PolishPod101.com Blog

Learn Polish with Free Daily
Audio and Video Lessons!
Start Your Free Trial 6 FREE Features

All You Need to Know About Polish Verb Tenses

Thumbnail

Did you know that English has 16 tenses? You’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that Polish has only 3! Namely, these are the past, the present, and the future tenses. 

Polish verb tenses aren’t overly complicated, but they’re definitely an important part of learning the language. In this article, we’ll give you an overview of each tense so that you can understand how they’re formed and used.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Polish Table of Contents
  1. Polish Tenses: The Present Tense
  2. Polish Tenses: The Past Tense
  3. Polish Tenses: The Future Tense
  4. Polish Verb Conjugations
  5. Final Thoughts

1. Polish Tenses: The Present Tense

A Person Sitting in Meditation

There’s only one present tense in Polish. It’s used for actions that are habitual as well as those that happen in a given moment.

How do Polish people differentiate between the meaning of each verb, then? Well, they can determine this based on the context or additional words that are included (such as adverbs of time). Another very important thing here is the aspect of the verb: 

  • Imperfective (Niedokonany): used when we want to focus on the action being performed, and not on its completion

  • Perfective (Dokonany): used to focus on the completion of an action

Most Polish dictionaries state the aspect of the verb you’re looking up.

Perfective verbs can’t be used in the present tense. When you conjugate a perfective verb and an imperfective verb in the same way, the perfective verb will give you the future tense form. Here are some examples:

  • kupować (imperfective) / kupić (perfective)

    Kupować becomes kupuję in the first person singular. It’s a form of the present tense meaning “I’m buying” or “I buy.”

    Kupić becomes kupię. It’s a verb in the future tense. An example of its use would be the sentence:

    Kupię polską kartę SIM.
    “I will buy a Polish SIM card.”

  • czytać (imperfective) / przeczytać (perfective)

    Czytać -> 1st person singular: czytam – the present tense

    Przeczytać -> 1st person singular: przeczytam – the future tense

  • pisać (imperfective) / napisać (perfective)

    Pisać -> 1st person singular: piszę – the present tense

    Napisać -> 1st person singular: napiszę – the future tense

Now that you understand the general rule, let’s have a look at more complicated examples. Jeść is an imperfective verb, while zjeść is perfective:

  1. Jem obiad. / “I’m eating lunch.” 
  2. Zazwyczaj nie jem obiadów. / “I don’t usually eat lunch.” 
  3. Zjem obiad. / “I will eat lunch.” 

You know how to speak about obiad (lunch), but how about other Polish meals? Click on the link to find out!

A Cup of Tea
  1. Piję herbatę. / “I’m drinking tea.” 
  2. Codziennie piję herbatę. / “I drink tea every day.” 
  3. Wypiję herbatę. / “I will drink tea.”

Pić is an imperfective verb, while wypić is perfective.

2. Polish Tenses: The Past Tense

Currently, there’s only one past tense in the Polish language. However, there used to be a Polish past tense equivalent to the English past perfect (czas zaprzeszły). You can still find it in older books, but it’s very rarely used today.

The Polish past tense that’s used by modern-day Poles expresses all of the English past tenses. Concepts such as anteriority are expressed through adverbs such as “before” (przedtem) and “after” (potem). The relation between the continuous and simple tenses in English is usually expressed by the choice of verbs in the appropriate aspect.

Last but not least, the Polish past tense makes use of gender. This means that a verb conjugates differently depending on whether the speaker is male or female. 

Enough theory! Don’t worry: It will all become more clear as you look through our examples. Here goes:

Cake
  1. Jadłem/am ciasto i czytałem/am gazetę. / “I was eating cake and reading a newspaper.”

The first form is for male speakers and the second one for female speakers. 

Both jeść (“to eat”) and czytać (“to read”) are imperfective. As you can see, the tense used in the English translation is past continuous as the focus of the sentence is on the action and its narrative quality, not on the result/completion.

What cake do you think the speaker was eating? Watch our video lesson about choosing a cake in Poland to learn some relevant vocabulary. 

Now, here are some more examples of the Polish past tense:

  1. Nie zjadłem/am obiadu. / “I didn’t eat lunch.”

The forms are for male speakers and female speakers respectively. Yet again, zjeść (“to eat”) is a perfective verb. In the English translation, it appears as a verb in the past simple because the focus is on the result of the action.

  1. Wypiłem/am herbatę zanim zaszczekał pies. / “I drank tea before the dog barked.” OR “The dog had barked after I drank tea.”

Both wypić (“to drink”) and zaszczekać (“bark”) are perfective, and the focus is on the completion of the action. The anteriority is expressed with the word “before” (zanim), which is also an option in English as shown in the first translation. However, you could additionally express the anteriority of the same Polish sentence by using the past perfect as shown in the second English translation. 

  1. Piłem/am herbatę, kiedy zaszczekał pies. / “I was drinking tea when the dog barked.”

The verb pić (“to drink”) is imperfective and the focus of this verb is on the action itself. This action also serves as a narrative background to the other one. It’s followed by the perfective verb zaszczekać (“to bark”), which refers to a short, completed action.

Dogs bark, but what sounds do other animals make? Visit our vocabulary list to find out!

A Happy Dog

We hope that, after reviewing these examples, you understand the Polish past tense a little better! 

3. Polish Tenses: The Future Tense

You’ve already seen some forms of the Polish future tense. In fact, there are three ways of forming it—two of which can be used interchangeably. 

A- Imperfective Verbs

Imperfective verbs require a compound form of the future tense. First of all, you need the verb “to be” (być) conjugated in the present tense: 

SINGULARPLURAL
Ja będę – I will beMy będziemy – We will be
Ty będziesz – You will beWy będziecie – You will be
On/ona/ono będzie – He/she/it will beOni, one będą – They will be

Then, you have a choice between two interchangeable forms. The first one is easier as it simply requires adding the infinitive (bezokolicznik) of the second verb: 

  • Będę czytać. / “I will be reading.”

The second form requires the use of the conjugated form of the past tense of the second verb. This also means that you have to pay attention to the gender: 

  • Będę czytał/czytała. / “I will be reading.”

The choice is up to you. The meaning of both forms in English is close to that of the future continuous. The focus is on how/when the action is performed rather than on its completion. 

Speaking of reading, if you would like to incorporate reading Polish books into your language learning strategies, find out what to say at a Polish bookstore.

B- Perfective Verbs

A Person with Binoculars

Perfective verbs used in the future tense undergo conjugation like they would in the present tense, as we mentioned earlier. Here’s an example using the perfective verb przeczytać (“to read”): 

  • Przeczytam gazetę. / “I will read a newspaper.” 

As you can see, the emphasis is on the completion. Namely, the fact that when I’m done, the newspaper will be finished/read by me. 

C- Examples

Here are a few more examples to help you better understand the difference between the forms of the Polish future tense: 

  1. Jutro o 6 będę jadł/jadła kolację z Tomkiem
  1. Jutro o 6 będę jeść kolację z Tomkiem

Both sentences mean, “Tomorrow at six, I’ll be eating dinner with Tomek.” The verb jeść (“to eat”) is imperfective, which is why it has to be used with one of the two compound forms. The focus of both sentences is on what will be happening in a given moment in the future.

Pssst… Are you about to have dinner with your Polish friends? Check out our lesson Out at Dinner beforehand. 

  1. Zaraz coś zjem. / “I’ll eat something right now.”

This sentence uses the perfective verb zjeść (“to eat”). It focuses on the completion of the action, not on the action being performed. 

  1. Nie będę pił/piła na imprezie. 
  1. Nie będę pić na imprezie. 

Both sentences translate to, “I won’t be drinking at the party.” The focus of the verb is on the behavior of the speaker throughout the party, not on the completion of an action. This meaning requires an imperfective verb and thus the compound future tense. 

  1. Wypiję najwyżej jedno piwo. / “I will drink one beer at most.”

This sentence focuses on the completion of an action (or more precisely here, the lack thereof). It requires a perfective verb with a simple form of the future tense. 

Speaking of, do you like beer? Then head over to our lesson I like beer!

Now that we’ve discussed the Polish future tense, it’s time for a few more words about verb conjugations. 

4. Polish Verb Conjugations

Verb Forms

Now that we’ve covered Polish-language tenses, let’s discuss how they apply to conjugation. 

Polish doesn’t have distinct verb groups like the Romance languages do, where you can tell the group from the verb’s ending. This is why we recommend learning the first and second form of each verb. Doing so will allow you to predict the rest of the conjugations. You can learn more about Polish conjugations in our other blog post and on Cooljugator.

To summarize our discussion of tenses, let’s just re-examine the different ideas that can be expressed with them: 

SENTENCETRANSLATIONTENSEASPECT AND FOCUS
Jem obiad.I’m eating lunch.PresentImperfective

Focus is on the activity, which is taking place in a given moment
Zazwyczaj nie jem obiadów.I don’t usually eat lunch.PresentImperfective

Focus is on the habitual activity itself
Jadłem/am ciasto.I was eating a cake.PastImperfective

Focus is on the activity
Nie zjadłem/am obiadu.I didn’t eat lunch. PastPerfective

Focus is on the completion of the action
Zjem obiad.I will eat lunch.FuturePerfective

Focus is on the completion of the action
Jutro o 6 będę jadł/jadła kolację z TomkiemTomorrow at six, I’ll be eating dinner with Tomek.Future (interchangeable with the form below)Imperfective

Focus is on the action being performed at a given time
Jutro o 6 będę jeść kolację z Tomkiem.Tomorrow at six, I’ll be eating dinner with Tomek.Future (interchangeable with the form above)Imperfective

Focus is on the action being performed at a given time

Remember that if there are two verbs in Polish, the second verb almost always remains in the infinitive form. The future tense is an exception, however, as it allows forms such as będę jadł (“I will be eating”) as discussed above. 

Another important thing is the marking of the gender in the past, which applies to all persons and numbers. 

Last but not least, it’s crucial to remember the aspect of the verb in order to correctly express yourself in Polish. 

5. Final Thoughts

Today you’ve learned how Polish verb tenses work and what they can describe. Understanding the logic behind them and their relation to English tenses will definitely help you. 

Do you understand tenses in Polish better after reading this article? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section. Don’t forget to read our article about conjugations in order to learn about verb tenses in Polish in more detail.

Learning about how tenses work and memorizing conjugations is a crucial part of language learning. That said, grammar and vocabulary won’t get you far unless you’re getting enough exposure to the language as it’s used in the real world. PolishPod101 offers several customized learning pathways with hundreds of audio and video recordings by native speakers.

Are you ready to learn real Polish? Start your free trial today!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Polish

From Zero to Hero: How Long Will it Take to Learn Polish?

Thumbnail

Like many people who are about to embark on a new language learning journey, you may be asking yourself:
How long will it take to learn Polish?

The answer is: “It depends on the level you want to achieve!”

In this article, you’ll find out how long it takes to reach the different proficiency levels of Polish. You’ll also get exclusive tips on how to accelerate your progress and use PolishPod101 to your advantage every step of the way.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Polish Table of Contents
  1. Beginner Level
  2. Intermediate Level
  3. Advanced Level
  4. Final Thoughts

Beginner Level

A Woman with a Notebook

How long will it take to learn Polish if you hope to surpass the beginner level? And what skills are expected of you as a beginner (początkujący)? 

Here are some answers to your questions, and more! 

Pre-Intermediate Level: What Does it Mean?

To become a pre-intermediate student, you need to complete levels A1 and A2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). 

At level A1, you’ll be able to have very simple conversations such as introducing yourself or talking about your likes and dislikes. By level A2, you’ve deepened your basic vocabulary knowledge. Upon completion of this level, you can go to shops and museums, ask for directions, tell the time, and talk about your family.

How Long Will it Take?

