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polishgrammar

gramatyka polskiego

Polish language grammar is largely associated with suffixes – should I be afraid?

For a large group of students, one of the most difficult aspects of Polish grammar is declension, that is – the changing endings of nouns and adjectives. Why does one word have multiple versions? There are languages – for example, the most popular language in the world – English, in which we can use one word in many ways, e.g. ‘coffee’ – I like coffee. I don’t like coffee. I dream about coffee. With a coffee in hand across the world. So in any sentence construction a given word is used in the same form.

In Polish grammar, however, the situation looks different. In Polish the word ‘kawa’ (coffee) – in those same constructions like above in English is like this: ‘Lubię kawę’ (accusative – I like coffee). ‘Nie lubię kawy’ (genitive – I don’t like coffee). ‘Z kawą przez świat’ (instrumental – with a coffee in hand across the world).

This is all the fault of declension, meaning the variation by 7 ‘cases’: Nominative, Genitive, Accusative, Dative, Instrumental, Locative, and Vocative, in Polish: Mianownik, Dopełniacz, Biernik, Celownik, Narzędnik, Miejscownik, and Wołacz.

Polish grammar: Accusative – it isn’t so bad after all!

Today we’ll focus on one of the ‘cases’ – the one we use when saying: I like coffee, I have coffee, coffee please, I drink coffee (lubię kawę, mam kawę, proszę kawę, piję kawę).

We use the accusative form after verbs such as: to have, like, eat, drink, buy, read, know, watch, ask, order, visit, want, prefer, adore (mieć, lubić, jeść, pić, kupować, czytać, znać, oglądać, prosić, zamawiać, zwiedzać, mieć ochotę na, preferować, uwielbiać).

In Polish language grammar, the feminine forms in the accusative take the following forms: Lubię czarną kawę. Mam czerwoną toyotę. Piję zieloną herbatę. Jem zupę pomidorową. (I like black coffee. I have a red Toyota. I drink green tea. I eat tomato soup). So the noun ends in “” and the adjective with “”.

In masculine and neutral form, the noun and adjective remain in their infinitive form. For example: ‘duży dom’ (big house – masculine form) – kupuję duży dom (I’m buying a big house); ‘nowy samochód’ (new car – masculine) –  on ogląda nowy samochód (he’s looking at a new car); ‘zimne piwo’ (cold beer – neutral form) – oni zamawiają zimne piwo (they’re ordering a cold beer); ‘małe radio’ (small radio – neutral) – mam małe radio (I have a small radio). Ah! It’s not complicated!

But in Polish grammar, the exceptions are the most important…

A small problem arises when our friend says: ‘Mam ochotę na hamburgera!’ (I fancy a hamburger), ‘Preferuję pomidora niż ogórka!’ (I prefer tomato over cucumber)’. How?? Wait a moment! Hamburger, tomato, cucumber are all in the masculine form in Polish! So why don’t we say: ‘Mam ochotę na hamburger’, ‘Preferuję pomidor niż ogórek’?!? We’ll explain! 😊 In Polish grammar, there is a group of inanimate masculine nouns (things, not people) that take the ending “-a” in the accusative. Most of them are borrowings from other languages.

The exceptions are:

  1. Food, e.g.:– hamburger’ – Mam ochotę na hamburgera.
  2. Fruits and vegetables, e.g.: ‘banan’, ananas’, ‘arbuz’ (banana, pineapple, watermelon)– Na śniadanie zawsze jem banana. Uwielbiam ananasa i arbuza. (For breakfast I always eat banana. I adore pineapple and watermelon).
  3. Car brands, e.g.: ‘mercedes’, ford’ – Mój kolega kupił mercedesaMarek ma forda. (My friend bought a Mercedes. Marek has a Ford).
  4. Currencies, e.g.: ‘dolar’, ‘funt’ (dollar, pound)– Mam tylko dolara. Pożycz mi jednego funta. (I only have a dollar. Lend me a pound).
  5. Dances, e.g.: ‘walc’  (Waltz) – Oni pięknie tańczą walca angielskiego. (They dance the English Waltz beautifully).
  6. Games, e.g.: ‘squash’, ‘golf’ – Czy lubisz grać w squasha? Często gram w golfa. (Do you like playing squash? I often play golf).
  7. Substances, e.g. ‘papieros’, ‘szampan’(cigarette, champagne) – Palę papierosa. On pije szampana. (I’m smoking a cigarette. He’s drinking champagne).

Conclusion: Polish language grammar is not that scary, and the Polish language course at KLUB DIALOGU School is a great place to practice.

Accusative isn’t so bad after all 😊. Sometimes, we simply have to organise and consolidate our knowledge. The Polish language course at KLUB DIALOGU School is the right place to not only repeat and systematise this knowledge, but also practice and polish the grammatical structures of the Polish language. You can find out more about accusative (biernik) HERE.

nauka-polskiego

FROM A0 TO THE B1 CERTIFICATE EXAM IN POLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE. HOW IT’S POSSIBLE? An interview with our real Chinese student.

