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Grammar question about conditionals in Polish.


kaktus44
3 Sep 2016  #1
How would you translate these conditional sentences into Polish?

If I have time, I will help you. (It could be that I will have some time to help you.)
If I had time, I would help you. (It's probably not likely that I'll be able to help.)
If I had had more time, I would have helped you. (I didn't have time and couldn't help you.)

Thanks in advance.
kpc21 1 | 763
3 Sep 2016  #2
1. Jeśli będę miał czas, to ci pomogę.
2. No way to translate it literally, you may say:
Może będę miał czas, jeśli tak, to ci pomogę.
(Maybe I will have time, then I will help you)
By the way, does this sentence in English really have such a meaning as you explain it? Are you a native English speaker? I am not, and I would understand it as: "I don't have time now, but if I had, I would help you" - and then it would be translated in exactly the same way as the sentence [3].

3. Gdybym miał czas, to bym ci pomógł.
OP kaktus44
3 Sep 2016  #3
Thank you for your response. Yes I'm a native speaker. Just to clarify sentence 1 and 2 are about the future and sentence 3 about the past. Sentence 2 has both meanings i.e. mine and your second one. Thinking again, I'd probably change the explanation of sentence 2 to - (The likelihood of me helping you is 0.) I just wanted to concentrate on likelihood so we could compare the meanings clearly, and not get bogged down about their interpretations. However, language is all about interpretations. ;) Your first translation of sentence 2 is a different way than I intended. Isn't it confusing in Polish, if sentence 2 and 3 can be said in exactly the same way? Sentence 2 is about the future and sentence 3 about the past.
Ziemowit 12 | 3,455
3 Sep 2016  #4
It may be confusing, so it is the context that should clear that confusion.

The Past Perfect tense (czas zaprzeszły) disappeared completely from Polish some time ago, although you can still find it in literature:
"Gdybym był miał czas, mógłbym był ci pomóc" - is the literal translation of your English sentence 3 which would set your conditional into the past in Polish. Some people would have still said it this way before the WW II and even more people would have done that before the WW I.
984562
3 Sep 2016  #5
the explanation of sentence 2 to - (The likelihood of me helping you is 0.) I just wanted to concentrate on likelihood so we could compare the meanings clearly, and not get bogged down about their interpretations.

That's the problem, Future Unreal Conditional has three forms and you're talking about the third where the likelihood is 0%
(Trzeci okres warunkowy opisuje przeszłość, nie mamy już wpływu na spełnienie warunku - 0%)
[IF + Past Perfect + Future Perfect in the Past (would have done)]
So the sentence should have been (If I had time, I would have help you.)

Yet you phrased as a second form where there's still a possibility although a slight one.
(Drugi okres warunkowy gdybanie - możliwość spełnienia się warunku minimalna)
[IF + Past Simple, + Future Simple in the Past (would + verb)]
Pomogę gdy będę miał na to czas.
Kpc21 is absolutely right, although he phrased it differently.
Sparks11 - | 335
4 Sep 2016  #6
(If I had time, I would have help you.)

This is in no way correct in English. If I had had time, I would have helped you is spot on, so is Ziemowit's answer
kpc21 1 | 763
4 Sep 2016  #7
Isn't it confusing in Polish, if sentence 2 and 3 can be said in exactly the same way?

Usually not, both you and the person you talk to usually know whether the help was needed in the past, or it is needed now :-)
gumishu 11 | 5,012
4 Sep 2016  #8
it is only ambiguous without context in other words
984562
4 Sep 2016  #9
I know. No edit function after posting.
OP kaktus44
5 Sep 2016  #10
(If I had time, I would have help(ed) you.)
At first this looked like it was a grammar mistake but then I had a think. Could it be a mixed conditional? For example - I don't have time now and in the past, and and that's why I couldn't help.

e.g. If I knew the answer, I would have said.... (Or can you only say. - If I had known the answer, I would have said....)

What you're trying to emphasise is that this is a state that you had in the past and have now. I still don't like it but I think it's possible.

BTW -RE: If I had time, I would help you. This Is indicating there's really no way I can or am going to help you. So probability here is 0. If the person still thinks they're going to get help, they're going to be disappointed.

