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Impersonal verb form

arnaud 4 | 3  
1 Jun 2009 /  #1

verbs can be used impersonally, as in "Kukułkę uważa się za ptaka tajemniczego."
I wonder how this works when the verb is reflexive, in particular when it has both reflexive and irreflexive forms with different meanings, like for instance "uczyć" and "uczyć się". If one uses "uczy się" to mean "one teaches", how would one express "one learns"?

Thanks for help,
Ziemowit 14 | 4,278  
1 Jun 2009 /  #2
You mean: "Dzieci uczy się dobrego zachowania" means "One teaches children good behaviour" or "Chldren are taught good behaviour"?

"One learns good behaviour through examples" can only be said by replacing "one" with a subject like: "dzieci, dziecko, człowiek, ludzie" here. We don't have "one" in this sense of the word. The sentence will be in active voice.

"One and one's wife", as Prince Charles sometimes said about hiself and Lady Di, can be translated into Polish as "człowiek i jego żona" or "mężczyzna i jego żona", or specifically in this context as "książe i jego żona" which would sound a bit silly in Polish, really.
gumishu 13 | 6,134  
2 Jun 2009 /  #3
the difference comes from such notions

to learn - uczyć się (i.e. siebie) - it can also be rendered as to teach oneself (this is actually a litteral translation)

I learn - uczę się ( uczę siebie) - I am the object (as well as the subject) (so I teach myself)

he learns - uczy się (uczy siebie) - he is the object in the sentence as well as the subject (in other words he teaches himself)


dzieci uczy się.. (one teaches children.. or children are taught...)

in this case dzieci/children are the object of the action but they are not the subject

the subject is not determined (not in focus) and it is exatly się that indicates it is noone particular that teaches the children whatever they are supposed be taught

(otherwise the subject is missing in this sentence (lexiacally))

dzieci uczy się is completely different to dzieci uczą się:
one teaches children.. vs children learn (literally children teach themselves)

dzieci in both of these are in different grammatical cases

dzieci uczy się - here dzieci are in genitive (because they are the object of to teach)
(kogo/czego? - dzieci)
dzieci uczą się - here dzieci are in nominative (because they are the subject of to learn (to teach oneself) (kto/co? - dzieci)

it is not that rare that polish nouns have the same forms in two cases ( like say ta pani (Nom.) and tej pani (Dat. and Gen.))

or sometimes two forms of different words look the same ( for example szal can either be Nom. of masculine noun for scarf or a Gen. of szala - which is cage (the one that goes with the scales)

sometimes even forms of a noun and a verb can look the same (even not semanticly close one):
duma - can be a noun in Nom (pride) or a present tense 3rd person of singular of dumać - to ponder, to think, to contemplate ( can be translated as 's/he contemplates')

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