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Polish Present Tense

Ivonka 10 | 4  
27 Oct 2006 /  #1
For most Polish learners of English one of the most difficult and challenging things is to differentiate between a big number of tenses. They have problems to use each tense properly and at the right moment. This is mainly because Polish language has only three basic tenses. In this article I will try to outline the rules that govern the Polish present simple tense.

Czas teraźniejszy (present tense) – our present tense is English Simple Present as we do not have something like Present Continuous. Whether the action is a repeated one, a routine etc. or is being done at the moment of speaking is expressed by określenia czasu (expressions of time).

Zdania twierdzące or twierdzenia (affirmative sentences):
No matter whether we say: I sing this song every day. or I’m singing this song now. – in Polish we have one version which is: Śpiewam tą piosenkę (every day) or teraz (now).

The form of the verb depends on osoba/podmiot (the person/the subject):

Liczba pojedyncza (Singular)

ja robię, piszę, czytam (I do, write, read)
ty robisz, piszesz, czytasz (you do, write, read)
on, ona, ono robi, pisze, czyta (he, she, it does, writes, reads)

Liczba mnoga (Plural)

my robimy, piszemy, czytamy (we do, write, read)
wy robicie, piszecie, czytacie (you do, write, read)
oni robią, piszą, czytają (they do, write, read)

Zdania pytające or pytania (questions):

We do not have any inversion. When it comes to pytania ogólne (general questions), we add czy (something like do and does) at the beginning of the question.

In English:
Do you sing this song every day? or Are you singing this song now?
Does she write a letter every day? or Is she writing a letter now?

In Polish:
Czy (ty) śpiewasz tą piosenkę codziennie? or Czy (ty) śpiewasz tą piosenkę teraz?
Czy ona pisze list codziennie? or Czy ona pisze list teraz?

As in English, we can answer either positively or negatively, but we just say: Tak (Yes) or Nie (No). The other option is to add the verb: Tak, śpiewam./Tak, pisze. (Yes, I sing./Yes, she writes.) or Nie, nie śpiewam./Nie, nie pisze. (No, I don’t sing./No, she doesn’t write.).

In pytania szczegółowe (specific questions) in turn, the situation is similar to English as we have słowo pytające (question word) at the beginning, but again no operators or inversion.

In English:
Where do you sing this song every day? or Where are you singing this song now?
Where does she write a letter every day? or Where is she writing a letter now?

In Polish:
Gdzie (ty) śpiewasz tą piosenkę codziennie? or Gdzie (ty) śpiewasz tą piosenkę teraz?
Gdzie ona pisze list codziennie? or Gdzie ona pisze list teraz?

Other question words are:

- kiedy? (when?)
- dlaczego? (why?)
- co? (what?)
- kto? (who?)
- jak? (how?)

In English, when we ask about podmiot (the subject) we use the third person singular form of the verb. In Polish, there is no difference in this respect.

In English:
Who sings this song every day? or Who is singing this song now?
Who writes a letter every day? or Who is writing a letter now?

In Polish:
Kto śpiewa tą piosenkę codziennie? or Kto śpiewa tą piosenkę teraz?
Kto pisze list codziennie? or Kto pisze list teraz?

Zdania przeczące or przeczenia (negative sentences):

In order to make a negation in Polish we just add the word Nie (Not) in front of the sentence.

In English:
You don’t sing this song every day. or You aren’t singing this song now.
She doesn’t write a letter every day. or She isn’t writing a letter now.

In Polish:
(Ty) nie śpiewasz tej piosenki codziennie. or (Ty) nie śpiewasz tej piosenki teraz.
Ona nie pisze listu codziennie. or Ona nie pisze listu teraz.

