has always been what I said in the article, but of course, I'm not a Pole and I could be wrong. I'll see if I can get an opinion from a Polish person to clear this up.

Best regards,
David.

Posted by: David Snopek | Monday, July 22, 2013 - 07:00
Anonymous's picture

Please man, all the info about learning polish I find is too vague, I need a structure to follow, I feel I am just drifting in the woods of randomness not knowing what to learn first if verbs or nouns. I learn some verbs and nouns about a topic but then forget that vocab cos it's a an uncommon topic for a beginner. Then I just learn random words or random verbs and make 1 or 2 random sentences with them which I later forget alltogether because they were just too random and useless at the moment. Please, what book did you follow to learn polish? or how did you start and how did you progress, with more details proszee. I really want to learn this language but I feel stuck and going in circles.

Posted by: Anonymous (not verified) | Thursday, June 26, 2014 - 16:46

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. If you have a Gravatar account, used to display your avatar.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.