The BEST Guide to POLAND
Unanswered  |  Archives 
 
 
User: Guest

Home / Language  % width posts: 37

When do you use 'się'? And what does it mean?


Turtleonfire 7 | 14
9 Jan 2010 #1
A Polish friend of mine recently explained 'się' to me, saying...and I quote,

'Się is a stupid Polish word that doesn't translate in English...you use it when you are refering to the word 'self', such as 'himself/herself'...e.g. "Ona zabije się" - "She will kill herself", but with "Ona zabije jego" - "She will kill him", you don't use it because there is no 'self'.'

So, I thought that explanation was pretty clear and fair...but then I read something another friend of mine had written....

"Weekend w górach, zapewne się dziś wieczorem opiję i znowu narobię głupot ;) Obudzę się w jakimś dziwnym psychodelicznym miejscu i nasunie się pytanie: "Co się stało się??"

I'm new to Polish so had to let 'google translate' tell me what it says as I don't want to bore her by asking constant language questions all the time :) ....

Well, google translate said that the last bit " Co się stało się??" means 'What happened?' .....so how does that relate to the use of the word 'self' ?

What is the use of the word się exactly?
Lenka 3 | 1,447
9 Jan 2010 #2
It's really hard to explain.Your friend was quite right-it's used as "self" but some other verbs also requires "się".

zaimek zwrotny, używany...
(1.1) ...w stronie zwrotnej (konstrukcji, w której wykonawca lub wykonawcy czynności jednocześnie doznają jej skutków), siebie
(1.2) ...jako forma bezosobowa
(1.3) ...dla oznaczenia zbiorowści wykonującej czynność

przykłady:
(1.1) Krzysztof poruszył się przez sen.
(1.1) Anna umyła się.
(1.2) Robi się późno.
(1.3) Mówi się, że Janek ma ożenić się z Judytą.

I'll try to translate it:
"się" is used in three situations:
(1.1)...when the person feels the consequence(it's not good translation but the best I could give) as in "self"
(1.2)..as a impersonal form(???),when you don't know who had done sth
(1.3)...when there are group doing sth

e.g.:
(1.1)Krzysztof moved when he was asleep
(1.1)Anna washed herself
(1.2)It's getting late
(1.3)It's said that Janek is getting married with Judyta

I don't know if I made it any clearer but I've tried
musicwriter 5 | 87
9 Jan 2010 #3
It is a reflexive article that means you did something yourself (without help), also answers the question "who did it".

Even a machine that runs automatically can be descibed as "po mogą się".
strzyga 2 | 993
9 Jan 2010 #4
there was a very good explanation on "się" already posted in one of the threads, but I can't find it now.

Anyway, I'll try to summarize it:
- basically, there are two types of verbs which take "się":

one is verbs needing an object - e.g. myć - myję ręce, matka myje dziecko, on myje się - you always wash something or somebody and when the thing washed is oneself, then you use "się". It's the same for every grammatical person - ja myję się, on myje się, wy myjecie się. This is your example with killing - ona zabije się.

The other group is verbs which take "się" for no apparent reason, you just need to remember which ones they are and treat "się" as a part of the verb itself. Examples:

stać się - to happen
okazać się - turn out
podobać się
Notice that some of these verbs take on different meaning when devoid of "się", as with "stać się" and "stać", which means just "to stand".

IMO you should just accept that some verbs are like that and memorize them, complete with "się".
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,595
9 Jan 2010 #5
When people explain this it sounds more complicated than it really is.

In a slightly simplified way we can say that:
Się means myself, yourself, herself, himself, ourselves, themselves and yourselves (depending on the ending of the verb as usual).

Compare these pairs:

Myjemy = We are washing
Myjemy się = We are washing ourselves

Uczę = I teach
Uczę się = I teach myself (I study)

Kochają go = They love him
Kochają się = They love themselves (or they make love to each other)

But note that Polish and English verbs are not always reflexive in the same situations. So, sometimes you can't just translate it word by word from PL-ENG or vice versa. But you will learn these situations by heart automatically while studying other parts of the language.
strzyga 2 | 993
10 Jan 2010 #6
When people explain this it sounds more complicated than it really is.

That's probably true. But what you say further on doesn't explain verbs like śmiać się, stać się or wydawać się, where "się" doesn't mark any reflexive action, still it's necessary to use it.
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,595
10 Jan 2010 #7
But you will learn these situations by heart automatically while studying other parts of the language.

Of course there are exceptions to all rules (in all languages).
strzyga 2 | 993
10 Jan 2010 #8
But you will learn these situations by heart automatically while studying other parts of the language.

True. But that was the original question in this thread - Turtleonfire didn't have any problem with the reflexive use, which is quite logical; he was asking about the other, seemingly illogical "się" words.
Sparkle_Ravelle 4 | 11
10 Jan 2010 #9
reflexive use

Sorry if I sound stupid in asking this, but what does 'reflexive' mean here?
strzyga 2 | 993
10 Jan 2010 #10
what does 'reflexive' mean here?

it means directed towards self, as in: I wash myself, look after yourself.
Compare to: Mary washes dishes, mother looks after a child - the action is directed towards some external object, not self.
Vincent 9 | 803 Moderator
10 Jan 2010 #11
Sorry if I sound stupid in asking this, but what does 'reflexive' mean here?

Put simply...reflexive verbs are verbs where the subject and the object are the same person or thing.
caveman 4 | 14
27 Jan 2010 #12
Jan 27, 10, 21:16 - Thread attached on merging:
Się - What does it actually mean?

The closest translation I can get from anyone is "oneself" but it doesn't make sense in many of the sentences I see it in.

Can anyone help me understand "się" better? Perhaps with some examples?

Thanks in advance!
EchoTheCat - | 137
27 Jan 2010 #13
Write those sentences.