Określenia czasu (expressions of time):

- zawsze (always)
- czasami (sometimes)
- często (often)
- nigdy (never)
- zwykle or zazwyczaj (usually)
- rzadko (seldom)
- od czasu do czasu (from time to time)
- codziennie (every day)
- co tydzień/miesiąc/rok/niedzielę (every week/month/year/Sunday)
- rano (in the morning)
- po południu (in the afternoon)
- wieczorem (in the evening)
- teraz (now)
- w tym momencie (at the moment)
- właśnie teraz (right now)
- dzisiaj (today)
- w tym tygodniu/miesiącu/roku (this week/month/year)

We do not imagine how often we use the present tense in our everyday talking and I hope this information will help foreigners learning Polish to construct this particular tense correctly and enable better and more fluent communication.
bolo 2 | 304  
28 Oct 2006 /  #2
Thank you! Now I finally know more than I actually knew in primary school regarding present tense in the Polish language. I'm sure it will be useful for non-Polish native speakers too :).
Bartolome 2 | 1,085  
28 Oct 2006 /  #3
Ivonka, if you feel like teaching foreigners Polish language, then do it without ortographic mistakes:

Śpiewam tą piosenkę

Śpiewam TĘ piosenkę
Huegel 1 | 296  
28 Oct 2006 /  #4
Thanks Ivonka...saved to HD and also, added the corrections. (Nice catch Bart!) :)
23 Feb 2007 /  #5
Ivonka ... you are undoubtable a star ***** your valuable information is helping me and a couple of my fellow learners in my polish class understand better the polish language and structure

Polish_chick14 1 | 13  
23 Feb 2007 /  #6
This stuff always confuzes me! EVERY TIME!!! but thanks, it cleared it up a little! uve done the best of anyone!
Michal - | 1,865  
22 Mar 2007 /  #7
tamta piosenke but, as someone has written above te piosenke. Also, 'because Polish Language' should and must read...'because the Polish Language...niestety musi byc slowo THE w tym miejscu.
ludamad 2 | 18  
8 Apr 2007 /  #8
Your 'tą' confuses me, I've learned that it is 'tę'. Which is correct (in a formal writing sense)?
falkin 1 | 16  
10 Apr 2007 /  #9
Spiewam Tę piosenkę TĘ is more elegant here

TĄ is often used in similar cases by Poples in their everyday language , but TĘ fits better and is curtainly the right option. Who said that Poles always uses their own language properly?:)
ludamad 2 | 18  
10 Apr 2007 /  #10
I guess people just misunderestimate them.
2 May 2007 /  #11
Ivonka . . I am Warsaw now for the past two years and have not learnt polish. I just could not pick it up from people rather than going to school. But, since I have started to get into it more as I want to learn the language. It has been to find this forum. I will be back for more lessons.

I was once told that once you understand all the past and past tense then it becomes mroe easier to speak/understand:)
6 Sep 2007 /  #12
Ivonka- naprawde swietne wytlumaczenie!!!!!w Polsce jest brak ksiazek ktore w tak latwy i przejrzysty sposob opisuja polska gramatyke- wiem o tym bo sama ucze kolege polskiego i uwazam ze twoje lekcje sa bardzo przydatne!!!!!po prostu rewelacja

osiol 55 | 3,922  
6 Sep 2007 /  #13
Ivonka and all who have made corrections,
this is just the kind of thing I like to find on PF.
It saves so much time trawling through the couple of books I try to learn from
(which are usually missing when I want them).
Even better than Admin's old guide to swearing!

With tenses, it's nice to know that something in Polish is actually more straight forward than English!
6 Sep 2007 /  #14
Ivonka and all who have made corrections,
this is just the kind of thing I like to find on PF

I used to like finding threads like this by Ivonka and that as they are rather informative and i even printed them off and did copies for my friends on the polish course to use :)

Even better than Admin's old guide to swearing!

Never even looked at it haha
porta 18 | 297  
6 Sep 2007 /  #15
This helpes, but i an starting to grasp the present tense ,it's the future i worry about :P
Krzysztof 2 | 973  
6 Sep 2007 /  #16
porta, we all worry about the future sometimes :)

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