"Piję mleko, podczas gdy on pije wino."

Translation:I drink milk, while he drinks wine.

December 23, 2015

This discussion is locked.


I drink milk, while he is drinking wine, am I making the same mistake as above


I agree with alik1989 and Jellei. We may be able to get away with this sort of construction in English, but they are correct in that it represents a mixing of tenses.

"I am drinking milk" - is something that is occurring right now.

"He drinks wine" - is something that he does regularly, but this statement does not contain any information about what he is doing right now.

So combining the two time frames: "right now" and "regularly" (or "customarily") in parallel (or paired) sentence clauses is confusing and ungrammatical, even in English. We do hear it often, because we tend to be sloppy when we are speaking our own language, but that doesn't make it right.


I am a native English speaker and that is how I translated it as well. it sounds perfectly normal to me.


It's grammatically correct. It's just not the same as the sentence here.

I drink milk while he is drinking wine -> When he drinks wine, I drink milk

I drink milk whereas he drinks wine -> He regularly drinks wine, but I regularly drink milk


Funny I thought English was more restrictive than Polish in tense coordination.


I'm making it too, although after reading the comments above I have no idea why is this a mistake?


It is a mistake because the sentence is describing a contrast (what I am doing versus what he is doing) through the use of parallel clauses, joined by a conjunction. In order to make the contrast clear and understandable, the sentence is built up from two matching statements, one about "me" and one about "him." The meaning of the contrast is made clear by the fact that the two statements match in every way, except for the critical detail that constitutes the contrast between "me" and "him." If the two parts are not parallel, then the contrast is less clear, and the meaning of the statement is garbled to some extent.

"I am drinking milk" is an action "I" am doing right now, in this moment. "He drinks wine" is a statement about what "he" does customarily, or from time to time, but it does not say anything about what he is doing right now, in this moment. So the two halves of the attempted contrast are making use of different time frames, and thus they do not match. The grammar of the contrasting statements is spoiled, which clouds the message that the sentence is intended to convey.

The statement in Polish does not contain these mixed, or non-parallel, time frames, so an English translation of it should not contain mixed time frames either, if it is intended to accurately reflect what the Polish sentence says.

To put the two halves of the example sentence into parallel (matching) time frames, the same form of "to drink" must be used in both of them. So it is not "I am drinking" and "he drinks," nor is it "I drink" and "he is drinking."

It is either:

"I am drinking"


"he is drinking,"

or else it is

"I drink"


"he drinks."


In contrast to your argument that WHILE requires parallel construction, and in support of the many of us native English speakers who are having difficulty with this particular exercise:

"We often prefer while to when to describe the longer action of two events or to talk about two longer actions that go on simultaneously:

Dora left a message on the voice mail while I was asleep in the chair. While I was writing my Christmas cards, the children were decorating the tree. I cooked the supper while Jenny did the ironing. Note from the above examples that while a progressive tense is normally used to describe the longer action associated with a while time clause, simple tenses are also possible."

To emphasize the most relevant part since I can't put it in bold: PROGRESSIVE TENSE IS NORMALLY USED TO DESCRIBE THE LONGER ACTION WITH A WHILE TIME CLAUSE.



That works very well for the past tense, but I've never seen this rule being applied in the present tense.

Even if it works... In this sentence, two people are performing the same action at the same time. Specifically defining which action is longer and which is shorter and emphasising it, is a very arbitrary interpretation of the Polish sentence.


Only one of your examples mixes the tenses: the first one indicates a short action during a longer action, both in the past, and it is fine. However, the second example is all in progressive tense and the third one is all in the simple past. So you do observe the rule you are trying to object.


