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"TO" or "ONO" / "i je je"?

okgirl66 3 | 90
8 Apr 2009 #1
I have recently been looking at some verbs I found on a website on the internet and instead of the usual "on jest, ona jest, ono jest" they use "on jest, ona jest, to jest". Can any one tell me very simply what the difference is?
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,098
8 Apr 2009 #2
what the difference is?

3m. on jest
3f. ona jest
3n. ono jest

another way saying

3m. ten jest
3f. ta jest
3n. to jest
kgoess 8 | 11
11 Mar 2011 #3
Merged: i je je / to - ono

Hi, we have a question about a rosetta stone sentence:

On ma jajko i je je.

What are the two "je"s there? We figure one is "he eats", but what's the other one? Some form of "it"?

This other thread "Tego/Jego" is really helpful, but while it gives details for "I", "you", "he" and "she", it doesn't give details for "it".

Thanks for the help.
pgtx 30 | 3,156
11 Mar 2011 #4
On ma jajko i je je.

he has an egg and he's eating it...
f stop 25 | 2,513
11 Mar 2011 #5
first "je" is some permutation of "it" and second "je" is some permutation of "eating".
cinek 2 | 345
11 Mar 2011 #6
Some form of "it"?


it = ono

M ono
D jego/go/niego
C jemu/mu/niemu
B je <- here's yours (on old language it was also 'ono' like in the popular carol ("...I Józef święty ono pielęgnuje...")

N nim
Mc nim

SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,595
11 Mar 2011 #7
On ma jajko i je je.

One of the je is 3rd person singular of the verb 'eat' (jeść). The other je is personal pronoun, in accusative gender, of 'ono' (neutral gender singular).
kgoess 8 | 11
12 Mar 2011 #8
That's all very helpful, thank you!
tygrys 3 | 295
12 Mar 2011 #9
he's eating it...

Then it would be "je zjada"
Proper translation is "eats it"
Pinching Pete - | 558
12 Mar 2011 #10
he has an egg and he's eating it...

??? .. followed by a translation of "he's single too".
13 Jun 2016 #11
Merged: Question about the word "to."


I know that the word "to" in Polish has many meanings. I came across this sentence today: To prezent dla kolegi. Is "jest" implied here. Could one also say, "To jest prezent dla kolegi." I am translating this sentence as, "This is a present for my friend." Is my translation incorrect? Is my reasoning incorrect? I would appreciate your help.

Thank you.
Lyzko 29 | 7,269
13 Jun 2016 #12
"To" definitely does have several uses in Polish, while these are not necessarily compatible in English.

Your example "TO jest prezentEM dla kolegi." = THIS is a present for your co-worker. is correct, however, "TO" can also be used as a so-called 'dummy subject' in Polish, usually not translated into English, for instance:

"Mówić TO srebro, milczyć TO złoto." = Silence is golden.

Literally aka word-for word, "To speak, it silver, to be silent, it gold." makes little sense in English, or at best, sounds terribly awkward:-)

Other times, "TO" can mean "it", e.g. "TO jest ważne być czujny." = IT's important to be vigilant. etc..

Sometimes in Polish, distinctions between "this" and "that" are not as straightforward as in English, simply because Polish has no definite article "the" or indefinite article(s) "a" and "an"!
Looker - | 1,080
13 Jun 2016 #13
You are trying hard Lyzko but still your Polish is far from perfect. Let me correct your sentences:
TO jest prezent dla kolegi.
Mowa TO srebro, milczenie TO złoto - but the correct saying is: Mowa jest srebrem, a milczenie złotem.

TO jest ważne być czujny.

-> Better just say: Ważne jest aby być czujnym.
Don't stop learning ;)
Lyzko 29 | 7,269
13 Jun 2016 #14
Don't stop teaching!

Many thanks for correcting my proverb example (przysłowia). The idea of "to" as dummy subject in English though still applies:-)

Incidentally, I thought that in the first sentence the Instrumental would be used. Hmm, guess I'll have to review that one.

Your English too has gotten betterLOL
kpc21 1 | 763
15 Jun 2016 #15
I know that the word "to" ... I would appreciate your help.

Both are correct and mean the same. Although the first one isn't much used in practice.

Your example "TO jest prezentEM dla kolegi."

Theoreticaly yes... If you treat "to" as a replacement for "ono". But "to" is so special that it doesn't behave like this.

"To jest prezent dla kolegi" - this is a present for my/your co-worker/co-student/friend (not a very close one)
It's how I would say this.

"Mówić TO srebro, milczyć TO złoto." = Silence is golden.

"milczeć", apart from that it's correct, but actually we say:
"Mowa jest srebrem, a milczenie złotem"
This is a proverb, so it's fixed and you shouldn't change it to other theoretically grammatically correct versions.

Other times, "TO" can mean "it", e.g. "TO jest ważne być czujny." = IT's important to be vigilant. etc..

"To jest ważne, żeby być czujnym" (if you want to emphasise that "THIS is important" and not anything else), even better extending it to:

"Właśnie to jest ważne, żeby być czujnym" (which makes more sense - "exactly THIS is important, to be vigilant" - I think, in English you would have to put a comma here)

"Ważnym jest, żeby być czujnym"
"Ważne, żeby być czujnym"
The last one is most commonly used. Although it's not even considered a sentence in Polish grammar, it's a so called "sentence equivalent" because it has no predicate (main verb, as "jest" in both two).

