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Lesson Transcript

Betsey:Hello everyone and welcome to PolishPod101.com. This is Beginner series, season 1, lesson 8, Talking Nationalities in Polish. I’m Betsey.
Joanna:And I’m Joanna.
Betsey:In this lesson you’ll learn how to talk and ask about nationality.
Joanna:This conversation takes place at university.
Betsey:The conversation is between Kate 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

Jan:Cześć, Kate. Jak się masz?
Kate:Dobrze. A ty?
Jan:Świetnie. Jakiej jesteś narodowości?
Kate:Jestem Amerykanką. A ty?
Jan:Jestem Polakiem.
Alisha: Let’s hear the conversation one time slowly.
Jan:Cześć, Kate. Jak się masz?
Kate:Dobrze. A ty?
Jan:Świetnie. Jakiej jesteś narodowości?
Kate:Jestem Amerykanką. A ty?
Jan:Jestem Polakiem.
Alisha: Now let’s hear it with the English translation.
Jan:Cześć, Kate. Jak się masz?
:Hello, Kate. How are you?
Kate:Dobrze. A ty?
:Well. And you?
Jan:Świetnie. Jakiej jesteś narodowości?
:Great. What is your nationality?
Kate:Jestem Amerykanką. A ty?
:I am American. And you?
Jan:Jestem Polakiem.
:I am Polish.
Betsey:Are there any stereotypes about Poland or Poles?
Joanna:Hmm, there are a few.
Betsey:What are the most popular ones?
Joanna:Many people think that Poland is a very poor communist country under the influence of Russia, which of course is not true. I think that this stereotype derives from lack of knowledge about Poland and its dramatic history.
Betsey:Poland was under German and Russian occupation, right?
Joanna:Yes, but those times are long gone.
Betsey:What would be some other stereotypes?
Joanna:That Poles always complain and are very pessimistic. This one can’t be denied!
Betsey:So it’s true?
Joanna:In a way, yes. We DO complain a lot. Usually when you ask a Pole - ‘how are things’ or ‘how are you?’ Instead of hearing “fine” you will probably get a list of complaints about work, money, life, the country, and so on. But on the other hand, we know how to have fun and laugh off the hardships of life - even during tough times like occupation.
Betsey:Do you mean with jokes?
Joanna:Yes, you can’t even imagine how many we have about politics, for example.
Betsey:And do Poles drink a lot of vodka?
Joanna:(laughs) That’s the next one! I can’t deny, Poles love alcohol, especially when it comes to any kind of celebration - we just need good food and good alcohol!
Betsey:Sounds fun. Ok, let’s see the vocabulary for this lesson now.
:Let's take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
:The first word we shall see is:Amerykanin [natural native speed]
:Amerykanin [slowly - broken down by syllable]
:Amerykanin [natural native speed]
:Next:Amerykanka [natural native speed]
:Amerykanka [slowly - broken down by syllable]
:Amerykanka [natural native speed]
:Next:Polak [natural native speed]
:Polak [slowly - broken down by syllable]
:Polak [natural native speed]
:Next:Polka [natural native speed]
:Polka [slowly - broken down by syllable]
:Polka [natural native speed]
:Next:narodowość [natural native speed]
:narodowość [slowly - broken down by syllable]
:narodowość [natural native speed]
:Next:świetnie [natural native speed]
:świetnie [slowly - broken down by syllable]
:świetnie [natural native speed]
:Next:dobrze [natural native speed]
:dobrze [slowly - broken down by syllable]
:dobrze [natural native speed]
:And last:ty [natural native speed]
:ty [slowly - broken down by syllable]
:ty [natural native speed]
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:‘świetnie’ is an adverb that can be used to answer questions like...
Betsey:“how are you?”
Joanna:jak się masz?‘
Betsey:or “how is it going?”
Joanna:‘jak leci?’
Betsey:I guess you won’t hear this answer so often from Poles, though!
Joanna:That’s true! If you think your life is great, just answer with ‘świetnie’, but this kind of answer is not as common among Poles as it is in English.
Betsey:Okay, what’s the next word?
Joanna:It’s another adverb introduced in this lesson’s dialogue.
Betsey:It can be one of the ways to answer the question“how are you”.
Joanna:Yes, but it also has another meaning.
Betsey:Ok, tell us more!
Joanna:Whenever you have some task to do and you want to confirm whether you’re doing it correctly or not, you can just say ‘dobrze?’ while pointing to what you just did.
Betsey:In this case, please make sure to use a rising intonation like for a question. Ok, and the other meaning is similar to the English “alright”, isn’t it?
Joanna:Yes. If someone asks you to do something and you agree you can just say ‘dobrze’. There’s also a more casual version, which sounds like ‘dobra’
Betsey:But both of them stand for the English “alright”
Betsey:Now lets go to the grammar.