I think as common casual usage it is fine. I would say it's a stylistic choice because using the same tense in both phrases can feel almost robotic in spoken language. Mixing the tenses up makes it almost nicer to say, sort of more natural i guess?! Simple present doesn't always refer to a habitual action either. I don't see a problem with mixing tenses here, especially since Polish can't specify which one to use, so both are acceptable translations. Language isn't always just grammar, although of course it is fun to argue about it :D


why is this wrong? "I am drinking milk while he drinks wine"


I don't think that such a mixture of tenses makes sense here.


Actually in English it makes perfect sense. Not sure how to explain it. Hmm - I'm going to be drinking milk (continuous action) until he stops drinking wine might be the best I can do to show why mixing cases can be valid here.


I agree with Jan, this makes perfect sense in English, and it was the answer that I put as well.


Same here, this makes sense to me


I was curious to hear an explanation, but then you explained something completely different. The proposed mixture doesn't make sense to me either.


Let's try expanding the sentence. I'm sitting over here drinking milk while he sits in the corner, alone, and drinks wine trying to forget his former lover.


MarkKulka wrote a very nice explanation, it'll be great if you read it.


"Podczas" would be "under the time", or better "during the time". Right?


Well... literally yes (at least "during the time"), but would you really say that in English as a natural sentence?


It wouldn't be impossible, but it would be unusual. I wouldn't suggest that you add this a valid answer; I just like to make such etymological analyses as an aid to remembering things.


Same here! Very interesting


I am drinking milk while he drinks wine is wrong because why? As a native English speaker this is perfectly acceptable in English.


We discussed it and decided that the contexts in which such a mix of tenses would be acceptable are rather too much of a stretch.


Is it also correct to write: "Piję mleko, gdy on pije wino"?

  • 2797

Good question. :D

I would shyly go for yes, but without context it may mean also:

  • 'I am drinking milk every time he drinks wine' or
  • 'I drink milk as soon as he drinks wine'

So use rather the given phrase 'podczas gdy'


This sentence limits the meaning to a condition. “Podczas gdy” allows both habitual or at the moment drinking in Polish. The habitual drinking does not require the actions to be simultaneous, but the progressive one does. Another way to put the habitual action in Polish would be “Ja pijam mleko podczas gdy on pija wino.” You cannot mix the two tenses in Polish and I don’t believe you should in English.


is gdy always attached to podczas?


No. It may be also equivalent to "kiedy", but it cannot be used as a question word.


i don't understand what you mean in this answer. gdy is used in this sentence with podczas. so how do I know whether to use gdy with podczas?


"podczas" itself means "during", but then it needs some noun phrase. Like "podczas koncertu" = "during the concert".

"podczas gdy" means "while", as you can see in this sentence. You couldn't just use "podczas" because there isn't any noun phrase following.

"gdy" itself means "when". Just as "kiedy". The difference between them is that only "kiedy" can be used to create a question, and "gdy" cannot.


thanks that is much clearer


I still don't understand why "I'm drinking milk, while he drinks wine" is wrong. "I'm drinking" has been an accepted translation all along. Does the Polish somehow imply "I drink milk habitually whenever he drinks wine"? That seems like a weird sentence.


I drink milk, whereas he drinks wine. "Whereas" hear means: however/but/in contrast to. Doesnt podczas gdy mean "while"? Which also makes sense, but has a different meaning.


"podczas gdy" can have both of those meanings.


Hello. Well, it's taken me a long time to read through and digest all these comments...

My answer was "I drink milk when he is drinking wine." I was really confused when the answer was reported by Duolingo to be "I drink milk whereas he drinks wine." Hence spending so much time reading the comments.

As a British English speaker with a masters in English and Philosophy I do use the word whereas, but I would never use it in this situation. I suspect that the usage of the word whereas differs in some other English speaking countries, particularly in the US. To me this seems part of the root of the problem.

It appears that Jellei added the "whereas" answer eight months ago in response to a question from Wilczyca4. In my opinion this was not a wise addition.

