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Rok vs. Lat

polam 5 | 11  
29 Jan 2009 /  #1
I understand both of these Polish words to mean "year." Is that correct? If so, how do you choose between them when writing a sentence?
SeanBM 35 | 5,808  
29 Jan 2009 /  #2
singular = Rok

Plural = Lat(a)

1 Rok
2 Lata
3 Lata
4 Lata
5 Lat
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
29 Jan 2009 /  #3
Very good question, polam.

For example, mieszkam w gliwicach od 4 lata means I have lived in Gliwice for 4 years.

Robiłem to przez pięć lat means I was doing it for 5 years.

Rok refers more to things like horoscopes (rocznik). It's hard, the more I think about it, the harder it gets. Urodziłem się w latach siedem dziesiątych, I was born in the 70's. Rocznikowo jest inaczej.

W którym roku urodziłes się? In which year were you born?

Rok is more about the concrete year, like what year you were born or what year of your studies you are in. Lat is more for counting time. Hmm....close enough. There are exceptions of course, being Polish ;) ;) For example, raz na rok means once a year. However, raz is the counter.

I hope I haven't confused you as I've certainly confused myself. Time for my 2nd beer to restore some clarity to proceedings :)
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
29 Jan 2009 /  #5
That's the simplified version, yes, but polam asked for sentences.
benszymanski 8 | 465  
29 Jan 2009 /  #6
Funnily enough we have just been talking about the rok/lata thing on my blog:
Davey 13 | 388  
29 Jan 2009 /  #7
isnt the genitive of 'lato' also 'lata?
benszymanski 8 | 465  
29 Jan 2009 /  #8
exactly - the word "years" and "summers" in Polish is the same...
McCoy 27 | 1,275  
29 Jan 2009 /  #9
in polish lata means years and summers because the going by seasons were the measure of time.
OP polam 5 | 11  
29 Jan 2009 /  #10
Thank you all for your responses. Now, for the next obvious question, does anybody know how the plural of rok became lata? I know every language has irregularities, but this one is really irregular.
dtaylor 9 | 823  
29 Jan 2009 /  #11
Is it a bit like the "for" and "since" thing?

Or a bit like lat means period of a year, where as if u use rok, it means a year from this time, i.e ; i've lived here for 1 rok, meaning jan 2008??

This does confuse me :/
Marek 4 | 867  
29 Jan 2009 /  #12
That darned number five (pięć) buggers everything up!! 'Rok' is fine up until good ol' five and then.....chaos: 2-4 lata, 5 lat and from there onward things are never quite the same!

Other nouns function in like manner: 2-4 pączki, 5 pączków, etc...
osiol 55 | 3,922  
29 Jan 2009 /  #13
I have a tendency to imitate. I was asked about some sort of "rok" so I responded with a "rok" but it turned out it should have been a "lat", or possibly a "lata". As I've forgotten the example, I won't even know for next time.
Davey 13 | 388  
29 Jan 2009 /  #14
does anybody know how the plural of rok became lata

I think it has to do with being a time tydzień-tygodne
benszymanski 8 | 465  
29 Jan 2009 /  #15
Could well be - often the most commonly used expressions in a language (such as expressions of time, the verb "to be" etc..) are the most irregular...
cinek 2 | 345  
30 Jan 2009 /  #16
'Lata' is just plural of 'rok'.

Here are all the cases:


M. rok
D. roku
C. rokowi
B. rok
N. rokiem
Mc. roku
W. roku!


M. lata
D. lat
C. latom
B. lata
N. latami
Mc. latach
W. lata!

You just need to know the 1, 2-4, 5.. rule to use the proper case, and that's it.

And regarding the years-summers thing, it's common not only in Polish that names of seasons or other events used as measures of time (especially in older writings).

moons-months (in (old) Polish Księżyc (moon) sometimes is called miesiąc (month)), Sundays-weeks (niedziele-tygodnie)
Springs-years (wiosny-lata (oh, this one really looks strange :-|) )

Some example, just a short love story ;-) (really old-fashioned)

Było jej sidemnaście wiosen. (she was 17)
Spotkali się w świetle miesiąca. (they met in moonlight)
W cztery niedziele byli już po słowie. (in 4 weeks the were already engaged)

If anyone still interested, in the past the plural of 'rok' used to be regular: roki

M. roki
D. roków
C. rokom
B. roki
N. rokami
Mc. rokach
W. roki!

but this form is not used any more in contemporary Polish (however, still perfectly understandable and correct from grammatical point of view).

Marek 4 | 867  
30 Jan 2009 /  #17
Nice, Cinek! Thanks loads. I learned something, never read a complete history of Polish as yet.

In certain poetry or elevated use, I've seen 'latY' with a 'y' as in a line from a poem by Iwaszkiewicz "...przez laty do laty..", the latter used in the genitive plural much less-:)
cinek 2 | 345  
1 Feb 2009 /  #18
In certain poetry or elevated use, I've seen 'latY' with a 'y'

Right, I forgot that one, but I know it as instrumantalis (narzędnik), not genetivus (dopełniacz) e.g.