Lesson focus

Betsey:In this lesson, we’re going to learn how to ask about someone’s nationality and talk about your own.
Joanna:In the dialogue, Jan asked Kate ‘Jakiej jesteś narodowości?’
Betsey:“What is your nationality?”
Joanna:The question in Polish literally means
Betsey:“of what nationality are you?”
Joanna:but of course we will stick to the English proper translation, which is “what is your nationality?”
Betsey:Ok, let’s break down the question.
Joanna:First we have a pronoun ‘jakiej’
Betsey:which means “what”
Joanna:then the second-person form of the verb “to be” - ‘jesteś’
Betsey:which stands for “you are”
Joanna:and lastly a noun, ‘narodowości’ which is the genitive form of ‘narodowość’
Betsey:which means “nationality” in English.
Joanna:Now you’re probably wondering what a genitive form is.
Betsey:I am, yes!
Joanna:In Polish we decline parts of speech, like nouns, adjectives and numerals. This means that the forms of those parts of speech will change depending on the case in which they appear. Every case has a different function and each of them is used to express different meanings.
Betsey:What are the cases then?
Joanna:There are seven of them - nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, locative and vocative.
Betsey:Which case were all the nouns we’ve learned so far in?
Joanna:All of them were in the nominative case, except for those presented in the dialogues.
Betsey:For more information about cases please refer to the lesson notes.
Joanna:Let’s go back to the dialogue.
Betsey:How did the question “what is your nationality” sound in Polish? Listeners, please repeat after Joanna.
Joanna:‘Jakiej jesteś narodowości?’ …...............
Betsey:How can we answer this question?
Joanna:Just start with the first-person singular form of the verb “to be” - ‘jestem’ and then say your nationality.
Betsey:In the dialogue Kate said - “I’m American”
Joanna:‘Jestem Amerykanką’. In English the word “American” is an adjective, but in Polish we use nouns. So ‘Amerykanka’...
Betsey:...“female American”...
Joanna:...and ‘Amerykanin’...
Betsey:...“male American”...
Joanna:...are nouns, not adjectives. Here we have to use the instrumental case, which is used to express that the subject of the sentence is something.
Betsey:In other words, the instrumental case helps to know who is whom and what is what.
Joanna:Exactly. So for example, we use it to talk about nationalities or professions.
Betsey:Let’s practice a little bit. Listeners, do you remember how to ask about someone’s nationality?
Joanna:Please repeat - ‘Jakiej jesteś narodowości?’ [pause]
Betsey:Now let’s answer. Please try to say your nationality.
Joanna:‘Jestem …....’ [pause]
Betsey:For more examples and information about forming the instrumental forms of nouns and adjectives, please check the notes of this lesson.
Marketing Piece 8
Betsey:Listeners, ever have any Polish language or lesson-related questions?
Joanna:Or maybe you have some feedback for us...
Betsey:Leave us a comment or ask a question on the lessons page!
Joanna:It's super simple. Go to PolishPod101.com...
Betsey:...click on comments,
Joanna:...enter your comment and name,
Betsey:...and that's it!
Joanna:Commenting is a great way to practice writing and reading in Polish.
Betsey:It helps you learn faster.
Joanna:And it helps us get better through your feedback.
Betsey:No excuses.
Joanna:Go to PolishPod101.com, and comment now.
Betsey: Okay, that’s it for this lesson. Thank you for listening everyone!
Joanna: Do widzenia.


