Polish in Poland – Part 2

February 8, 2013 in Basic Information, Language, Polish Matters, Travelling Poland

polish in poland 300x200 Polish in Poland   Part 2

Picture © Marek – Fotolia.com

I’ll go on with the second post on the Polish language. And I will keep using the frase “Polish in Poland” – it’s almost a tongue-braker, isn’t it? The idea is to give you some rough guidelines on the language and the way we use it. This time, we’ll go through some real basics.


In the first part of this series I attempted to give you a few hints on where (or how) you could learn Polish during your visit or permanent stay in Poland. I don’t think there’s any other way to actually learn the language rather than taking classes from professional teachers while at the same time living in this country and trying, as much as you can, to use Polish in Poland the way one’s supposed to icon smile Polish in Poland   Part 2 . So, please don’t expect to learn too much from my simple tutorials here.

However, if you’re just here for a quick stay and would like to know a few basics, I just might help you out a bit. Basically, I will give you some most common (or rather most useful, from a tourists point of view) phrases. We’ll go through greetings and goodbyes, shopping, flirting, clubbing, and also some Polish swear words (they tend to interest foreigners the most, for some reason). Hopefully, your usage of Polish in Poland won’t require too much of the latter.

This time, let’s start with greetings and goodbyes. The most common question I get would be how to say “Hi” or “Hello” in Polish. Before I give those to you, you must know that the word you’d use depends generally on your relation to the person you’re saying it to. And as much as a “Hi” works in the States almost always, it won’t do in Poland if you’re not befriended with the person you’re approaching.

Also, please note that I have no knowledge of the phonetic alphabet or any rules thereof. The pronunciation I wrote down below is what I think would be correct for an English-speaking person.

How would you say hello to a friend or college buddy?

  • Hi – Cześć (Czesc) – pronounced tshesht – but again, this is for your friends. You wouldn’t say it to a person in an elevator, whom you don’t know.

So how then would you greet the clerk in your corner store or your acedemic professor?

  • Good morning – Dzień dobry (Dzien dobry) – pronounced dshen dobryh - this literally means “good day”. And as there is no form of speech for “good afternoon” in Polish, you would “Dzień dobry” throughout the entire day, up until a fairly late evening.
  • Good evening – Dobry wieczów (Dobry wieczor) – pronounced dobryh viehtshoohr – this one is used in the evening.

OK, no we can get to some of the weirder things of Polish in Poland icon smile Polish in Poland   Part 2 . I get often the question on how to say “How are you”. Of course, there’s a direct translation which I present above, but you have to keep in mind that this is not a phrase we would normally use. In English “how are you” is almost co-existent with “Hi” but it’s not so in Polish. So again, you would ask a friend how he/she is doing, but probably not someone you know vaguely or not at all.

Also, be prepared that once you ask someone how they are or how they’ve been, they actually might tell you the truth rather than just a plain “fine, thank you”.

  • How are you – Jak się masz – pronounced Yak sheh mash - that’s the literal translation, not really used while talking to someone
  • How are you – Co słychać – pronounced Tso swyhatch - means more like “how have you been” or “what’s up”. That’s a phrase you would use commonly. Alternatively, to a buddy, you could say “Co tam?” – pronounced Tso tham? - which basically means the same thing, just more relaxed.

And now to the goodbyes. The relaxed “bye” version is the same as the greeting – Cześć! No difference in pronunciation, but only for friends and colleagues. The more formal way:

  • Good-bye – Do widzenia – pronounced Doh vietsehnyah – this is good-bye, plain and simple. Nothing to add.

OK, that would be it with the greetings and salutations. I must say, I feel extremely awkward by placing those pronunciation things in here. Let me know, please, whether they’re helpful at all and if they even give you a chance to try to pronounce a given word. I’m thinking about starting to make podcasts for those, but for now that’s all there is.

So, how are you finding your Polish in Poland? Easy? Difficult? Plainly absurd? Follow my blog as I will add to those “lesson” as we go, and hopefully you’ll get a decent resource eventually.

Please remember to check out Part 1 of this series.