A Man Looking at His Watch

You need around 200 hours of study to get to level A2. How fast you get there depends on how much time you spend studying. Here are some tips on how to learn the Polish language faster: 

  1. Set up your social media in Polish. If you’re feeling brave, do it to your phone too!

  2. Listen to a lot of Polish music on YouTube and watch Polish-language movies on Netflix. This will allow you to hear a lot of the language and get used to how it sounds. Can you understand some of the words? That’s great!

  3. Last but not least, prepare your own flashcards with new vocabulary you’re learning.

How to Use PolishPod101 as a Beginner

Are you wondering how to learn basic Polish as you begin your studies? 

PolishPod101 can help you improve your Polish at any level. When you first start learning Polish, you’ll be studying simpler things such as saying hello and giving a self-introduction. 

Our lesson Saying Hello No Matter the Time of Day in Polish is a great example of what we have to offer our students. It will teach you the very important skill of greeting people at any time of day and with the required formality level. 

Apart from the dialogue, you also get a vocabulary list, lesson notes with additional tips, commentary on the cultural context (kontekst kulturowy), and even some additional vocabulary. You can read the lesson, listen to it, or do both at the same time using the transcript. 

Here are some similar lessons you may like: 

What’s more, PolishPod101 also has a specific pathway (ścieżka) for absolute beginners. Thanks to this functionality, you won’t get lost among the countless lessons the platform offers. 

Intermediate Level

Moving from the beginner level to the intermediate level is an accomplishment to be proud of! 

The intermediate level (poziom średniozaawansowany) is an exciting new adventure that comes with its own challenges. Keep in mind that your progress will slow down at this point. But this isn’t something to be worried about, as it’s a natural part of the process.

Intermediate Level: What Does it Mean?

A Graduate

You have reached the intermediate stage of your Polish learning once you attain level B1 or B2 of CEFR.

Level B1 allows you to have conversations on most everyday topics (codzienne tematy). You still lack vocabulary and struggle to express yourself concerning more complex issues. 

Such issues disappear at level B2, when you’re capable of having longer conversations on more difficult topics. You’re able to express your political views at this level, speak about the environment, and agree or disagree with others. 

How Long Will it Take Me?

Level B1 means an additional 200 hours on top of the time you already put in to reach A1 and A2. This means your overall language learning time by this point will be 400 hours

Level B2 will require another 150 hours of studying, for a total of 550 hours.

Would you like to know how to learn Polish faster? Here are some language learning hacks to accelerate your progress:

  1. Watch movies and listen to songs like you did as a beginner. At this level, you should be paying attention to vocabulary and grammar. Make notes as you listen and watch. Not sure where to find more Polish movies? Start here
  1. Find a friend to help you practice your language skills. A language partner can’t replace a study program, but it can definitely help with your progress. Not sure where to look for a partner? Try the Tandem app!
  1. Look for free grammar exercises online to internalize the structures you’re struggling to remember or understand. 

How to Use PolishPod101 as an Intermediate Student

A PolishPod101 Graphic

PolishPod101 has many resources for intermediate students. The lessons may cover some of the same topics that you’ve seen as a beginner, but the vocabulary is more advanced. Check out this lesson on choosing your meal at a Polish restaurant to see what we mean. 

In this lesson, you’ll pick up some basic vocabulary related to food so you can communicate in more complicated situations. In addition to the lesson recording, you have direct access to the dialogue, vocabulary, and a lesson transcript. 

Here are two other intermediate lessons:

If something isn’t clear, you can always comment with a question. A friendly Polish teacher will provide you with a useful answer so you can overcome learning hurdles more easily. 

Are you interested in a specific topic? Use our search option to find related lessons!

Advanced Level

The advanced level (poziom zaawansowany) is the Holy Grail of language learning. Did you know that some students never get there and remain at the intermediate level indefinitely? Don’t worry! There are steps you can take to avoid that fate.

Advanced Level: What Does it Mean?

Reaching an advanced level in Polish means that you can speak about pretty much any topic with confidence. This is level C1 of CEFR. At this level, you could study or work in Polish. 

There’s also level C2, which represents a higher proficiency than even the average native speaker has. At this level, you could give speeches and write essays in Polish. 

How Long Does it Take to Learn Polish Fluently?

The Winner of a Race

To get to the C1 level, you’ll need about 900 hours (900 godzin) of work. 

C2 is trickier to evaluate, as this level requires academic skills on top of general language fluency. It also means that you rarely make mistakes.  

To make the jump from the intermediate level to the advanced level, you need to focus on two things: fluency and accuracy. With that in mind, look over these tips on how to make further progress in learning Polish.

  1. Work with songs and movies by transcribing them. Pay attention to how native speakers talk. What expressions do they use? How do they use grammar? Make notes and learn!

  2. Read books in your target language. You can read for pleasure too, but to see improvement you need to work on really expanding your vocabulary and learning more expressions. Tip: Choose modern books rather than the classics to learn the language as it’s truly spoken today.  
  1. Participate in an internet forum about a topic you’re interested in. Get involved in a discussion and learn from native speakers how to use the language. 

How to Use PolishPod101 as an Advanced Student

While you work to achieve a higher level, you should complement your language learning with knowledge about the country. That’s why PolishPod101 offers many lessons for advanced students focused on improving your understanding of Poland. 

Have a look at this lesson about the famous Polish composer, Frederic Chopin. Lessons like this one are similar to what a native Polish speaker would listen to, should (s)he want to learn more about the composer (kompozytor). Along with the lesson, you get access to the dialogue, vocabulary, lesson notes, lesson transcript, and comments. 

Interested in advanced Polish lessons? Remember to check out other lessons from the advanced audio blog, such as: 

A Map of Poland

Are you on your way to approaching an advanced level and need a way to prove your proficiency? Remember that there are Polish exams you can take to do so. You can read all about them in our dedicated blog post

Final Thoughts

In this article, we answered the question: How long does it take to learn Polish fluently?

We’ve also provided you with details on how long it will take you to reach each level of proficiency, and how to learn Polish faster. You should have a better idea of how to best utilize PolishPod101 and other resources to meet your language learning goals! 

How many hours have you studied Polish already? Let us know in the comments section. 

PolishPod101 is a platform designed to help Polish learners at every level reach their goals. In addition to countless lessons on various topics, we provide additional vocabulary resources with pronunciation examples (such as our vocabulary lists and dictionary). If you feel like you need a teacher, we’ve got you covered with our Premium PLUS MyTeacher service!

Don’t just take our word for it. Start your free trial today to start learning the Polish language as soon as possible. Remember that you need roughly 900 hours to become fluent. The sooner you start, the better.

Powodzenia! (“Good luck!”)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Polish

30 Must-Know Polish Proverbs

Thumbnail

As an English speaker, you’re likely familiar with the Polish proverb: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” (Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy.) 

But did you know that Polish is loaded with even more insightful (and often humorous) proverbs you may never have heard before? 

Polish proverbs and sayings are a big part of the Polish culture. Like anywhere else in the world, such expressions are an important part of the spoken and written language. 

In this article, you’ll learn thirty must-know Polish proverbs along with their English translations and their English equivalents (if one exists). Study them carefully, because they can significantly improve your understanding of everyday Polish.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Polish Table of Contents
  1. Warnings
  2. Animals
  3. Food
  4. Proverbs with the Word Co
  5. Foreign Affairs
  6. Love
  7. Final Thoughts

1. Warnings

Many Polish proverbs and sayings are used as warnings to help prevent bad things from happening to another person, or to help prepare someone for what to expect. Here’s a number of proverbs that fall under this category.

1. Nieszczęścia chodzą parami.

Literal translation: “Unhappiness comes in pairs.”
English equivalent:Misery loves company.”

Polish people use this saying to describe situations where two bad things happen to someone, or to warn someone that another bad thing may still be coming their way.

2. Jak sobie pościelesz, tak się wyśpisz. 

Literal translation: “How you make your bed will determine how well you’ll sleep.”
English equivalent: “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.”

There are many sayings around the world that remind us to be mindful of our actions, because actions always have consequences. This Polish saying is one such proverb!

A Sleeping Man

3. Kto pod kim dołki kopie, ten sam w nie wpada. 

Literal translation and English equivalent: “He who digs a pit for others falls in himself.”

This old Polish proverb reminds us that even if we sometimes feel tempted—or even justified—to make someone else’s life difficult, such actions may have poor consequences for us.  

4. Gdzie kucharek sześć, tam nie ma co jeść. 

Literal translation: “When there are six cooks, there’s nothing to eat.”
English equivalent: “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”

Kids Mock Fighting with Kitchen Utensils

Cooperating with others may be useful when trying to make a decision, but too many people working together can result in conflict. In other words, it’s sometimes more beneficial to make a decision on your own or with only a smaller group of people. 

    → All this talk of food made us hungry! Here are 10 Polish Foods you absolutely have to know.

5. Oliwa sprawiedliwa zawsze na wierzch wypływa. 

Literal translation: “Just oil always ends up surfacing.”
English equivalent: “The truth will be found out.”

When you’ve been wronged, you may feel the need to explain your actions to everyone or to fight whatever gossip people spread about you. But one of the top Polish proverbs reminds us that the truth will be found out, even if not immediately.

6. Z kim się zadajesz, takim się stajesz.

Literal translation: “You become who you befriend.”
English equivalent: “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are.”

This proverb is used to warn people to be careful about who they become friends with, as our friends are a reflection of who we are.

2. Animals

Fables are a popular tool for telling cautionary tales and teaching people a variety of morals. It’s not surprising that animals have made it into Polish proverbs and sayings, too. 

7. Lepszy wróbel w garści niż gołąb na dachu. 

Literal translation: “It’s better to have a sparrow in one’s hand than a dove on the roof.”
English equivalent: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

It’s great to have big dreams, but one should also be realistic. One of the most famous Polish proverbs reminds us that sometimes it’s better to settle for something achievable than to keep dreaming about something out of reach. 

8. Nosił wilk razy kilka ponieśli i wilka. 

Literal translation: “The wolf carried a number of times and then was carried itself.”
English equivalent: “The pitcher goes so often to the well that it is broken at last.”

You can get away with bad behavior a few times, but eventually it’ll get noticed and you’ll have to pay for it.

A Wolf

9. Nie dziel skóry na niedźwiedziu.

Literal translation: “Don’t divide a pelt on a (living) bear.”
English equivalent: “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

It’s never a good idea to take something for granted that’s not yet certain. This is a good piece of advice for both our personal and professional lives. 

10. Kiedy wejdziesz między wrony musisz krakać tak jak one. 

Literal translation: “When you’re among crows, you must caw like them.”
English equivalent: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

One of the most common Polish proverbs, this saying reminds us about the importance of fitting in. It’s a good tip for traveling and it can be applied to many social situations. 

11. Darowanemu koniowi w zęby się nie zagląda.

Literal translation and English equivalent:Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

Horse

If someone gives you a gift, don’t question its value. 


3. Food

Food features heavily on the Polish proverb scene—Polish people certainly love to eat well!

12. Apetyt rośnie w miarę jedzenia

Literal translation and English equivalent: “Appetite comes with eating.”

The more you have, the more you want. Keep this saying in mind to avoid getting greedy. 

13. Bez pracy nie ma kołaczy

Literal translation: “Without work, there’s no kalach [cake].”
English equivalent: “No pain, no gain.”

It’s not surprising that both Polish and English have a proverb on the importance of hard work. Nothing in life comes for free! 

14. Niedaleko spada jabłko od jabłoni. 

Literal translation: “The apple falls not far from the tree.”
English equivalent: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Apple Tree

Family resemblance can often be seen in more than just facial features. This saying is similar to another proverb that’s popular in both languages: Jaki ojciec taki syn. (“Like father, like son.”) 


15. Jaki do jedzenia, taki do roboty.

Literal translation: “The way he eats (is) the way he works.”
English equivalent: “Quick at meat, quick at work.”

You could take this proverb literally, and decide to evaluate people’s suitability for work based on how they eat. Or you could take it figuratively, and read that people show their traits in all they do. 

4. Proverbs with the Word Co 

Co means “what” in Polish, but it’s also used for comparisons in many idioms and proverbs. 

