https://www.duolingo.com/vytah

Verbs – present tense and imperative

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Note: For your convenience, I will mark all imperfective verbs with I and perfective with P. I consider być to be neither.

There might be mistakes. As usual, yell at me if something is wrong/missing/unclear.

Before the course team figures out how to explain this in a better way and writes down the course notes, let me have a jab at it.

The present tense of imperfective verbs and the future simple tense of perfective verbs are formed the same way. From now on, when I say "present tense", I'll mean "present tense of imperfective verbs and future simple tense of perfective verbs". I don't want to repeat myself too much.

Let's start with the irregular present tense of być (be), since it's totally unrelated to anything else:

ja jestem
ty jesteś
on jest
my jesteśmy
wy jesteście
oni są

Now, since we have that out of our minds, let's focus on the normal verb conjugation. Some general rules for starters:

  • if a base verb has a conjugation, then almost always the prefixed verb has the same conjugation, with the same exceptions

  • there are up to two stems in the present tense: one is used to form 1st person singular and 3rd person plural, the other is used for the rest

  • you can always form from the 3rd person singular: 2nd person singular (add -sz), 1st person plural (add my), 2nd person plural (add cie) (no exceptions)

  • from 1st person singular you can form the 3rd person plural by replacing with and -m with -ją (there are few exceptions)

M conjugation

This is the simplest conjugation, named after -m ending in 1st person singular. Some people split it further into AM and EM, but there's no need. It has the following endings:

ja ––m
ty ––sz
on ––
my ––my
wy ––cie
oni ––ją

Examples:

  • czytać (read, I) → czytam, czytasz, czyta, czytamy, czytacie, czytają

  • umieć (know how to, I) → umiem, umiesz, umie, umiemy, umiecie, umieją

The stem doesn't change in those verbs. The 3rd person singular always ends in either -a or -e (although most verbs ending in -e in 3rd person singular are of E conjugation)

The exceptions are verbs dać (give, P), wiedzieć (know, I), jeść (eat, I), which have the third person plural in -dzą, not -ją

  • dać → dam, dasz, da, damy, dacie, dadzą

  • jeść → jem, jesz, je, jemy, jecie, jedzą

  • wiedzieć → wiem, wiesz, wie, wiemy, wiecie, wiedzą

E conjugation

Verbs in this conjugation have -e in third person singular and two different stems (marked here as –– and ==). The endings are:

ja ==ę
ty ––esz
on ––e
my ––emy
wy ––ecie
oni ==ą

Example:

  • pić (drink, I) → piję, pijesz, pije, pijemy, pijecie, piją

  • jechać (ride, I) → jadę, jedziesz, jedzie, jedziemy, jedziecie, jadą

Most verbs ending with -e in the third person singular are in E conjugation.

The stems used in first person singular and third person singular often have a consonant shift:

  • t → ć: plotę (I weave) → plecie (weaves)

  • d → dź: wiodę (I lead) → wiedzie (leads)

  • s → ś: niosę (I carry) → niesie (carries)

  • z → ź: wiozę (I transport) → wiezie (transports)

  • m → m(i): dmę (I blow) → dmie (blows)

  • n → ń: tnę (I cut) → tnie (cuts)

  • r → rz: biorę (I take) → bierze (takes)

  • w → w(i): zwę (I call) → zwie (calls)

  • g → ż: mogę (I can) → może ((it) can)

  • k → cz: piekę (I bake) → piecze (bakes)

If the consonant before the last stem vowel is soft, there is also a chance of a vowel shift:

  • o → e: niosę (I carry) → niesie (carries)

  • a → e: jadę (I ride) → jedzie (rides)

I conjugation

Verbs in this conjugation have -y or -i in third person singular and two different stems (marked here as –– and ==).

Some people split it further into Y and I conjugations, but they are for most purposes the same. The difference between them is whether you have to use -y or -i due to rules of phonotactics. You can read more about it here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/12262354

For -y, the endings are:

ja ==ę
ty ––ysz
on ––y
my ––ymy
wy ––ycie
oni ==ą

For -i, the endings are:

ja ==ę
ty ––isz
on ––i
my ––imy
wy ––icie
oni ==ą

Examples:

  • palić (smoke, I) → palę, palisz, pali, palimy, palicie, palą

  • liczyć (count, I) → liczę, liczysz, liczy, liczymy, liczycie, liczą

The stems used in first person singular and third person singular often have a consonant shift and the shifts are a bit different than in the E conjugation:

  • c → ć: płacę (I pay) → płaci (pays)

  • dz → dź: radzę (I advise) → radzi (advises)

  • sz → ś: wiszę (I hang) → wisi (hangs)

  • ż → ź: włażę (I barge in) → włazi (barges in)

  • żdż → źdź: jeżdżę (I ride) → jeździ (rides)

  • szcz → ść: poszczę (I fast) → pości (fasts)

Future tense of być

Verb być has a highly irregular present tense, but derived verbs (like przybyć (arrive, P)) do not use those forms. Instead, they use the following forms of the future tense of być:

będę, będziesz, będzie, będziemy, będziecie, będą

In fact, they behave like E conjugation verbs.

Guessing the present tense forms based on infinitive

TL;DR: It's hard.