Why "czujnym" in all the sentences and "ważnym" in the second one? I am not sure if this is the exact rule, I am not a linguist and noone teaches such things at school - but from what I understand:

1) normally when you put an adjective without a noun after "to be", it appears in nominative (in a gender equivalent to the subject it describes - "to" is neuter, so we have ważne) - this is something which you definitely know learning Polish, even if you started only a few lessons ago, hence you say: "jestem czujny", "jest czujna"

2) when you put there a noun described by an adjective, it appears in instrumental: "jestem czujnym człowiekiem", "jest czujną kobietą"

3) the weird thing: when we have a "subjectless" construction, not such one where the subject is default ("jestem czujny" = "ja jestem czujny", "jest czujna" = "ona jest czujna"), but such one where you cannot determine a subject (for example if "to be" is used in infinitive - but not only), this adjective, connected to the "to be" verb, not only appears in masculine (which is the "default" form of any adjective), but, last but not least, it appears not in nominative, but in instrumental, as if there was actually a noun which this adjective described!

So in "Jest ważnym, żeby być czujnym" (you can exchange the order), "być czujnym" is, of course, an infinitive phrase, but also "jest ważnym" is a "there is"-ish phrase. In English you say "It is important" because you basically don't use "There is" for adjectives, only for nouns, but this "it" plays here exactly the same role as "there" in "there is". It doesn't mean anything, it's just a "dummy subject" as you said. The thing is, in Polish you don't need a dummy subject and "to" doesn't actually play this role. It does mean "this". That's why I did put a comma in the English translation of a sentence somewhere above.

Why "to" is translated to English not only as "this", but also as "ono"? Because "it" can mean the same as "this".

"This is a book"
"It is a book"
Is there any meaning difference between these two sentences? I am not an expert, but I have a feeling these are just two ways of saying exactly the same. Although for some reason on lower levels of my education in English usually the version with "it" was only used, while when I was doing my CAE and CPE, it was often required to use "this", especially when a new sentence reffered to the previous one...

Yet the last one...
"Ważne, żeby być czujnym"
You replace the main clause with a single adjective, and then it appears in nominative neuter singular. Why so? Don't ask me. Probably because you can extend it to:

"To jest ważne, żeby być czujnym"
You will ask: "Cannot I extend it to: <<Jest ważnym, żeby być czujnym.>>"?
Yes, you can.
You will ask: "Cannot I extend <<Jest ważnym, żeby być czujnym.>> to: <<To jest ważne, żeby być czujnym.>>"? If I can, why does "ważne" change to "ważnym"?

I am afraid you must just accept it without asking. Or ask the linguists, maybe they will find an explanation for that.

Sometimes in Polish, distinctions between "this" and "that" are not as straightforward as in English

Basically "this" = "ten"/"ta"/"to" (depending on the gender), "that" = "tamten"/"tamta"/"tamto", the difference depends on the distance. The difference is that both languages set the border between "close" and "far" at different points.

This is an example from a videoblog for Poles learning English:
In English: "this is Chandler" but "that's Phoebe". In Polish "to jest Chandler" and also "to jest Phoebe". The distance difference is enough to distinguish between "this" and "that" in English, but not in Polish.

You just don't use "tamto" instead of "to" as frequently as "that" instead of "this".

I don't think it has anything in common with the existance of the articles.
mafketis 24 | 9,187
15 Jun 2016 #16
Basically "this" = "ten"/"ta"/"to" (depending on the gender), "that" = "tamten"/"tamta"/"tamto", the difference depends on the distance.

I heard the claim, in a lecture by a Polish linguistics professor, that most of the time the difference between ten and tamten etc doesn't really depend on distance (if you look at actual usage) but more on difference.

That is, ten/ta etc are used for first thing you refer to and tamten/tamta etc refer more to something different, not necessarily further away.

He used the example of a couple of books (on the desk in front of him) "Ta książka ..." and then turning to the other "A tamta ....." (this is impossible in English, the only way to distinguish them is by giving the second an extra level of stress: "This book....." followed by "But THIS one..."

Once alerted to this usage I began noticing it, though if you ask most Poles they just say it's only about distance (native speakers of any language who don't know linguistics and/or who haven't engaged in deeper analysis of their language are generally not very good at describing the system they use everyday).
kpc21 1 | 763
15 Jun 2016 #17
"Ten" is the one you are currently talking about, "tamten" is the other one. Maybe this is a beter explanation.

"Ważnym jest, żeby być czujnym"

Actually, after rethinking and checking some things in Google, it seems that:
"Ważne jest, żeby być czujnym"
is also correct. Instrumental in this place more archaic and formal.

"Ważny" is an adjective usually used in a formal context. Especially in this subjectless construction with "jest". That's why "ważnym jest" seemed to me more correct than "ważne jest".

In normal speech (not official) you usually say just "Ważne, żeby...".

Another example:
"To jest oczywiste, że ona tam była"
"To oczywiste, że ona tam była"
"Oczywiste jest, że ona tam była"
"Oczywistym jest, że ona tam była"
"Oczywiste, że ona tam była"
"Oczywiście ona tam była"
I wouldn't say anything of this is incorrect and all these sentences are used in practice. They mean exactly the same, the difference in only in the emphasis. Some of them sound better with some filler words like "przecież", "ale" etc, some are used more in a formal context.

In English you can say:
"This is obvious that she has been there"
"It is obvious that she has been there"
"It's obvious that she has been there"
+ these three sentences with "that" neglected
"She has obviously been there"
"Of course she has been there"
And probably some more. You cannot assign these English sentences directly to specific Polish equivalents, but the difference between them is also more in the usage dependent on the context than in the meaning.
Lyzko 29 | 7,269
15 Jun 2016 #18
Thanks again, kpc!

However, "This is obvious that she has been there." is awkward English:-) The rest of your examples sentences seem fine however!
kpc21 1 | 763
17 Jun 2016 #19
"To jest ważne, żeby być czujnym" in Polish also sounds a bit awkward.
Lyzko 29 | 7,269
17 Jun 2016 #20
Always good to know from a native speaker, kacper!

Thanks again:-)

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