Dialogue

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Vocabulary

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jak how
mieć to have
na for
ty you (singular)
ja I
bardzo very (much)
cześć Hello, Hi.
być to be

Lesson Notes

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Grammar

The Focus of This Lesson Is How to Ask For and Give Names in Informal Situations.
Jestem Ewa. A ty?
"I'm Ewa. And you?"


So here you are! You just met someone for the first time but have no idea how to introduce yourself, let alone how to ask someone politely for his or her name. Let's see what options you have when it comes to sharing your name and getting someone else's name in Polish.

Giving Your Name with the Verb Być


The verb być, here presented in the infinitive, means "to be," and without any doubt, it will be one of the most useful verbs in your Polish vocabulary.

When introducing yourself, you simply have to say Jestem... followed by your name, just as in the above dialogue Ewa said Jestem Ewa ("I am Ewa"). How simple is that?

You're probably wondering, however, how is it possible that the infinitive form is być ("to be"), whereas its conjugated forms look completely different? For example, the form we just presented, the first-person singular, is Jestem ("I am"). The verb "to be" is irregular in almost every language, and Polish is no different here. Let's have a look at the conjugation of this verb in the present tense.

Singular Form

Polish

"English"

(ja) jestem

"I am"

(ty) jesteś

"you are"

on jest
ona jest
ono jest

"he is"
"she is"
"it is"


Plural Form

Polish

"English"

(my) jesteśmy

"we are"

(wy) jesteście

"you are"

oni są
one są

"they are"
"they are"

In the present tense of Polish, there are three main verb conjugations, each of which is named after its respective endings in the first- and second-person singular:

  1. conjugation -m, -sz,
  2. conjugation -ę, -isz/-ysz, and
  3. conjugation -ę, -esz.


The verb "to be," because of its irregularity, doesn't really fit into any of these conjugations; however, people generally agree that the verb być belongs to the -m, -sz conjugation.

We will be working on and introducing other conjugations progressively in our future lessons.

Giving Your Name Using the Expression Mam Na Imię...


Another expression that Poles commonly use when introducing themselves is mieć na imię, which literally translates to "to have for a name," but of course its English equivalent would be "my name is." The verb mieć also belongs to the -m, -sz conjugation, the same one as the verb "to be."

In our dialogue, Jan, when asked about his name, responded Mam na imię Jan ("My name is Jan").

It's worth pointing out that the expression mieć na imię asks for your first name only.

Let's have a quick look at the conjugation pattern for the verb mieć in the present tense and its English translation. When we conjugate it, the verb mieć ("to have") changes its endings as follows:

Singular Form

Polish

"English"

(ja) ma-m na imię

"my name is"

(ty) ma-sz na imię

"your name is"

on ma-Ø na imię
ona ma-Ø na imię
ono ma-Ø na imię

"his name is"
"her name is"
"its name is"


Plural Form

Polish

"English"

(my) ma-my na imię

"our names are"

(wy) ma-cie na imię

"your names are"

oni ma-ją na imię
one ma-ją na imię

"their names are"
"their names are"


So if you would like to introduce, say, for example, a third party, you could say On ma na imię Adam ("His name is Adam.") or Ona ma na imię Kasia ("Her name is Kate").

Asking for Someone Else's Name


You're almost there. You now know how to introduce yourself, and you are even able to introduce a friend you're with. However, you still don't know how to prompt an introduction from someone else. To accomplish this goal, you have two options at your disposal. You can either use a personal pronoun like we did, for example, in our dialogue above. As you remember, when Ewa gave her name, she asked Jan about his by saying A ty? ("And you?") This way of asking someone about his or her name is very straightforward and easy to remember. You only have to change the personal pronouns depending on whom you're asking.

However, there is another option for you that may be a little bit more complicated. Poles use it all the time, so it's definitely worth knowing. The question that we are talking about is Jak masz na imię? ("What's your name?")

As you can see, the expression mieć na imię comes in handy here. We have here also the word jak, which means "how." So, the literal translation of the question Jak masz na imię is "How do you have for your name?" But again, its English equivalent is "What's your name?" Depending on whom you want to ask, you will only have to change the form of the verb mieć according to the conjugation pattern. Let's have a look at some examples.

For Example:

Polish

"English"

Jak masz na imię?

"What's your name?"

Jak ona ma na imię?

"What's her name?"

Jak on ma na imię?

"What's his name?"


In Polish, we don't really use the verb "to be" to obtain someone's name directly, so stick to these two options that we have just presented, and you'll be in good shape.

Cultural Insights

What's the Difference between Tomasz and Tomek? Are These Two Separate Names?


