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Learn the Polish Alphabet from A to Z!

Learning to speak a new language is exciting; learning to write a new language is even more exciting! It will open new worlds for you. So, dig into these tips and advice for learning how to master the Polish alphabet easily - at PolishPod101 we make it easy, fun and relevant for you!

Starting anything from scratch can be challenging, especially if you learn how to write in a language completely different from your own. It is really like navigating through a territory that is completely unknown to you.

However, this need not be a big hurdle or a problem! At PolishPod101, we introduce you to Polish writing in simple, easy-to-follow steps, and you can ask for advice or help anywhere along the way. It is important to master the Polish alphabet completely from the start.

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Introduction to Polish Writing


The Polish writing system uses the Latin alphabet, just like English, with some modifications. These modifications are diacritical signs that we use to represent sounds unique to the Polish language. They include:

  1. an acute mark (For example, the letter -ź consists of the consonant -z and an acute mark above it. The acute mark, however, is not an accent; we use it to mark the softness of a particular consonant.)
  2. a dot (For instance, the letter -ż consists of the letter -z and a dot above it. This forms a new letter with its own sound.)
  3. a hook (For example, the vowel -ą consists of the letter -a with a little hook attached to it. The hook gives the vowel a nasal sound.)

Each of these diacritical marks influences the pronunciation of a particular letter.

Besides these diacritical marks, throughout the centuries Polish has gained a lot of consonant clusters, such as -cz, -sz, -rz, -dz, -dź, -dż, -ch, -ci, -si, -zi, -dzi,and -ni, which also serve to represent Polish sounds that were not present in Latin.

The First Written Traces of the Polish Language and How They Led to Today’s Writing System

Even though the Polish state began its existence in 966, for almost the next two hundred years no written documents in Polish exist-at least none we know of. The first written, and at the same time, the oldest traces of the Polish language occurred in the twelfth century. That evidence is a Latin document entitled Bulla gnieźnieńska (”Papal Bull of Gniezno”), which contains 410 Polish words-mainly names of villages and towns, as well as the personal names of their inhabitants. It allows us to understand in some respects the Polish phonetic system, vocabulary, and morpheme features in use at that time.  

The next step in our journey is the discovery of the first complete Polish sentence. It was probably written around 1270 by the Cistercian monks of Henryków. It said Daj, ać ja pobruszę, a ty poczywaj, which translates to “Let me grind and you rest.” We can assure you that a lot of Poles would have problems translating this sentence because of the many changes that have since taken place within the writing system as well as the archaic vocabulary the writers used in this sentence.

When it comes to entire texts in Polish, the first one was written either at the end of the thirteenth century or at the beginning of the fourteenth century. It is the Polish religious song, and at the same time the first Polish anthem, called Bogurodzica. Some believe that Polish knights sang Bogurodzica before the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, a famous victory of the Polish nation over the Teutonic Knights.

From that time on, an ever-increasing number of texts and documents appear that were written entirely in Polish. These were mainly devotional and religious texts, such as translations of the Old Testament or sermons that monks wrote, monks being among the few who could perform such translations because of their education and fluency in Latin. However, since in Polish there were some sounds that Latin did not have, very often, they used the same Latin letter to represent many different sounds in Polish. As you can imagine, this must have caused a great deal of confusion.

Together with the arrival of the printing era in Poland, which took place at the beginning of the sixteenth century, printers needed greater standardization within the alphabet. The Golden Age of Polish literature and culture brought new dictionaries, grammar books, and treatises on spelling that helped unify the Polish writing system, a system still used today.

Useful Tip

Knowing that Polish has many common vocabulary roots with other Slavic languages (Russian, Slovak, Ukrainian, etc.) will help you survive with limited knowledge of these languages in many parts of Europe, such as in Russian-speaking countries, as well as Poland’s neighbors like Belarus and the Czech Republic. And if you ever consider learning another Slavic language, your knowledge of Polish will come in quite handy.

