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Polish Verb Conjugation Rules for Beginners

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Learning vocabulary is very important, but to improve your language skills, you need to know certain grammar rules too. For example, to be able to speak Polish properly, you have to learn the rules of Polish verb conjugation. 

You may be wondering what a verb conjugation is. Don’t worry! We’ve prepared this article so that even an absolute beginner can learn the basic Polish verb conjugation rules.

Let’s get started.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Polish Table of Contents
  1. Verb Conjugation: Introduction
  2. Conjugation Verb Groups
  3. The Conjugation of “To Be” in Polish
  4. Polish Verb Conjugation in the Past Tense
  5. Let’s Talk About the Future
  6. Polish Conjugation Practice
  7. Final Thoughts

1. Verb Conjugation: Introduction

A Girl in Glasses Holding a Tablet

When a verb is conjugated, it means that it has different forms, depending on certain factors. In Polish, these factors are: tense, aspect, mood, person, number, and grammatical gender. In the following sections, we’ll be going over each of these Polish language conjugation factors.

1- Tense

In modern Polish, there are three tenses:

  • The past tense (czas przeszły) — “I bought bread.” (Kupiłam chleb.)
  • The present tense (czas teraźniejszy) — “I’m eating breakfast.” (Jem śniadanie.) 

The present tense can also be used for talking about your daily routine in Polish

  • The future tense (czas przyszły) — “I’ll go away in a week.” (Wyjadę za tydzień.)

This is very different than English, which has an astonishing number of sixteen tenses. 

2- Aspect

Grammatical aspect is more prevalent in some languages than others. In Polish, there’s:

  • An imperfective (niedokonany) aspect, used for uncompleted actions and actions that are habitual. The imperfective aspect exists in the past, present, and future tenses.
  • A perfective (dokonany) aspect, used for completed actions. This one doesn’t exist in the present tense.

3- Mood

There are three moods in Polish:

  • The indicative mood, used for statements
  • The imperative mood, used for orders
  • The conditional mood, which refers to possibilities

Today, we’ll focus on the indicative mood.

4- Person and Number

Grammatical person and number go together in Polish verb conjugation. There are six grammatical persons and two numbers in Polish. Have a look at the chcieć (“to want”) Polish conjugation in the present tense:

SINGULARPLURAL
ja chcę (“I want”)my chcemy (“we want”)
ty chcesz (“you want”)wy chcecie (“you want”)
on, ona, ono chce (“he, she, it wants”)oni, one chcą (“they want”)

It’s important to remember that the personal pronoun is often dropped in Polish. That’s because the form of the verb is enough to tell who the subject is. A pronoun is used only when it’s needed to avoid ambiguities. 

Compare these examples:

  • Chcę coś powiedzieć. (“I want to say something.”)

It’s clear that “I” is the subject because of the verb form.

  • Chce coś powiedzieć. (“[He/she/it] wants to say something.”)

In this case, we would add the appropriate pronoun to indicate who the subject is, unless it’s easy to guess from the context. For instance, you could be standing next to a man, in which case the subject would remain understandable and the pronoun could be omitted. 

5- Gender 

In the singular, Polish has three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. In the plural, there are two: masculine personal and non-masculine personal. For simplicity, we’ll be referring to the masculine personal gender as masculine, and the non-masculine gender as feminine. 

Gender can influence the form of the verb in some cases. The table above shows the conjugation of a verb in the present tense, where gender has no bearing. Nevertheless, there’s a number of cases where gender matters. For example, in the conditional mood and in the past tense.

Before we move on, keep in mind that this article focuses on Polish conjugation rules; if you’re looking for more verbs to learn, check out the resource 100 Most Common Polish Verbs for Beginners.  

2. Conjugation Verb Groups

A Notebook with Exercises

Polish conjugation patterns are grouped according to what the first and second person singular look like. There are four main conjugation groups, but certain sources mention as many as eleven. 

1- Conjugation I

The first Polish conjugation pattern uses the ending in the first person singular and -esz in the second person singular. Here’s the Polish conjugation table for the verb kopać, meaning “to kick” or “to dig”:

SINGULARPLURAL
ja kopię (“I kick”)my kopiemy (“we kick”)
ty kopiesz (“you kick”)wy kopiecie (“you kick”)
on, ona, ono kopie (“he, she, it kicks”)oni, one kopią (“they kick”)

Example: Kopiemy czy nie? (“Are we digging or not?”)

Other verbs that conjugate according to this pattern include: 

  • pisać (“to write”)
    Piszę list. (“I’m writing a letter.”)
  • dawać (“to give”)
    Daję radę. (“I’m managing.”)
  • nieść (“to carry”)
    Niosę walizki. (“I’m carrying suitcases.”)
  • płakać (“to cry”)
    Nie płaczę. (“I’m not crying.”)

