"Napisała tylko jeden list."

Translation:She has written only one letter.

December 15, 2015

This discussion is locked.


How do we know it's "she" who wrote the letter and not "he"?


Because napisała is feminine. “He wrote” (he being any masculine noun) would be napisał and “it wrote” (subject of neuter grammatical gender) would be napisało.

On a side note, the sentence in some really odd contexts would actually translate to “it wrote only one letter” in English (eg. Książka. Napisała tylko jeden list. = “A book. It wrote only one letter.”, because a book is feminine in Polish) but I cannot come up with anything grammatically correct that makes it translate to “he wrote”.


Ah, so past tense does conjugate by gender unlike present tense. Thanks.


Yes. And it has actually pretty good reason – the past tense formed out of what earlier had been active past participles, which would decline just like adjectives. (And instead of he wrote it one had to say he he-who-wrote is, on napisał jest in Old Polish, or I he-who-wrote am, ja napisał jeśm in Old Polish. Those lost their old to be verb and also their adjectival flavour, but the inflection by gender remained. ;-))


So is it incorrect/uncommon to say "Ona napisała tylko jeden list" given that the information about gender is already there?


Definitely correct, uncommon... hard to say, just unnecessary.


Interesting... as far as I remember in Slovak (maybe in Czech too?) this old formula stayed.


He wrote only one letter = Napisał tylko jeden list


Can you also say she only wrote one letter or does it have to be translated as has written?


Your version works.


Why a letter is not accepted? It corrects me always to 1 letter


Well, "a" is not a numeral, they're technically different even if they say more or less the same thing. Actually, "only a letter" and "only one letter" are quite different, I'd say. "only a letter" seems to mean something "it was only a letter, not a book!"


so as in english one letter from a word has the same form as one letter that you send to a friend?


I am not sure what you mean... do you mean the word "letter" (A, B, C etc.) vs the word "letter" (written to a friend)?

The first one is "litera" in Polish.


ok, now I understand: only one letter means I wrote and sent only one letter; a letter means more likely how much I wrote and litera is the one character :D Thanks

Learn Polish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.