Please to leave a comment.
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PolishPod101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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Hi everyone,

What's your nationality? Tell us in Polish.

PolishPod101.com Verified
Saturday at 09:47 PM
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Cześć Veronica,

Thanks for posting😄

The correct structure is as follows:

Masculine: Jestem zadowolonym artystą.

Feminine: Jestem zadowoloną artystką.

We don't say: "Jest zachmurzoną moc", but rather with Nominative (as if there would be "to" at the beginning"): "Jest zachmurzona noc".

Hope that helps!

Please let us know if you have any further questions.



Team PolishPod101.com

Thursday at 03:07 AM
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Jestem włoszką kobietą!

Thank you for this lesson, I have a question: with the instrumental case we can say the nationality and our carreer, so could this be right?

- Jestem zadowoloną artistą.

If so, could it be right for both, masculine and feminine, genders?

Also, if there are any feminine carreer noun ending in consonant would those be ending like the masculine form or the feminine one in the instrumental case? Like

-Jest zachomurzoną moc.

Thank you!

PolishPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 09:08 PM
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Cześć Jesus B,

Wow, so you have been studying Polish for 8 year, that's great 😎

Well, Basically every Polish noun has its gender: feminine, masculine, or neuter.

You have to use adjectives accordingly - if the noun is feminine, the adjective has to be in its feminine form, too.

Here is a useful lesson on how to recognize the gender of a noun in Polish:


And two lessons on how to use Polish adjectives:



Good luck!



Team PolishPod101.com

Jesus B
Friday at 12:41 AM
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Pani Hanna,

Have been trying to learn Polish on and off for over 8 years.

Never got serious about understanding the grammar. (fem/mas/neu)

Dziękuję bardzo za pomoc!

PolishPod101.com Verified
Monday at 11:04 PM
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Siema Jesus B! 😄

Thanks for posting.

Dobrze, but not perfect 😅

We say in Polish:

Jestem ze Stanów ("ze" instead of "z" is used here to make the pronunciation easier; "Stany" has to be in Genitive form),

ale moja narodowość ("moja narodowość" is in Nominative here, and it is a feminine noun") jest meksykańska i amerykańska ("narodowość" is feminine so these two adjectives have to be in feminine form).

You can also say: Jestem ze Stanów, ale z pochodzenia jestem Meksykaninem i Amerykaninem.

Please let us know if you have any questions.



Team PolishPod101.com

Jesus B
Saturday at 04:07 AM
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Siema siema!

Jestem z Stany, ale moj narodowosci jest Meksykaninem i Amerykaninem.



PolishPod101.com Verified
Sunday at 08:16 PM
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Cześć Tal,

Thank you so much for studying with us 😇

In this case the question requires the genitive case and answer requires the instrumental case, because these are two different structures.

The question is based on the "jakiej narodowości" phrase, where you have to use Genitive to match it with "jakiej".

On the other hand, the answer requires the instrumental case because you use "I am... [instrumental]".

It is difficult to give a short clear answer, because, well, it is how Polish language is constructed, and we can not change it now to make it easier :)



Team PolishPod101.com

Should you have any questions, please let us know.



Team PolishPod101.com

Tal David
Tuesday at 03:56 PM
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Thank you so very much for these wonderful lessons! I am a new student and I really enjoy them!!

I am a bit confused regarding the subject matter of case.

I understand the instrumental case and its function.

I understand the genitive case and its function.

What I don't understand is why you ask the question using the genitive case and answer it in the instrumental?

Why not use the same case for both question and answer?

Dziękuję bardzo! :-)


Marty Pilott
Saturday at 10:15 AM
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How do I say

I am a New Zealander? (male and female), and

We are New Zealanders?


PolishPod101.com Verified
Sunday at 08:21 PM
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Hi Anirudh,

You're welcome. Good luck with your Polish learning and let us know if you have any question. We'll be happy to help you out :)

Best Regards,


Team PolishPod101.com