The examples above show you why you need to know the form of the first person singular to be able to predict the conjugation pattern. As you can see, the first person differs from the infinitive form in a way that’s difficult to predict. 

2- Conjugation II

Second conjugation verbs in the first person singular also end in . Fortunately, the second person singular with -isz and -ysz endings come in handy here in differentiating the two. Here’s a Polish verb conjugation table for the second group, using the verb robić, meaning “to do” or “to make”:

SINGULARPLURAL
ja robię (“I do”)my robimy (“we do”)
ty robisz (“you do”)wy robicie (“you do”)
on, ona, ono robi (“he, she, it does”)oni, one robią (“they do”)

Example: Robię pranie. (“I’m doing the laundry.”)

Some other verbs that conjugate according to the second conjugation pattern are: 

  • płacić (“to pay”)
    Płacisz mi. (“You pay me.”)
  • ganić (“to scold”)
    Ganisz swoje dzieci? (“Do you scold your children?”)
  • wrócić (“to come back”)
    Wrócisz jutro? (“Will you come back tomorrow?”)
  • suszyć (“to dry”)
    Suszysz pranie w mieszkaniu? (“Are you drying your clothes at your flat?”)

3- Conjugation III

The third Polish conjugation pattern uses the ending -(a)m in the first person singular, and the ending -a(sz) in the second person singular. Have a look at this Polish conjugation table of the verb grać (“to play”):

SINGULARPLURAL
ja gram (“I play”)my gramy (“we play”)
ty grasz (“you play”)wy gracie (“you play”)
on, ona, ono gra (“he, she, it plays”)oni, one gra (“they play”)

Example: Gram w tenisa. (“I play tennis.”)

Here are some additional verbs that follow the third conjugation pattern: 

  • czytać (“to read”)
    Czytam książkę. (“I’m reading a book.”)
  • mieć (“to have”)
    Nie mam dzieci. (“I don’t have children.”)
  • padać (“to fall”)
    Pada śnieg. (“It’s snowing.”) [literally: “Snow is falling.”]
  • wołać (“to call”) [when you want someone to come to you]
    Wołam Cię! (“I’m calling you!”)

4- Conjugation IV

The last Polish conjugation pattern uses -(e)m in the first person, and -(e)sz in the second person singular. Here’s a Polish verb conjugation table for the verb wiedzieć (“to know”):

SINGULARPLURAL
ja wiem (“I know”)my wiemy (“we know”)
ty wiesz (“you know”)wy wiecie (“you know”)
on, ona, ono wie (“he, she, it knows”)oni, one wiedzą (“they know”)

Example: Wiesz kto to? (“Do you know who this is?”)

A Question Mark

The fourth conjugation group is the rarest one. Here are two more verbs conjugated according to this pattern: 

  • jeść (“to eat”)
    Jem obiad. (“I’m eating lunch.”)
  • umieć (“to know [how to do something]”)
    Umiem czytać. (“I can [know how to] read.”)

Remember that to know how to conjugate Polish verbs, you need the first (and preferably the second) form of the singular. 

3. The Conjugation of “To Be” in Polish

Top Verbs

The form of the first person singular in Polish often differs from the infinitive, but no form is as different as that of the irregular verb “to be.” Here’s a Polish conjugation table for być (“to be”) in the present tense:

SINGULARPLURAL
ja jestem (“I am”)my jesteśmy (“we are”)
ty jesteś (“you are”)wy jesteście (“you are”)
on, ona, ono jest (“he, she, it is”)oni, one (“they are”)

Example: Jesteśmy szczęśliwi. (“We’re happy.”)

Perhaps not surprisingly, this verb in the past tense also has an unpredictable form. In the table below, you can find the right way to conjugate the Polish verb być in the feminine gender:

SINGULARPLURAL
ja byłam (“I was”)my byłyśmy (“we were”)
ty byłaś (“you were”)wy byłyście (“you were”)
ona była (“she was”)one były (“they were”)

Example: Byłam na Ciebie zła. (“I was angry with you.”)

You can find the forms for the masculine gender below:

SINGULARPLURAL
ja byłem (“I was”)my byliśmy (“we were”)
ty byłeś (“you were”)wy byliście (“you were”)
on był (“he, she, it was”)oni byli (“they were”)

The form for the third person singular ono (“it”) is było

Example: Byliśmy w domu. (“We were at home.”)

As you can see, the form for the Polish past tense conjugation is completely different. Now, let’s have a look at this verb in the future tense:

SINGULARPLURAL
ja będę (“I will be”)my będziemy (“we will be”)
ty będziesz (“you will be”)wy będziecie (“you will be”)
on, ona, ono będzie (“he, she, it will be”)oni, one będą (“they will be”)

Example: Będziesz grzeczny? (“Will you be nice?”)

