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Basic word order in Polish is SVO, however, as it is a synthetic language, it is possible to move words around in the sentence, and to drop the subject, object or even sometimes verb, if they are obvious from context.

These sentences mean more or less the same (“Alice has a cat”), but different shades of meaning are emphasized by selecting different word orders. In increasing order of markedness:

  • Ala ma kota – Alicia has a cat (when spoken with a different sentence tempo and accentation, this sentence can be understood as mildly offensive idiom “Alicia is crazy” or “Alicia is a loony”)
  • Ala kota ma – Alicia does have (own) a cat (and has not borrowed it)
  • Kota ma Ala – The/a cat is owned by Alicia
  • Ma Ala kota – Alicia really does have a cat
  • Kota Ala ma – It is just the cat that Alicia really has
  • Ma kota Ala – The relationship of Alicia to the cat is one of ownership (and not temporary possession)

However, only the first three examples sound natural in Polish, and others should be used for special emphasis only, if at all.

If a question mark is added to the end of those sentences they will all mean “does Alicia have a cat?”; an optional ‘czy’ could be added to the beginning (but native speakers do not always use it).

If apparent from context, the subject, object or even the verb, can be dropped:

  • Ma kota – can be used if it is obvious who is the person talked about
  • Ma – short answer for “Czy Ala ma kota?” (as in “Yes, she does”)
  • Ala – answer for “Kto ma kota?” (as in “Alicia does”)
  • Kota – answer for “Co ma Ala?” (as in “The cat”)
  • Ala ma – (as in “Alicia does [have one]”) answer for “Kto z naszych znajomych ma kota?” (“Who among our acquaintances has a cat?”)

Note the interrogative particle “czy”, which is used to start a yes/no question, much like the French “est-ce que”. The particle is not obligatory, and sometimes rising intonation is the only signal of the interrogative character of the sentence: “Ala ma kota?”.

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There is a tendency in Polish to drop the subject rather than the object as it is uncommon to know the object but not the subject. If the question were “Kto ma kota?” (Who has a/the cat?), the answer should be “Ala” alone, without a verb.

In particular, “ja” (I) and “ty” (you, singular), and their plural equivalents “my” (we) and “wy” (you, plural), are almost always dropped, much like the respective Spanish pronouns.

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English Polish
One o’clock Pierwsza
1:30 W pół do pierwszej
Morning Rano
Afternoon Popołudnie
Evening Wieczór
Weekend Weekend
Weekday Dzień powszedni
Quarter to za pietnaście
Quarter past pietnaście po
I will be late Będę spóźniony/a
I will be early Będę wcześniej
What time will you be there? O której Ty będziesz
What’s the time please? Która jest godzina?
Please show me [your watch]. Proszę mi pokazać [zegarek].
English Polish
How much is… Ile kosztuje…
What is the total? Ile w sumie?
Is there… Czy jest…
Please write it down. Proszę napisać.
Do you have change? Czy ma Pan/Pani drobne?
Please pass me… Proszę poda.
milk mleko
bread chleb
eggs jajka
beer piwo
water wino
English Polish
The bill please. Rachunek proszę.
I would like a beer. Poproszę piwo.
white wine białe wino
red wine czerwone wino
Do you have a vegetarian menu? Czy jest karta wegetariańska?
I would like to see the menu. Poprosze kartę.
How much is [the steak]? Ile kosztuje [befsztyk]?
English Learn polish free
Hi Cześć
Bye Cześć
Good morning/good day/good afternoon Dzień dobry
Good evening Dobry wieczór
Goodbye Do widzenia
See you later/tomorrow Do zobaczenia/jutro
Nice to meet you [m/f] Miło Pana/Panią poznać

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