Get 31% Off With The Monster Sale. Ends Soon!
Get 31% Off With The Monster Sale. Ends Soon!
PolishPod101.com Blog
Learn Polish with Free Daily
Audio and Video Lessons!
Start Your Free Trial 6 FREE Features

Learn How to Form Negative Sentences in Polish

Thumbnail

Knowing how to form negative sentences in Polish is a crucial skill for learners of the language to acquire early on. There are a few different methods of Polish negation, and today we’ll cover the most important ones. 

Don’t worry too much, though.

It’s much simpler than many other aspects of Polish grammar, so we’re sure you’ll master these negation patterns in no time. The most important thing to keep in mind is that Polish is a different language. Trying to develop a “Polish mindset” will work better for you than striving to translate exactly what you have in mind in English.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Polish Table of Contents
  1. Polish Negation: Case Study
  2. Answering “No” to Questions
  3. Other Words Used for Expressing Negation
  4. Double Negatives
  5. Final Thoughts

1. Polish Negation: Case Study

The simplest pattern of Polish negation uses the word nie (“no”) in front of the part of speech being negated. This is unlike what you see in many other languages, where negation often needs two parts or uses different words depending on the context. You can learn more about affirmation and negation in different languages by clicking on the link. 

A- Polish Verb Negation

A Person Saying No with a Gesture

It’s only natural to speak up about things you don’t like or don’t want to do—it doesn’t make you a negative person! It’s equally important to know how to speak about negative emotions in Polish.

Negation in Polish works very differently from that in English. In English, there are many words that can negate the verb, depending on the tense used; in Polish, it’s always the same word. 

Have a look at the following examples: 

  • Nie lubię chodzić do kina. – “I don’t like going to the cinema.”
  • Nie czytaj gazety! – “Don’t read the newspaper!”
  • Nie mieszkali w Polsce. – “They didn’t live in Poland.”

As you can see in the examples above, the word nie is placed directly in front of the verb it’s meant to negate. This is true for all tenses and moods. Of course, this is only one way to negate a verb.

Once you gain more confidence in your Polish skills, you may want to start using verbs with opposite meanings (antonimy – “antonyms”). For instance, instead of simply saying Nie chcę (“I don’t want”) you can decide to use Odmawiam (“I refuse”). Start improving your vocabulary by studying our top 20 Polish verbs video series. Here you can find parts one, two, three, and four.

B- Negation of Adjectives

In Polish, negating adjectives is just as simple as negating verbs. There’s only a small twist – you need to remember to write nie together with the adjective.

A Girl Sticking Her Tongue Out
  • On jest niegrzeczny. – “He’s rude/badly behaved.” 
  • Ten samochód jest niedrogi. – “This car is inexpensive.”
  • Mój artykuł jest niedokończony. – “My article is unfinished.”

Of course, not all adjectives can be negated that way. Sometimes adding nie in front of an adjective will just make it sound funny or artificial. So what should you do in those situations? Start by learning high frequency adjectives with us. After that, remember to check out our lesson on using Polish adjectives and its follow-up

C- Negation of Adverbs

To make an adverb negative in Polish, you need to put the adverb after nie:

  • Na dworze było nieładnie. – “It was not pretty outside.”
  • Opowiadał nieciekawie o swoim życiu. – “He spoke about his life in a boring way.” 
  • Poczułam się niedobrze. – “I started feeling unwell.”

Unfortunately, the rules for how we write adverbs with nie are a bit more complicated than those for other parts of speech. Some adverbs are combined with the word nie to form a compound, while others are written separately. Instead of learning very specific rules in the beginning, we suggest that you just keep studying adverbs along with their spelling.

Don’t despair if you make mistakes from time to time. It happens even to Polish people! This list of must-know adverbs and phrases for connecting thoughts will definitely come in handy.

Let’s now learn about negation in Polish grammar for answering questions. After all, saying “no” sometimes is just a part of life! 

2. Answering “No” to Questions

To make a more complete negation in Polish when answering a question, you need to use nie twice: 

A: Idziesz jutro do kina? 
A: “Are you going to the cinema tomorrow?”

B: Nie, nie idę jutro do kina. 
B: “No, I’m not going to the cinema tomorrow.”

