1 June 2019

Polish is easy! 5 simple tips for students 🇬🇧

Łukasz Załuski
Łukasz Załuski
Suchawa Polska polish language course
Czerwone maki na podlubelskiej łące. (Red poppies in the meadow of Lublin countryside.) 📸 freestocks.org on Unsplash

I’m sure that after few lessons you will be convinced that Polish is not as hard as people might say. How come? OK, it’s true that there are lots of forms of each individual word in Polish. And it’s true that if you learn Polish, this will be a challenge for you. But many things that would be challenging in other languages AREN’T in Polish!

1. No articles

Tym co sprawia szczególnie dużo problemów Polakom uczącym się angielskiego są rodzajniki. Przyznaję, że sam mam z nimi nie lada kłopot. Bo to czy mamy użyć „a” czy „the” czy też nie stawiać przed rzeczownikiem żadnego rodzajnika, wynika raczej z intuicji niż z reguł. Pewien znajomy Amerykanin powiedział mi kiedyś, że nie zna właściwie żadnego użytkownika angielskiego, dla którego nie byłby to język ojczysty i który zawsze wybierałby odpowiedni rodzajnik. W ten sposób native speakerzy angielskiego rozpoznają nie native speakerów, którzy opanowali nienaganną wymowę.
W polskim nie ma w ogóle rodzajników, więc nie musisz sobie zaprzątać nimi głowy!

2. No word order

In English and many other languages, the order of the words in a sentence is very important to the meaning. “Jan loves Maria” means something different than “Maria loves Jan” and, of course, “loves Maria Jan” is gibberish.

When learning another language, you may encounter a word order different than that of your native language, providing you with an additional challenge.

In Polish, word order is mostly unimportant!

The following sentences all mean the same thing (“Jan loves Maria”):

• Jan kocha Marię
• Marię kocha Jan
• kocha Jan Marię
• Marię Jan kocha
You can simply speak as the words come to you and not worry about their order.

There are certain word orders that Poles would consider normal in a specific situation. But they are all understandable! This is used to great effect in music and poetry.

3. Few verb tenses

In English, we have very few verb forms (ie. the words don’t change much). For example, the verb “do” has only the following five forms: do, does, doing, did, done.But we have lots of verb tenses!

For example:

• Present simple – I read everyday.
• Present continuous – I am reading right now.
• Present perfect – I have read this book before.
• Present perfect continuous – I have been reading this book for two hours.
• Future perfect continuous – At 5 o’clock I will have been reading this book for four hours.
• Past simple – I read all day yesterday.
• Past continuous – I was reading yesterday.
• … i tak dalej, i tak dalej! W sumie to aż 16 różnych czasów gramatycznych.

So, forming the verb might be harder in Polish. But knowing when to use which tense, is actually a lot easier!

4. The alphabet is 45% phonetic

In English, it can be difficult to know how to pronounce a word from its spelling. For example, compare the pronunciation of “oo” in the following words: book, soon, door, flood. It’s different in every word! And there’s no way to know that just from looking at them.

On the other hand, the Polish alphabet is almost entirely phonetic. Once you know the rules, you can look at any word and know how to pronounce it.

The opposite isn’t entirely true (hearing a word and knowing how to spell it) but it’s still a lot easier than in English!

5. Lots of vocabulary with Latin and Greek roots

Largely because being a part of Western Europe and because of its relationship with the Roman Catholic Church, the Latin language has a long history in Poland. Because of this, many words of Latin origin have seeped into the language.

If you speak a language that has borrowed lots of words of Latin origin (like English!), there will be some familiar vocabulary.

For example, many words ending in -cja are directly related to English words ending in -tion:

• motywacja – motivation
• sytuacja – situation
• promocja – promotion
• … and many more!

Contact me. I’m ready when you are.

(48) 606 212 335

You can also reach me by e-mail  lukasz@popolsku.net
or just sending a message.

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