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Present Tense - Introduction

Present Tense in the Polish language is quite tricky. There are 4 groups of endings and you have to learn by heart which group of endings to use with a given verb.

The verb

All verbs in Polish end with -ść, or –c (but ending with -ść, or -c doesn’t necessarily guarantee the word is a verb).

Examples of Polish verbs:

Polish verb English translation
pisać to write
mówić to speak
spać to sleep
iść to go
móc be able, can
myśleć to think
śpiewać to sing
pływać to swim
pracować to work
siedzieć to sit

Most of the verbs in the Polish language come in aspect pairs: imperfective – perfective. Imperfective verbs describe continuous, on-going activity. Perfective verbs describe completed activity. In the Polish language in Present Tense you can only use imperfective verbs.

Examples of verb pairs:

imperfective verb perfective verb
pisać – to be writing napisać – to have written
czytać – to be reading przeczytać – to have read
kupować – to be buying kupić – to have bought
robić – to be doing zrobić – to have done
budować – to be building zbudować – to be built

Structure of affirmative sentence in Present Tense

To build an affirmative sentence in the Polish language firstly you must put the verb in correct, conjugated form, then put the rest of the sentence. As opposed to English, in Polish the personal pronoun (I, You, He…) is not required on the beginning of the sentence. The subject of the topic is deduced from the ending of the verb.

Example

Czytam książkę. – I’m reading a book.

Czytasz książkę. – You’re reading a book.

If the person or object we are talking about is not obvious, then we put them on the beginning of the sentence, so that the person, who listens to us knows, who/what we are talking about. It is required only in the first sentence. Example:

Example

Ania idzie do sklepu. Chce kupić chleb

Ania goes to a store. She wants to buy some bread.

As you can see, in the first sentence we use the word Ania to communicate who we are talking about, but in the second sentence it is redundant. If you use the subject in the second sentence too, then it will sound very unnaturally for a Polish speaker.

To describe how, where or when the activity is being done we use adverbs. In the Polish language the adverb usually stands before the verb.

Example

Ania bardzo szybko czyta.

Ania is reading really fast.

Examples of sentences in Present Tense:

Sentence in Polish English translation
Piszę książkę. I’m writing a book.
Mówisz zaszybko. You speak too fast.
Śpimy w namiocie. We sleep in a tent.
Dzieci idą do szkoły. Children go to school
Mogę zrobić to szybciej. I can do it faster.
Codziennie myślimy o tobie. We think about you every day.
Ładnie śpiewasz. You sing good.
Pływacie w zakazanym miejscu. You are swimming in a forbidden place.
Moja mama pracuje w szkole. My mother works at school.
Siedzę na kanapie. I’m sitting on a couch.

Continuity – Present Simple vs. Present Continuous (-ing)

In English we can express present activity using Present Simple or Present Continuous tenses depending on what we want to say. In Polish we don’t have such distinction. We use the same verb form for both cases.

Example

Dużo pływam. – I swim a lot.

Pływam w basenie. – I’m swimming in a pool.

"się" – reflexive verbs

In the Polish language we have reflexive verbs (in English they are expressed by the usage of the reflexive pronouns “myself”, “himself” etc). In the English language we have to use different reflexive pronouns depending on the subject of the sentence. In the Polish language reflexive verbs have only one form of the reflexive pronoun – się. The pronoun się usually stands after the verb.

Example

Myję się. – I’m washing myself.

Myjemy się. – We’re washing ourself.

There are verbs, which are reflexive in Polish and not in English.

Example

Uczę się na egzamin. – I’m learning for the exam.

Auxiliary Verbs

The English language very often uses auxiliary verbs to express something. For example:

I am writing.

The verb to be in the sentence above has no direct meaning. It is only a grammar construction. In Polish Present Tense we don’t use auxiliary verbs.

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