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Building my Polish vocabulary...

Joe Ackney 2 | 8  
9 Apr 2007 /  #1

I'm currently building my vocabulary and i was wondering, roughly, how many words would i need to know in order to:

1) Get a rough idea of what is being said, in polish?
2) Understand most words that are being said?
3) Good solid understanding of exactly what is being said?

I'm learning a minimum of 20 words a day. By mid june i plan to move to poland for a couple of months to accelerate my learning. My understanding of polish grammar is quite good but my vocabulary is very limited.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
FISZ 24 | 2,116  
9 Apr 2007 /  #2
There are a lot of good tips in the Language and Grammar area. This site can also be very helpful:

Good luck!
BubbaWoo 33 | 3,510  
9 Apr 2007 /  #3
remeber... for every one word you learn in polish you have to remember a hundredfiftynintymillion different endings... and just when you think youve worked out what somebody's name is, you realise that actually everyone is calling them something entirely different...
ludamad 2 | 18  
9 Apr 2007 /  #4
BubbaWoo is being negative ;P The bright side of this is that when you know one word, you will in fact be able to recongnize quite a few more, as verbs and nouns are similar.

Praca - Work (noun)
Pracować - To work (verb)

And of course the verb inflections are similar:
Pracujesz - You work
Pracuję - I work
Pracujecie - You (plural) work
OP Joe Ackney 2 | 8  
10 Apr 2007 /  #5
I'm currently learning words in mianownik form, where possible, and refering to the speaker. I'm not too bothered about gender.

I've currently learnt 60 words over the last 3 days but i don't know if i can keep up the pace. So far i'm just memorising lists, speaking the words to my self so i know how they sound and then ask a polish person at my work to test me. Is there a more efficient technique of remembering words and their meanng than just reading through a list over and over again?

Praca - Work (noun)
Pracować - To work (verb)

I'm constantly being told, "wez sie do roboty" by the poles at work. I thought roboty = work?

Also, with regards to the verb pracowac, i thought you also have to add the word sie at the end: Pracowac sie. The reason i think this is because i've been told the word for 'smile' is 'usmiech' and 'to smile' is 'usmiechac sie'.
falkin 1 | 16  
10 Apr 2007 /  #6
wez sie do roboty - get to work

You can't add sie to word pracowac with regards to this word in meaning - to work -

pracowac is enough and correct ( with no sie )
OP Joe Ackney 2 | 8  
10 Apr 2007 /  #7
So i can say "wez sie do pracowac" and it'll mean the same thing?
falkin 1 | 16  
10 Apr 2007 /  #8
No, you can't. There is no such an expression in Polish.

If you are a boss and you can see your emplyees doing nothing instead of working, and you want them to start working, then you may say to them: weźcie się do roboty ( get to work). I hope you got the point. My English is not too good, I just try to be helpful.
HAL9009 2 | 324  
10 Apr 2007 /  #9
My best way for learning words is to read a text which I have a translation for in my own language (english for me).

I find that once I start using the cases, I begin to know what the endings to use and when. Still, the case endings on words are the most difficult things for me to get right in Polish.
OP Joe Ackney 2 | 8  
10 Apr 2007 /  #10
I also find the cases the most difficult.

For example i would say:

Mowie jezyk polksi; as opposed to mowie po polsku.

The first just seems more logical from an english perspective.

Hal, what you suggest is actually a good idea. I'm learning words but out of context. Problem is, where can i find texts that are written i both english and polish?

Falkin, your english is very good... better that some english people! With saying, 'not too good' it sounds like you've learnt from an American. The only grammatical error you made was, 'There is no such an expression in Polish'. You don't need to say the word 'an'.

I'm still confused with the difference between praca and roboty. Do they both mean work, but in different ways?
falkin 1 | 16  
10 Apr 2007 /  #11
Yes, they are both about work. It is only a question of using them in the right context.
ludamad 2 | 18  
10 Apr 2007 /  #12
Btw, 'robota' comes from the verb 'robić', meaning 'to do'.
When you are describing your job you generally say 'praca'.
witek 1 | 587  
10 Apr 2007 /  #13
'robota' comes from the verb 'robić', meaning 'to do' like "robic loda":)
OP Joe Ackney 2 | 8  
16 Apr 2007 /  #14
Incase any one was wondering i heard that only 600 words are used in everyday conversation!
HAL9009 2 | 324  
16 Apr 2007 /  #15
My understanding of the two words is approximately Praca=your job, roboty is the actual work.

(Hmm, I wonder what those 600 words are exactly)

There's some paralell polish and english texts here (I ran across these some time back, it took me a while to find them again):

w w
and sounds recordings of the texts in polish here, though the speaker speaks very fast...
h t t p://

...but together they will give you an idea of how to pronounce correctly and some reading material (with translation) to practice on.
Hopefully they will be of use to you.
Michal - | 1,865  
17 Apr 2007 /  #16
The word robota is mainly the general Slavonic word for work as in Russian, 'rabota and the verb 'rabotat'. The English took the word robot from the Slovanic but actually the English word 'robot' was taken from Czech vocabulary. Generally it is always moja praca and ja pracuje dzisiaj. The word robota is really very rarely used in practice. For example, 'mialem tydzien wolnego, a teraz znow do roboty! (I had a week off, and now back to it!). Or chcial zalatwic sobie cos lepszego niz ta jego robota. There is also czarna robota.
daveithink 4 | 11  
26 Apr 2009 /  #17
Apr 26, 09, 16:34 - Thread attached on merging:
learning vocabulary

Hey all!

I've been learning Polish for some time now, and the grammar has just started to click with me and it's all making sense woohoo!

But my problem is remembering vocabulary... I'm not the kind of person who enjoys (or can manage) learning long lists of vocabulary...

I meet a Polish girl every week for a language exchange but I always end up running out of words quite quickly :(

Any pointers or tips ye can give me???

Thanks in advance,
Lorenc 4 | 28  
26 Apr 2009 /  #18
Just one simple tip: marry the girl and you'll kill two birds with one stone... :-P
More seriously, when learning a foreign language I find it useful learning by heart whole passages of books or short stories. I begin reading out a specific text, translating it if necessary, and then reading it out over and over again until I have no problems in pronunciation and I can read it effortlessly. At this point I usually have also learned it (almost) by heart. Of course it'd be sensible to choose a text which contains a useful selection of the vocabulary you're interested in learning.

This exercise is useful to get used to pronouncing the sounds of the language being learned and I also find it easier to learn words and sentences in this way. Unfortunately, it's also a very slow process.
gumishu 11 | 5,993  
27 Apr 2009 /  #19
Quote | Reply / report

try to learn groups of words that have something in common - like things used in kitchen, things green etc - they don't need to be anything thorough/detailed, actually SHOULD not be long

or try learning words in logical chains like - bread, knife, cut, slice, smear (not very long for a start as well) try to recall these chains on occasions - it is a known fact you should repeat the material learned

you can even do some of the stuff on your own just using a dictionary and then having things checked by your native Pole

use your imagination

for variety learn some phrases from time to time

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