I can only give you a few guidelines (I'll specify only forms for first and third person singular, since they unambiguously define all the other forms):

  • base verbs at least three syllables long ending in -ować have -uję/uje (be careful here! chować is two syllable long, but its derivatives are longer, and if you used this rule blindly, you'd end up with a very nasty-sounding word; correct: chować → chowam, chowa, zachować → zachowam, zachowa etc.)

  • base verbs at least three syllables long ending in -iwać/-ywać often (but not always) have -uję/uje

  • base verbs at least two syllables long ending in -awać often (but not always) have -aję/aje

  • the exceptions to the 3 rules above, and two-syllable verbs ending with -ować/-iwać/-ywać have -ć → -m/-

  • one-syllable verbs ending in -ić/-yć/-uć replace with -ję/-je (exception: być)

  • longer verbs ending in -ić or -yć drop the and get -ę/-i or -ę/-y respectively

  • verbs ending with -nąć have -nę/-nie

All the other verbs (ending in -ać/-eć/-ąć/-ść/-źć/-c) are more irregular. Just remember their forms when you first meet them.

Some easy examples of verbs that match the above rules:

  • budować (build, I) → buduję, budujesz, buduje, budujemy, budujecie, budują

  • dawać (give, I) → daję, dajesz, daje, dajemy, dajecie, dają

  • bywać (be from time to time, I) → bywam, bywasz, bywa, bywamy, bywacie, bywają

  • pić (drink, I) → piję, pijesz, pije, pijemy, pijecie, piją

  • golić (shave, I) → golę, golisz, goli, golimy, golicie, golą

  • kliknąć (click, P) → kliknę, klikniesz, kliknie, klikniemy, klikniecie, klikną

Imperative

In most examples below:

infinitive → third person singular or plural indicative → second person singular imperative

Second person plural imperative is always formed by adding -cie to singular: jedz! → jedzcie!

First person plural imperative is always formed by adding -my to singular: jedz! → jedzmy!

M conjugation

Remove from third person plural:

  • czytać → czytają → czytaj! (read, I)

  • jeść → jedzą → jedz! (eat, I)

E and I conjugation

Remove the vowel from third person singular:

  • palić → pali → pal! (smoke, I)

Remember correct spelling for soft consonants:

  • nieść → niesie → nieś! (carry, I)

If there's a hard to pronunce consonant cluster at the end, ending with a soft consonant, add -ij:

  • kraść → kradnie → kradnij! (steal, I)

If you haven't added -ij, and the last vowel of the stem is o or ę, change it into ó or ą respectively:

  • pomóc → pomoże → pomóż! (help, P)

  • być → będzie → bądź! (be)

Those vowel changes don't happen in all verbs though:

  • kosić → kosi → koś! (mow, I)

  • więzić → więzi → więź! (imprison, I)

Exceptions:

  • dać → dadzą → daj! (give, P)

  • dawać → daje → dawaj! (give, I), since daj! is already taken by dać

  • wziąć → weźmie → weź! (take, P)

  • rozumieć → rozumie → rozum!, M-verb behaving like an E-verb (note that rozum! is not actually used, but it's a base for forms of derived verbs, like porozumieć or zrozumieć)

December 12, 2015

5 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/silmeth

It probably would also be helpful to note, that in many of the above forms vowels also change because of a phenomenon called Lechitic (or Polish) Umlaut.

In short: /e/ may change to /o/ (wiezie vs wiozę) or /a/ (jedzie vs jadę) before any of those: /t, d, n, s, z, r ł/ (only hard, non-palatal version, so not before ć, ń, ś, ź, l… or ci, ni, si, zi, li, and not before anything else (like ch, g, k, f, m…)).

  • Proto-Slavic /e/ changed in Polish to /o/ before hard (ie. non-palatal) coronal consonant (ie. before /t, d, n, s, z, r, ł/). Hence: wieźć, wiezie vs wio, wio (Proto-Slavic *vesti, *vezetь, *ve, *vezǫtь).
  • Similarly Proto-Slavic /ě/ (which merged with /e/ later in Polish) changed to /a/ before hard (ie. non-palatal) coronal consonant. Hence: jechać, jedzie vs ja, ja (Proto-Slavic *jěxati, *jědetь, *jě, *jědǫtь).
December 12, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/CelioFM

Please, give some examples, in the same place (not bellow), even when it seems repetitive, when you say:

Guessing the present tense forms based on infinitive

(.........)

base verbs at least three syllables long ending in -iwać/-ywać often (but not always) have -uję/uje [HERE]

base verbs at least two syllables long ending in -awać often (but not always) have -aję/aje [HERE]

the exceptions to the 3 rules above, and two-syllable verbs ending with -ować/-iwać/-ywać have -ć → -m/- [HERE]

one-syllable verbs ending in -ić/-yć/-uć replace -ć with -ję/-je (exception: być) [HERE]

longer verbs ending in -ić or -yć drop the -ć and get -ę/-i or -ę/-y respectively [HERE]

verbs ending with -nąć have -nę/-nie [HERE]

May 30, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/alex_tv80

Thank you! Veru helpful post!

December 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/nathanjm

Could someone take me through the conjugation for 'brać'?

How do you get from 'brać' to 'biorę' and 'bierzesz'?

December 5, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Arnoldpitt

Thank you. It is a lot to absorb and in short there is no way of knowing which conjugation any verb is.

March 21, 2019
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