Zeming (he likes it when he is called Zeminek, i.e. using the Polish diminutive form) is the first student from China who started learning Polish from scratch at our KLUB DIALOGU school. After less than 5 years, in March 2022, he took the State Certificate Examination at B1 level. Students, especially from non-Slavic-speaking countries who take up this considerable challenge, know that it is a great achievement! Congratulations! 😊

That is why we asked ‘Zeminek’ for a short interview about his way through this ‘silk road’!

Hi Zeminek, thank you for agreeing to talk about your ‘passion’ for the Polish language, all the more that all your Polish as a foreign language learning from A0 to the B1 exam took place at the KLUB DIALOGU School 😊. You give hope and faith to our other students that it is possible! So tell me:

Are you a real Chinese guy? How old are you?

Ha, ha – oh yeah! I am a real Chinese guy! I was born in Shanghai, China, and am now 30 years old.

When did you come to Poland and how did your adventure with the Polish language begin?

On the very first day, when I landed in Poland, in October 2017, I thought that it would be worth starting to learn the native language. Different continent, different country, different people, and different letters! Yes, I absolutely had to study it! So I was just surfing the Internet when I found the Polish Language School for Foreigners KLUB DIALOGU. It immediately caught my attention because it stood out among other offers. I thought it was a good choice. I didn’t hesitate for long and came straight to the school office. And here I am! ‘I grew’ with you for 5 years! 😊

It’s wonderful that you are with us! So tell me which elements of the Polish language were the most problematic to learn?

Grammar! Horror, massacre! And including: any order of words in the sentence, conjugation and declension, gender: masculine, feminine and neutral and their inflection!, personal pronouns!!, inflection of numerals!!!, oh my God, Vocative?!!!! – nooo – almost everything. And you know how Poles talk quickly …

Even so, Poles speak slower than Italians! 😊 Well, we have to try harder! How much is Chinese different from Polish?

Very! I don’t even know where to start? Of course, you can see the difference in the alphabet at first glance 😉. And then it only gets worse. The Chinese language has practically no grammar, maybe to a small extent, while the grammar of the Polish language is crucial in communication. For example, nouns in Chinese have virtually no inflection. There are no coincidences or even plural – just add a number and you will know what amount you are talking about. Verbs are also not inflected, neither by persons nor by tenses. The appropriate time is indicated in a sentence by time factors such as “yesterday” and “tomorrow”. Also, the counting system in Chinese is slightly different than in Polish. And each part of a sentence has a specific, fixed place in the pattern. Remembering the order guarantees the grammatical correctness of the statement.

Yeah. Chinese seems to be much easier than Polish, although I don’t know if I could remember Chinese characters… And what surprised you the most about Poland and Poles, when you came to our country for the first time?

Many things, but I think the most important are: strong, good beer, generally good looking people, both women and men (ha, ha), that people in Poland are really nice (so far I have not experienced any discrimination), the fact that there are so many beautiful parks here in Warsaw and around it, and of course FLACZKI, which I really like 😊

Could you list 5 cultural/lifestyle differences between Poles and the Chinese?

Hard to say. China is changing dynamically, and cultures and lifestyles even differ between regions in China. One thing is obvious – we eat more rice & pasta than bread & potatoes. But seriously, what I noticed is that the Chinese are a collective society, while the Poles are individualists. This can be seen, inter alia, in discussions during which each Pole must have his own separate opinion. In China, too, not everything needs to be said straightforwardly; people interpret the context more, while in Poland rules and principles dominate. For example: ‘No’ means refusing, and guests don’t refuse. That’s why the Chinese will always say yes. If ‘yes’ meant true ‘yes’ then it’s okay. However, if ‘yes’ means ‘no’, the Chinese will simply not answer our phone, or otherwise signal his different opinion.

The intricacies of communication… 😊 Finally, 2 more questions: Was the State Examination of Polish as a Foreign Language for the B1 Certificate difficult for you? Did something surprise you? Were you very stressed?

Well … I’m not overly happy with the ‘writing’ part. My teacher repeatedly told me to practice writing under time pressure, but I was sure that I would be fine. During the exam, however, it turned out that the time was inexorable and I finished my essay quite awkwardly at the last minute. Luckily, the ‘reading’ and ‘listening’ parts turned out to be easier than I expected. Maybe because my teacher gave me more difficult examples during the Polish language lessons during the B1 exam preparation course. I think that in the end, the Polish as a foreign language exam went better than I expected. It is thanks to my teacher Sandra and the KLUB DIALOGU School, which showed great patience with me and kept my motivation, especially when I was returning to China for a long time.

Yes, of course I was stressing out a lot!

And the last question: Are you going to stay longer in Poland now?

Of course, I intend to stay in Poland. I have no plans neither to leave Poland to another country, nor go back to China. I started my economic studies here at the University of Warsaw, but during the pandemic I had to quit. Now I work in the ‘game & nft’ industry and although it’s still working from home, I like it.

Thank you very much, Zeminek, and good luck! See you at the Polish Language School for Foreigners KLUB DIALOGU, because you still have an exam at the B2 and C1 levels 😊
Dorota Maszkiewicz, Managing Director