The Polish Alphabet

The word “alphabet” refers to a writing system that has characters for representing both consonant and vowel sounds. The current Polish alphabet consists of nine vowels and twenty-three consonants, and thus it has thirty-two characters in total.

It also uses the diacritical marks and consonant clusters that we mentioned at the beginning of this lesson.

Polish Alphabet Chart


The people of Poland create beautiful and intricate artwork. The Polish alphabet proves to be no exception to this. There are 32 letters found in the Polish alphabet, however there are three additional letters that you will find only in foreign words which are commonly found in everyday Polish speech. These letters are q, v, and x. The Polish alphabet is derived from the Latin alphabet. The Polish language itself is the second most common Slavic language.

Letter Polish Name Approximate English Sound Examples
a a father, luck tak (”yes”), kanapa (”couch”)
ą ą (nasal o)  wąż (”snake”), są (”are”)
b be big, back babcia (”grandma”), byk (”bull”)
c ce fits cebula (”onion”), kac (”hangover”)
ć ci cheap ćma (”moth”), nić (”thread”)
d de do, dog dom (”house”), data (”date”)
e e bed, ever ten (”this”), meble (”furniture”)
ę ę (nasal e) tęsknić (”long for”), gęś (”goose”)
f ef fat, fight fakt (”fact”), frytki (”French fries”)
g gie guide, glue gra (”game”), noga (”leg”)
h ha how, ham hałas (”noise”), hak (”hook”)
i i mix, meet imię (”name”), list (”letter”)
j jot boy, yes jak (”how”), jajko (”egg”)
k ka kick, chick kto (”who”), kot (”cat”)
l el lamb, love lubić (”like”), fala (”wave”)
ł bow, wig ołówek (”pencil”), ławka (”bench”)
m em meat, mask mama (”mom”), mój (”my”, “mine”)
n en nut, next noc (”night”), ten (”this”)
ń canyon koń (”horse”), niańka (”babysitter”)
o o on, not oko (”eye”), polski (”Polish”)
ó u / o z kreską boot, spoon mówić (”speak”), ból (”pain”)
p pe pack, problem pani (”ma’am”), pokój (”room”)
r er trilled r (as in Spanish and Italian) rak (”cancer”), rower (”bicycle”)
s es stop, sad samochód (”car”), niski (”low”)
ś sheep (alveolo-palatal) śledź (”herring”), kwaśny (”sour”)
t te top, start tak (”yes”), telefon (”phone”)
u u boot, spoon but (”shoe”), uwaga (”attention”)
w wu vowel waga (”weight”), kawa (”coffee”)
y igrek between fit and put my (”we”), maska (”mask”)
z zet zoo, zombie zupa (”soup”), zamek (”castle,” “lock”)
ź ziet softer than vision źle (”badly”), źrebak (”colt”)
ż żet vision każdy (”every”), żaba (”frog”)

While Polish is not taught in most Western schools and universities, it is quite similar to Russian, and anyone who has spoken Russian will find the language fairly easy to learn. Despite the differences between the Polish alphabet and the English alphabet, once you learn how the letters and accents work, you’ll find the language is simply structured.

Over the centuries, the geographically based dialects, along with the letters of the Polish alphabet have been streamlined, so no matter who you are listening to, and no matter which region of Poland you visit, you will be able to understand what is being said, and people will understand what you are saying.

Students learning Polish as a second language are nearly always glad to discover that Polish is a phonetic language for the most part. This means that Polish words are read and sound as they are spelled, and to understand how to say these words, you simply need to master Poland’s alphabet. Those who learn Polish by listening find learning Polish writing later on is not difficult, so long as they learn the alphabet before learning to write words in Polish.

As with English and many other languages, when two letters appear at the same time, a change in pronunciation is indicated. In your Polish lessons you will learn that there are few variations to this rule, and with minimal practice, you’ll have no problems spotting these irregularities.

Polish letters use a specific accent system. This means that certain indicators within words dictate how they should be pronounced. Polish accents might seem complicated at first, but are easily learned with the right tools.