Remember to learn these forms by heart; it’s important to know how to conjugate the top ten Polish verbs, including this one. In fact, why don’t you learn with us the top 25 Polish verbs straight away? 

4. Polish Verb Conjugation in the Past Tense

Ruins

The Polish past tense is useful for talking about past events and Polish history. What are the Polish verb conjugation rules for the past tense? We’ll have a look at some Polish verb conjugation tables, using the examples we’ve already discussed for the Polish present tense conjugations. The first conjugation table is applicable to feminine subjects:

SINGULARPLURAL
ja kopałam (“I kicked”)my kopałyśmy (“we kicked”)
ty kopałaś (“you kicked”)wy kopałyście (“you kicked”)
ona kopała (“she kicked”)one kopały (“they kicked”)

Example: Kopałam piłkę. (“I was kicking the ball.”)

Masculine subjects require the following changes to their endings:

SINGULARPLURAL
ja kopałem (“I kicked”)my kopaliśmy (“we kicked”)
ty kopałeś (“you kicked”)wy kopaliście (“you kicked”)
on kop (“he kicked”)oni kopali (“they kicked”)

Example: Kopaliście doły. (“You were digging holes.”)

The form for neuter in the third person singular would be kopało.

Example: Dziecko kopało psa. (“The child was kicking a dog.”)

Now, look at the forms of the verb “to do” (robić) for feminine subjects:

SINGULARPLURAL
ja robiłam (“I did”)my robiłyśmy (“we did”)
ty robiłaś (“you did”)wy robiłyście (“you did”)
ona robiła (“she did”)one robiły (“they did”)

For masculine subjects, we’ll have the same changes as in the previous masculine examples:

SINGULARPLURAL
ja robiłem (“I did”)my robiliśmy (“we did”)
ty robiłeś (“you did”)wy robiliście (“you did”)
on rob (“he did”)oni robili (“they did”)

The forms of the first person singular for grać (“to play”) are grałam and grałem for feminine and masculine subjects, respectively. For wiedzieć (“to know”), the forms are wiedziałam and wiedziałem. Can you predict the rest of the forms in the past tense? Let us know your answers in the comments’ section!

1- Perfective and Imperfective Aspects

We mentioned aspects in the introduction, but it’s important to understand how they work in practice. The English verb “to buy,” for instance, has two equivalents in Polish: kupić and kupować. Kupić is a perfective verb, while kupować is imperfective. Compare: 

  • Kupiłam chleb w tym sklepie. (“I bought bread in this shop.”) [female speaker]

It’s a completed, once-off action and an example of the perfective aspect.

  • Kupowałam chleb w tym sklepie. (“I used to buy/had been buying bread in this shop.”) [female speaker]

The action here is not defined as completed, but repetitive. Maybe I used to buy bread in this shop, or I had been buying it, until something happened. The point is that, in the past, I repeatedly bought bread in this shop.

Have a look at another possible use of the imperfective form: 

  • Kupowałam chleb w tym sklepie, gdy ktoś krzyknął. (“I was buying bread in this shop, when someone shouted.”) [female speaker]
Loaves of Bread in a Basket

As you can see, aspects are crucial in Polish. More often than not, there are (at least) two Polish verbs for one English one. How do you know which one is which? You have to learn it by heart. Fortunately, there are certain regularities, so you should be able to get the hang of it with practice. 

5. Let’s Talk About the Future

More Essential Verbs

Are you wondering how to conjugate Polish verbs in the future tense? There are three ways to form the future tense in Polish: one for the perfective verbs, and two for imperfective verbs. Now, let’s look at some examples of the conjugation of Polish verbs for future tense.

1- Perfective Verbs in the Future Tense

I have some good news for you! In the case of perfective endings, the forms are very easy to predict when you know the rules of the Polish present tense conjugation. 

We’ve already discussed the conjugation of the verb robić (“to do” and “to make”) in the present. It’s an imperfective verb, as it has a present form. Another verb for “to do” is zrobić in the perfective aspect. You can find the forms in the Polish conjugation table below:

SINGULARPLURAL
ja zrobię (“I will do”)my zrobimy (“we will do”)
ty zrobisz (“you will do”)wy zrobicie (“you will do”)
on, ona, ono zrobi (“he, she, it will do”)oni, one zrobią (“they will do”)

You can see that the perfective verbs follow the same Polish conjugation patterns as verbs in the present tense. 

Example: Zrobimy dla Ciebie pierogi. (“We’ll make pierogi for you.”)

Can you eat Polish food? If you don’t know what pierogi are or whether you can eat them, you should certainly check out our lesson about the top 5 Polish dishes

2- Imperfective Verbs in the Future Tense

There are two Polish future tense conjugation patterns for perfective verbs. We’re going to have a look at the forms for robić again for ease of comparison. 

