The Focus of this Lesson is How to Greet People in Both Formal and Informal Situations
Cześć, probably the most common way of greeting people in Poland, can be used towards friends, people around your age, and also among relatives.
Some more even more casual greetings, that are reserved for your friends only are hej and siema.
As you may have noticed hej is very similar to the English "hey" and that's actually where it derives from. The other one, siema, is a very interesting greeting, pretty new, but extremely popular among young generations. Whenever you want to say "How are you?" in Polish, you say Jak się masz? If we cut off the preposition jak, which stands for the English "how," we get się masz. So to make it even shorter siema was created. There are a few more versions of siema, for example siemka, siemano, siemanko. Please remember that these are Polish slang terms and are reserved for your close friends only.
There are a few choices when it comes to greeting people in a formal setting. Let's start with the most common expression, which is dzień dobry. Dzień dobry stands for the English "good morning," but literal translation will be "good day" The noun dzień means "day" and the adjective dobry means "good." Dzień dobry can be used throughout the day, whereas in the evening it's good to say dobry wieczór. This expression uses the adjective dobry, but in this case the noun is wieczór, which means "evening," so all together "good evening," dobry wieczór.
If you happen to forget how to say "good evening" you shouldn't worry too much and just say dzień dobry, since it's perfectly fine to use it from morning until night.
"Hey!," "Hello" (slang)
- Dzień dobry
- Dobry wieczór
- Cześć, Robert.
- Dobry wieczór panu.
Dobry wieczor panu.
"Good evening, sir"
When greeting people you can add their name to the greeting word, just like you've seen in the sample sentences above. Just put a name after cześć or hej.
Also in case of formal greetings you can do a similar thing but here instead of using the person's name we will use "Sir," which is pan or "ma'am" pani in Polish. A very important part of Polish grammar is cases, but in these series we will not talk about them in detail. Instead, we will reserve this for further study. For this lesson, please note that whenever you want to say "Good morning, sir" or "Good evening, sir" you have to use the form panu, not the dictionary form pan:
Dzień dobry panu (whenever we greet a man during the day)
Dobry wieczór panu (whenever we greet a man in the evening)
Dzień dobry pani (whenever greeting a lady during the day)
Dobry wieczór pani (whenever greeting a lady in the evening)
Language Expansion: Farewells
Saying farewells in Polish is as easy as greetings. Here we have more options to choose from.
- na razie
- do zobaczenia (both formal and informal)
"see you later"
- do zobaczyska
"see you later"
- do jutra
"see you tomorrow"
- do widzenia
- do zobaczenia (both formal and informal)
"see you later"
Key Vocabulary & Phrases
świetnie - "great"
In the dialogue Gosia answered Alex's question about her well-being with świetnie, which stands for the English "great." Świetnie is an adverb, but what if we need an adjective? Let's go through all three forms according to the gender:
- świetny - masculine
- świetna - feminine
- świetne - neuter
Don't worry, we will talk about genders later, for now just remember the forms.
The adverb świetnie used by Gosia in the dialogue has a positive meaning, but Polish people use it also in negative way. When we want to be ironic, when we're unhappy about something, we've just seen or heard bad news, very often we say Świetnie! of course with intonation matching the situation.
Jak się masz? - "how are you?"
The phrase very commonly used in English, "how are you?" is not so popular in Polish language. However, it can be a very simple and good ice-breaker when you meet some Poles for the first time. Then, say - Jak się masz?
Please note that the verb used in Polish is completely different from the English. In Polish we use the verb "to be" which is Polish is mieć, here conjugated to the second person singular - masz. So the literal translation would be "How are you having yourself?" but of course we will stick to "How are you?"
Meeting Etiquette in Poland
Gestures in Poland, especially when it comes to greetings, are very important. You can't do well with just saying "hi" to the person you meet. The most common gesture in Poland is a handshake. Whenever you meet someone for the first time, say "hi" and give them a handshake (regardless of whether you, or they, are male or female). Make sure that your grip is firm, if you hold the other person's hand too softly, we get a bad impression of that person. We even say that such a handshake feels like holding a "dead fish" (zdechła ryba).