When in Poland, you will definitely notice that, even though someone's name is Tomasz, people can also call him other names such as Tomek, Tomuś, and Tomaszek. These are all variations of one name, Tomasz, and they are called diminutives. Most often, people use diminutive forms of names among friends and family, and their main function is to convey friendly affection and the fact that the speaker either likes or loves the person he or she is addressing. The most often heard diminutives are the following:

Females

Name

Diminutive

Anna ("Ann")

Ania ("Annie")

Joanna ("Joanna")

Asia ("Joanie")

Katarzyna ("Kathrine")

Kasia ("Kate")

Krystyna ("Kristin")

Krysia ("Krissy")


Males

Name

Diminutive

Grzegorz ("Gregory")

Grześ ("Greg")

Jan ("John")

Jaś ("Johnny")

Jerzy ("George")

Jurek ("Georgie")

Krzysztof ("Christopher")

Krzyś ("Chris")

Lesson Transcript

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INTRODUCTION
Betsey: Hello everyone and welcome to PolishPod101.com. This is Polish Beginner series, season 1, lesson 1, Easy Self-Introductions in Polish, Part One. I’m Betsey.
Joanna: And I’m Joanna.
Betsey: In this lesson you’ll learn how to introduce yourself in an informal situation.
Joanna: This conversation takes place at university.
Betsey: The conversation is between Ewa and Jan.
Joanna: They are around the same age, therefore they will be using informal Polish.
Betsey: Let’s listen to the conversation.

Lesson conversation

Ewa: Cześć.
Jan: Cześć.
Ewa: Jestem Ewa. A ty?
Jan: Mam na imię Jan.
Ewa: Miło mi.
Jan: Bardzo mi miło.
Alisha: Let’s hear the conversation one time slowly.
Ewa: Cześć.
Jan: Cześć.
Ewa: Jestem Ewa. A ty?
Jan: Mam na imię Jan.
Ewa: Miło mi.
Jan: Bardzo mi miło.
Betsey: Now let’s hear it with the English translation.
Ewa: Cześć.
Betsey:Hi.
Jan:Cześć.
Betsey: Hello.
Ewa: Jestem Ewa. A ty?
Betsey: I am Ewa. And you?
Jan: Mam na imię Jan.
Betsey: My name is Jan.
Ewa: Miło mi.
Betsey: Nice to meet you.
Jan: Bardzo mi miło.
Betsey: Very nice to meet you.
POST CONVERSATION BANTER
Betsey: Hey Joanna, do Poles always introduce themselves with their first name?
Joanna: Yes, in an informal situation, always. But there’s something very interesting about Polish names.
Betsey: What’s that?
Joanna: Let’s play a guessing game for a second.
Betsey: Okay.
Joanna: There are names like mine - Joanna, and also Asia. Are they two separate names?
Betsey: I have a feeling this is a trick question!
Joanna: Yes, it is.
Betsey: I think those are two separate names, they don’t sound or look alike at all!
Joanna: But it’s the same name. Joanna, we can say, is an official, full name, and Asia is its diminutive. Most Polish names have a few variations.
Betsey: For example?
Joanna: In our dialog we have Jan, right?
Betsey: Yes. So what will be diminutive of Jan?
Joanna: Janek for adults and Jaś for children.
Betsey: So there’s a difference between diminutives for children and adults?
Joanna: Sometimes the diminutive sounds childish for us, like in case of Jaś. You will never hear an adult being called by this name.
Betsey: So what will be some other examples?
Joanna: If you ever meet Katarzyna, you’d probably call her Kasia. If it’s Anna, you will call her Ania. As for male names - Krzysztof is Krzysiek or Krzyś if he’s a child. And Piotr can be called Piotrek.
Betsey: Wow, that’s really interesting! Now let’s take a look at the vocabulary from this lesson.
VOCAB LIST
Betsey: Let's take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
Betsey: The first word we shall see is-
Joanna: cześć [natural native speed]
Betsey: hello, hi
Joanna: cześć [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Joanna: cześć [natural native speed]
Betsey: Next.
Joanna: być [natural native speed]
Betsey: to be
Joanna: być [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Joanna: być [natural native speed]
Betsey: Next.
Joanna: ty [natural native speed]
Betsey: you (singular)
Joanna: ty [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Joanna: ty [natural native speed]
Betsey: Next.
Joanna: ja [natural native speed]
Betsey: I
Joanna: ja [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Joanna: ja [natural native speed]
Betsey: Next.
Joanna: mieć [natural native speed]
Joanna: to have
Joanna: mieć [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Joanna: mieć [natural native speed]
Betsey: Next.
Joanna: na [natural native speed]
Betsey: for
Joanna: na [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Joanna: na [natural native speed]
Betsy: Next
Joanna: bardzo [natural native speed]
Betsey: very (much)
Joanna: bardzo [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Joanna: bardzo [natural native speed]
Betsye: And Last.
Joanna: jak [natural native speed]
Betsey: how
Joanna: jak [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Joanna: jak [natural native speed]
KEY VOCABULARY AND PHRASES
Betsey: Let's have a closer look at the usage for some of the words and phrases from this lesson. Joanna, What’s the first word?
Joanna:‘Cześć’, which means “hello” or “hi”.
Betsey: It’s a popular greeting among all generations.
Joanna: That’s true. You will hear it all the time when you’re in Poland.
Betsey: Can it be used with anyone?
Joanna: It’s reserved for friends, relatives, or people who you've met before and who are around your age.
Betsey: In other words, we can use it only in informal situations.
Joanna: Exactly.
Betsey Okay, what’s the next word?
Joanna:‘Siema’
Betsey: This is another popular greeting.
Joanna: Yes, especially among young people, so be sure to use it towards your friends ONLY.
Betsey: This time let’s talk about a phrase.
Joanna: Okay, let’s take a closer look at ‘miło mi cię poznać?’
Betsey:...in English “nice to meet you”.
Joanna: It’s rather long phrase, isn't it?
Betsey: Can we make it shorter?
Joanna: Yes, Poles usually say just "‘miło mi’".
Betsey: So say this whenever you meet someone for the first time and shake their hand.
Joanna: That’s right!
Betsey: Okay, let’s move on to grammar section.