Pomogę gdy będę miał na to czas. - Can only be translated as a 1st conditional form in English. I will help you, if I have time. And never as a 2nd conditional. - I would help you, if you have time. Translating it in any other way would be a mistake.

(correction) Pomogę gdy będę miał na to czas. - Can only be translated as a 1st conditional form in English. I will help you, if I have time. And never as a 2nd conditional. - I would help you, if I had time. Translating it in any other way would be a mistake.
mafketis 20 | 7,162
5 Sep 2016  #11
Can only be translated as a 1st conditional form in English

1st and 2nd (etc) Conditionals are a heuristic device for teaching English (esp to Poles). They aren't concepts that most native English speakers know about. I never heard the terms until I was in Poland.

If I have time, I will help you.

My non-native translations (with explantions).
nb I'm assuming these are all adressed to a single male that the speaker (also male) is on friendly terms (ty) with. I'm also assuming everyday rather than more formal usage.

1. Jak będę miał czas to ci pomogę.

Notes: Replacing jeśli with jak is common in everyday spoken usage, I have the idea that jak in this case suggests that the speaker would like to help, jeśli sounds a little more... distanced. (not sure if native speakers would agree with that).

2. Gdybym miał czas tobym ci pomógł.
3. Gdybym miał czas tobym ci pomógł.

Polish does not normally distinguish "If I had.." (where the situation could change even if it's unlikely to) and "If I had had..." (where change is no longer possible).

Don't sweat it. It's one way that Polish is easier than English.

Also, although the form is called 'conditional' is most textbooks it serves a number of other purposes as well, most notably the subjunctive
"Wszystkim kobietom sugeruję, żeby rodziły dzieci"

to-all-women I-suggest that they-have children

I suggest that all women (should) have children.

Also the object + infinitive (to want smn to do sth)

Chcę, żebyź mi pomógł

I-want that-you me help

I want you to help me.
kpc21 1 | 763
8 Sep 2016  #12
I have the idea that jak in this case suggests that the speaker would like to help, jeśli sounds a little more... distanced. (not sure if native speakers would agree with that).

No, "jeśli" feels much more distanced than "jak" :-)

Normally people talking to each other usually use "jak" instead of "jeśli". Or you can replace it with "kiedy" or "gdy" either. But it has an equivalent in English, where you can replace "if" with "when".

2. Gdybym miał czas tobym ci pomógł.

"to bym" is written separately, but apart from that, it's OK.
The "by" particle, being an equivalent of the English conditional "would", "could" etc., is written together only after a verb which is not in an impersonal form (so it's not an infinitive and not the form ending with "-ono"/"-to"). In all other cases it's written separately.

So you can write:
-> Gdybym miał czas, to pomógłbym ci.
but:
-> Gdybym miał czas, to bym ci pomógł.

Other examples (with impersonal verbs):
-> Gdyby państwo miało pieniądze, to wybudowałoby autostradę.
but:
-> Gdyby były pieniądze, to wybudowano by autostradę.

And it's enough in most cases. More detailed rules (in Polish) are here:
- when to write it together: sjp.pwn.pl/zasady/Pisownia-laczna-czastek-I-bym-I-I-bys-I-I-by-I-I-bysmy-I-I-byscie-I;629503.html
- when to write it separately: sjp.pwn.pl/zasady/Pisownia-rozdzielna-czastek-I-bym-I-I-bys-I-I-by-I-I-bysmy-I-I-byscie-I;629509.html

Don't sweat it. It's one way that Polish is easier than English.

Yes!

Also the object + infinitive (to want smn to do sth)

Yes, here it's a kinda equivalent of the English "to". Normally it's used as "żeby", but it can be shorted to "by". So:

-> Chcę żebyś mi pomógł.
or:
-> Chcę byś mi pomógł.
The third option is "aby":
-> Chcę abyś mi pomógł.

Means, of course:
-> I want you to help me.

In this use - in normal talks with people "żeby" is used most often. "By" is used more in formal situations (sometimes in talks as well, but not so often), "aby" is rather reserved for literature and most formal cases.