So remember, when you meet someone for the first time, regardless of their sex or age, to give them a firm handshake. Also among men, who already know each other (such as friends) a handshake is a common greeting (very often they don't say a word, and just give a handshake). When it comes to girlfriends, they usually kiss each other on the cheek, hug slightly or do both.
|Gina: Hello everyone and welcome to PolishPod101.com’s Absolute Beginner series. This is season 1, lesson 1, Saying Hello No Matter the Time of Day in Polish. I’m Gina.|
|Joanna: And I’m Joanna.|
|Gina: In this lesson you'll learn how to greet people.|
|Joanna: This conversation takes place at a cafeteria.|
|Gina: It’s between Gosia and Alex.|
|Joanna: The speakers are around the same age, so they will be using informal Polish.|
|Gina: Let’s listen to the conversation.|
|POST CONVERSATION BANTER|
|Gina: Let’s learn a little more about Polish culture. Joanna, do Poles use a lot of gestures when they talk?|
|Joanna: Yes, generally speaking, we do, but of course it depends on the person.|
|Gina: Are there times when it’s important to use certain gestures?|
|Joanna: Yes, there are, especially when you’re greeting people.|
|Gina: Can you tell us more about those?|
|Joanna: Sure! First of all there’s a handshake, which is usually reserved for men only, or for business matters. When you meet someone for the first time, it’s best to do the handshake. Also when you meet your friends, the most common thing to do is to hug or kiss each others’ cheeks. Poles are very open with this.|
|Gina: So listeners, keep these tips in mind. Now let’s take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.|
|KEY VOCAB AND PHRASES|
|Gina: Let’s take a closer look at the usage of some of the words and phrases from this lesson. Joanna, what’s the first word?|
|Gina: “great”. This can be used in different situations, both when you want to express happiness or excitement and sarcasm or irony - it all depends on your intonation. What part of speech is it?|
|Joanna: It’s an adverb that derives from the adjective ‘świetny.’|
|Gina: Which can also be translated as “great”.|
|Joanna: In Polish, nouns and adjectives have a gender. Świetny is a masculine adjective.|
|Gina: For the other forms, please refer to the lesson notes. What’s next, Joanna?|
|Joanna: A phrase - ‘jak się masz?’|
|Gina: Meaning “how are you?”. “How are you” is used a lot in English, but in Polish, it’s not so common. But it is a good way to start a conversation, if you don’t really know what to say.|
|Joanna: There’s also something interesting about the words used in the Polish version.|
|Gina: What’s that?|
|Joanna: In Polish, the verb used in this phrase is ‘masz’, the 2nd person form of the verb ‘mieć’.|
|Gina: which means “to have”.|
|Joanna: For more information about this, check the lesson notes for this lesson. Okay, now onto the grammar.|
|Gina: In this lesson, you’ll learn about how to greet people in both formal and informal situations.|
|Joanna: Let’s start with the informal, and most common way of greeting people in Poland, which is ‘cześć’.|
|Gina: It means “hi” or “hello” in English.|
|Joanna: This is a familiar greeting you can use with family members, friends, or colleagues.|
|Gina: So, all the people who you address by their first name, right?|
|Gina: Are there any other greetings that can be used with friends?|
|Joanna: There are quite a few, and they are mostly slang.|
|Gina: Don’t keep us in suspense!|
|Joanna: Okay, so the first one, which is very popular among younger generations nowadays is ‘siema’. It’s a very interesting word, because it actually derives from the phrase ‘jak się masz’.|
|Gina: meaning “how are you”.|
|Joanna: if we cut off the first word ‘jak’|
|Gina: ...meaning “how”...|
|Joanna: ...what’s left is ‘się masz’. Then to make it even shorter, the word ‘siema’ was created.|
|Gina: Does it still mean “how are you”.|
|Joanna: Not really, it’s just another way of saying “hi” to your friends.|
|Gina: Any other informal greetings?|
|Joanna: There’s also ‘hej’.|
|Gina: It’s exactly the same as the English “hey”.|
|Joanna: ...and that’s what it comes from!|
|Gina: So, to sum up, there are three ways of greeting your friends. Listeners, try to repeat after Joanna|
|Joanna: ‘cześć’ [pause]|
|Gina: “hi, hello”|
|Joanna: ‘hej’ [pause]|
|Joanna: ‘siema’ [pause]|
|Gina: “hi, hey”|
|Joanna: Please note that you can’t really use these last 2 with your family members|
|Gina: Good to know. What about greeting strangers or those older than you?|
|Joanna: Here we also have a few options.|
|Gina: Let’s start with the most common one.|
|Joanna: Ok. That would be ‘dzień dobry’.|
|Gina: meaning “good morning”.|
|Joanna: ‘dzień dobry’ can be used through the whole day. In other words, in Polish we don’t distinguish “good morning” and “good afternoon” - it’s always ‘dzień dobry’.|
|Gina: What does it literally mean?|
|Joanna: “good day”.|
|Gina: What about “good evening”?|
|Joanna: It’s ‘dobry wieczór’.|
|Gina: Alright. Let’s practice these. Everyone, repeat after Joanna.|
|Joanna: ‘dzień dobry’|
|Gina: “good morning, good afternoon”|
|Joanna: ‘dobry wieczór’|
|Gina: “good evening”|
|Joanna: Well, that’s all for this lesson!|
|Gina: Thanks for listening, and be sure to check the lesson notes. We’ll see you in the next lesson. Bye!|