16. Co dwie głowy, to nie jedna

Literal translation: “Two heads aren’t one.”
English equivalent: “Two heads are better than one.”

A Man Scratching His Head

This proverb is straightforward and useful. Are you in trouble? Ask someone for help and advice! Two heads are better than one… 

    → …but what about the other body parts in Polish? Click on the link to learn or review the related vocabulary.

17. Co kraj, to obyczaj

Literal translation: “Every country has its customs.”
English equivalent: “Different strokes for different folks.”

Whether it’s during your travels or in your everyday life, people have different preferences, customs, and beliefs. Remember this proverb next time you feel surprised that something is being done differently than you’re used to. 


18. Co nagle, to po diable. 

Literal translation: “Things done in a hurry are cursed by the devil.”
English equivalent: “Haste makes waste.”

A Woman in a Devil’s Costume

Take your time, because things done and decisions made in a rush often have their faults. 

19. Co się stało, to się nie odstanie

Literal translation: “What happened can’t unhappen.”
English equivalent: “Don’t cry over spilled milk.”

There’s no point in crying over spilled milk. The key to a happy life is to learn from your mistakes, not to beat yourself up over them.

20. Co za dużo, to niezdrowo. 

Literal translation: “What’s too much isn’t healthy.”
English equivalent: “All things in moderation.”

Remember to enjoy everything in moderation. 

5. Foreign Affairs

Thus far, our list of Polish proverbs has included sayings with exact or similar English equivalents. However, most Polish sayings about foreign countries and cities tend to be culturally specific and therefore unique.

21. Wszystkie drogi prowadzą do Rzymu. 

Literal translation and English equivalent:All roads lead to Rome.”

Colosseum in Rome

This proverb means that however you try to obtain a certain goal, it will lead to the same result. 

22. Gdzie Rzym, gdzie Krym.

Literal translation: “Where’s Rome, where’s Crimea.” 

Here’s another old Polish proverb related to Rome. This saying has no close English equivalent. It’s used when two things are completely different or have no relationship to each other. 

23. Polak, Węgier – dwa bratanki, i do szabli, i do szklanki.

Literal translation: “Pole and Hungarian—two brothers, when it comes to the sword and the glass.”

This proverb has no equivalent in English, but there is a literal translation in Hungarian. It refers to the historical friendship between the two countries.  

24. I w Paryżu nie zrobią z owsa ryżu.

Literal translation: Even in Paris, they can’t make rice out of oats.
English equivalent: You can’t make something out of nothing.

A View of Paris

Historically, Paris has been perceived as the European cradle of art and culture. This Polish proverb means that even in such a sophisticated place, certain things cannot be done.

25. Mądry Polak po szkodzie.

Literal translation: “A Polish person is smart after the damage is done.”
English equivalent: “It’s easy to be wise after the event.”

While this proverb is very specific to Poles, it does have a more general English equivalent. After all, we all tend to be wise after we’ve acted and seen the consequences. 

6. Love

Love: Perhaps the most important thing in the world. It should come as no surprise that there are plenty of insightful Polish proverbs about love, romance, and heartbreak! Here are just a few. 

26. Co z oczu to z serca. 

Literal translation: “What comes from eyes comes from the heart.”
English equivalent: “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Love is a great and powerful feeling, but when we haven’t seen someone for a long time this feeling can fade away. 

27. Czas leczy rany.

Literal translation: “Time heals wounds.”
English equivalent: “Time heals all wounds.”

A Crying Woman

You may know the truth of this saying already. Suffering is a common human experience, but it subsides with time. 

    → When dealing with the pain of a breakup, it can really help to know you’re not alone. Here are some relatable Breakup Quotes in Polish to help get you through!

28. Serce nie sługa.

Literal translation: “The heart isn’t a servant.”
English equivalent: “The heart knows no master.”

The heart wants what the heart wants, and it doesn’t always listen to reason! 


29. Miłość jest ślepa.  

Literal translation and English equivalent: “Love is blind.”

Not only does the heart close its ears to reason, but it’s also blind the minute you fall in love. 

30. Na bezrybiu i rak ryba.

Literal translation: “When there’s no fish a crab becomes fish.”
English equivalent: “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

When life circumstances aren’t amazing, you sometimes have to accept less than you normally would. This saying can help you deal with hardships in love, too. 


7. Final Thoughts

There’s a lot of wisdom in Polish proverbs, and you’ve just learned thirty of them! Which of these proverbs is your favorite, and why? Let us know in the comments!

Learning proverbs is an important step in language learning, but you’ll need more than a few witty phrases to become fluent. A well-designed plan of study is something you could really use to see quick results. Head to PolishPod101.com today and create your account to unlock access to countless lessons by native speakers, vocabulary learning tools, and much more!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Polish

Visit Warsaw and See the Best of the Best

Thumbnail

Have you ever been to Warsaw? It’s the capital city of Poland and a great holiday destination. 

There are so many fun and educational sites in this wonderful city, perfect for the casual traveler or the Polish learner who wants to immerse themselves in the culture. If you would like to visit Warsaw yourself and see all the best places, let this Warsaw travel guide from PolishPod101.com be your first stop! 

In this article, you’ll learn all you need to know before you go and get the best recommendations for a shorter visit and a longer visit. Last but not least, you’ll learn some simple Polish phrases to help you get around the city. 

A View of Warsaw

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Polish
Table of Contents
  1. Before You Go
  2. Visit Warsaw in 1-3 Days
  3. Visit Warsaw in 4-7 Days
  4. Polish Survival Phrases
  5. Final Thoughts

Before You Go

Is Warsaw worth visiting? 

Yes, beyond doubt! Still, there are a few things you should know before embarking on your journey. 

Basic Facts

Warsaw is a big city, the population of which is estimated at around 1.8 million. It became the Polish capital in the sixteenth century. 

The name of the city in Polish is Warszawa. According to legend, it’s derived from the names of a couple (Wars and Sawa) who helped out a prince without knowing who he was. In return, the prince granted them land close to Vistula, where Warsaw is now situated. From a linguistic perspective, it’s also believed that the word Warszawa means something like “belonging to Warsz” or “place of Warsz.”

Warsaw Travel Tips

Weather

Is Warsaw worth visiting in winter? It’s certainly beautiful during that time, but unless you love snow, you should consider a trip between May and September. The best time to visit Warsaw is during this period of moderate temperatures, as winters in Poland are pretty cold. 

Transportation

Like most European cities, Warsaw has a reliable public transportation system. There are tramways, buses, and a subway. You can also use taxi services, including e-hailing service providers such as Uber. 

Renting a car is another option, but due to parking issues, you may be better off using public transportation (particularly when visiting the city center). If you’re planning trips to other places in Poland from Warsaw, you should consider riding the Polish rails

Lodging

To visit Warsaw on a budget, you can easily find basic shared accommodation for 20 USD per night. If you’re looking for more luxury, you should be prepared to pay 40-50 USD per night. Warsaw is a major tourist destination, so there are many options: hotels, hostels, apartments, and Airbnb. However, if you’re on a budget, you should definitely book in advance.

Food

The price of a main dish in a restaurant in Warsaw is around 10 USD, but it can vary depending on the place. Venues aimed at tourists are particularly pricey. If you want to save money, you can…

  • …opt for accommodation with self-catering.
  • …try street food, such as zapiekanki (Polish pizza bread).
  • …go to a bar mleczny (“milk bar”), which is a Polish cafeteria with cheap homemade food.

You can find more-detailed information about Warsaw on its official tourist website.

Packing List   

A Person with Their Luggage

Poland belongs to the Schengen area, so you may need a Schengen visa to travel here, depending on your nationality. If you do need one, remember to apply for it in advance to avoid issues with your travel plans. 

Apart from your passport and your visa, you should remember to have some cash in the local currency—the Polish zloty (PLN)—or a card that can be used abroad for money withdrawals and payments. Last but not least, take an umbrella with you; if you’re traveling in winter, also bring plenty of warm clothes. 

Visit Warsaw in 1-3 Days

What you should see in Warsaw depends on how much time you can spend there. Below, you’ll find a list of must-see places for a trip between one and three days. You can definitely visit Warsaw in one day, but this will severely limit which places you’re able to see.

Warsaw Old Town (Starówka Warszawska)

Old Town

This historic center of Warsaw is a UNESCO Heritage Site. The area is very popular among tourists and it’s full of interesting places, picturesque cafes, and restaurants. 

Old Town was significantly destroyed during World War II and later rebuilt. Can you guess why Warsaw is nicknamed the Phoenix City? Certain parts remained untouched and date back to the thirteenth century when Old Town was established.

While exploring Old Town, don’t miss out on seeing:

  • The Castle Square (including the Zygmunt Column and the Royal Castle)
  • The Old Town Market
  • The Warsaw Mermaid Statue

Łazienki Park (Park Łazienkowski / Łazienki Królewskie)

Łazienki Park is situated in the center of Warsaw and it’s the biggest park in the capital city. Home to peacocks and squirrels, this park is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll and it’s beautiful all year long. What’s more, numerous cultural events take place here. When visiting, remember to explore the following places of interest:

  • The Statue of Fryderyk Chopin 
  • The Palace on the Island (Pałac na wyspie)
  • The Old and the New Orangery (Nowa i stara oranżeria)
  • Łazienkowski Bridge

Do you think one of the places listed above could be the most famous sight in Warsaw?

The Warsaw Uprising Museum (Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego)

Warsaw Uprising Cartoon

This modern and interactive museum will teach you a lot about the history of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. It’ll help you better understand the city you’re visiting and provide insight regarding the fascinating but sad history of Warsaw during World War II. 

Palace of Culture and Science

The construction of this building was initiated by Stalin, who planned it as a gift from the Soviet people to Poland. The Palace of Culture and Science is Warsaw’s tallest building and a great example of Socialist Realist architecture. 

Apart from appreciating the architecture of the building, you can visit the museums, the cinema, and the other attractions inside. What’s more, you can go to the top of the building for a panoramic view of Warsaw.

Visit Warsaw in 4-7 Days

Do you have a bit more time for your Warsaw travels? That’s great! This will give you ample time to see even more key locations and better experience the local culture. Below is a list of places we recommend for a longer visit to Warsaw.

The University of Warsaw

This is the best university in Poland (as of the 2019 rankings), featuring a stunning campus with many faculties based in old, picturesque buildings. You should definitely include this location as part of a leisurely walk in the city center.

To fully enjoy the area, start at the Nowy Świat (“New World”) Street and walk to the Copernicus Monument. Visit the university and continue through Krakowskie Przedmieście (“Kraków Suburb”) Street all the way to the Castle Square.

Castle Square

Copernicus Science Centre

The Copernicus Science Centre (Centrum Nauki Kopernik) is a modern and interactive museum of science in Warsaw. You could spend hours here, carrying out scientific experiments and learning about how science works. 

The museum is very popular, so make sure to arrive early to avoid crowds and disappointment. They only let a certain number of people in at a given time so that people can interact with the exhibits and experiment stations. 

Wilanów Palace

Pałac w Wilanowie (“Wilanów Palace”) is a royal palace built for King Jan III Sobieski. Inside this Baroque residence, you’ll find many historical artifacts. It’s full of stunning paintings and furniture that’ll help you learn your Polish history

The Palace is surrounded by a large, well-maintained garden. A stroll there is an integral part of the visit. You should allow a few hours for your visit, as it’s farther away from the city center than the other attractions mentioned in this guide. 

Zachęta – National Gallery of Art 

Galeria Sztuki Narodowej Zachęta is a contemporary art museum in Warsaw. There are many temporary exhibitions here that are regularly updated, mixing the works of Polish artists with those of well-known foreign artists. 

Warsaw University Library Roof Garden  

Situated away from the main buildings of the university, the Warsaw University Library Roof Garden (Ogród BUW) is a must during a longer trip to Warsaw. The library building itself has an interesting design, but it’s the garden that’ll take your breath away. You can take a break here from your busy sightseeing schedule, and go for a stroll or sit down with a book to enjoy the tranquility of the garden.