By the way, it can be used in all the persons.
-> On chce żebym mu pomógł. -> He wants me to help him.
-> Chcę żebyś mi pomógł. -> I want you to help me.
-> Chcę żeby mi pomógł. -> I want him to help me.
-> On chce żebyśmy mu pomogli. -> He wants us to help him.
-> Chcę żebyście mi pomogli. -> I want you (all) to help me.
-> Chcę żeby mi pomogli. -> I want them (a group of men or men and women) to help me.
-> Chcę żeby mi pomogły. -> I want them (a group of women, animals or things) to help me.

By the way, such a combination is also possible:
-> Chciałbym żebyś mi pomógł. -> I would like you to help me.
Two uses of "by" in a single sentence :-) The "by" meaning "would" and the "by" (or, exactly, "żeby") meaning "to".

And it's crucial to remember that sometimes "by" can be located in different positions, and one time it will be written together with another word, another time separately. See:

-> Chciałbym cię zapytać, czy byś mi pomógł.
-> Chciałbym cię zapytać, czy pomógłbyś mi.
Both meaning:
-> I would like to ask you if you could help me.
(as far as I know, it's forbidden in English to put "will" in any form after "if", so I replaced it with "can")

Why do I have to write everything about the specific grammar topic when someone asks about Polish grammar on this forum? Should I teach foreigners Polish grammar, or what?
Nathans
8 Sep 2016  #13
It's simple - you know what you are doing and learners of Polish are thankful for that :)
mafketis 20 | 7,162
8 Sep 2016  #14
"to bym" is written separately, but apart from that, it's OK.

I beg to differ. When to is a pronoun then 'by' forms shouldn't be joined with it. When it's a conjunction more or less synonymous with więc (as in my example) it should:

sjp.pwn.pl/zasady/161-43-4-Z-wiekszoscia-spojnikow-a-zwlaszcza-z-nastepujacymi;629507.html

In this use - in normal talks with people "żeby" is used most often. "By" is used more in formal situations

I didn't want to overwhelm the OP
Chemikiem 6 | 1,912
8 Sep 2016  #15
Should I teach foreigners Polish grammar, or what?

I always read the language threads, and appreciate it when people take the time to give explanations, so yes please! ;)
All those lovely examples of usage are very helpful for me :-)
Ziemowit 12 | 3,455
8 Sep 2016  #16
"to bym" is written separately, but apart from that, it's OK.

I beg to differ.

Either do I.

On chce żebym mu pomógł / Chcę żebyś mi pomógł / Chcę żeby mi pomogli / Chciałbym żebyś mi pomógł.

I am surprised that you don't put a comma in places where it is badly needed. On the other hand, you seem to be well aware that a comma should be inserted before a conjunction introducing the subordinate clause in Polish:

Chciałbym cię zapytać, czy byś mi pomógł

kpc21 1 | 763
9 Sep 2016  #17
I beg to differ. When to is a pronoun then 'by' forms shouldn't be joined with it.

Ok, then it's well to learn something new. Still good that I gave a link to this website. I was always convinced that it should be written separately in this case. Maybe the reason (practical reason why the rule is so) is that it makes a pair with "jakby". Jakby ..., toby ....

You can see that Polish often surprises even its native speakers.

And the rules how to use the comma properly... they are just complicated. And I have learnt English too much and I move to Polish something which is the only correct way of writing in English (but incorrect in Polish).
mafketis 20 | 7,162
9 Sep 2016  #18
was always convinced that it should be written separately in this case.

Well toby looks wrong, I checked a bunch of sources before believing it was right.... I think to by looks better in all cases, but... (but then I always want to write "potym jak" rather than "po tym jak" so what do I know?)

You can see that Polish often surprises even its native speakers.

True of all langauges, English spelling is an endless source of speculation, disappointment and surprises for native speakers....
Ziemowit 12 | 3,455
9 Sep 2016  #19
Well toby looks wrong, I checked a bunch of sources before believing it was right...

Gdybym miał czas, tobym ci pomógł ("to" is a 'spójnik międzyzdaniowy' here, so it is written jointly)
Ja to bym ci pomógł, gdybym miał czas ("to" is a 'partykuła wzmacniająca' here, so it is written separately).
mafketis 20 | 7,162
9 Sep 2016  #20
"to" is a 'spójnik międzyzdaniowy' here, so it is written jointly)

I understand the principle, it just looks... a little weird on the page. Not quite sure why, it just does...


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