You use "się" when you're talking about something that somebody have to do with her(his)self. For example:
Czy może się Pan przesunąć? - literally "Can you move?" but in can be translated as "Can you get yourself and move?".

You can't use "się" when we have no choice in doing something. For example "spadać" (to fall). When you're falling there is nothing you can do about it. But if you sliped there was something you did to yourself and that's why there's "poślizgnąć się" - to slip.

This is the way in which I understand "się". But I'm not Polish teacher :)
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,595
27 Jan 2010 #14
In a slightly simplified way we can say that:

Się means myself, yourself, herself, himself, ourselves, themselves and yourselves (depending on the ending of the verb as usual).

Compare these pairs:

Myjemy = We are washing
Myjemy się = We are washing ourselves

Uczę = I teach
Uczę się = I teach myself (I study/learn)

Kochają go = They love him
Kochają się = They love themselves (or they make love to each other)

And sometimes się occurs without any obvious function, those situations you have to learn by heart (as you get more experienced).

When you see a verb in a sentence you should always check if się is present or not, so you learn which verbs are associated with się, and which are not.

Another thread
cinek 2 | 337
27 Jan 2010 #15
You use "się" when you're talking about something that somebody have to do with her(his)self.

Yes, but there are also some verbs that require 'się' for no abvious reson. Those just must be memorized. e.g.:

śmiać się, smucić się, cieszyć się, pocić się, najeść się, napić się, wyspać się itp.

Of course one could find an explanation for them in history of the language, but it's not what an average user o the language needs to know.

Cinek
EchoTheCat - | 137
27 Jan 2010 #16
śmiać się, smucić się, cieszyć się, pocić się, najeść się, napić się, wyspać się itp.

Most of them are feelings.
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,595
27 Jan 2010 #17
Now it became a lot of text. If we summarize it with one sentence we can say:

Się means myself, yourself, herself, himself, ourselves, themselves and yourselves (depending on the ending of the verb as usual).
caveman 4 | 14
27 Jan 2010 #18
@SzwedwPolsce

Are you saying that it's actually impossible to accurately translate the word without seeing it in the context of the surrounding words?

i teach myself = Uczę się
you teach yourself = uczysz się
he teaches himself = uczy się
we teach ourselves = uczymy się
they teach themselves = uczą się

It's almost like turning the verb back in on itself. This would explain the confusion!
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,595
27 Jan 2010 #20
Are you saying that it's actually impossible to accurately translate the word without seeing it in the context of the surrounding words?

Yes, sometimes. Like in all languages.

Uczę = I teach (maybe as a teacher)
Uczysz = You teach

Uczę się = I teach myself (but in English you say "I study" or "I learn", but it means the same.)
Uczysz się = You study/learn

It's almost like turning the verb back in on itself.

Exactly. This grammatical construction is called a reflexive verb, so the name makes sense.
caveman 4 | 14
27 Jan 2010 #21
Thank you everyone for your help.

This has been one of those moments when you're studying a language and something finally clicks after months of frustration.
Michal - | 1,865
27 Jan 2010 #22
caveman
It is used to make transitive verbs throughout the slav World. In Russian it is sja and in Czech it is se. It is no big deal.
Semsem 16 | 26
31 Jan 2010 #23
Alright, so a question or two...

Nominative –
Genitive się/siebie
Dative sobie
Accusative się/siebie
Instrumental sobą
Locative sobie
Vocative –

When would one use the locative? If the verb is in the locative?

And when would you use "sam"?

And would it be right to say "uczyłem się" for "I taught myself"?
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,595
31 Jan 2010 #24
When would one use the locative? If the verb is in the locative?

Most common situation is after prepositions that govern the locative case.
- Nie myśl tylko o sobie (don't think only about yourself).

And would it be right to say "uczyłem się" for "I taught myself"?

uczyłem się (past tense, imperfective aspect) is more like I was teaching myself or I was studying.
nauczyłem się (past tense, perfective aspect) means more like I taught myself or I learned.

It takes some time to understand the differences between the perf. and imperf. aspects.

And when would you use "sam"?

It means alone or the same. It's declined by gender and case, like an adjective, also when it means 'the same'.

And when would you use "sam"?

Aha.. now I understand what you mean.

Sam = himself
Sama = herself
Michal - | 1,865
1 Feb 2010 #25
SzwedwPolsce
it can also be translated as 'on your own'. Rób to sam-do it yourself, do it on your own ect
gumishu 11 | 5,017
1 Feb 2010 #26
It means alone or the same.

it only means the same in the constructions - ten sam, ta sama, to samo, taki sam, taka sama, takie samo (all of these of course get declined)

example: Dzisiaj na obiad podano to samo co wczoraj. They served the same thing for the lunch (dinner) as yesterday.
al111 13 | 89
1 Feb 2010 #27
so when do verbs like pić and jeść take on na[i][/i] at the beginning?
scottie1113 7 | 898
2 Feb 2010 #28
You should get a copy of 301 Polish verbs. There's a discussion of prefixes and their meanings on page xli. Reflexive verbs are common in Romance languages.

It also tells you which verbs take which cases. It's a really helpful book.
pol
24 Feb 2010 #29
It's "co się stało?" No need for another się at the end. You would use się because it happened by itself. I guess that's the best explanation I can think of.
Polish Tutor - | 80
24 Feb 2010 #30
Do not forget "się" means very often nothing. It just belongs to the verb form. We do not translate it. "uczyć się" means just to learn not "to teach myself". Do not mix meaning of a verb and its etymology. "Jak się masz" means just "How are you". Many other verbs work the same.

Home / Language / When do you use 'się'? And what does it mean?
BoldItalic [quote]
 
To post as Guest, enter a temporary username or login and post as a member.