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The complement of the verb "to be"


Semsem 16 | 26
23 Apr 2012 #1
Trying to make sense of "Polish an Essential Grammar" by Dana Bielec....going over the verbs part for the umpteenth time,and still having problems...

Namely with the complement of the verb "to be". I can't seem to make sense of it. Some of the examples make sense that she has, but others not...to me at least.

So, can anyone explain to me when you are to use the infinitive as the complement of the verb "to be"?

One example she uses: Dlaczego mu nie pomóc? - Why not help him? ... Why is "Pomóc" in the infinitive? Where would any form of "to be" possibly fit in there (being omitted of course)?
Specjalista 3 | 43
23 Apr 2012 #2
Semsem

I can't help but I'm also curious. I'm sure gumishu can help us.
Vincent 9 | 893 Moderator
23 Apr 2012 #3
And me also. At first I thought it might be a "modal verb" rule but can't find one there, unless Polish has a few extra ones;)
Zorro
23 Apr 2012 #4
I can't work it out either. Just give us a few examples from the book where it makes sense to you.
For the sake of your example, I can think of a sentence like this:
Jestem (tutaj), aby mu pomóc.
The verb "to be" is present in the form of "jestem", and the clause "aby mu pomóc" seems to be the complement of this verb.
boletus 30 | 1,366
23 Apr 2012 #5
So, can anyone explain to me when you are to use the infinitive as the complement of the verb "to be"?

I am confused; I do not understand what your problem actually is. So I will try to deconstruct your original question in order to help.

Aside from some archaic forms, infinitives in Polish language end in either -ć or -c, such as być or pomóc. Polish infinitives express aspect, such as robić (imperfective) or zrobić (perfective). This forum has several threads about aspects.

I am not sure I understand you. You started with the example "Dlaczego mu nie pomóc", followed by its English translation "Why not help him", which formally should be "Why not to help him", and then wonder why is "pomóc" in the infinitive? You might as well ask the same question about the English expression, because this is one of these rare cases where Polish and English use the same structure and can be easily translated word for word. Let us see it again:

Why not to help him
Dlaczego nie pomóc mu. (Less elegant version of the original "Dlaczego mu nie pomóc", but perfectly acceptable)
Why=dlaczego, not=nie, to help=pomóc, him=mu.

[Going slightly off topic: Consider the following expression "Dlaczego mu nie pomagać", where the imperfective "pomagać" is used rather than perfective "pomóc". ]

Where would any form of "to be" possibly fit in there (being omitted of course)?

How about this famous phrase for a start?
To be or not to be - that is the question.
Być albo nie być - oto jest pytanie.

I am going to be an actor.
Zamierzam być aktorem.

I hope this helped.
pam
23 Apr 2012 #6
"Polish an Essential Grammar" by Dana Bielec....

this was a grammar book recommended for me. glad i havent bought it! have always had a problem with byc. its an irregular verb to start with, and i always have problems with it. if gumishu cant help, a close second would be catsoldier.
Zorro
24 Apr 2012 #7
its an irregular verb to start with, and i always have problems with it.

Is "być" not an irregular verb in every language? Polish: Jestem, jesteś, jest, jesteśmy jesteście, są.
English: I am, you are, he/she/it is, we/you/they are. True, fewer forms in English than in Polish.
But in French: Je suis, tu es, il est, nous sommes, vous êtes, ils sont.
And in German: Ich bin, du bist, er ist, wir sind, ihr seid, sie sind.
pam
24 Apr 2012 #8
Is "być" not an irregular verb in every language

I am not a master of the polish language lol! B ut i do understand what you are saying.Isc is another irregular verb i have a problem with..sto lat pozniej...
strzyga 2 | 993
25 Apr 2012 #9
One example she uses: Dlaczego mu nie pomóc? - Why not help him? ... Why is "Pomóc" in the infinitive? Where would any form of "to be" possibly fit in there (being omitted of course)?