To remember the view for longer, you can take pictures or ask someone to take a picture of you. How do you ask this in Polish? See our lesson to find out.  

The Wedel Factory

E. Wedel is arguably the most famous Polish chocolate producer. You can visit the chocolate factory (Fabryka czekolady Wedla) for a tour and learn all you need to know about the chocolate-making process. If you’d like to make your own sweets, you can participate in one of the workshops organized here. 

Are you more interested in eating chocolate than making it? No problem at all! You can visit a chocolate-drinking venue (Pijalnia czekolady Wedla) and indulge in a hot or cold chocolate beverage, followed by chocolate candy. 

You may not find these recommendations in every Warsaw visit guide, but they’re definitely worth visiting! 

Polish Survival Phrases

Warsaw on a Map of Poland

Polish people in big cities usually speak English well. Young people are often fluent and willing to help a lost traveler. However, when visiting any country, it’s good to know at least a few survival phrases. Even if you don’t absolutely need them, locals always appreciate the effort. Listed below are the ten most important Polish phrases: 

  • “Hello!” – Cześć! (informal) / “Good  morning!” – Dzień dobry! 
  • “Thank you!” – Dziękuję! 
  • “Goodbye!” – Do widzenia! 
  • “Sorry!” – Przepraszam! 
  • “Very good.” – Bardzo dobrze. 
  • “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Polish.” – Przepraszam, nie mówię po polsku.
  • “Where is the restroom?” – Gdzie jest łazienka/toaleta? 
  • “How much is it?”Ile to kosztuje? 
  • “I want to order/buy this.” – Chciałbym/-abym to zamówić/kupić
  • “Help!” – Pomocy! / Ratunku!  

With these phrases, you’ll do just fine whether you plan to visit Warsaw in one day or spend a week or more there!

Final Thoughts

Today, you’ve found a definite answer to the question “Is Warsaw worth visiting?” You’ve learned what to see for a shorter trip and the best places to explore when you have enough time for a more leisurely pace. We hope you’ve enjoyed our Warsaw travel guide and that you’re already excited for your upcoming trip. Let us know in the comments which of these attractions in Warsaw you would most like to see, and why!

The Polish survival phrases we listed will definitely help you get around Warsaw for a few days, but if you really want to speak the language, you’ll need more than that. Fortunately, we have just the right tools to help you learn Polish!

With PolishPod101, you’ll get access to countless resources with recordings by native speakers, as well as lessons and vocabulary learning tools. Start your free trial today to see just how much we have to offer!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Polish

The Best English Words in the Polish Language

Thumbnail

English did not become a popular language in Poland until somewhat recently, due to the country’s political situation until the late 80s. Since then, English has been slowly winning the hearts of Poles. The term we use to describe English words used in Polish, whether modified or non-modified, is anglicyzm (“anglicism“). What about Polish words in English, you may wonder? Keep reading to find out.

Today, English vocabulary is ever-present in the Polish language. English terms and expressions are used particularly often in the Polish corporate world. Learning these words is an easy hack to quickly expand your Polish vocabulary and help you sound more natural when speaking Polish.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Polish Table of Contents
  1. English Words Made Polish
  2. How Do I Say it in Polish?
  3. Common Polish Words in English
  4. Final Thoughts

English Words Made Polish 

Let’s start with English words in Polish that have been modified to sound or look more Polish. These words are divided into two groups: 

1. Those that retain their original English meaning
2. Those that may look or sound similar to English words, but actually carry a different meaning

Shared Meaning

Firstly, we should have a look at loanwords and anglicisms in Polish that have the same meaning as the English words they’re derived from. Don’t be fooled by the spelling! 

  • dżinsy – jeans
  • dżersey – jersey
  • lewisy – Levi’s
  • bobslej – bobsleigh
  • forhend / bekhend – forehand / backhand
  • mecz – match
  • budżet – budget
  • flesz – flash
  • komputer – computer

An Angry Man with Steam Coming Out of His Ears
  • ksero – Xerox
  • wideo – video
  • lider – leader
  • menedżer – manager
  • stres – stress
  • chipsy / czipsy – chips
  • celebryci – celebrities

As you can see, you can find these words in many different areas of life, from clothing to technology. All of these English words in Polish are commonly used, even if linguists and Polish language specialists aren’t always happy about it. 

Beware of These Words

Knowing English words in Polish can be extremely useful, but you should bear in mind that some words with English etymology have a different meaning than the one you’d guess:

  • adidasy
    A Pair of Sneakers
    This word comes from the activewear brand Adidas. However, the word adidasy is used in a more general sense to mean “sneakers.” So if you hear a Polish person use this word, it tells you nothing about the brand the person is talking about. Take this sentence for example:

    Muszę sobie kupić nowe adidasy. (“I need to get myself sneakers.”)
  • pampersy

    This word is derived from the Pampers brand of diapers. Just like adidasy, however, its Polish meaning is wide and it refers to diapers in general.

    Want to expand your vocabulary even more? You can find some Polish Expressions Used for Children on our website.
  • wazelina

    Here’s yet another name on our list that comes from a brand name: Vaseline. No surprises when it comes to the meaning: it refers to petroleum jelly products in general, and not specifically to those produced by the Vaseline brand.

  • drin(k)

    When you ask someone, “Would you like a drink?” in English, it may refer to an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage. In Polish, the word drin(k) only refers to a cocktail.

  • grill 

    The English word “grill” is both a noun that describes the barbecue grill and a verb referring to the act of using the barbecue. In Polish, grill may refer to a barbecue grill or to a social event equivalent to a barbecue:

    Poszliśmy wczoraj na grilla do Marka. (“We went to a barbecue at Marek’s yesterday.”)

    As it’s topical, here are some Polish Recipes for Fluency!

As you can see, the meaning of these similar words in Polish and English can sometimes be difficult to predict. Not knowing the right one may cause confusion, but fortunately, this article can help you avoid many linguistic traps!

How Do I Say it in Polish?

You’re now familiar with many English words used in Polish, but what happens with things like celebrity names, brands, or movie titles? 


Famous People

A Famous Actress on the Red Carpet Giving Autographs

You’ve been learning Polish, so you probably know by now that many words and parts of speech undergo declension—including names and surnames. Have a look at what happens to the name of famous Polish actor Marek Kondrat: 

  • Marek Kondrat to świetny aktor. – “Marek Kondrat is a great actor.”
  • Jaki jest twój ulubiony film z Markiem Kondratem? – “What’s your favorite movie with Marek Kondrat?”
  • Nigdy nie słyszałem o Marku Kondracie! – “I’ve never heard about Marek Kondrat!”

As you can see, both the name and surname change form depending on the case needed in a given sentence. Foreign names and surnames undergo similar changes: 

  • Czekam na nowy film z Tomem Hanksem! – “I’m waiting for the new movie with Tom Hanks.”
  • Mój tata słucha Stinga, ale ja wolę Elvisa Presleya. – “My dad listens to Sting, but I prefer Elvis Presley.”

Be careful, though! Not all names undergo such changes, particularly when it comes to foreign female names: 

  • Słucham Johnnego Casha/Pitbulla/Louisa Armstronga. – “I listen to Johnny Cash/Pitbull/Louis Armstrong.”
  • Słucham Missy Elliot/Taylor Swift/Jennifer Lopez. – “I listen to Missy Elliot/Taylor Swift/Jennifer Lopez.”

We’ve shown you how to say the names of foreign singers in Polish. Do you know anything about Polish musicians, though? If not, check out our series about the Top 10 Polish Musicians.

Foreign Brands

Both foreign and local brands usually undergo declension in the Polish language. Here are some examples: 

  • Lubię Nike’a. – “I like Nike.”
  • Jadę do Marksa i Spencera. – “I’m going to Marks & Spencer.”
  • Kupiłam sobie nowego iPhone’a. – “I bought myself a new iPhone.”
  • Miałem już 5 Samsungów i zawsze byłem z nich zadowolony. – “I’ve had 5 Samsungs and I’ve always been happy with them.”
  • Ta sukienka jest z Zary, a nie z H&M-u. – “This dress is from Zara and not H&M.”

Do you know how to talk about your favorite clothing items in Polish? If not, check out our vocabulary lesson on clothes.

Clothes Hanging on a Rack

Do listen closely to what native speakers say, because there are some exceptions when it comes to the declension of brand names:

Uwielbiam robić zakupy w Mango! – “I love shopping at Mango!”

What’s the Name of This Movie in Polish?

A Woman at the Movies Holding Popcorn and a Drink

English movie titles are usually translated. Nevertheless, very popular movies and series are sometimes referred to by their English names or acronyms. For instance, you could say “Star Wars” or Gwiezdne Wojny as well as “LOTR” or Władca Pierścieni. Science-fiction and fantasy fans, in particular, often refer to movies and series by their English names. That doesn’t mean, however, that they’re always understood by the general population.

When it comes to movie translations, many are quite straightforward. If you know the right word in Polish, you can simply try your luck at translating a movie title:

  • Ojciec Chrzestny – “The Godfather
  • Kasyno – “Casino”
  • Szczęki – “Jaws”

Movie titles with proper nouns usually remain unchanged. Some good examples are Titanic, Pearl Harbor, and Jackie Brown.

Unfortunately, translations are sometimes far from the original English title. You may be better off trying to describe the plot or cast of the movie you’re referring to. Have a look at some examples of this phenomenon: 

  • Za wszelką cenę means “at any cost” in Polish, but the English title is Million Dollar Baby.
  • Skazany na śmierć is “sentenced to death” in Polish, but this is the title given to the series Prison Break.
  • Szklana Pułapka means “glass trap” and it’s the Polish title for the Mission Impossible series.
  • Elektryczny morderca is one of the most famous movie (mis)translations in Polish. It means “Electric Murderer” and this title was given to the first Terminator movie. 

Do you like going to the cinema? It’s much more fun when you have company! If you don’t know how to invite someone to see a movie, see our vocabulary lesson for Offering an Invitation

Common Polish Words in English

You’ve learned quite a bit today about English words used in Polish. We’re sure you’d like to know now whether there are also some common Polish words in English. The answer to this question is both yes and no. While you won’t find that many English words of Polish origin, there’s at least one word that comes from Polish indirectly:

  • Gherkin

    This word was first borrowed from a Slavic language, likely from the Polish word ogórek (“cucumber”), and entered the German language as Gurke. After that, English took over the German word, calling it what we know today as “gherkin.”

A Cucumber That’s Half-sliced

Polish cuisine has also become well-known in other countries thanks to Polish migrants. Polish dish names are among the most common Polish words used in English. Some of them retain their Polish form (pierogi) while others become an anglicised version of the Polish word (barszcz – “borscht”). To learn more about Polish cuisine, remember to visit our lesson “10 Polish Foods.”

You should also know that second-generation Polish immigrants often use Polish words in English. They do this especially when communicating with representatives of their community. Such use of common Polish words in English is part of a language phenomenon known as Poglish

Final Thoughts

In this article, you’ve learned about the most common English words in the Polish language. We have also discussed linguistic traps, how to pronounce famous names in Polish, and how Polish cuisine has affected the English language. This information can help you better communicate with native Polish speakers and sound more like a native yourself!

Nevertheless, there’s still a lot more ground to cover. What you really need is a structured, well-designed approach to Polish learning—and that’s exactly what you’ll find on the PolishPod101 platform.

Deepen your knowledge of the Polish language and culture with countless lessons and recordings from native speakers. Start your free trial today and explore all of our website’s functionalities! You’ll love our word bank, dictionary, and array of other learning tools. 

Don’t go yet! If you happen to know some more common Polish words used in English, let us know in the comments!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Polish

A Brief Overview of Polish Culture

Thumbnail

There are many components that go into learning a language. Knowing the culture surrounding that language is one of them! 

This brief Polish culture overview will provide you with all the information you need to get a head start, from traditional values to the country’s art and cuisine. These interesting Polish culture facts will help you better understand the country and its people, thus helping you acquire the Polish language more quickly.

