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Lekcja siódma

Temat: Polskie głoski nosowe. Czas. Przymiotniki – cd.

Lesson seven. Subject: The nasal Polish sounds. Time. Adjectives – continued.

Klucz do ćwiczeń z lekcji poprzedniej

(Key to exercises from the previous lesson)

Correct plural forms are:

Forms of the adjectives (for the rules see below):

The numeral one (for forms 1–4 see below): jeden autobus, jedna bluzka, jeden diabeł, jedno drzewo, jedna głowa, jedna kocica, jedna mysz, jeden paw, jedno przedszkole, jeden rak, jedno słońce.

Words hidden in the diagram: adidas, bat, bicz, bluzka, but, czapka, dywan, gaza, kij, klucz, kosz, lampa, łata, łóżko, mata, miś, pałka, podłoga, pokój, spodnie, spódnica, stolik, stół, sufit, suknia, szafka, szal, ściana, ul, wanna, waza, winda. Note that the vertical sequence KOSZAL in contains two words: kosz and szal.

You should continue only if you have done all the exercises well.

Pozostałe głoski polskie (The remaining Polish sounds)

Co oznaczają ą, ę? (What do ą, ę mean?)

Shortly speaking: they are sequences, each of two sounds. The first sound is o, e respectively, the second is a nasal sound. Notice that ą marks o + NASAL, not a + NASAL! In some books you can read that ą, ę are “nasal vowels” – you’d better forget it! French has true nasal vowels – and Poles have troubles when learning French because no nasal vowels are present in Polish. The ą, ę are diphthongs, not simple vowels. Even if the first part, the vowel o, e, may have some nasality, it is not obligatory feature and you can pronounce true Polish o, e as the first part of ą, ę. The pronunciation of the ę (but not ą) without the second, nasal part (ie. as e) is possible in the final position – you have already known it.

What does NASAL mean? It depends on the sound that follows it.

before read ą as read ę as
p, b [om] [em]
t, d, c, dz [on] [en]
cz, dż [on]1 [en]1
ć, dź [oń] [eń]
k, g [oŋ]2 [eŋ]2
f, w, s, z, sz, rz, ż, ś, ź, ch, h [o~]3 [e~]3
ł, l [o]4 [e]4
word-finally [o~] [e] or [e~]5

1. Before alveolar cz, dż we have a special, alveolar variety of n in fact. I will not mark it in any way because the difference between the common, dental n and the alveolar one is slight and unimportant.

2. Before velar k, g we have a velar nasal sound [ŋ]. You should see here a kind of n with the second leg long and tucked – if you cannot see it, the problem is in your out-of-date computer system. I will not use any such a special symbol any more so you will not have troubles with identification of this symbol. The sound [ŋ] is present in English and spelt ng (e.g. in long, singing). In Polish it can exist only before k, g. It is palatalized (soft) before soft k, g, e.g. węgiel ‘coal’.

3. The tilde [~] means a special nasal sound not present in any of more known European languages, see below.

4. Before l, ł the second, nasal element disappears, so we can read ą, ę as o, e in this position.

5. The second, nasal element can disappear in final ę (not ą!) or can be pronounced as [~]. In unformal speech the final ę is almost always pronounced as e, such a style of pronunciation is also more and more frequent in formal speech.

How to learn the special nasal sound [~]? Try to say the imaginary Polish word wonsy. Now say it not touching your teeth with your tongue. And finally, try to minimalize any move of your tongue during the pronouncing of the n – and your n will become a fully acceptable [~]. If you want to pronounce the [~] without a strange accent, round your lips when pronouncing it. You will get a kind of nasal ł – the basic variant of the sound – and you will say a real Polish word, wąsy ‘moustache’. In fact, the rounding can be very slight as well, especially in fast speech.

Can you remember the [j~] symbol for a variety of ń before a fricative (spirant)? We have called it nasal j. Paralelly, the [~] sound can be called nasal ł.

Examples for [om], [em]: dąb ‘oak-tree, Quercus’, sęp ‘vulture, Gyps’, trąba ‘trumpet; elephant’s trunk’, ząb ‘tooth’.

Examples for [on], [en]: ręce ‘hands, arms’, zwierzęta ‘animals’, sączek ‘filter, drain, tile’, rączka ‘little hand, pud; handle, helve’.

Examples for [oń], [eń]: pięć ‘five’, siądź ‘sit down!’, pędzić ‘to speed’, wziąć ‘to take’.

Examples for [oŋ], [eŋ]: ręka ‘hand, arm’, węgiel ‘coal’, mąka ‘flour’, miękki (usually read just [m′eŋk′i]) ‘soft’.