I'm not sure I get what you mean, but I think the full form of this sentence is: Dlaczego by mu nie pomóc?

The "by" is a conditional form of "być", sometimes joined to another verb (poszedłby, powiedziałbym, zrobiłbyś), and sometimes separate (może by, może byśmy) - as you see it's inflected.

A few sentences similar to the one you quote:
Może (by) tam pójść?
A gdyby go zapytać?
Jak by to zrobić?
Lyzko
26 Apr 2012 #10
Zorro, German might not necessarily be the best analogy to use here when tackling an explanation of Polish "być" vs. English "to be", if only, because German more often than not will prefer their verb "werden" (to become - "stać", "stać się", resp. "zostać" in Polish), instead of "sein" or "to be"!

Polish: Chcę być aktorem.
English: I want to be an actor.
German: Ich will Schauspieler WERDEN. [ lit. "I want to/will to/BECOME an actor]

Merely an afterthought, sorry to be meritricious about it:-)
Zorro
27 Apr 2012 #11
In Polish, we would often say "Chcę zostać aktorem" as well! My knowledge of German is too scarce, but doesn't your German sentence illustrate the future tense of the verb "to be" ("Ich will Schauspieler werden" or "Ich will Schauspieler sein"?)

The opener's post abaut the complement of the Polish verb "to be" is very unclear. His example for that, the phrase "Dlaczego mu nie pomóc?", doesn't seem fortunate, as the verb which would possibly fit in there, but is omitted, isn't the verb "to be", but the verb "to have" :

Dlaczego mam mu nie pomóc / dlaczego miałbym mu nie pomóc?
Dlaczego mamy mu nie pomóc / dlaczego mielibyśmy mu nie pomóc?
.
Lyzko
27 Apr 2012 #12
In Polish, that's your baily wick, not mine. In German though, "to be" would NEVER be used, as it would indicate that the other person wants somebody to think they "wish to be" an actor, but really aren't one:-) In Polish, I suppose, either verb is acceptable.

Here, it seems Polish is closer lexically with English!
OP Semsem 16 | 26
29 Apr 2012 #13
Well, an example from the book that I understand:

Lepiej poczekać. - It's better to wait.

My problem was that there are examples under "5.1.1.3 As complement of the verb 'to be' (which is left unsaid)", but only some of them made sense to me where some form of "to be" would be possible to include to make the sentence still grammatically correct. I was thinking of "am, are, is" etc.

Makes sense though with the conditional tense. Kind of stupid of me. Read the whole chapter on verbs multiple times, and as such have read over the conditional tense many times. It would appear as though I still have a hard time fully understanding the translation...the fact that Polish has a conditional tense (although, I'd imagine English has one as well, to be technical), only English doesn't have a special word or series of words to make it distinguishable from the other tenses (like: I was, I am, I will be; ate, eat. will eat; etc.)

The lesson learned today for me: always remember Polish has additional tenses and distinguishing forms of words, and that at times a translation might require a bit of abstract thought...not like the extremely linear thought that is English.

I also feel the need to thank all of you who have made me realize this. As I think that that might just be the thing that allows me to truly master Polish in due time. To step out from the idea there must be a proper word-for-word translation, that each word needs to be translated somehow, and realize that Polish might need additives to words and whatnot that one would never find in English.

There are days when I wish my ancestors had taught Polish to their children, instead of letting them learn solely English; or that I had been born in a nation of Europe where I'd have stood a chance learning a more complicated grammatical language. But alas, such is life.
strzyga 2 | 993
29 Apr 2012 #14
.the fact that Polish has a conditional tense (although, I'd imagine English has one as well, to be technical)

At least three, to be technical.

English doesn't have a special word or series of words to make it distinguishable from the other tenses

would, could, should, might, ought

the extremely linear thought that is English

You'd be surprised.

To step out from the idea there must be a proper word-for-word translation, that each word needs to be translated somehow

And that's very true. Translation is about the meaning, not about the words.


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