Let’s get started.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Polish Table of Contents
  1. Values and Beliefs
  2. Religion in Poland
  3. Family and Work
  4. Polish Art
  5. Polish Food
  6. Traditional Holidays
  7. Final Thoughts

1. Values and Beliefs

A Polish Flag

Many people in Poland adhere to traditional values and family is very important to them. In general, people living in small villages are more traditional than those living in big cities. In fact, the big-city lifestyle in Poland doesn’t differ much from the lifestyle of people living in other European cities.

The Polish culture values collectivism over individualism, though this is changing these days. Community is very important to Polish people, which has both its advantages and disadvantages. 

One of the more notable features of Polish culture is its straightforwardness. Unlike people in many Western European cultures, Polish people prefer to get straight to the point. This is why asking “How are you?” (Co u ciebie?) is more than just a mere nicety. People really want to know how you are, so feel free to answer at length. 

2. Religion in Poland

A Sculpture of John Paul II

Polish culture and religion are intertwined. Poland is a predominantly Catholic country, with around 90% of Polish people identifying as Roman Catholics. This means that Catholic values and the Catholic Church influence social, artistic, and political life.   

Close to 1% of the Polish population is Eastern Orthodox. Representatives of other religions are less numerous. That said, these statistics are likely to change as Poland is becoming a more attractive destination for immigrants from (and outside of) Europe.

3. Family and Work 

Because religion heavily impacts Polish culture and traditions, many people in Poland have conservative family values. In many families, the man is still considered to be the head of the household. Polish legislation doesn’t recognize long-term cohabitation, nor has it legalized same-sex marriages. 

Despite these conservative values, the Polish family landscape has been changing in favor of assisting Polish women professionally. Poland gives women a generous allowance of up to a year to give birth and take care of their child. Today, women can share that allowance with the father of the child. 

Work culture is another factor that needs to be taken into account. Polish culture values laboriousness, punctuality, and respect for deadlines. The Polish are known to be hard-working and they generally adhere to strong work ethics.

4. Polish Art

Art is often intertwined with history, making it difficult to understand one without the other. Polish art is one of the things you’ll have more access to once you have a better understanding of the language. 

A- Polish Architecture

A Picture of Warsaw

Architecture in Polish cities is a mixture of modern buildings, Soviet-style aesthetics, and older constructions that survived the Second World War. There are many cities you can visit to appreciate the architectural features of Polish culture: Warsaw (Warszawa), Cracow (Kraków), Wrocław, Gdańsk, Gdynia, and Sopot, among others.

A typical Polish city has an historical part called ‘old town’ in the middle of it. Some old cities have buildings that are centuries old while others, notably the Old City in Warsaw (Warszawska Starówka), were largely destroyed during the Second World War and had to be reconstructed. Other parts of a city are usually full of modern buildings with older ones mixed into the landscape. 

After the Second World War, Poland was under the influence of the Soviet Union. The particular style of the period added to the Polish architecture. Famous buildings such as the Palace of Culture (Pałac Kultury) in Warsaw and the multipurpose arena in Katowice (Katowicki Spodek) are good examples of such architecture.

B- Polish Literature

Some Polish books and poems will only be accessible to you once you’ve developed your Polish language skills. However, many books have been translated into other languages. 

Andrzej Sapkowski, the author of The Witcher saga, is perhaps the most famous Polish author at the moment. However, other notable Polish writers whose works have been translated into other languages are the Nobel Prize winners: Henryk Sienkiewicz (1905), Czesław Miłosz (1980), Wisława Szymborska (1996), and Olga Tokarczuk (2019).

C- Polish Music

Mazurka Dancers

Like people in countries around the world, Polish people like music. 

Poles listen to both international music and homegrown Polish music. There’s Polish pop, rock, metal, and all other genres that come to mind. One genre that has been gaining popularity over the years is folk music. The modern spin on musical tradition was popularized in the 90s by bands such as Brathanki and Golec Ouerkiestra. Their work also incorporates another element of traditional Polish culture: clothing.

Here’s a selective list of Polish bands and musicians who have become internationally famous:

  • Joanna Kulig is a well-known Polish actress and singer who became an international star after her performance in the 2019 Oscar-nominated movie Cold War.

  • Poland hasn’t been particularly successful in the Eurovision Contest, but Edyta Górniak came in second place in 1994.  

  • If you’re a fan of metal, you may already know the two famous Polish metal bands: Mgła and Behemoth.

  • Krzysztof Komeda is a famous film composer who worked with Roman Polański on movies such as Rosemary’s Baby.

  • Wojciech Kilar is another famous film composer who worked with Polański. He’s known for his work on The Pianist as well as other blockbusters such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and The Truman Show.

These are just some highlights to get you started in your exploration of Polish music. If you want to learn more, we have a series of lessons on the top 10 Polish musicians, including Frederic Chopin and Krzysztof Kieslowski.

5. Polish Food

Polish Easter Food

Polish culture and food go hand in hand. Of course, modernity has brought changes to our traditional eating habits, but eating remains a very important part of Polish holidays.

Polish food is quite typical for the region, with many dishes having close equivalents in the Ukraine, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Slovakia. Polish cuisine also has many Jewish influences.

Polish food is quite filling and contains a lot of meat, with pork and beef being particularly popular. Still, there are many health benefits associated with eating certain Polish dishes such as pickled vegetables. Kapusta kiszona (“sauerkraut”) and ogórki kiszone (“pickled gherkins”) are great examples.

Let’s not forget about drinks! Polish drinking culture is social. For instance, vodka (wódka) is an important presence during Polish wedding toasts. Polish people also like to drink beer (piwo) in a bottle (z butelki) or draught (z nalewaka). As for non-alcoholic beverages traditionally present on Polish tables, there is the sweet kompot made of different kinds of fruit. 

Would you like to learn more about the food culture in Poland? Have a look at our lessons: 


6. Traditional Holidays

A Family Celebrating Christmas

Polish people celebrate many holidays on the Christian calendar such as Christmas (Święta Bożego Narodzenia) and Easter (Wielkanoc). They’re both a big deal in Poland, and some days around that period are public holidays so that people can enjoy time with their families. There are also Polish traditions that aren’t related to Christianity, such as Children’s Day and Labor Day

There’s also a number of cherished traditions and holidays in Poland, which are either exclusively Polish or are only known in a handful of other countries. Among them you can find:

  • Drowning of Marzanna. This is a tradition where we drown a doll called Marzanna to say goodbye to winter and welcome spring.

  • Śmigus-dyngus. This day is also known as Wet Monday or Easter Monday. People all around Poland throw water at one another on this day!

  • Tłusty Czwartek. This is a day meant for pre-Lent indulgence, and we celebrate by eating sweets such as pączki (donuts with jam).

Would you like to get more information about Poland? Culture-related events are discussed in our lesson on the Top 5 Important Dates During the Polish Calendar Year

7. Final Thoughts

Today, you’ve learned some key Polish culture facts that should help you better understand the country. We hope that our overview has answered some of your questions. Remember to explore our website to find even more information about Poland and the Polish language.

Culture isn’t everything! If you want to know the language, you need to do some work.

Fortunately, thanks to PolishPod101.com, your work can be much more fun! Here, you can find countless lessons, recordings, and videos featuring native speakers. You can learn tons of new vocabulary with our vocabulary lists and dictionary, both of which have recorded pronunciations. 

Are you ready to up your game? Start your free trial today!

Before you go, let us know in the comments how Polish culture compares to that in your country! We look forward to hearing from you.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Polish

The Best Polish Foods to Develop Your Palate

Thumbnail

Did you know that learning Polish can help you order delicious food? 

Polish food (polskie jedzenie) is really diverse and tasty, so you should definitely give it a try next time you’re in Poland. If a trip to this beautiful country isn’t an option right now, you can also visit a Polish restaurant in your area or try out the simple recipes we’ve included at the end of this article. 

Discovering the tastiest Polish dishes (polskie potrawy) and experiencing them for yourself will take your language learning to a whole new level!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Let's Cook in Polish Table of Contents
  1. Must-Try Dishes
  2. Unique Polish Food
  3. Talking About Food in Polish
  4. Easy Polish Food Recipes
  5. Final Thoughts

1. Must-Try Dishes

A Polish Christmas Table

There are many different Polish dishes, and this doesn’t always make your choice at a Polish restaurant easy. To make your life a bit easier, we’ve prepared a list of must-try traditional Polish foods. 

A- Have You Tried Pierogi?

Pierogi are among the most popular Polish dishes. Put simply, they’re Polish dumplings with fillings. They take quite a bit of time and effort to prepare, which is why it’s easiest to just order them in a restaurant. 

Pierogi exist, sometimes under different names, in many countries of Eastern and Central Europe. In Poland, they can contain sweet or savory fillings. The most popular ones are pierogi with meat, but there’s a whole range of pierogi suitable for vegetarians: 

  • with cabbage and mushroom (z kapustą i grzybami)
  • with Polish blueberries (z jagodami)
  • with cheese (z serem)
  • with cottage cheese, potato, and onion (so-called Russian pierogi, or pierogi ruskie)

Polish food is quite meaty in general, so vegan Polish food isn’t easy to find. However, some places do prepare vegan versions of traditionally non-vegan meals.    

B- Bigos for Meat-Lovers

Bigos is often translated as Hunter’s Stew. It’s a rich Polish dish made with meats, sauerkraut, mushrooms, and fresh cabbage. Traditionally, bigos is prepared over the course of a few days with repeated refrigeration and cooking to enhance the flavor. 

C-
Polish Soups  

You can’t talk about traditional Polish food without mentioning Polish soups. 

The middle meal (obiad) in Poland used to consist of two dishes: pierwsze danie and drugie danie. Soup was served first, followed by the main meal. Polish people today follow more Western eating traditions, but the traditional way of eating resulted in numerous soup recipes. 

Here are some that you should definitely try when you have a chance: 

  • Barszcz (“Borscht”) – a beetroot soup often served with small dumplings called uszka

  • Zupa pomidorowa (“Tomato soup”) – a soup made from tomatoes, often served with cream and rice

  • Zupa ogórkowa (“Cucumber soup”) – considered by some to be the best Polish food, made from sour cucumbers and served with potatoes

  • Rosół (“Polish chicken soup”) – a soup traditionally made with chicken broth and served with pasta (makaron) or small dumplings (uszka)

  • Żurek (“Polish barley soup”) – a soup made from fermented rye, often served with egg (jajko) and kiełbasa (Polish sausage)

[The Polish Soup Żurek

Are you keen to try any of these? You can ask around or search online for Polish cuisine restaurants in your area. If you’re unable to find any, you can try similar cuisines instead. Due to similarities between certain dishes, you can still get a close approximation of Polish food by eating in Russian or Ukrainian restaurants. 

I don’t have a Polish food store near me, but I still manage to find many ingredients in German shops (sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers) and many prepared dishes in Jewish shops (herring, gefilte fish, poppy seed roll). 

2. Unique Polish Food

There are certain dishes that feel uniquely Polish to a Pole, due to the traditions associated with them.

One such tradition is Fat Thursday. The last Thursday before Lent is a day when you can allow yourself to indulge in food. Many Polish people believe that eating a lot on this day will bring good luck for the whole year. The two most popular Fat Thursday delicacies are Polish donuts (pączki) and angel wings (faworki).

Pączki

Have a sweet tooth already? Here are some Polish cakes you should try: 

  • Sękacz – a layered cake with icing sugar; also known as spit cake because it’s made using a rotating spit
  • Szarlotka – a Polish apple pie, notable for its crust and cinnamon
  • Ciasto rabarbarowe – rhubarb cake

Another Polish dish worth mentioning is sałatka jarzynowa (vegetable salad). This is a popular Polish food for Easter or Christmas. The ingredients may vary depending on the region, but you can usually expect pickles, peas, carrots, apples, and loads of mayo in the mix.