Lesson focus

Betsey: In this lesson we’re going to learn how to introduce yourself and ask for someone’s name in Polish.
Joanna: Yes, it means that we will talk about a very useful verb in Polish, which is ‘być’.
Betsey:“to be”
Joanna: In the dialog you heard Ewa saying - ‘Jestem Ewa.’
Betsey:“I’m Ewa”.
Joanna: That’s the easiest way of introducing yourself. Just start with ‘jestem’, which is conjugated to 1st person, and then say your name.
Betsey: Our verb changed a lot after we put it into a sentence.
Joanna: That’s true. Probably the verb “to be” is irregular in almost every language, and Polish is no different here.
Betsey: The only solution then is to memorize the forms.
Joanna: Exactly. There are three main verb conjugation groups in Polish.
Betsey: What does this mean?
Joanna: It means that most verbs will follow some pattern when being conjugated. The others, like the verb ‘być,’ unfortunately you will have to memorize.
Betsey: Is there any other way to tell someone your name?
Joanna: Yes, there is. In our dialog Jan used the other way, which was ‘Mam na imię Jan’.
Betsey:“My name is Jan.”
Joanna: Here the verb used is ‘mieć’.
Betsey:“to have”
Joanna: Yes, it’s quite different from English, isn't it? ‘Mam na imię..’ literally means..
Betsey:“I have for a name”
Joanna: But we will use the English equivalent, which is..
Betsey:“My name is..”
Joanna: It’s worth pointing out that the expression ‘Mam na imię..’ asks for your first name only.
Betsey: Is the verb used in this expression also an irregular verb?
Joanna: No, this one follows a pattern, so be sure to check the lesson notes for the full conjugation table.
Betsey: So let’s practice saying your name in Polish together. Please repeat the beginning after Joanna and finish the sentence with your name.
Joanna:‘Mam na imię …...’
Betsey: What about asking someone else’s name?
Joanna: It’s very easy. In the dialogue after Ewa gave her name, she asked Jan about his by saying ‘A ty?’
Betsey:“And you?”
Joanna: This is the simplest way of asking about someone else’s name.
Betsey: I assume there’s one more way, more complicated.
Joanna: Yes, you’re right. The other one uses the verb ‘mieć’, which we talked about a few second before.
Betsey: So what does the question look like?
Joanna:‘Jak masz na imię?’
Betsey:“What’s your name?”
Joanna: As you can hear we used the expression ‘mieć na imię’ again. The first word in the question is ‘jak’, which means..
Betsey:“How”
Joanna: So the literal translation of ‘Jak masz imię?’ is...
Betsey:“how do you have for a name?”
Joanna: But here again we will stick to the English equivalent
Betsey:“What’s your name?”
Joanna:Lastly one important piece of information - in Polish we don’t really use the verb ‘być’ to obtain someone’s name directly, so please be careful about it and use the expressions we've just talked about.
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Betsey: Okay, that’s it for this lesson. Thank you for listening everyone, and be sure to check the lesson notes.
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