Useful Polish phrases

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Unlike English, Polish is pronounced phonetically. Once you understand where to break the word, and that the second-to-last syllable is always stressed, you'll do okay by keeping the following in mind. One note: if the word looks nothing like it sounds, put it down to some uniquely Polish characters not included here. The Polish alphabet does have its own surprises. If confused, just look it up in a good dictionary.

Start with something simple:

  • Yes: Tak (as in tick-'tack')
  • No: Nie (as in 'nyeh'-nyeh-na-na-na)
  • OK: Dobrze ('dough' plus a 'b' then 'she')

Excuse me: Przepraszam (difficult to pronounce because it includes that oh-so-not-English combo - 'p' merges into 'shey' followed by 'pra' and 'shem')

  • What: Co (often used like an English 'what??' and pronounced 'tso')
  • Where: Gdzie ( 'guh' and 'jay')
  • When: Kiedy ( 'key yeh dey')
  • Who: Kto ( 'k' and 'toe')
  • Why: Dlaczego ('dlah' and 'che' and 'go')
  • How: Jak ('yak'')

Poles are big on greetings. Remember how to say 'good day'. You can even say it at night - it has such universality here.

  • Good day: Dzien dobry ('jean' and 'dough' plus 'bree' like the cheese)
  • Hi: Czesc (use this one on friends only: 'che sh ch' but run it all together as one sound)
  • Bye: Czesc (works like 'aloha' or 'ciao' or 'salut', making informal comings and goings easy)
  • Good bye: Do widzenia ('dough' and 'wid zen ya' comes close enough)
  • I don't speak Polish: Nie mowie po polsku ('nie' as above, 'moovie' then 'po' as in really poor, and 'pole sku')
  • I speak English: Mowie po angielsku ('moovie' 'po' angielsku)
  • I don't understand: Nie rozumiem ( 'nie' we know by now and 'row zoo me m' works for the operative word)
  • Help me please: Prosze mi pomoc (for those unexpected tourist emergencies - note the 'prosze' making yet another appearance, 'mi' is just like 'me' in English in sound and meaning and the 'po moats' functions as the HELP signal)
  • Please write that down: Prosze to napisac (when you 'nie rozumiem' but want to, stumble out 'prosze' as above then 'toe' which means it, and end with 'nah pee sach' which means write)

Polish is a Slavic language spoken primarily in Poland and the native language of the Poles. It belongs to the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages. Polish is the official language of Poland. It is one of the official languages of the European Union. Its written standard is the Polish alphabet, which has 9 additions to the letters of the basic Latin script (ą, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, ś, ź, ż). Polish is closely related to Kashubian, Lower Sorbian, Upper Sorbian, Czech and Slovak.
Although the Austrian, German and Russian administrations exerted much pressure on the Polish nation (during the 19th and early 20th centuries) following the Partitions of Poland, which resulted in attempts to suppress the Polish language, a rich literature has regardless developed over the centuries and the language currently has the largest number of speakers of the West Slavic group.