3. Talking About Food in Polish

Our job at PolishPod101 is, first and foremost, to help you speak Polish. So now that you’re good and hungry for some authentic Polish cuisine, it’s time to learn some relevant Polish vocabulary. 

A- Describing Food 

Let’s start with some Polish words for describing flavor.

  • słodki (“sweet”)
  • gorzki (“bitter”)
  • kwaśny (“sour”)
  • słony (“salty”)
  • ostry (“spicy”)

You can also express your opinion about flavors by adding the word za (“too”). For example: za słodki (“too sweet”).

A Happy Person Eating

Here’s some vocabulary to express what you think about your meal: 

  • Pycha! (“Delicious!”)
  • Smaczne! (“Tasty!”)
  • Niebo w gębie! (“Delicious!” but literally, “Heaven in mouth!”)
  • niedogotowany (“undercooked”)
  • rozgotowany (“overcooked”)
  • niedobry (“not good”)

You can learn more useful food vocabulary on our list “What’s Your Favorite Polish Food?

B- Ordering Food

Already booking a table at your nearest Polish food restaurant? Below you’ll find some vocabulary to help you order food in Polish like a pro.

A Waiter Taking an Order

Here are some things that a waiter may say to you:

  • Co [mogę] podać? (“What would you like to order?”)
  • Co do picia? (“What would you like to drink?”)
  • A na deser? (“And for dessert?”)
  • Płatność [będzie] kartą, czy gotówką? (“Cash or card?”)
  • Płacicie państwo razem czy osobno? (“Are you paying separately or together?”)

Here are some words and expressions you can use for choosing your meal at a Polish restaurant:

  • Poproszę kotlet schabowy? (“Can I have a pork cutlet, please?”)

Poproszę is always followed by the accusative case, biernik

  • Czy macie Państwo piwo z nalewaka? (“Do you have draft beer?”)
  • Czy mogę zamówić to danie, ale bez cebuli? (“Can I order this dish but with no onion?”)
  • Co Pan/Pani poleca? (“What do you recommend, Sir/Ma’am?”)
  • Nie, dziękuję. (“No, thank you.”)
  • Tak, poproszę. (“Yes, thank you.”)

Visit our vocabulary list of Useful Phrases for Ordering Food to learn even more. 

C- Cooking Vocabulary

A Tomato being Chopped

Do you want to try all of the Polish food favorites we mentioned but are low on options? Don’t despair! Brush up on your Polish cooking vocabulary and find some easy Polish recipes online to recreate the experience yourself. Here’s a handful of expressions you’ll need: 

  • gotować (“to cook”)
  • piec (“to bake”)
  • smażyć (“to fry”)
  • mieszać (“to mix”)
  • kroić (“to cut”)
  • przyprawiać (“to spice”)
  • solić (“to salt”)
  • przypalić (“to burn”)
  • nalać (“to pour”)
  • probować (“to taste”)

Learn more vocabulary related to cooking with these lessons:

  1. Cooking
  2. Cooking in the Kitchen
  3. Home Cooking
  4. Cooking Related Actions

4. Easy Polish Food Recipes

We’ve prepared a few easy Polish food recipes for you to enjoy at home as soon as you finish reading this article.

 

A- Mizeria (Cucumber Salad)

A Sliced Cucumber

This Polish dish is super-easy to make. It’s often served in Polish households as a side dish.

You’ll need:

  • 2 long cucumbers (ogórki)
  • Pinch of salt (sól)
  • Pinch of sugar (cukier)
  • Lemon juice (sok z cytryny)
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream (śmietana)

1. Slice cucumbers thinly. Put them in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Leave for 5-10 minutes. Get rid of excess liquid. 

2. Mix salt and sugar with a splash of lemon juice and the sour cream in a different bowl. Pour it over the cucumbers. Chill before serving.

Note: Some people add dill and/or pepper to mizeria. You may want to experiment to find what works best for you. 

B- Zapiekanka (Polish Pizza Bread)

The Polish street food zapiekanki is probably the most popular. They’re cheap and delicious, and most importantly, you can make them at home.

You’ll need:

  • 1 baguette (bagietka) or different long white bread
  • 300g of cheese (ser), like cheddar or gouda 
  • Ketchup
  • Optional: mushrooms (grzyby

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Slice the baguette open. Depending on the length, you may want to divide the long pieces in two. 

2. Grate the cheese. Place the cheese on the bread. 

3. Place in the oven. Wait until the cheese melts and the bread gets crusty (approx. 5-10 minutes). 

4. Apply ketchup generously. You can also add fried mushrooms to cover the cheese before adding ketchup. 

C- Śledzik (Polish Herring)

This is the simplest recipe of the three. Look for roll-mops (or pickled herring in cream) in a store. Serve on a plate with pickled cucumbers as an appetizer.

Don’t forget to check out our video lesson Polish Recipes for Fluency!

5. Final Thoughts

A Polish Dish - Kotlet Schabowy

I hope that you’ve enjoyed our article about traditional Polish food. We’ve not only introduced you to the best Polish cuisine items, but we’ve also shown you that you can prepare authentic Polish food in your own home using easily available ingredients—even if there are no Polish stores or restaurants nearby. 

Have you ever tried Polish cuisine? Which Polish dishes have you tried already? Let us know in the comments!

Polish food can be an amazing incentive to learn the Polish language. Here’s a fun idea: You can give yourself a pączek (Polish donut) every week that you study Polish every day! 

Nevertheless, no matter how many Polish dishes you try, they won’t teach you the language. Fortunately, PolishPod101 is here to help you. Start your free trial today and get access to countless resources such as audio and video lessons featuring native speakers, themed vocabulary lists, and a word bank. 

Don’t drag your heels—join us today!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Let's Cook in Polish

A Brief Overview of Polish Grammar

Thumbnail

Studying grammar is an essential part of language learning. An overview of Polish grammar basics will certainly help you understand this complicated Slavic language better. After all, it’s much easier to memorize something when you understand it. 

Today, we’re going to help you familiarize yourself with the most important concepts of Polish grammar. You’ll discover special features of the Polish language that may not be present in your native language or other languages you know. If you were looking for a stepping stone to help you learn Polish grammar, you’ve found the place to be! 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Polish Table of Contents
  1. General Rules
  2. Verb Conjugation
  3. Declension
  4. Some Things Don’t Change
  5. Aspect: Perfective and Imperfective
  6. Final Thoughts

1. General Rules

Before we dive in, let’s go over a few basic Polish language grammar rules you should know as a beginner.

Notes

Word Order

The basic word order you’ll see in Polish is SVO. The subject comes first, followed by the verb and, if needed, an object. 

However, the word order in Polish is not fixed. The language allows for some flexibility, so don’t be surprised if you hear or see sentences that don’t follow this pattern. 

We have an entire article on the Polish word order if you want to learn more.

Parts of Speech

In Polish, the different parts of speech are categorized based on whether they undergo changes or remain fixed:

  • Verbs conjugate
  • Nouns, pronouns, adjectives, etc. decline and have number and gender
  • Adverbs are fixed

Students tend to struggle with those parts of speech that undergo changes, so pay special attention to this aspect of Polish language grammar!

Aspect and Tense

Another feature of the Polish language, which is also present in some other Slavic languages, is that verbs have perfective and imperfective aspects. Sounds weird? Don’t worry too much—English has grammatical aspects too, such as the progressive and perfect aspects. 

The good news about the Polish language is that it has only three tenses: the past, the present, and the future. What’s more, personal pronouns often get dropped in Polish. This is because the verb’s conjugation already shows this information.

2. Verb Conjugation   

Many languages have verb conjugations. What does this mean? 

Conjugation refers to how verb forms differ depending on the person and number. Have a look at some different forms of the Polish verb “to be” (być) in the examples below: 

  • Jestem w domu. (“I’m at home.”)
  • On jest z Polski. (“He’s from Poland.”)
  • Jesteście spontaniczni. (“You [plural] are spontaneous.”)

Yes, there are many verb conjugations in Polish. But they can be divided into four main groups to make learning them easier. 

To find out more about them, go to our article about verb conjugations. You can also use a tool, such as Cooljugator or a Polish grammar checker, to accelerate your progress. 

Another tip: Once you know the most popular conjugation patterns, always learn the first two forms of any new verb you pick up. In this manner, you’ll be able to predict the rest of the forms. 

Here are some of our verb lists that you can use to start studying:


3. Declension

A Studious Child

In Polish grammar, declension affects several parts of speech. This is an important topic to cover early on, as it’s one of the most challenging aspects of Polish grammar for foreigners. It requires learners to keep a few different things in mind at the same time. 

First of all, Polish has seven cases: 

1. Nominative (Mianownik)
2. Genitive (Dopełniacz)
3. Dative (Celownik)
4. Accusative (Biernik)
5. Instrumental (Narzędnik)
6. Locative (Miejscownik)
7. Vocative (Wołacz)

Each of these cases has its own set of declension rules that determine how a word changes within a sentence. These changes vary based on a word’s part of speech. In addition, changeable parts of speech have gender and number, adding another layer to the rules.

For now, have a look at the forms below to understand this concept better: 

  • moja mama (“my mother) – a feminine singular noun with the appropriate form of the pronoun mój / “my”
  • moje dzieci (“my children”) – a nonmasculine plural noun with the appropriate form of the pronoun mój / “my”

Now, have a look at the sentence below, where both the adjective and the noun are in the nominative case:

  • To jest pyszna herbata. (“This is a delicious tea.”)

If we make a sentence with the verb pić (“to drink”), it’ll require the accusative case:

  • Piję pyszną herbatę. (“I’m drinking a delicious tea.”)

The genitive case is required to make the sentence negative:

  • Nie piję pysznej herbaty. (“I’m not drinking a delicious tea.”)

The same set of sentences with the neuter noun piwo (“beer”) would look like this:

  • To jest pyszne piwo. (“This is a delicious beer.”)
  • Piję pyszne piwo. (“I’m drinking a delicious beer.”)
  • Nie piję pysznego piwa. (“I’m not drinking a delicious beer.”)

This looks complicated, but it can definitely be mastered. 

The key to understanding Polish grammar is to learn when each case is used and which endings are applied for each case. Learning concepts like these is best done through a mixture of grammar study and lots of exposure to the language. Have a look at our Painless Polish Grammar lesson for a head start!

4. Some Things Don’t Change

Some parts of speech in Polish (most notably, adverbs) remain unchanged. This makes your job as a language learner a tad easier. 

But how can you tell which part of speech a word is? There are many ways to tell.

For example, you can look at the endings: 

Adverbs

  • szybko (“quickly”)
  • wolno (“slowly”)
  • zdrowo (“healthily”)

Adjectives

  • nudny/nudna/nudne (“boring”)
  • czerwony/czerwona/czerwone (“red”)
  • kolorowy/kolorowa/kolorowe (“colorful”)

Nouns

  • człowiek (“human”)
  • pies (“dog”)
  • kobieta (“woman”)

Verbs

  • czyt (“to read”)
  • pis (“to write”)
  • bieg (“to run”)

As you can see, different parts of speech look different. There are always exceptions, but how a word looks is a good indicator of what it is.

A Smiling Student

Another way to tell is by looking at the sentence structure. As we mentioned earlier, Polish has a relatively flexible sentence structure. However, there are some rules: 

  • The verb usually precedes the object.
    • Anna je kolacje. (“Anna’s eating dinner.”)

  • The adjective comes before the noun.
    • Czytam ciekawą książkę. (“I’m reading an interesting book.”)
  • Pronouns go before adjectives and nouns.
    • Moja inteligentna córka uczy się świetnie. (“My intelligent daughter does great at school.”)

Of course, the best way to learn the parts of speech is to memorize enough vocabulary. Speaking of, have you had a look at our vocabulary lists yet?

A Stack of Books

5. Aspect: Perfective and Imperfective 

As we mentioned earlier, Polish has only three tenses. But in Polish grammar, verbs also conjugate based on an additional component: aspect. It focuses on the completion of an action, which is why we have two kinds of verbs: perfective (dokonany) and imperfective (niedokonany). 

