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Formal and Informal Greetings in Polish

Ivonka 10 | 4  
12 May 2007 /  #1
What is "a greeting"? It is a kind of a polite expression or a gesture done when greeting another person.

We all know that greetings are essential part in our everyday life no matter where we live, what we do, who we are or what culture we belong to. We cannot imagine a single day without greeting somebody.

There are lots of different kinds of greetings which are used in various situations depending on how well we know a particular person, on time of the day or circumstances of the meeting. The words said when greeting people can express respect or be just a normal polite expression. Very often, they show joy because of the meeting or even are a spoken joke.

Now, I would like to present some most important and common Polish expressions used to greet people.

Dzień dobry is a general official form of greeting people we do not know and older people. We use it no matter whether it is morning (in English: Good morning) or afternoon (in English: Good afternoon).

Dobry wieczór (in English: Good evening) is similar to Dzień dobry, but it is used in the evening.

Dobranoc (in English: Good night) is said when people leave each other in the evening or before going to bed.

Do widzenia! (in English: Goodbye) is used when someone leaves or is left.

Cześć! (in English: Hi!, Hello!, Bye!) is an informal expression we use both when we want to greet our friends, relatives, children and people we know well and when we want to say goodbye.

Witam! or Witaj! is quite similar to Cześć! but a little bit less emotional.

Czołem! is again close to Cześć! but it sounds more archaically and less familiar.

Jak się masz!, Jak się miewasz!, Co u Ciebie słychać! or Co słychać! (in English: How do you do?, How are you?) is a greeting which expresses interest in mood and health condition of the person we have met.

Polish language has also got a few more informal ways of greeting. Here are they:

Graba!, Grabula!, Witka!, Kopsnij witkę!, Strzała! or Strzałeczka! are mostly used by men. It encourages to offer one’s hand and is connected with the gesture of shaking hands (used by people who know each other very well).

Piątka!, Kopsnij piątkę! or Przybij piątkę! are very similar to Graba! etc. but it is connected with the gesture of ‘giving somebody five’.

Kopę lat! meaning: I haven’t seen you for ages! It emphasizes the fact that a lot of time has passed since the last meeting.

Sie masz! or Sie ma! is a shortened version of Jak się masz! (How do you do?) which has become characteristic among teenagers.

Szczęść Boże! (in English: God bless!) is a greeting sometimes used by Catholics. The answer is: Daj Boże!

Similar in meaning is: Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus! or just Pochwalony! (in English: Praised be Jesus Christ!). As a reply to this greeting we say: Na wieki wieków, amen!

We have also got some gestures which are sometimes used as a greeting:

- Shaking hands,
- Taking off one’s headgear for a moment,
- Raising one’s open hand up,
- Nodding one’s head,
- Giving somebody five,
- Smile,
- Kissing somebody’s hand (a man kisses a woman’s hand),
- Kissing one’s cheeks,
- Embracing.

As you can notice, there are lots of ways to greet people we meet and this is the case not only in Polish, but also in other languages. It is quite important because every time we see a person we realize we should greet him/her as it would be unkind not to say anything.

Remember: A greeting is a notice and a sign of politeness and good behaviour.
sparrow 2 | 243  
13 May 2007 /  #2
Great stuff. Sticky please!
13 May 2007 /  #3
Ivonka -- the information is brill :)
xXlisaXx 8 | 182  
13 May 2007 /  #4
Thanks Ivonka
Marek 4 | 867  
15 May 2007 /  #5
Nie oddawno na przyjeciu w Konsulacie Generalnym Rzeczpospolity Polskiej sluchalem:
"Dobry wieczór, Pani Basiu! Caluje Pani raczki." (Przepraszam, nie mam polskich znaków w moim komputerze.)

Czy wyrazenie jeszcze jest zwykle dzisiaj w Polsce, albo przestarzale?
glowa 1 | 291  
15 May 2007 /  #6
Marek, it's rather outdated. However, it can be used as a funny greeting to someone you know.
Marek 4 | 867  
15 May 2007 /  #7
Dziekuje! :)
"Outdated". Co to znaczy?

15 May 2007 /  #8
good info ;)
Marek 4 | 867  
15 May 2007 /  #9
Thanks again for your input. My suspicion was right!
Michal - | 1,865  
16 May 2007 /  #10
Kopę lat! meaning: I haven’t seen you for ages!

Kopa lat is in fact an old Polish word for sixty but the expression kopa lat is not used now except in the countryside.

Here are they:

Here they are and not here are they!
5 Sep 2007 /  #11
'Caluje Pani raczki' raczej jest uzywane, i nie w zartach; nie zbyt czesto ale tak.
'Caluje Pani raczki' is still used and not in a jocular way; not too often but still used
9 Jan 2008 /  #12
Inne wyrażenia na powitanie:
"Co słychać",odpowiedź np "Wszystko w porządku"
How is it (literally: what can be heard?) Everything ok.
"Co słychać w wielkim świecie",odpowiedź żartobliwa ""Tależy gdzie się ucho przyłoży"
What is happending in the big world? It depends on where zou put the ear.
"Się masz z rana"jokingly, How are you this morning?
"jak zdrówko?" How are you feeling?"

"Spadam" is anotherform of saying goodbye frequently used in my youth, which mean "I am falling"
"Trzymaj się" meaning "Stay tuned" or leterally "HOld on to yourself"
"Trzymaj się okna" jokingly "HOld on to the window"


P.s. The great part of greetings in Polish would be a play on words, often funny, since I have not been to Poland for some 20 years, I cannot guarantee that things had not changed.
Lettuce 1 | 23  
10 Jan 2008 /  #13
To jest bardzo dobrze! (Please feel free to correct my Polish)

krysia 23 | 3,057  
10 Jan 2008 /  #14
(Please feel free to correct my Polish)

don't feel like it...
Big Bill - | 1  
26 Jun 2008 /  #15
I am going to Poland for a holiday. I wish to be polite and know some greetings. However I find the pronunciations difficult, any tips please.
VaFunkoolo 6 | 654  
26 Jun 2008 /  #16

nah hey

gin dobry

allrite mate
26 Jun 2008 /  #17
Big Bill

browse the language threads you will find loads of resources
1 Dec 2009 /  #18
My Dad used to always say something in Polish when we entered our home after being away - something about Jesus Christ bless those that enter???? My recollection of the phonetic pronounciation is: Nah Benji Puffaloni Jesus Christus. Can anyone tell me what the proper Polish would be? My dad passed away several years ago and my siblings and I are trying to find out more about the greeting.
1 Dec 2009 /  #19
Nah Benji Puffaloni Jesus Christus

Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus
2 Dec 2009 /  #20
Grabula!, Witka!, Kopsnij witkę!,

To be onest i've never heard those expresions in my live:P Especially kopsnij witke- kopsnij means give me but more like 'share with me' and is rather informal and a bit outdated word. witka? isn't that a part of some tree?

Is there anyone from Poland on this forum who really uses the expressions? I'm really curious
9 Dec 2009 /  #21
Thank you so much!

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