First of all, you should remember that the future forms for imperfective verbs need a “helping” verb. This is one of the forms of the Polish “to be” conjugation in the future, which we discussed earlier. Here are two conjugations of Polish verbs in the future tense for imperfective verbs:

SINGULARPLURAL
ja będę robić (“I will do”)my będziemy robić (“we will do”)
ty będziesz robić (“you will do”)wy będziecie robić (“you will do”)
on, ona, ono będzie robić (“he, she, it will do”)oni, one będą robić (“they will do”)

The first version requires the infinitive form of the second verb, which makes it very easy to use. There’s no difference in how often this version is used compared to the second version, so the former is a better choice for beginners.

A Road Sign with

The second pattern requires changes to the second verb, and these changes depend on the subject’s gender. For feminine subjects, this conjugation looks like this:

SINGULARPLURAL
ja będę robiła (“I will do”)my będziemy robiły (“we will do”)
ty będziesz robiła (“you will do”)wy będziecie robiły (“you will do”)
ona będzie robiła (“she will do”)one będą robiły (“they will do”)

For the masculine gender, the conjugation pattern changes to:

SINGULARPLURAL
ja będę robił (“I will do”)my będziemy robili (“we will do”)
ty będziesz robił (“you will do”)wy będziecie robili (“you will do”)
on będzie robił (“he, she, it will do”)oni będą robili (“they will do”)

For neuter, the third person singular would be ono będzie robiło

6. Polish Conjugation Practice

Today you’ve learned how to conjugate in Polish. Now it’s time for a bit of language practice with our quick quiz: 

1. Ja (kupować) ____________ dziś mleko.   

“I bought milk today.” (male speaker)

    a) kupiłam
    b) kupię
    c) kupiłem
    d) kupić

2. On (grać) _____________ w piłkę nożną.

“I play football.” 

    a) wygram
    b) grałam
    c) gra
    d) grasz

3. My (być) _______________ Polakami. 

“We are Polish.”

    a) jestem
    b) jesteście
    c) jesteś
    d) jesteśmy

4. Ty (zrobić) ______________ sałatkę. 

“You’ll make a salad.”

    a) zrobię
    b) zrobimy
    c) zrobisz
    d) robicie

5. Oni (chcieć) _____________ spać. 

“They want to sleep.”

    a) chcą
    b) chcemy
    c) zrobimy
    d) chcę

Now think about the answers…

Keep scrolling…

Hourglass

1. Ja (kupować) __kupiłem___ dziś mleko.   

“I bought milk today.” (male speaker)

Ja is the first person singular, so we need that form for the past tense in the masculine gender.

    a) kupiłam – first person singular, past tense, feminine gender
    b) kupię – first person singular, future tense
    c) kupiłem – first person singular, past tense, masculine gender
    d) kupić – infinitive, imperfective aspect

2. On (grać) ____gra_________ w piłkę nożną.

“He plays football.” 

On is the third person singular, so we need the form of the present tense. 

    a) wygram – first person singular, future tense, the verb is wrong (wygrać)
    b) grałam – first person singular, past tense, feminine gender
    c) gra – third person singular, present tense
    d) grasz – second person singular, present tense

3. My (być) ___jesteśmy________ Polakami. 

“We are Polish.”

    a) jestem – first person singular, present tense
    b) jesteście – second person plural, present tense
    c) jesteś – second person singular, present tense
    d) jesteśmy – first person plural, present tense

4. Ty (zrobić) __zrobisz_____ sałatkę. 

“You’ll make a salad.”

Ty is the second person singular, so we need its form in the future tense. 

    a) zrobię – first person singular, future tense
    b) zrobimy – first person plural, future tense
    c) zrobisz – second person singular, future tense
    d) robicie – second person plural, present tense, wrong verb (robić)

5. Oni (chcieć) ____chcą_____  spać. 

“They want to sleep.”

Oni is the third person plural, so we need the form of the present tense. 

    a) chcąthird person plural, present tense
    b) chcemy – first person plural, present tense
    c) zrobimy – first person plural, future tense, wrong verb (zrobić)
    d) chcę – first person singular, present tense

7. Final Thoughts

Today, you’ve learned all about how to conjugate Polish verbs in the present, past, and future, taking into account numerous variables. 

Now that you know the grammar rules of the chcieć Polish conjugation and others, you may want to learn some additional verbs to expand your vocabulary. We recommend you check out this list of the Top 20 Polish Verbs

If you’re ever in doubt when it comes to the right form of the verb, don’t guess. Use an online conjugation tool such as cooljugator instead. 

We hope you found this resource helpful. If you want to get access to many more Polish learning tools and materials, start a free trial with PolishPod101. Learn the language with audio and video lessons featuring real teachers, use our word of the day service, and more!

Before you go, please remember to let us know how well you managed to do on the test in the comments section! 🙂

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