A: Chcesz coś do picia? 
A: “Would you like something to drink?”

B: Nie, nie chce mi się pić.
B: “No, I’m not thirsty.”

A Person Crossing Her Arms in Refusal

Do you know how to offer such an invitation in Polish? If not, head to our lesson on this topic by clicking on the link.

Another option is to simply answer nie, but it’s considered quite impolite. You should only use it with people whom you know well and who are unlikely to take offense. 

A: Chcesz coś zjeść?
A: “Would you like to eat something?”

B: Nie.
B: “No.”

A more polite way of refusing would be to answer: Nie, dziękuję. (“No, thank you.”) 

It’s also worth mentioning that some Polish people use nie at the end of declarative sentences. This special Polish negation case is a mannerism. It doesn’t really carry any specific meaning, it’s just something that some people say. Many people don’t like to hear it and consider it bad Polish, so we wouldn’t recommend developing this habit. Here’s an example of what this looks like: 

  • Kupiłem sobie kawę, nie? A potem dodałem cukru, nie? – “I’ve bought myself some coffee, no? And then I’ve added some sugar, no?” 

3. Other Words Used for Expressing Negation

To truly master negation in the Polish language, you need to study other words used for forming negative sentences in Polish. Here are some expressions that can be used for negation without changing form: 

  • nigdy – “never”

    Nigdy nie mów nigdy. – “Never say never.”

  • nigdy więcej – “never again”

    Nigdy więcej nie założę szpilek! – “I will never wear stilettos again.”

  • nigdzie – “nowhere”

    Nigdzie nie mógł znaleźć swoich okularów. – “He couldn’t find his glasses anywhere.”
  • nic – “nothing”

    Nic nie zapłaciłem. – “I’ve paid nothing.”
  • już nie – “not anymore”

    Już nie oglądam tego serialu. – “I don’t watch this series anymore.”
  • ani…ani – “neither…nor”

    Nie mam ochoty ani na lody ani na czekoladę. – “I don’t feel like eating neither ice cream nor chocolate.”

Neither...Nor Image

The one expression that does change is nikt (“no one” or “anyone”). It undergoes declension, just like many other parts of speech. This is why we’d say: 

  • Nie mam nikogo. – “I don’t have anyone.”
  • Nikt na mnie nie czeka. – “No one is waiting for me.” 
  • Nikomu nie jesteś nic winna. – “You don’t owe anything to anyone.”

Remember to pay particular attention to which case is used with this word. In this manner, you’ll avoid making mistakes or causing misunderstandings. 

Have you noticed how negative sentences in Polish seem to work slightly differently than in English? That’s because Polish allows—and often requires—double negation.

4. Double Negatives

Twin Sisters

Let us show you some more examples so that you can better understand how double negation in Polish works:

  • Nikt nigdy tu nie przychodzi. – “No one ever comes here.”
    • Literal translation: “No one never doesn’t come here.” 
  • Nikt mi o tym nie powiedział. – “No one told me about it.”
    • Literal translation: “No one didn’t tell me about it.” 
  • Nic mnie już nie obchodzi. – “I don’t care about anything anymore.”
    • Literal translation: “I don’t care about nothing anymore.”

For many Polish learners, this is a completely new concept and may be a bit difficult to get used to. It’s also a reminder that the rules of negation in English and Polish are different. Don’t worry, though. You’ll get the hang of this particular aspect of Polish negation with time. 

5. Final Thoughts

That’s it for today! As we say in Polish: Co za dużo to niezdrowo! (“Too much of a good thing!”)

We hope we’ve helped you learn about negation in the Polish language. It’s not as hard as it might seem at first, even if it differs from what you’re used to in English.

You can refer back to this blog post whenever you’re in doubt regarding how to say “no” in Polish. Keep in mind the spelling rules, don’t be scared of the double negation, and you’ll be fine. Write some examples of negation in the comments’ section to show us what you’ve learned!

Learning negation is very important, but there’s much more to the Polish language than that! To learn in a structured way, give PolishPod101 a try. Our platform gives you incredible resources to learn real-life Polish. We provide fun and engaging lessons on various topics, featuring recordings by native speakers to help you with your Polish comprehension as well as your vocabulary. Don’t hesitate, create your account today!

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