Examples for [o~], [e~]: ‘they are’, wąż ‘snake’, gęś ‘goose’, gąsior ‘gander, he-goose’, Strwiąż ‘name of a river’ (nice tong-twisting…).

Examples for [o], [e]: wziął [wźoł] ‘he took’, wzięli [wźeli] ‘they took’.

Asymilacje spółgłosek nosowych (Assimilations of nasal consonants)

As a rule, the consonants m, n, ń do not change before a sonorant, a stop or an affricate and they are pronounced just the samely like spelt, e.g.

I must lay emphasis espacially on the group nk – it is not pronounced like in English, ie. [ŋk]. For the contrast, the velar [ŋ] occurs in ę, ą, as described above, e.g. ręka [reŋka]. In loanwords however, the assimilation is possible and nk may be read [ŋk] or [nk] optionally. E.g. bank [bank], [baŋk]. In fact, this assimilation happens also in the native nk, but only in some parts of the land and rather not in the literary speech. You should try to avoid it.

Before spirants (f, w, s, z, sz, rz, ż, ch, h), assimilations are more frequent.

Niezgłoskotwórcze u (The u not forming a syllable)

In native words, the letter u marks a vowel even if it stands by another vowel, e.g. nauka ‘science; learning’ has three syllables, nauczyciel ‘teacher’ has four ([na-u-czy-ćel]), kontynuacja ‘continuation’ has five. But in loanwords it is possible to pronounce u like ł – and then the u does not form a syllable. E.g. auto [ałto] ‘car’. I will give the pronunciation in all such instances.

We can observe fluctuations in some (borrowed) words: dinozaur can be read both [dinozałr] or [dinozaur], but the plural dinozaury only as [dinozałry]. Even if reading of hydraulik ‘plumber’ as [hydrałlik] is recommended, in fact we can hear [hydraulik] everywhere. The same is in plural: hydraulicy [hydraulicy].

Polska wymowa – podsumowanie
(The Polish pronunciation – summary)

Because the Polish pronunciation is not the easiest, I have given you a great number of examples, rules and instructions. I believe that thanks to these extensive lessons you can speak Polish now even without a real contact with a native speaker or a Polish teacher. If you have been an attentive follower of my advices, if you have been exercising your tongue for a sufficiently long time, now you can read each Polish word correctly, and – what is the most important – intelligibly. My congratulations!

Liczba mnoga – ciąg dalszy (The plural number – continuation)

Zmiany w rdzeniu (Stem changes)

You have already known some stem changes that can happen when making the plural form of a substantive. They take place only if the singular form ends in zero (ie. if it has no ending). They are:

There is another change that can take place. If the stem contains ą, it sometimes changes into ę. Examples for the alternation ą : ę: dąb – dęby, wąż – węże, ząb – zęby.

You should however keep in mind that not all e, ó, ą change in plural forms. In fact, there are no rules for it – you should just remember all “irregular” plurals. Examples for no changes:

Liczba mnoga rzeczowników na (Plural of substantives in )

Most substantives of neuter gender that are ending in builds their plural with -ęta. They are mainly words naming young beings, e.g. cielę – cielęta, koźlę – koźlęta, kocię – kocięta, szczenię – szczenięta, kurczę – kurczęta, kaczę – kaczęta, dziewczę – dziewczęta, zwierzę – zwierzęta, źrebię – źrebięta (any problems with pronunciation of the initial źr- group?). Such substantives are usually more and more rarely used and they are being replaced by other forms. Only koźlę, zwierzę are still widely used, the diminutive form kaczątko is more frequent than just kaczę (there exist cielątko, koźlątko, … as well), (feminine) dziewczyna ‘girl’ is now considerably more frequent than (neuter) dziewczę, all the others have (masculine) synonyms ending in -ak: cielak, kociak, kurczak, źrebak, szczeniak (also psiak). On the other hand, there exists also one irregular masculine noun that belongs to this group: książę – książęta ‘prince’.

There are neuter substantives ending in that have not -ęta but rather -ona plural ending. As for now, remember: imię – imiona, ramię – ramiona. Check the meanings of them all!

Rzeczowniki nieregularne (Irregular substantives)

The substantive ręka has the irregular plural form ręce. The rule says that the ending should be -i after the stem-final -k, see mąka – mąki. For the inquiring ones: the form ręce is an example of old dual number. Now the dual number is not present in the language but some of its forms have survived and they are thought to be plurals (and they are used as plurals). Also irregular plurals oczy, uszy (of oko, ucho) were dual forms in the old language.