Why is Learning the Polish Alphabet Important?

AlphabetA language’s alphabet is its building blocks. Trying to learn how to write in Polish without first learning its alphabet is a bit like trying to build a brick house without touching the individual bricks! It is impossible to do a good job that way. So don’t believe language schools and methods that try to teach you otherwise. You will regret it later.

Also, once you start recognizing symbols and words, you will be encouraged by your own progress and motivated to learn even faster. Even just learning the basics of the alphabet will allow you to start recognizing simple Polish words, and it will feel great!

Furthermore, knowing the alphabet even helps with pronunciation, as learning the individual letters of any language will start uncovering nuances and intricacies that are not always apparent when you’re simply listening to the words.

Completely mastering the Polish alphabet, no matter how long it takes, will give you an excellent head start in learning how to write and read the language. It will offer you a solid foundation on which to build the other language skills, so set a goal to learn the alphabet so well that you’re able to recite it in your sleep!

Read on for helpful tips and secrets to learning the Polish alphabet quickly and effectively.

How to Download Your Free Guide to Beginner Polish

Download Your Free Guide to Beginner Polish!

If you want to master the Polish language and become fluent, get this Polish eBook!
You need physical worksheets to practice on.

This eBook is a MUST-HAVE for all Polish learning beginners!

Free Polish eBook

Download your Free Polish practice sheets PDF today and learn the Polish language in no time!
This is a must-have guide for absolute beginners

Log in with Your Free Lifetime Account and we’ll give you a bundle of PDF cheat sheet including Survival Phrases, Romantic Lines, Learning Tips… — absolutely Free!

3 Reasons to Learn Polish Through PDF Lessons

Let’s now take a closer look at how studying Polish lessons in PDF format can help you reach your dream in up to half the time of normal video or audio lessons!

① Saves Minutes on Your Data Plan

Learning Polish through PDF lessons can dramatically reduce your data use. Once a lesson or tool is downloaded, you can then access it offline via your computer or smartphone any time or place regardless of Internet access. And once you’ve download the Polish lessons in PDF format, you can actually access them faster than logging in and trying to do so via a live site. So not only will learning Polish using PDF lessons save minutes on your data plan—it will save you some significant time as well as the lessons add up!

② Print and Take All Polish Lessons and PDF Tools With You Anywhere

Sometimes, a tiny smartphone screen just isn’t adequate, especially when you are trying to learn something new. The great thing about PDF lessons, tools or files is that they can be quickly printed and taken anywhere after you download them. In fact, printing out Polish lessons in PDF format can actually save you time when compared to going through the material on a smartphone with a small screen—even with the extra printing time!

③ Great Study Tool to Boost Retention and Mastery

Studying video or audio lessons online is a great way to learn a language because students can play and rewind sections as many times as needed until the lesson is mastered. But when you review the same Polish lessons again in PDF format, an incredible thing happens: your retention dramatically improves! Thanks to Time Spaced Repetition, seeing the information again in written format helps reinforce the information in your mind and improves both retention and recall. The benefits of learning Polish using PDF lessons quickly add up to significant time savings for you, your data plan, and your dream of learning a new language!

Why are we giving it away?

Learning to read and write is a must for all beginners. Although you get video lessons on how to write in Polish at PolishPod101, you’ll still need physical worksheets to practice on. That’s why you’re getting this printable tutorial PDFs as a gift.

Secrets to Learning the Polish Alphabet Fast

SecretWith a language, like with anything you have to learn from scratch, having a few mnemonic devices handy are key to learning it fast. A mnemonic device is basically any method or technique that helps you to retain or commit something to memory more easily.

Here are a few mnemonic devices to memorize the Polish alphabet so you can speed up learning how to write in Polish.

① Find and Learn an Alphabet Song or Poem in Polish

Can you still remember your childhood alphabet song in your own language? The best way to commit it to memory so you can recite it is still your mom or first teacher’s way - with music, a song and/or a poem! Find a recording and learn to sing the song, or recite the poem along as best as you can. Ask your PolishPod101 teacher to help you understand exactly what you are singing or saying, and soon you’ll have reciting the alphabet under your belt! Repeat it out loud as often as possible.

