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Lesson Transcript

Nick: Hi, everybody!
Beata: "Witamy."
Nick: And welcome back to the last chapter of the Pronunciation series! Lesson 5 - ABCs of Polish Accent, Exceptions, and Accentuation of Groups of Words. What will we be covering in this lesson?
Beata: In this lesson, we'll be talking about accents in Polish.
Nick: Undoubtedly, accents play an important role in every language, and Polish is no exception.
Beata: We are going to start with the accentuation of single words. Once this is covered, we are going to talk a bit about the accentuation in groups of words.
Nick: We would strongly recommend checking the lesson notes as you listen so that you can follow all of the vocabulary we will be working on. Let's start, then.
Beata: Polish accentuation is quite constant and in most cases falls on the second-to-last syllable. For example.…"książka"
Nick: "book"
Beata: "torebka"
Nick: "purse"
Beata: and "dyskutować"
Nick: "to discuss."
Nick: What if a word consists of one syllable only?
Beata: If this is the case, then the whole syllable is stressed. For example…"mam"
Nick: "I have"
Beata: "znam"
Nick: "I know"
Beata: and "mistrz"
Nick: "master."
Nick: I see. So basically, you have to remember to put the stress on the second-to-last syllable if there is more than one syllable in a word. On the other hand, if a word consists of one syllable only, you simply have to stress the entire word.
Beata: Very good.
Nick: I feel like there's something you want to tell us. Are there any exceptions to this rule?
Beata: Actually, there are. Words that have a foreign origin and end in "-ika" or "-yka" keep their original accent on the third-to-last syllable from the end. For example, "ma-te-MA-ty-ka"
Nick: "mathematics"
Beata: "A-ME-ry-ka"
Nick: "America"
Beata: And "bo-TA-ni-ka"
Nick: "botanics."
Nick: Got it. For words with a foreign origin, the accent falls on the third-to-last syllable. What else?
Beata: The forms of the first- and second-person plural of the past tense are also accented on the third-to-last syllable. For instance, "GRA-liś-my"
Nick: "we played"
Beata: "BY-liś-my"
Nick: "we were"
Beata: and "BY-li-ście"
Nick: "you (plural) were."
Nick: There's also third-to-last-syllable accentuation in all of the conditional forms in the singular form and the third-person plural form. For example…
Beata: "ZRO-bi-łab-ym"
Nick: "I (female) would do"/"I (female) would have done"
Beata: "CZY-tał-by"
Nick: "he would read"/"he would have read"
Beata: and "na-u-CZY-li-by"
Nick: "they would teach"/"they would have taught."
Beata: Some Polish numbers that end in "-sta" or "-set" also have the accent falling on the third syllable. For example…
Beata: "CZTE-ry-sta"
Nick: "four hundred"
Beata: "and O-siem-set"
Nick: "eight hundred."
Nick: Now let's move on to the accentuation on the fourth-to-last syllable.
Beata: There's only one situation when the accent falls on the fourth-to-last syllable and that is with the first- and second-person plural of the conditional. For example…
Beata: "BY-lib-yś-my"
Nick: "we would be"/"we would have been"
Beata: And "BY-li-by-ście"
Nick: "you would be"/"you would have been."
Nick: Is there anything else that you would like to add to the accentuation of single words?
Beata: There are a few words in the Polish language that are accented on the last syllable. For example, "eks-MĄŻ"
Nick: "ex-husband."
Nick: This rule applies to the nouns that are one syllable only and are used to create compound words with the particles "eks-," "arcy-," and "wice-."
Beata: Very good.
Nick: I think we are ready to move on to accent groups.
Beata: In some instances, single-syllable words can form accent groups with other neighboring words. For example, the negation "nie" ("no") is stressed when followed by a single-syllable word, such as "NIE chcę."
Nick: "I don't want."
Beata: And "NIE wiem."
Nick: "I don't know."
Nick: Also, if a preposition occurs in front of a one-syllable word, the stress falls on the preposition. For example…
Beata: "DO was"
Nick: "to you"
Beata: "ZE mną"
Nick: "with me"
Beata: and "PRZE-DE mną"
Nick: "in front of me."
Beata: If single-syllable forms of personal pronouns, such as "ci"
Nick: "you"
Beata: "go"
Nick: "him"
Beata: "jej"
Nick; "her"
Beata: And so on, and the reflexive pronoun "się," happens to appear after a verb, they are not accented. For example…
Beata: "proszę cię"
Nick: "I'm asking you"
Beata: "mówiłem jej"
Nick: "I told her"
Beata: And "widziałam go"
Nick: "I (female) saw him."
Nick: Also, the negation "nie" won't be accented if it occurs before two-syllable or longer words. For instance…
Beata: "nie pomagaj"
Nick: "don't help"
Beata: "nie śpiewaj"
Nick: "don't sing"
Beata: And "nie chcemy"
Nick: "we don't want to."
Nick: That does it for the Pronunciation series! Now you're on your way to having great Polish accentuation! Don't forget to keep repeating and practicing, and see you next time.
Beata: "Do usłyszenia." "See you next time."


Please to leave a comment.
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PolishPod101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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Do you find the accent marks helpful? Or an extra challenge?

PolishPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 08:46 PM
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Dzień dobry Dean,

Thank you for sharing such interesting story with us!

Good luck learning Polish 😎

Let us know if you have any questions.



Team PolishPod101.com

Friday at 06:22 AM
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Just a note: After all the times you have, with all good intentions, said that learning Polish would be easier than we though, or just plain easy, I now realize that was hyperbole and the stuff in these first 10 lessons is very difficult for an absolute beginner like me. :) That doesn't mean I'm quitting, but it would be nice if my Polish speaking friends were here in California instead of being in Polish. 😄

Also, a funny thing: Two days ago I went to an audiologist for my first ever hearing test. Part of the test involved repeating words spoken into my headphones. I suddenly realized what an absolute pleasure it was to be able to repeat words with perfect pronunciation effortlessly - and to know what all of them meant. 😇

PolishPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 11:01 PM
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Hi Christa and Jerry Fischer,

You are right, there are many exceptions, so reading them several times should help to understand and remember them.

Good luck! 😎



Team PolishPod101.com

Christa and Jerry Fischer
Tuesday at 10:54 AM
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I think it is necessary to read this concept several times, as there are many exceptions of

the comon set rules.

PolishPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 11:22 AM
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Hi Janusz

Thank you for your message.

P2 - actually the in the first word "KSIĄ-żka" the accent falls to the second to the last syllable, but it is simply 2 syllable word.

P4, IV & P5 - Same case as above, just the word has 3 syllables.

The good way of looking is from end of the word and count the syllables from there.

As a general feedback even if you do not get the order right will be clearly understood by all the Polish speakers. The accenting is not that strong in Polish and in absolute majority of cases does not affect the meaning of the word. The only difference will that that it may sound a little bit funny. Sometimes actually Polish native speakers use different accenting for humor or comedy.

I hope that clarifies your doubts.

Let us know in case you have any other questions.



Team PolishPod101.com

JP Brzechwa
Wednesday at 12:22 AM
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Subject: feedback

hello there,

I am completely confused by this lesson.

. p2: it says the accent falls on the second to last syllable but in the first example it does fall on the first one

. p4. II: the accent is supposed to fall on the third to last syllable but in all the examples given, they all fall on the first one

. p4, IV & p5: accent falling on the third syllable for numbers, it actually falls on the first ones in the examples