"Chcę napisać list."

Translation:I want to write a letter.

December 19, 2015

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Would this be correct? Chcę napisać list = I want to write a letter (and finish it) - Chcę pisać list = I want to write a letter (to occupy my time)/ I want to be writing a letter.


Yes, although the second one would be a rather unusual phrase to utter.


I may be incredibly dense, but I can't understand what would be the difference between the two.


Don't worry, the perfective/imperfective difference isn't easy for people who don't have this distinction in their native languages.

"Chcę napisać list" is expressing the will to write a letter and most logically you'd want to write a whole letter, not just half of it. To finish this action successfully.

"Chcę pisać list" focuses on the process, not the results, it suggests to me that maybe the letter will be so long I won't finish it in one sitting. Or it's "leave me alone, I just want to do some writing" (but still it's a bit strange if you specify it's a letter).


So, if I get this correctly, the shape of verbs as we have learnt them prior to this lesson were all imperfective because they did not focus on the completion of the exercise but rather the process in between the beginning and the end; while those are the perfective shapes now, which focus solely on the completion of the exercise described through these verbs? Just to make sure what I am learning hereby.

My textbook on the Czech language seems to confirm my understanding.


So far we've only had imperfective verbs because we only had Present Tense. It's literally impossible to use a perfective verb in the Present Tense (what can seem to a learner like using a perfective verb in the Present Tense is actually Future Simple).

So I guess Czech is probably the same in this matter.


When would you use "się" with "chcę"? Can I say "Chcę się napisać list"?


"Chce mi się napisać list." could work (third person verb + dative pronoun).

The meaning is similar, but more like "I'm in the mood for writing a letter".


But what would be the function of “się” in this exemplary sentence? You described it as expressing a mood to write a letter someone, but is this mood expressed through the reflexive pronoun “się”? I know that reflexive verbs are taught in a separate lesson hereunder, but as the topic was already introduced in this thread...


There are some reflexive verbs for which there isn't exactly any logic to their reflexiveness - they just are. It's hard for me to decide whether there is logic here or not, but that construction is a bit colloquial and works kinda like "I wanna/I don't wanna". Its most common usage is simple "Nie chce mi się" (I don't wanna, I don't feel like it, I'm too lazy for it), then I'd say that there's mostly "Chce mi się pić" (I feel like drinking = I'm thirsty; doesn't imply alcohol in case you wanted to ask :D). Oh, and "Chce mi się spać" (I feel like sleeping = I am sleepy).


I thought that there was some sort of emphasis in the application of the reflexive pronoun. On the other hand, I am also confused about the choice of the third-person singular verb in combination with the dative pronoun. I only recall such constructions from verbs like “(to) rain”/“pleuvoir” or “(to) take place”/“avoir lieu”, which only work in the third-person singular. Regarding your examples, this does sound like a colloquial construction, although I indeed do not even see a purpose in the reflexive pronoun's presence, unless chcieć required it.

As for the drinking, I think I would have asked for the purpose of getting to know whether Polish had a verb that was comparable to the German “sich betrinken”, i.e. to drink with the intent of getting drunk; or simply a verb for drinking that implies the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Is there such a verb? I mean, for a people that are known for their propensity of drinking... :D


In English there is such a thing as an 'expletive subject of an impersonal verb', for example:

It is five o'clock. It seems that I...

The examples you mentioned apply here as well. The 'it' doesn't really refer to anyting specific, it's just a dummy pronoun, which is part of an impersonal construction.

In German, there are also impersonal constructions, even in combination with the dative or a reflexive pronoun.

Es geht mir nicht ums Geld. Es handelt sich dabei um eine Vorsichtsmaßnahme.

In Polish, instead of using 'ono', the impersonal construction is formed by combining the third person singular verb (where 'ono' is technically implied) with the reflexive pronoun. Common examples are:

Udało nam się. Wydaje ci się. Marzy mu się.


Upijać się (perfective: upić się) - sich betrinken.

chlać - saufen

Nachlać się (perfective) - sich besaufen, sich volllaufen lassen.


@alik1989 Thanks a lot! Thanks a lot for the profound explanation, this does make sense! But again, Polish seems to simply avoid the usage of the apparent pronoun as it is technically disposable, unless various parties are involved in a context, thus need to be separated through their addressing.

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