"Co jesz?"

Translation:What are you eating?

December 17, 2015

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"Co niedźwiedź?"


??? What bear?? Please explain to those curious but uninitiated among us (especially me)!


My wife, native Polish speaker, said the same thing when she heard it. Jeż, pronounced the same, means hedgehog. So, she said when she was young and someone said "Co jesz?" ("What are you eating", which also sounds like "What hedgehog?"), they would answer "Co niedżwiedź?" ("What bear?") as joke.


While I like this joke, may I just mention that "What bear?" and "What hedgehog?" at least make sense in English, but the Polish sentences would need to be "Jaki niedźwiedź?" and "Jaki jeż?" to make sense in a real conversation (and not just this joke) ;)


"Co jesz jeż?""


When do I use "Co" vs "Czego"


"Co chciałbyś robić?"," Czego chciałbyś się napić? If my questions are written correctly, what makes one genitive and the other nominative?


They are correct. Different cases are needed by the verbs, "robić" takes Accusative, "napić się" takes Genitive (unlike just "pić" - I guess it's because "napić się" implies 'drinking some X' and not just 'drinking X').


Are co and jaki interchangeable?


No. Generally 'jaki' and its forms is like an 'adjectival what'. This is one of the hardest things to explain, but recently br0d4 finally thought of some explanation that makes sense in most cases.

So, if in English you just have a 'what' on its own, without any noun phrase, you are asking about the noun phrase. So you have "What is this?", "What do you want?" "What did you receive?" etc. - and you use "co" or its other form (as needed by cases, for example 'What do you want' is "Czego chcesz" as it needs Genitive).

If you have some noun phrase in the English phrase, you are asking about this noun phrase's 'properties'. And this is 'jaki' and its grammatical forms. So: "What colour do you like?", "What is your question?", "What people are they?" etc. use forms of "jaki".


"co" sounds like English "so." Am I hearing this correctly?


For English, that's rather "tso".


Dlaczego jesz mięso means why do you eat meat, does co jesz also mean what do you eat, vs what are you eating? I read about chodzisz vs idziesz being routine vs present active. Like chodzę do szkoły being i go to school (i attend school) and idę do szkoły being i am going to school (now). Is there something like that with jem?


There can be, but you are safe with just using the basic form.

"idę"/"chodzę" are verbs of motion. Those definitely need to show a difference of the aspect, which more or less fits the Present Continuous/Present Simple distinction.

"to eat" is not a verb of motion. But some Polish verbs have what we call a 'habitual' counterpart which only works for Present Simple. Those aren't obligatory and are (at least currently) outside the scope of this course, the basic verb is usually used for both Present Simple and Present Continuous. But for "jeść", the habitual counterpart is "jadać". That would mean that "What do you eat?" could potentially be translated not only as "Co jesz?" but also as "Co jadasz?".

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