However, you still need to learn how to write it.

② Study a Few Letters At a Time

Remember when you were young and learning to write for the first time? You didn’t start with words or sentences; you started with letters, one at a time!

Decide on tackling only a few letters each week, and then don’t move on from these till you are completely familiar with them. Don’t take on too many at once, or you may become discouraged. Also, remember to ask your teacher at PolishPod101 if you have questions!

Learn to incidentally spot the letters in books, road signs (If you’re living in the country), magazines, on TV, anywhere you encounter written Polish. Remember to write them out!

③ Write Out the Letters of the Alphabet By Hand

Make it a goal to write out your week’s letters at least once a day, and commit to this goal. You can also do it every time you have a free moment. Get yourself a special notebook for this purpose that you can carry with you anywhere you go. Sitting on the train or bus? Waiting for someone somewhere? Whip out your notebook and write the Polish alphabet, or the letters you are learning. Aim for about 20 repetitions, while silently saying the letter in your head as you write it out. This way, you will soon be able to form and write words all by yourself! Exciting, isn’t it?

Writing something down with a pen also seems to engrave it in the brain in a way that nothing else does. As an added benefit, it gives you the satisfaction of seeing a new language in your own writing!

Once you’ve mastered the whole alphabet, commit to writing it out in its entirety at least once a day, for at least one month. More repetitions are obviously better.

④ Involve Your Whole Body

Research has shown that the more senses and actions we use to learn something, the quicker the new information sticks in the memory and becomes habitual. To apply this principle while learning the Polish alphabet, write out huge letters by tracing them in the soil, or with chalk on the floor. Now, while saying the letter out loud, walk on the lines you have just traced. In this way, you ‘write’ the letter by moving your whole body!

Having fun just makes it even easier to learn something, so why not ‘write’ the letters out with dance steps while moving to your favorite Polish music!

This is a simple trick that seems silly, but you’ll be surprised how quickly you will commit intricate letters to memory this way. It really works!

⑤ Use Associations To Memorize Letters

This technique would involve saying the Polish letter out loud, and then thinking of a word in your own language that sounds the same as the letter. That would then create a phonic association that should make it easier for you to remember the letter. Better even if the association is something you can draw or picture.

If the script of the new alphabet is very different from your own, look at it closely, and see if you can find an image that the letter reminds you of

⑥ Now Have Fun Trying To Write Words!

Try to write words from your own language in Polish, and ask your friendly PolishPod101 teachers for feedback! Or post them on the forum and see if anyone can read them. You will be so pleased with yourself when you start writing words that are readable and recognizable by native speakers.

Related Lessons

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Do you know how to say hello in Polish? It’s the most basic phrase that you’ll need to say and hear in everyday life. If you don’t know yet, learn 15 ways to say hello and greet others in Polish. Why 15? The more variations you know, the more you can speak and the more fluent you become!
How to Introduce Yourself in Polish
Can you introduce yourself in Polish? Don’t worry! Check out the 10 Polish Lines You Need To Introduce Yourself with this free Review Sheet. From “My name is…“ and “I live in…” down to “My hobbies are…” Just review the 10 lines. It will only take you 2 minutes. Then, introduce yourself in the comment section below!
Top Polish Phrases
How good is your Polish? Care to put it to the test? Here’s the deal! We’ve come up with this must-know Polish Phrases List. Learn the top 25 Polish phrases, hear the native pronunciation and put your Polish to the test. Did you know them all? If not, review the list and master these easy phrases!
How to Say Thank You in Polish
Has anyone thanked you today? We will. Thank you for reading this article and learning with us! In fact, today, you’ll learn the many different ways to say “Thank You” in Polish. It’s one of the most important Polish phrases. Check it out and watch the video too to practice your pronunciation.

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