Can someone explain 'to be', conjugations, and cases in Polish to me? I'm struggling with it all and I'm not sure if I want to do Polish right now.

December 23, 2015


I think you might want to be a bit specific - to be, conjugations and cases is a very wide net!

With the disclaimer that I'm less than two weeks into learning Polish myself;

To be, być, you don't need to always use the pronoun;

(ja) jestem
(ty) jesteś
(on/ona/ono) jest
(my) jesteśmy
(wy) jesteście
(oni/one) są

Where in Russian (and also Ukrainian as far as I remember), the noun predicate with "to be" (though we don't actually use the verb) is usually in the nominative in the present tense, in Polish it's usually in the instrumental, hence on jest chłopcem, ona jest kobietą. That's the case you'll see in the first lessons.

Also, Polish uses "to" in "to be" sentences, a little like one can use это in Russian (and I think це in Ukrainian?). In this case, the predicate is in the nominative. As I understand it, it's just as 'correct' as using być, technically, but using być is better/sounds more natural? On to chłowiek, ona to dziewczyna.

Conjugations are still doing my head in, so I'm of limited help there. Someone did write a post about it, though it's enough to make your eyes water 8-o Makes Russian and Ukrainian seem positively sensible, mind ;)

Cases I think are best dealt with one at a time, and probably aided by someone who knows more than me...

There are lots of cognates with Ukrainian (and Russian) as you go down the tree. Hang on in there! :D

Hopefully someone who's fluent/native will come by and correct me if I've got something wrong, but I stuck to simple things I think I've understood, so it's a start and hopefully I've been accurate and helpful crosses fingers

What does 'to' mean? I've seen it used a lot where 'is' would be used in English.

EDIT: I just found a discussion with a link to noun cases and I think I'll do Polish when I'm in college or something like that because I'm gonna need more help than just Duolingo discussions :)

Это and це are pretty good cognates for to, I think.

'to' is usually used as 'this'. For example. 'To jest' - 'this is' But it always depends on the context. It can also mean 'it'. Polish can be quite a hard language, but it's not impossible! All you need is practice. All the best on your language learning

I might try to resume Polish after Dutch and Russian, but by then there will be other courses out

"To" literally means "this" (or "it"):

To jest człowiek - This is a man. To jest książka - It is a book.

But often, "to" uses in places, where in English case, "is" must be. Such as:

Wilk to zwierzę - A wolf is an animal. Kapusta to warzywo - A cabbage is a vegetable.

But don't think, that "to" is "is" at all. "To" is a pronoun in Polish, and "is" is a verb in English. It is better to translate "is" as "jest", remembering, that sometimes (not always) it can be changed by the word "to".

A wolf is an animal - Wilk jest zwierzęciem. A cabbage is a vegetable - Kapusta jest warzywem.

In Ukrainian "to" is "це" and in Russian is "это". In Russian the word "is" (as the form of "to be" verb) usually not used.

A wolf is an animal - Волк это животное. You can say "Волк есть животное" it is a literally translation for "A wolf is an animal", but it sounds unnaturally. Also may be "Волк является животным", but it sounds very official.

In Ukrainian: both translations for "A wolf is an animal" - "Вовк це тварина" or "Вовк є твариною" sounds quite normal.

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