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Usage of Polish 'to'

hitnroll 2 | 5
12 Jun 2014 #1

Have just started learning Polish using busuu and am very confused by the use of 'to'. One example of my confusions is the following two sentences :

To jest piłka nożna mojego syna

Anna i Maria to przyjaciółki moich sióstr

I understand the first one - This is my son's football. No problems there to=this, jest=is and is the verb in the sentence.

But the usage of to in the second sentence really confuses me as there doesn't appear to be a verb there at all !!!! Why is there no są in the sentence - to is in the place i expected it to say są.

Thanks for any help :-)
Ziemowit 13 | 4,062
12 Jun 2014 #2
I'd say the first sentence is not very good. We tend to use "piłka" to name the object in question (or we would say "piłka do nogi"), whereas the term "piłka nożna" commonly denotes the actual game in which this object is used.

The second sentence is perfectly OK. In this sentence the word "są" is indeed omitted, thus the full sentence would be "Anna i Maria to są przyjaciółki moich sióstr". This is a sort of shortening of the utterance comparable to using "they're" in place of "they are".
OP hitnroll 2 | 5
12 Jun 2014 #3
Thanks for the reply. I can see how the dropping of są makes sense.

A follow up question if I may. In a writing exercise I wrote :

Mój zawód jest technologia informacyjna

This was corrected in a couple of ways to :

Mój zawód to technologia informacyjna
Moim zawodem jest technologia informacyjna

I don't really understand why 'jest' should be used with the instrumental case for zawód but you use 'to' when using the nominative.
MowPoPolsku - | 6
12 Jun 2014 #4
Actually, both sentences are wrong as technologia informacyjna is not zawód. Zawód is your profession. Think of it as job title.
You can't be an IT. You can be an IT manager, IT consultant, IT engineer etc. Similarly, you won't say I'm a business but I'm a business manager, a businessman etc.

An IT guy in Polish is informatyk or specjalista ds informatyki (ds - do spraw)

There's a list of all possible jobs (job names) issued by the Polish government (Ministerstwo Sprawiedliwości) on its website. It serves different purposes, one of them being to avoid nomenclature chaos. You'll find informatyk there.

So you could say:
Jestem informatykiem.
Jestem z zawodu informatykiem.
Pracuję w zawodzie informatyka.
Mój zawód to informatyk.

The last two are less common. Pracuję w zawodzie... is slightly formal. and Mój zawód ... is somewhat emphatic - I'm an informatyk and NOT something else. But I can understand why your teacher introduced this structure. She just wanted to spare you the pain of declining nouns.

Nominative is always used after To when you mean This is/ These are / It is/ They are

Unfortunately there's no one rule for verb - noun (case ) agreement.
You just need to learn which phrase takes which noun case.
You can probably have all six cases after jest.
When it comes to jobs it's always Instrumental.
That's the only way to learn it: jobs - Instrumental

Nobody told you Polish is difficult?

Good luck in your learning!
Keep asking questions.
And don't get frustrated.

Two quizzes to practise jobs in Polish (both include pronunciation)
OP hitnroll 2 | 5
12 Jun 2014 #5
Thank you for such a comprehensive answer

I have definitely been told that Polish is difficult :-)

So I am trying to approach it by making sure I understand the foundations of cases etc and why they are used in certain situations - probably harder to do but I'm hoping it will be worth it in the long term
13 Jun 2014 #6
Actually, zawód is not your job position, it's your trade. So while you can say "Pracuję w zawodzie informatyka" (Literally: "I work an informatician's trade."), you would normally say "Moim zawodem jest informatyka" ("IT is my trade."). It is true that expressions like "Mój zawód to informatyk" are common, but they, and not the previous examples, are the non-standard and colloquial ones.

And the case rules are nowhere near as complicated as to make you learn them individually for each verb. Instrumental case is, for example, what every regular Polish copula uses for its noun predicatives. "To" is simply an exception, but the "to" copula is just an all around special and fascinating word.
13 Jun 2014 #7
plus "z zawodu jestem informatykiem" means that you've got an IT education (or qualifications), but there's no information on your current job.
Ziemowit 13 | 4,062
13 Jun 2014 #8
Or "Z zawodu jestem lekarzem". If we wanted to apply "lekarz" to the construction "Moim zawodem jest ...", it would have been difficult to sound sensible. "Moim zawodem jest lekarz" would sound as akward as "Moim zawodem jest medycyna" (see "Moim zawodem jest technologia informacyjna" in the OP post). Thus it is best to avoid the construction "Moim zawodem jest ...", though you can safely say "Moim ulubionym daniem jest ryba z frytkami" or "Moim hobby jest leczenie ludzi poprzez nakładanie rąk".

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