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Parę - two or a few?


cinek 2 | 345  
11 May 2009 /  #1
Some time ago I heard a conversation (in English) between two people where one was an American and the other was a Pole, and the word 'couple' was used. They misunderstood each other because the American meant 'two' when saying 'couple' and the Pole understood it as 'a few'. I don't know if there's a way to easily distinguish those two meanings in English, but in Polish it appears that they have different declension.

So for those who are interested:

para - a couple, two (people):

M. para (ludzi)
D. pary (ludzi)
C. parze (ludzi)
B. parę (ludzi)
N. parą (ludzi)
Mc. parze (ludzi)
W. paro (ludzi)

parę - a couple, a few (people)

M. parę (ludzi)
D. paru (ludzi)
C. paru (ludziom)
B. parę (ludzi)
N. paroma (ludźmi)
Mc. paru (ludziach)
W. parę (ludzi)

Cinek
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
11 May 2009 /  #2
Good question. I've never fully understood this either. Mam pary rzeczy do zrobienie means I have a few things to do, I think anyway. Para is most definitely a pair, as in a couple.
Marek 4 | 867  
11 May 2009 /  #3
'Kilka' (inanimate) and 'kilku' (animate or animate masculine) mean 'a few', I think, and also used only with genitive. LOL
I remember somewhere, though perhaps faultily:

kilkA lat temu... vs. kilkU ludzi, gości, mężczyzń, etc...
kilka kwiat..... etc...

Marek
z_darius 14 | 3,968  
11 May 2009 /  #4
The thing is that (other than actual numerals) in Polish we have one word "para", while in English there is "a couple" and "a pair". The former may mean "a few", the latter is more restricted in its meaning.

I think in general polish "para" may be used in the same contexts as English "a couple".
Michal - | 1,865  
26 May 2009 /  #5
A para is a pair and the Polish word parę is totally different.
gumishu 11 | 5,335  
28 May 2009 /  #6
totally different in meaning - though it appears that 'parę' was originally a declination form of 'para'
jakubzurawski - | 17  
17 Jul 2009 /  #8
cinek
para - a couple, two (people):

M. para (ludzi)
D. pary (ludzi)
C. parze (ludzi)
B. parę (ludzi)
N. parą (ludzi)
Mc. parze (ludzi)
W. paro (ludzi)

parę - a couple, a few (people)

M. parę (ludzi)
D. paru (ludzi)
C. paru (ludziom)
B. parę (ludzi)
N. paroma (ludźmi)
Mc. paru (ludziach)
W. parę (ludzi)

The word "para" is a noun which means "a couple".
The word "parę" is a "numeral" which means "some" or "a few".
"parę" behaves the same way as the word "kilka". Both the words ("parę" and "kilka") have a declension similar to adjectives but as they only refer to multiple objects they don't have the "singular" part of the declension.

To ilustrate the full declension of "parę" we need add the declension for "personal masculine" grammatical gender (rodzaj męskoosobowy) to Cinek's table.

In the table below there are two words used "osoba" (person) which is feminine and "ludzie" (people) which is of personal masculine gender.

M. parę (osób), paru (ludzi)
D. paru (osób / ludzi)
C. paru (osobom / ludziom)
B. parę (osób), paru (ludzi)
N. paroma (osobami / ludźmi)
Mc. paru (osobach / ludziach)
W. parę (osób / ludzi)

that's it :)
Lyzko  
20 Jul 2009 /  #9
Therefore, the time expression "za parę dni" probably means "for a couple of days", that is, more than one, most likely two days (as in English) compared with "several", which could be anywhere between three to four days, I'm guessing.
Gab - | 133  
21 Jul 2009 /  #10
"Za parę dni" means "In a couple of days".

"For a couple of days" is "Na parę dni".
Lyzko  
21 Jul 2009 /  #11
Oh, I must have forgotten-:) LOL

As always, thanks Gab!!

))))
Gab - | 133  
21 Jul 2009 /  #12
Sure :)
Lyzko  
22 Jul 2009 /  #13
Slightly off thread here, how about the differences between 'przeszły' and 'zeszły' vs. 'ostatny'?

Byłem zeszłego miesiąca na urlopie w Francjii.
Byłem przeszłego miesiąca na urlopie w Francjii. (Both mean the same, I gather)

vs.

To jest ostatny raz, że będę podróżować razem z Dorotą!!

All appear to mean 'last', but is my usage idiomatically correct Polish?

-:)
Bzibzioh  
22 Jul 2009 /  #14
Byłem w zeszłym miesiącu na urlopie we Francji.

Byłem przeszłego miesiąca na urlopie w Francjii. (Both mean the same, I gather)

That's old fashioned way not used anymore.