Perfective verbs mark the completion of an action. Here are a few examples of such verbs in sentences: 

  • Zjem obiad. (“I’ll eat lunch.”)
  • Zrobiłam zakupy. (“I’ve done shopping.”)
  • Adam do mnie zadzwonił. (“Adam has called me.”)

Compare them with their imperfective counterparts:

  • Jem obiad. (“I’m eating lunch.”)
  • Robiłam zakupy. (“I was shopping.”)
  • Adam do mnie dzwonił. (“Adam has been calling me.”)

The Word Verb on the Blue Screen

To make sure you know Polish verbs well, it’s good to learn perfective and imperfective verbs together. That way, you’ll be sure that you can express yourself regardless of what you’re trying to say.

6. Final Thoughts

We hope that this Polish grammar overview has deepened your understanding of the basic Polish grammar concepts. You can now start building on this basic knowledge to accelerate your Polish learning.

Are any features of Polish grammar similar to those of your native language? What’s different? Let us know in the comments section. We love hearing from you!

While understanding Polish grammar is certainly important, there are more steps you need to take to improve your language skills. To truly learn the language, you need a well-designed action plan. Fortunately, you can get exactly that with PolishPod101. 

On our platform, you’ll find lesson recordings by native speakers, flashcards, vocabulary lists, a Polish dictionary, and much more. All of our materials are designed to help you speak Polish with confidence and understand the language better. 

Start your free trial today and find out for yourself how amazing our website is!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Polish

Polish Quotes for Every Occasion

Thumbnail

When you’re seeking life advice, where better to turn than to the words of those you respect and admire? 

In today’s world, quoting famous people is more popular than ever. From the musings of our favorite celebrities and authors to the life advice from some of the world’s greatest thinkers and visionaries, there’s no shortage of wise words to reflect upon and apply to our lives.

In this article, you’ll learn some of the most popular Polish quotes. We’ve included quotes that are native to Polish, as well as several quotes from other languages that have been translated into Polish. 

In learning these quotes in the Polish language, you’ll gain more cultural insight into how Poles view the world, pick up on certain elements of the language, and ultimately gain access to more wisdom than would normally be available to you. 

Ready to learn Polish quotes for every occasion? Let’s go!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Polish Table of Contents
  1. Uplifting Quotes
  2. Quotes About Love
  3. Quotes About Family
  4. Quotes About Success
  5. Quotes About Language Learning
  6. The Best Polish Quotes
  7. Final Thoughts

1. Uplifting Quotes

A Blue Butterfly

We all need a pep talk sometimes, and that’s where uplifting quotes come into play. Below, you’ll find a number of Polish quotes about life and other quotes that translate well into Polish.


Co nas nie zabije, to nas wzmocni. 

In English: “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”

This is a phrase you’ve certainly heard many times before. But you may not know that the author of this saying is Friedrich Nietzsche, the famous German philosopher. This quote is so popular that the Polish version has made its way into everyday life in Poland. 

Proście, a będzie wam dane, szukajcie, a znajdziecie.

In English: “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find.”

The Polish language also makes use of many quotes from the Bible, with this one being quite common. In Polish, we often use only the second half of the saying: Szukajcie, a znajdziecie.

Ważne, że żyjesz w zgodzie ze sobą, nikogo nie udajesz i przed niczym nie uciekasz. Kiedy jesteś świadomie sobą i kochasz ten stan – jesteś szczęśliwy.

In English: “It’s important to live according to what you feel is right, without pretending you’re somebody else and running away from something. When you live like this and you enjoy it, that’s when you’re happy.”

Many popular Polish quotes about life are from famous Polish people and celebrities. This quote is from the well-known Polish traveler, Beata Pawlikowska. 

Przyszłość zaczyna się dzisiaj, nie jutro.

In English: “The future starts today, not tomorrow.”

Many Poles are Catholic and they hold the late Polish pope, John Paul II, in high esteem. As such, many of his quotes and sayings are commonly used in the country. 

Bądź zmianą, którą chcesz ujrzeć w świecie.

In English: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Of course, Polish people also know and use famous quotes from globally recognized moral authorities, such as Gandhi.

2. Quotes About Love

A Man Carrying His Girlfriend Near a Waterfall

Polish love quotes can be both beautiful and practical. Who hasn’t been madly in love with someone, suffered from a breakup, or had a disagreement with a loved one? It’s amazing what the right words at the right time can do to heal your heart or bring you back down to earth!

We hope that the following quotes in Polish about love give you hope and bring a smile back to your face. 


Kto nie ma szczęścia w kartach, ten ma szczęście w miłości. 

In English: “Who is not lucky at cards is lucky in love.” / “Lucky at cards, unlucky in love.”

This is one of the most popular sayings about love in Polish.

Pierwsze westchnienie miłości to ostatnie westchnienie rozumu!

In English: “The first breath of love is the last breath of reason.”

Here’s another light quote on love. It’s from the famous Polish children’s book author, Kornel Makuszyński.

Lepiej być samemu, niż z niewłaściwą osobą.

In English: “It’s better to be single than with the wrong person.”

This quote is often used in response to someone complaining about their single status! 

3. Quotes About Family

A Happy Family

Family is a cornerstone of any society, so it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of family quotes in Polish! Here, we’ll outline just a few of them for you.


Rodzina to nie krew. To ludzie, którzy cię kochają. Ludzie, którzy cię wspierają.

In English: “Family isn’t blood. It’s the people who love you. The people who have your back.”

Just because someone is related to you by blood doesn’t mean they’ll always be there for you. Rather, family consists of those people you can always count on and who truly care for you.

Wszystkie szczęśliwe rodziny są do siebie podobne. Każda nieszczęśliwa rodzina jest nieszczęśliwa na swój sposób.

In English: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

This quote from Leo Tolstoy means that a happy family is one in which every aspect of the relationship is fulfilled. On the other hand, a family could be unhappy for any number of reasons.

4. Quotes About Success

People Who Have Completed a Hike

Quotes about success can be helpful in finding motivation and pushing your life in a good direction. Famous people understandably know a lot about how to get where you want to be. Here are some motivational quotes in Polish to give you a nudge in the right direction.

Chodzi o to, żeby strzelić jedną bramkę więcej od przeciwnika.

In English: “What it’s all about is scoring one more goal than your opponent.”

Well-known Polish poet Roman Gorzelski thought that succeeding shouldn’t become an obsession; rather, one should take a more practical approach to getting ahead.

Sukces: coś, czego przyjaciele nigdy ci nie wybaczą.

In English: “Success is something that your friends will never forgive you for.”

Another famous Polish poet, Julian Tuwin, warns us to be careful when wishing for success.

Kogo szczęście wyniesie, niech się upaść boi.

In English: “Who’s elevated by luck, should be scared of falling down.”

Polish writer and poet Mikołaj Rej gives us yet another warning about striving for success. Never get too comfortable with your status, because you could lose it in a moment if you’re not diligent!

Zwyciężają ci, co najwięcej mają odwagi dla siebie i od siebie żądać.

In English: “Winners are those who have the courage to have expectations towards themselves.”

Now that we have the warnings out of the way, let’s look at a couple of inspirational Polish quotes, starting with these words from the Polish philosopher and writer Stanisław Leopold Brzozowski.

Człowiek sukcesu to taki, który jest w stanie stworzyć solidne fundamenty z cegieł, które inni rzucili w niego.

In English: “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.”

Let’s end this section with an uplifting quote by David Brinkley. This one happens to translate quite well into Polish. 

5. Quotes About Language Learning

PolishPod101 Logo

There are many quotes about learning languages that can encourage you to continue your language studies. In this section, we’ll look at some beautiful quotes in Polish that focus on the impact of language learning on one’s life. 


Nowy język, nowe życie.

In English: “A new language is a new life.”

This motivational quote is derived from a Persian proverb. When you learn another language, it opens up so many new doors and lets you see things from a new perspective.

Nie zrozumiesz jednego języka, dopóki nie zrozumiesz co najmniej dwóch.

In English: “You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.”

This quote means that understanding a second language allows you to better understand your own language. Learning your native tongue is something you’re forced to do, and once you’ve learned it, you never really have to think much about it. But when you study a second language, it makes you think hard about the different elements of language itself.

Granice mojego języka oznaczają granice mojego świata.

In English: “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”

We can experience the world in a completely different way when we know another language. Just imagine visiting Warsaw or Krakow and being able to speak with the locals in their native language. It’d completely change your travel experience and the way people react to you. 

Jeśli rozmawiasz z człowiekiem w języku, który rozumie, trafia to do jego głowy. Jeśli rozmawiasz z nim w jego ojczystym języku, trafia to do jego serca.

In English: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”

Here, Nelson Mandela is saying that while it’s possible to communicate effectively in a common language, speaking with someone in their own language will leave a great impression on them. 

Dobrym lekarstwem na ignorancję…jest znajomość języków. 

In English: “The great remedy for ignorance…is a knowledge of languages.”

If someone ever questions your motivation or reasons for learning Polish, you can always reply with this quote from Saint Augustine. Learning a language can give you a broader perspective of the world, thus eliminating your ignorance of other cultures or topics.

6. The Best Polish Quotes

A Polish Flag

Now you know what benefits to expect from learning another language. But what can learning Polish offer you that other languages can’t? Full access to Polish culture! 

Here are some of the greatest Polish quotes to give you just a sample of what I’m talking about.

Lepiej zaliczać się do niektórych, niż do wszystkich. 

In English: “It’s better to be among some than everyone.”

This quote comes from the first part of the famous fantasy saga about Geralt of Rivia called The Witcher (Wiedźmin). Created by Andrzej Sapkowski in the nineties, the saga was turned into a series of extremely popular computer games and a Netflix series.  

Miej serce i patrzaj w serce

In English: “Have a heart and consult your heart.”

This is a quote from one of the most famous (and probably most disliked by Polish school children) writer Adam Mickiewicz, who was prominent in the Romantic Era.

Mickiewicz wasn’t around long enough to qualify for a Nobel Prize in literature, but there have been a number of Polish authors who’ve obtained it. In fact, the next quote comes from the recent Nobel Prize winner, Olga Tokarczuk.

Najlepiej rozmawia się samemu ze sobą. Przynajmniej nie dochodzi do nieporozumień. 

In English: “It’s best to talk to oneself, that way you can avoid misunderstandings.”

Żadna legenda nie bierze się z próżni.

In English: “No legend emerges from a vacuum.”

Here’s a quote from Jakub Żulczyk, a member of the new generation of Polish writers.

    → Remember to brush up on your vocabulary before heading to a Polish bookstore. Start with easy Polish books and continue with more challenging reads as your language skills progress.

Jak kochać to księcia, jak kraść to miliony. 

In English: “If you fall in love, fall in love with a prince. If you steal, steal millions.”

Here’s a universal quote from the Polish romantic comedy Nigdy w życiu (“Never Ever”).

Learning Polish opens up the world of Polish cinema to you. Polish movies are full of quotes like this one, which are commonly used in the Polish language and often referenced in conversations. To understand many of them, you need to watch certain movies, and to watch these movies…you need to speak Polish. 

7. Final Thoughts

Today, you’ve learned some inspirational Polish quotes that can help you find some motivation or a solution to your problems. Which quote is your favorite? Let us know in the comments. 

Becoming fluent in Polish would, of course, give you access to much more than just these famous Polish quotes and quotes translated into Polish. 

Start your free trial with PolishPod101 today to begin your journey toward Polish fluency. With us, you’ll get access to countless recordings by native speakers, hundreds of lessons, and numerous vocabulary lists. 

Happy learning, and stay safe out there!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Polish

Essential Business Phrases in Polish

Thumbnail

Many people start learning Polish because they want to live and work in Poland. However, even if this is not your goal, knowing essential business phrases in Polish can help you impress your international clients and broaden your career horizons.