I'd be interested to see what other translations are accepted. It appears that they are: - "I drink milk, however he drinks wine." - "I drink milk, while he drinks wine." - "I am drinking milk, however he is drinking wine." - "I am drinking milk, while he is drinking wine."

Actually in the light of these options (if my guesses are correct) the translation with whereas seems ok, although not intuitive for British English speakers.

Generally I'm very sympathetic to all those, like me, who translated this in a way not acceptable to the Duolingo algorithm. I don't think this translates very well into English.

Of course that's the beauty of other languages: they express things in other ways, and we become different people, different thinkers, when we use other languages to express ourselves.

We learn from our errors, and from discovering some of the limits in Duolingo, co nie?


The accepted answers are:

I am drinking [the/] milk, [while/when/whilst/whereas] he is drinking [the/] wine.

I drink [the/] milk, [while/when/whilst/whereas] he drinks [the/] wine.

We don't mix the tenses in both clauses, as that would give rise to interpretations which are not present in the Polish sentence.


Piję mleko i on pije wino would have the same meaning, right?


A. I meant a instead of i


More or less the same, but this one can actually literally mean "while" = "during".


The gdy is really needed?


Here, yes. On its own, "podczas" would require a noun phrase - either something like "a concert", or quite probably some gerund.


I drink milk while he is drinking wine. Would this not work?


No, it would not. See the discussion above.


As he is drinking wine?


“I am drinking milk as he is drinking wine” would be fine.


"I drink milk, meanwhile he drinks wine" ?


You can also use'while' in english to mark a contrast. Eg' i am drinking milk, while he drinks wine' can mean that the reason he is not also drinking milk, like me, us that wine is his habitually preferred drink. I apreciate that theres an entire mis en scene here. However, there's no problem with the combination of tenses. While, in this sense, is a bit like 'however.'


Would the sentence also work without "gdy"? What is the difference between "podczas" and "podczas gdy"?


To copy and paste an earlier answer by Jellei, from further up the page:


"podczas" itself means "during", but then it needs some noun phrase. Like "podczas koncertu" = "during the concert".

"podczas gdy" means "while", as you can see in this sentence. You couldn't just use "podczas" because there isn't any noun phrase following.

"gdy" itself means "when". Just as "kiedy". The difference between them is that only "kiedy" can be used to create a question, and "gdy" cannot.



isn't 'podczas' also equal to 'whereas'? i used this and it came back wrong. "i drink milk whereas he drinks wine."


"Podczas", to me, has the definite sense of "at the same time" (there's a hint in the word "czas" in there).

"Whereas" doesn't have to be at the same time: "I read science fiction at home whereas I read novels when I'm on a plane".


if you tap on 'podczas gdy' it also translates to 'whereas'.


Hmmm. I'll check in the back room :-)


The back room says that it's fine ;)


"I drink milk, whereas he drinks wine" was not accepted. I don't think this falls under the same issue of mixed tenses. Can this be added as an acceptable answer?


For "whereas" is it always podczas gdy?


Not always. We also accept "a" - for which the main translation is "and", but "whereas" is good in showing the real meaning of "a". Another accepted translation here is "natomiast".


In cases like this where a verb's 1st person and 3rd person singular forms are pronounced identically, are native speakers more likely to add a subject pronoun to clarify, or is understanding left to context?


I think the context will rarely leave it as ambiguous, usually it will really be obvious.

On the other hand, in a sentence exactly like this one, where the subject changes in the second clause, the second subject pronoun is a must.


I didn't try this because I don't have the opportunity, but "podczas gdy" means whereas? Would "natomiast" work here too and would the case be the same?


Yes, "podczas gdy" means "whereas" or "while". "natomiast" is also accepted.

We're not talking about cases here really, because the sentence is built as "[first clause], [conjunction] [second clause]". The second clause could easily be a sentence on its own.


Can this not be translated as 'whereas'?


Yes, it can... The full list of accepted answers is given up the page a bit, here: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/12486135?comment_id=46755115

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