To jest ostatni raz, że będę podróżować razem z Dorotą!!

Ziemowit 13 | 4,103  
22 Jul 2009 /  #15
To [jest] ostatni raz, kiedy/gdy będę podróżować razem z Dorotą.
Lyzko  
22 Jul 2009 /  #16
Dzięki!

Trudności pisania języka polskiego dla cudodziemców-:)) Boże mój!
axid - | 18  
28 Jul 2009 /  #17
ostatni is a word suggesting that something is final,
won't happen or occur again.

zeszły is a referrence to a bygone period of time.

hence, you can use last in both cases but the meaning is different, like:

ostatni poniedziałek to ostatni dzień mojej pracy.
last monday (was) the last day of my work.
Lyzko  
28 Jul 2009 /  #18
Zrozumiałem-:) Bardzo dobre tłumaczenie, axid!

Widzę, że mieszkasz w £odzie. Czy mam rację, najważniejsze miasto polskich filmów nazywa się 'Hollyłódź'?? Czy to żart?

LOL

If I have right, most important town polish films calls 'Hollyłódź', or is like joke?
OP cinek 2 | 345  
29 Jul 2009 /  #19
Slightly off thread here, how about the differences between 'przeszły' and 'zeszły' vs. 'ostatny'?

Zeszły means last in contexts like 'last month', last Monday' etc.
Przeszły means 'soemathing that was in the past and does not exist any longer', however it's hardly ever used today (except the name of past tense 'czas przeszły').

It's also a form of 'przejść' (i.e. 3rd p pl. non-masc. past tense).

Cinek
Lyzko  
29 Jul 2009 /  #20
Świetny, cinku:)))) Dziękuję też!

Więc 'zeszły' pochodzi z czasowniku 'zejść', formy dokonanej dla 'zachodzić', nieprawda?
I'm sort of guessing at that last one. LOL

Uj, przepraszam! ".......z czasownikA.....", czy nie??

)))))
Ziemowit 13 | 4,103  
29 Jul 2009 /  #21
Z czasownika "schodzić". The z changes to s before the letter ch as there is no way to pronounce it voiced before that letter.
michalek - | 42  
29 Jul 2009 /  #22
If I have right, most important town polish films calls 'Hollyłódź', or is like joke?

its a joke, i live here, the film company was famous in late 80's and early 90's but not now... as i know there is a sound-recording studio right now (called 'toya studios') :)
Lyzko  
29 Jul 2009 /  #23
Dzięki, Ziemowitu i Michałku-:)

Ale nigdy nie wiedziałem, że 's' został 'z', 'Schodzić' > 'Zeszły'!
Interesujące.
Ziemowit 13 | 4,103  
30 Jul 2009 /  #24
In fact, it is the other way round, the z becomes s here (z -> s).

jeździć -> zjeździć (no need to change the z in the prefix into s here)
chodzić -> z+chodzić -> schodzić

jadać -> zjadać
chrupać -> z+chrupać -> schrupać

robić -> zrobić
kłamać -> z+kłamać -> skłamać
Krzysztof 2 | 973  
30 Jul 2009 /  #25
What Ziemowit wrote + extra info about the z- prefix:

I. The general rule: if the word starts with 1/ a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) or 2/ a voiced consonant (b, d, g, j, l, ł, m, n, r, w, z, dź/dzi) or 3/ the letter "h" or 4/ the voiceless sounds "s", "sz" "si/ś" - the prefix stays unchanged (z-)

II. Before words starting with a voiceless consonants - it's more complicated, the prefix is changed from z- to s- before the following voiceless consonants: p, f, t, k, c, cz, ch

III. If the first sound in the root word is the voiceless and soft "ci/ć", the "z-" prefix through voiceless "s-" becomes softened "ś-"

(for example: ciąć >> ściąć, cierpieć >> ścierpieć).

Note:
Historically "h" was voiced and "ch" voiceless, today both are pronounced as a voiceless "h", but the old rules remained and create some confusion among native speakers.

No words in this context begin with "ś" or "dź" or "ć", I just used them to underline the soft pronounciation the combinations "si", "dzi", "ci".
Lyzko  
30 Jul 2009 /  #26
Ślicznie dziękuję za mały zarys historyczny o rozwoju różnych spółgłosów języka polskiego!
Doskonale piszesz po angielsku, Krzyśiu-:) Ale jesteś także tłumaczem, dlatego bardzo dobrze umiesz po kilku językom.

Tłumaczesz z włoskiego na polski, czy z polskiego na włoski?

Normalnie tłlumacze się tylko z języka ojczystego!

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