The substantive szansa has the irregular plural form szanse. There are also some masculine substantives ending in -ans that can have the ending -e in plural (beside the regular one -y), e.g. dyliżans – dyliżanse, dyliżansy ‘stage-coach’.

The substantive rok ‘year’ has no plural forms at all. They are replaced with the plural lata of lato ‘summer’. So, lata means a. ‘years’, b. ‘summers’.

The substantive tydzień ‘week’ has the irregular plural form tygodnie. This word is an old composition made of a pronoun and the substantive dzień. Both components are declinated.

Rzeczowniki używane tylko w liczbie mnogiej
Substantives used only in plural

There are some nouns that have not singular forms. The examples are drzwi ‘a door’ or ‘doors’, usta ‘mouth, mouths’.

Przymiotniki – ciąg dalszy (Adjectives – continuation)

In the masculine-personal plural form of adjectives some changes take places. They are similar to those in masculine-personal substantives. For your convenience, I have prepared a special table for you:

Singular Plural
masculine neuter feminine m-pers. nm-pers.
py, by,
fy, wy, my
pe, be,
fe, we, me
pa, ba,
fa, wa, ma
pi, bi,
fi, wi, mi
pe, be,
fe, we, me
ty, dy,
sty, zdy
te, de,
ste, zde
ta, da,
sta, zda
ci, dzi,
ści, ździ
te, de,
ste, zde
ny, sny, zny,
sy, zy
ne, sne, zne,
se, ze
na, sna, zna,
sa, za
ni, śni, źni,
si, zi
ne, sne, zne,
se, ze
ły, sły, zły łe, słe, złe ła, sła, zła li, śli, źli łe, słe, złe
chy che cha si che
ry re ra rzy re
ki, gi kie, gie ka, ga cy, dzy kie, gie
ci, dzi,
si, zi, ni,
pi, bi
fi, wi, mi
cie, dzie,
sie, zie, nie,
pie, bie,
fie, wie, mie
cia, dzia,
sia, zia, nia,
pia, bia,
fia, wia, mia
ci, dzi,
si, zi, ni,
pi, bi,
fi, wi, mi
cie, dzie,
sie, zie, nie,
pie, bie,
fie, wie, mie
li le la li le
cy, dzy, czy,
dży, ży, rzy
ce, dze, cze,
dże, że, rze
ca, dza, cza,
dża, ża, rza
cy, dzy, czy,
dży, ży, rzy
ce, dze, cze,
dże, że, rze
szy, ży sze, że sza, ża si, zi sze, że

Most adjectives ending in -ży have the masculine-personal plural form equal to masculine singular. The only exception is duży that goes after the last model, ie. duży – duże – duża – duzi – duże.

The masculine-personal plural form can join only the masculine-personal plural form of substantive (it can end in -owie, -i, -cy, -dzy, -rzy, -e, -a). So, even if a given substantive in plural denotes a man but it has not the masculine-personal form, the adjective must be in non-masculine-personal form. That is why we must say dobrzy Grześkowie but dobre Grześki. Note that ten – to – ta – ci – te ‘this, these’ is similar to a simple adjective. So, we will say ci dobrzy Grześkowie but te dobre Grześki.

Remember that only some substantives of the masculine gender join the masculine-personal form of adjectives in plural: all neuter and feminine as well as a part of masculine substantives join the non-masculine-personal form. E.g. silne ramię – silne ramiona, silna ręka – silne ręce, silny pies – silne psy but silny dziadek – silni dziadkowie.

Please make the following exercise now, giving the singular and plural forms after the examples:

Liczebniki: dwa, trzy, cztery (Numerals: two, three, four)

The numerals dwa, trzy, cztery join the plural form of the substantive that is counted (just like in English and many other known languages). They must be used in the proper form:

  masculine-personal non-masculine-personal
masculine neuter feminine
1 jeden Polak jeden koń jedno drzewo jedna Polka
2 dwaj Polacy dwa konie dwa drzewa dwie Polki
3 trzej Polacy trzy konie trzy drzewa trzy Polki
4 czterej Polacy cztery konie cztery drzewa cztery Polki

As you can see, there exist:

Here is some more examples:

Continue in the same way with baba, bank, baran, bat, bicz, bóbr, bóg, choinka, córka, czapka, dąb, dywan, dziadek, dziewczyna, fiołek, głowa, grosz, imię, kieł, koń, kot, król, kwiat, łóżko, mag, matka, miesiąc, morze, mysz, nietoperz, ogier, olsza, osioł, pan, piwo, ptak, ramię, sączek, słońce, stołek, suka, szansa, tułów, tydzień, ulica, wąż, wilk, ząb, zima, złoty, zwierzę, źrebak. Recall their meanings! You should practice the Polish grammar using many examples if you want to master the subject. The key is in the next lesson.