The Polish business phrases included in this article will help you nail a job interview in Polish, interact with coworkers, and find your feet in many other business situations. Let’s boost your business Polish skills together!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Polish Table of Contents
  1. Nailing a Job Interview
  2. Interacting with Coworkers
  3. Sounding Smart in Meetings
  4. Handling Business Phone Calls and Emails
  5. Going on a Business Trip
  6. Final Thoughts

1. Nailing a Job Interview

Job Interview

Are you preparing for a job interview in Poland or with a company that requires you to speak Polish? No problem! With these key business phrases in Polish, you’ll nail your job interview and impress your potential employer.

A- First Things First – Introductions

Introducing yourself is the most important part of your job interview, because first impressions last. You can win the hearts of your interviewers from the very beginning with a confident self-introduction. 

  • Nazywam się ___. (“My name is ___.”)

Here, you can simply state your name and surname. There are many other ways of introducing yourself in Polish, which you can read about in our article on Polish introductions.

Seeing that it’s a job interview, your interviewers would also like to hear about your education and work experience. Tell them about it with the following phrases. Note that for the first two phrases, the first one is for a male speaker and the second one is for a female speaker. 

  • Ukończyłem [faculty] na [name of the educational institution]. (“I’ve graduated from [faculty] at [name of the educational institution].”)
  • Ukończyłam [faculty] na [name of the educational institution]. (“I’ve graduated from [faculty] at [name of the educational institution].”)
  • Mam ___ lat/a doświadczenia. (“I have ___ years of experience.”) 

B- Talking About Your Strengths and Weaknesses

A Man with a Giant Behind Him

Your interviewers want to know you better, so, when prompted, tell them about your strengths and weaknesses. 

  • Moje największe zalety to ___. (“My biggest advantages are ___.”)
  • Umiem współpracować w zespole. (“I’m a good team player.”)
  • Jestem niezależny. (“I’m an independent worker.”) – male speaker
  • Jestem niezależna. (“I’m an independent worker.”) – female speaker
  • Moje największe osiągnięcie to ___. (“My biggest achievement is ___.”)
  • Moje największe wady to ___. (“My biggest disadvantages are ___.”)

Remember to be strategic when talking about your weaknesses. If you’re not sure how to do so, check out this article from Forbes on how to discuss your weaknesses during an interview.

C- Other Useful Phrases

There’s also a handful of other professional Polish phrases you can use throughout the interview. 

  • Chciałbym pracować dla Państwa firmy, ponieważ ___. (“I’d like to work for your company because ___.”) – male speaker
  • Chciałabym pracować dla Państwa firmy, ponieważ ___. (“I’d like to work for your company because ___.”) – female speaker
  • Przepraszam, czy może Pan/Pani powtórzyć pytanie? (“Excuse me, could you repeat the question Sir/Madam?”)
  • Dziękuję za zaproszenie na tę rozmowę. (“Thank you for inviting me for this interview.”)

If you still feel like you need more help for your Polish job interview, remember to check out our lesson “A Polish Job Interview” for even more tips. For general advice, The Guardian has a great article on how to shine during your interview.

2. Interacting with Coworkers

A Team in An Office

So, you’ve managed to land a job in a Polish company or a Polish speaking environment? Well done! We hope our interview tips helped you land your dream job.

Now it’s time for the real test: interacting with your coworkers. Don’t worry, though! With these key business phrases in Polish, you’ll be able to form connections with no problems at all. 

A- Introduce Yourself…Again

Introducing yourself to new coworkers is slightly different from doing so for a job interview. Here’s how to give a self-introduction in a neat and professional manner: 

  • Cześć! Jestem ___ i będę tu pracować jako ___! (“Hi! My name is ___ and I’m going to work here as ___.”)

Polish workplaces differ in terms of formality, so remember to pay attention to how people address one another. Keep in mind the “better safe than sorry” rule. 

B- When You Need Help 

Here are some useful expressions for when you need some help in your new workplace or when you need to apologize for something.

  • Przepraszam, jestem tu nowy. Możesz mi powiedzieć, gdzie jest [place]? (“I’m new here. Could you tell me where to find [place]?”) – male speaker
  • Przepraszam, jestem tu nowa. Możesz mi powiedzieć, gdzie jest [place]? (“I’m new here. Could you tell me where to find [place]?”) – female speaker
  • Przepraszam, czy możesz mi z tym pomóc? (“Excuse me, can you help me with this?”)
  • Dzięki za pomoc! (“Thanks for helping me!”)

A more formal alternative to the phrase above would be: Dziękuje za pomoc!

  • Przepraszam za spóźnienie. (“I’m sorry for being late.”)
  • Przepraszam, nie rozumiem. (“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”)

For more-specific phrases to use when asking for help in a difficult business situation, visit our lesson on this topic. 

C- Making Friends

It’s always easier to work in a place where you get along well with people, which is why you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of making friends. When doing business in Poland, an easy way to make someone look at you more kindly is to give them a compliment. For example, this is something you could say to someone whose hairstyle you like: 

  • Super fryzura! (“Cool haircut!”)

To learn Polish compliments for every occasion, go to our article on giving compliments in Polish. If you’re not convinced that giving compliments can be a successful technique for making friends, Express has some more insight for you

You can also initiate interactions with someone outside of work by asking:

  • Może wyskoczymy na kawę? (“Should we grab a coffee?”)
  • Chcesz zjeść razem lunch? (“Do you want to eat lunch together?”)
  • Wyskoczymy na piwo po pracy? (“How about a beer after work?”)
Business Phrases

3. Sounding Smart in Meetings

In order to stand out in a workplace, you need to sound smart. Check out the Polish business phrases below to learn how to do that. 

A- Taking Initiative and Expressing Opinions

Here are some handy expressions for when you want to share your thoughts on something that’s been said: 

  • Chciałbym zaprezentować wam mój nowy pomysł. (“I’d like to tell you about my new idea.”) – male speaker
  • Chciałabym zaprezentować wam mój nowy pomysł. (“I’d like to tell you about my new idea.”) – female speaker
  • Jeśli mogę dodać coś od siebie? (“Could I make a suggestion?”)

Need more? You can find more vocabulary for making a suggestion in Polish on our website.  

If you disagree with someone, you could also use one of these Polish business phrases to soften the blow of your criticism. 

  • Nie uważasz, że lepiej byłoby ___? (“Don’t you think that it would be better to ___?”)
  • Wiem, co masz na myśli, ale nie do końca się z Tobą zgadzam. (“I know what you mean, but I don’t fully agree with you.”)

When you agree with someone, simply say: 

  • Zgadzam się Tobą w pełni. (“I fully agree with you.”)

B- Reporting on Progress

When you’re given a specific task, you may be asked by your manager or coworkers to report on your progress. Here’s how you can do this: 

  • Wszystko idzie zgodnie z planem. (“Everything is going according to plan.”)
  • Na pewno skończę przed deadlinem. (“I’ll be finished before the deadline, for sure.”)
  • Powinienem mieć wszystko gotowe na [day of the week]. (“I should have everything ready on [day of the week].”) – male speaker
  • Powinnam mieć wszystko gotowe na [day of the week]. (“I should have everything ready on [day of the week].”) – female speaker

Sometimes, unforeseeable situations happen and you can’t complete a task as planned. Here’s how to let others know that you’ve encountered a problem or need more time:

  • Mamy problem. (“We have a problem.”)
  • Nie zdążę na czas. (“I won’t make it on time.”)
  • Potrzebuję więcej czasu. (“I need more time.”)

Are you feeling nervous about requesting a deadline extension at work? Indeed has some practical tricks and strategies!

4. Handling Business Phone Calls and Emails 

Answering phone calls and responding to emails are important skills in any business. In this section, we’ll provide you with some useful Polish for business phone calls and emails.

A- Answering Business Calls in Polish  

A Woman on the Phone in the Office

Here are some useful business Polish phrases that you can use during a business call.

  • Dzień dobry, mówi ___. W czym mogę pomóc? (“Hello, it’s ___ speaking. How may I help you?”)

Instead of dzień dobry, you can also say Halo? (“Hello?”) or Słucham? (literally: “I’m listening,” but translates to “Hello?”)

  • Niestety nie ma jej/go. Czy mogę coś przekazać? (“Unfortunately, she/he isn’t in. Can I take a message?”)

The phrase above is perfect for when someone is trying to reach your colleague who’s currently not in.

To say goodbye, simply repeat these words:

  • [Dziękuję,] do usłyszenia! (“[Thank you,] I’ll chat with you soon!”)

B- Sending Business Emails 

Depending on the required formality, there are various Polish business phrases you can use for work emails. It’s up to you to figure out what kind of relationship your company prefers. 

Below, you can find common ways to start a business email in Polish. We’ll list them from the least formal to the most formal: 

  • Cześć! (“Hi!”) 
  • Cześć + [name]! (“Hi + [name]!”)

These first two phrases are only acceptable if this is how you address that person in real life, too. 

  • Witam (“Hello”) 
  • Witam + [name] (“Hello + [name]”)
  • Dzień Dobry (“Good morning”)
  • Dzień Dobry + [name] (“Good morning + [name]”)
  • Szanowny Panie / Szanowna Pani (“Dear Sir” / “Dear Madam”)
  • Szanowny Panie / Szanowna Pani + [name] (“Dear Sir + [name]” / “Dear Madam + [name]”)

Note that all of the phrases above are followed by a comma. 

A business email should also be concluded professionally with one of the phrases below: 

  • Serdecznie pozdrawiam, (“Warm Regards,”)
  • Pozdrawiam, (“Regards,”)
  • Z poważaniem, (literally: “With respect,” but translated to “Yours Faithfully,”)

We hope these Polish business phrases will be useful in your correspondence! 

5. Going on a Business Trip

People in Suits Traveling

Going on a business trip in Poland for the first time can be very exciting. You’ll need a number of business phrases in Polish to get around, though!

A- Reservations

Some people are lucky enough to have someone who organizes booking for them. Others need to do this themselves. To book a hotel or purchase a ticket, you should say: 

Chciałbym/Chciałabym zarezerwować pokój… (“I’d like to book a room…”)

                                                            …dla jednej osoby (“for one person”)

                                                            …na dwa tygodnie (“for two weeks”)

                                                            …z wyżywieniem (“with food”)

Chciałbym/Chciałabym zarezerwować bilet… (“I’d like to buy a ticket…”)

                                                            …na jutro (“…for tomorrow”)

                                                            …w klasie biznesowej (“…in a business class”)

                                                            …tam i z powrotem (“…return”)

B- Greetings and Wrapping Up 

When meeting people at the airport or in a hotel lobby during a business trip, the phrase to use is: 

  • Przepraszam, czy to Pan/Pani [name]? (“Excuse me, are you [name]?”)

When you present your Polish company to clients, this lesson from PolishPod101 may come in handy. You should also let people know that there’s no need to rush to a decision by saying: 

  • Nie ma pośpiechu. (“There’s no rush.”)
  • Proszę spokojnie przemyśleć tę decyzję. (“Take your time to arrive at a decision.”)

Remember to remain polite during your business dealings on the trip. Thank your clients or business partners with Polish business phrases like these: 

  • Dziękuję za zaproszenie. (“Thank you for the invitation.”)
  • Dziękuję za spotkanie. (“Thank you for the meeting.”)
  • Dziękuję za uwagę. (“Thank you for your attention.”)

The last expression can be used after a presentation or speech. For more tips on delivering a Polish business presentation, check out our relevant lesson.

A Man Giving a Presentation at Work

6. Final Thoughts

We hope that this guide to the key business phrases in Polish has helped you understand how to communicate in your new work environment. You’ve learned many skills today: how to nail a job interview, how to interact with coworkers, and how to sound smart during a meeting in Poland. Let us know in the comments which business Polish phrases are the most useful in your situation. 

We’ve tried to include the best Polish business phrases in this article, but our website has much more to offer. Would you like to learn how to make small talk in Poland or ask for time off? Start your free trial with PolishPod101 today to fully benefit from all of our resources (not only the business Polish vocabulary!). You can learn Polish for every occasion with us! 

Happy learning, and good luck with your business endeavors.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Polish