Przed dwoma laty - 2 years ago

in fact, this form is much more often used than 'latami'. But in colloquial language most people would say just: 'dwa lata temu'

Kamil_pl - | 59  
4 Feb 2009 /  #19
Lata' is just plural of 'rok'.

Rok doesn't have plular form. Lata is a different word, which is only used as plular form of rok. You could use wiosen, or jesieni, instead of lata.

I remember a tv turney, and a question about plular form of rok. Some guy have said "lata", and it was wrong answer, because as I said, rok doesn't have plular form.
Marek 4 | 867  
4 Feb 2009 /  #20
But 'rok' did indeed have a plural form, only to be subsumed years later by 'lat_' as the measurement classificiation of years/summers melded into one.
tygrys 3 | 295  
4 Feb 2009 /  #21
Rok is a year (like 1990)
Rok is an age - 1 year old (singular)

Lata - 4 lata -(4 years old)
Lata - flying
Lato - summer, podczas lata ( during summer)
Elssha - | 123  
5 Feb 2009 /  #22
mieszkam w gliwicach od 4 lata means I have lived in Gliwice for 4 years

od 4 lat
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
5 Feb 2009 /  #23
Ah yes, you are right. I even have it written correctly in my account but I just slipped up.

Thanks for the correction :)
cinek 2 | 345  
5 Feb 2009 /  #24
Lata is a different word, which is only used as plular form of rok.

Hmm, so going that way you say that there's no plural for 'czlowiek' too, or there's no past or future form for 'jestem' ???

'Lata' IS plural form of 'rok', but it is just IRREGULARITY, which means that some gramatical forms of words may be more different than just different ending.

The word 'lata' may mean 'summers' or 'years', depending on the context, and that doesn't mean that 'years' and 'summers' are the same thing in Polish (but it'd be nice if summer was all year long :-) )

btw. don't learn too much from TV, they really do big mistakes.

Nie ogladaj telewizji, bo bedziesz miala w glowie glizdy, to cite famous Kabaret TEY ;-)

Marek 4 | 867  
5 Feb 2009 /  #25
Are not 'był'/'była'/'były'/'byli'/ etc. and 'będę' the respective past and future forms of 'jestem'?

Indeed, that 'człowiek' has no 'człowieki'-form in Polish DOES constitute a morphological irregularity.

This, among numerous other such, albeit linguistically explicable, irregularities. LOL
Kamil_pl - | 59  
5 Feb 2009 /  #26
Hmm, so going that way you say that there's no plural for 'czlowiek' too, or there's no past or future form for 'jestem' ???

I don't know about these words, but rok doesn't have plular form. That TV turney was "1 z 10", the most intelligent in polish tv.
Elssha - | 123  
5 Feb 2009 /  #27
but rok doesn't have plular form

yes it does... just antiquated and thus not normally/fully used.
I know my grandma will use roki when speaking of non-consecutive years
and I do believe I have still heard people use rokami on odd occasion...
"licze to rokami" I distinctly remember, though saying 'licze to latami' is just as correct (and I assume more widely used)
2 Mar 2009 /  #28
'Rok' did have plural in the past 'roki' the word 'roki' is sometimes to be found in archaic Polish dictionaries
actually the word 'rok' meant - verdict, judgement (juridicial thing)
the notion of time was assumed as there was a time when there was just one day yearly for this kind of court events to be held

the noun 'rok' itself has much to do with 'rzecz' which means a thing in Polish
but used to mean 'speech, speaking' - so 'rok' must have been 'proclaiming a verdict';
there are some derivatives still that bear the meaning of 'speech, speaking' - 'narzecze' - dialect
Russian riecz' has roughly the same meaning as the old Polish 'rzecz'
The old meaning is also preserved in the adjective 'rzeczony' - ' the one in question, the one which is talked, mentioned about' (the adjective is in fact a past participle of a verb falling from use - 'rzec' ' to say,tell' - 'rzekł' 'he said'; 'rzecze' - 'he says')

Now 'lato' and 'lata'

Some older Polish dialects would count the age of a person in amount of springs he has lived - where spring is 'wiosna' this is actually in most cases the same as the amount of years he lived. 'Pięć wiosen' would be 5 years then.

Then some other old Polish dialects would count the age in summers. Summer is 'lato'. 'Pięć lat' would then be 5 years - and it still IS in modern Polish ;)

And this is as simple as this.

and yes in some dialects 'roki' 'roków' replaces 'lata' and 'lat' up until now
Elssha - | 123  
2 Mar 2009 /  #29
so 'rok' must have been 'proclaiming a verdict'

isn't that wyrok....
nice bit of history, by the way ^_^
Marek 4 | 867  
3 Mar 2009 /  #30
Wonder then whether the Russian 'urok' (written of course more like 'yrok' in Cyrillic!), meaning 'lesson' as in a textbook or primer, is related to the above meaning for Polish 'rok'!

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