Of course you can also use an adjective in your exercises, e.g. this way:

Please continue in the same way with:

Check the meaning of szybki, wolny in the vocabulary frame.

Liczby, czas (Numbers, time)

Liczby (Numbers)
1 jeden pierwszy one eins un uno uno
2 dwa drugi two zwei deux due dos
3 trzy trzeci three drei trois tre tres
4 cztery czwarty four vier quatre quattro cuatro
5 pięć piąty five fünf cinq cinque cinco
6 sześć szósty six sechs six sei seis
7 siedem siódmy seven sieben sept sette siete
8 osiem ósmy eight acht huit otto ocho
9 dziewięć dziewiąty nine neun neuf nove nueve
10 dziesięć dziesiąty ten zehn dix dieci diez
100 sto setny hundred hundert cent cento cien
1000 tysiąc tysięczny thousand tausend mille mille mil
Pory roku (Seasons)
rok year Jahr an, année anno año
pora roku season Jahreszeit saison stagione estación
wiosna spring Frühling printemps primavera primavera
lato summer Sommer été estate verano
jesień autumn, fall Herbst automne autunno otoño
zima winter Winter hiver inverno invierno
Nazwy miesięcy (Names of months)
miesiąc month Monat mois mese mes
styczeń January Januar janvier gennaio enero
luty February Februar février febbraio febrero
marzec March März mars marzo marzo
kwiecień April April avril aprile abril
maj May Mai mai maggio mayo
czerwiec June Juni juin giugno junio
lipiec July Juli juillet luglio julio
sierpień August August août agosto agosto
wrzesień September September septembre settembre septiembre
październik October Oktober octobre ottobre octubre
listopad November November novembre novembre noviembre
grudzień December Dezember décembre dicembre diciembre
Dni tygodnia (Days of the week)
tydzień week Woche semaine settimana semana
dzień day Tag jour giorno día
noc night Nacht nuit notte noche
poniedziałek Monday Montag lundi lunedì lunes
wtorek Tuesday Dienstag mardi martedì martes
środa Wednesday Mittwoch mercredi mercoledì miércoles
czwartek Thursday Donnerstag jeudi giovedì jueves
piątek Friday Freitag vendredi venerdì viernes
sobota Saturday Samstag samedi sabato sábado
niedziela Sunday Sonntag dimanche domenica domingo

Notice that neither names of the months nor days are spelt with capitals in Polish. As you can also see, some Polish names of the days of the week comes from numbers while English and German as well as French, Italian and Spanish ones come from names of Germanic and Roman gods respectively. The Polish names of the months are a product of local, Slavic culture, and that is why they are not connected with occidental names of Latin origin. Because the names, that are of pure Polish descent, might be a real problem for you, my advice is that you would spend some time to master them. Try to give them at random! Your knowledge may be very important when you are talking in Polish with anybody in the future. Remember that the Polish who have not learnt any western language may not understand so called international names of the months or the days of the week.

Formy liczby mnogiej określeń czasu
(Plural forms of the time designations)
rok - lata wiosna - wiosny
pora roku - pory roku lato - lata
miesiąc - miesiące jesień - jesienie
    zima - zimy
styczeń - stycznie    
luty - lute tydzień - tygodnie
marzec - marce dzień - dni
kwiecień - kwietnie noc - noce
maj - maje    
czerwiec - czerwce poniedziałek - poniedziałki
lipiec - lipce wtorek - wtorki
sierpień - sierpnie środa - środy
wrzesień - wrześnie czwartek - czwartki
październik - październiki piątek - piątki
listopad - listopady sobota - soboty
grudzień - grudnie niedziela - niedziele

Czasowniki (Verbs)

When you search for a verb in a dictionary, you will find an infinitive form. Most Polish infinitive forms of verbs ends in . The form corresponds to the English verb with the preceding “to”, e.g. robić ‘to do’. To say in Polish “he / she is doing something” (3rd person singular of the Present Tense) you should just tear the final off. Examples:

There is a number of verbs that have -c rather than in the infinitive. There is also a number of verbs what do not obey the above rule. You must remember (unfortunately…) their forms of the 3rd person singular.

Find hidden words

Now an easier diagram. Find 12 Polish words which appear first in this lesson. The list of these words is given in the next lesson.


Have you reached your learning goals?

Please repeat the material until you are sure you can do all what you should.

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