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Odd sentence structure with "Pokazać"

[deactivated user]

    Hi there, first post!

    I was just wondering about the translation of sentences in the Polish language tree using the verb pokazać. I've notice much more often than not that that the English translations of these phrases seem strangely worded, vague, or just incomplete.

    E.g. Pokazuje(sz/cie) zieloną książkę - You are showing (the/a) green book. (Gramatically correct, but very odd as a standalone question.)

    Pokazuję telefon - I am showing the telephone, (but to an empty room, or maybe at a corporate event.)

    I'm noticing that Polish doesn't seem to require a lot of information past this, but the English needs to show to whom the item is being shown, and in some cases this can cause confusion where the declensions in Polish come into effect, particularly where people/animals are concerned.

    Pokazuję kota - "I'm showing (something to) the cat" vs "I'm showing the cat (to someone)" vs "I'm showing the cat (at a cat show.)"

    All in all, many of the English translations using pokazać seem odd, and it would be nice to see some changes in the structure surrounding the sentences, perhaps by adding more information to them overall.

    If someone could shed some light onto a grammatical point I'm missing, or maybe it's simply a problem with the translation of the verb itself (display, unvail?) If this is the case, could the main translations show the change in the meaning for clarity? Sorry if I'm missing something obvious or if this has been noted before!

    Much love. Please forgive any mistakes or overthinking I've made or done. It's 11pm and I'm a little tired. ;D

    January 18, 2016


    • 2583

    The sentences you're quoting are perfectly natural in Polish. The problem is in the translation. Unlike “to show”, “pokazywać” does not require an object. We could translate it as “display” or “unvail”, but semantically they're not as close to “pokazywać” as “to show”. I'll look into this issue more closely, maybe there's a better way to translate it.

    Russian has the same problem with “показать”. As far as I know, they also translate it as “to show” without an object.


    I'm not a hundred percent sure, but I think it has more to do with the fact that dative case isn't introduced until 12 skills later (in Present 4), than that Polish uses the word differently. I tried looking around for some example sentences online, and it seems to me that it does frequently use a dative object as well (who you are showing something to), although not all of the time. In English, we also have words that express showing something, but not necessarily who you are showing it too, for example, "display" or "exhibit." "Show" can even be used like this in some cases, i.e. "Show your work," as our grade school math teachers always told us. But I digress...

    It is very late where I am, so I hope you will excuse my ramblings :) Good luck with your Polish studies!


    "Pokazać" or "pokazywać" doesn't need any information about whom you show something. THese sentences aren't odd at all for a Pole ;)


    Also, when showing something to the cat, you would say "Pokazuję kotu", where "kotu" is in Dative.

    [deactivated user]

      Of course! I was thinking that it might be using the Dative case, but I rarely see it outwith its use in pronouns so I'm not 100% sure on how the Polish deal with it day to day.

      It might actually be a good idea to add a lesson dedicated to the use of the Dative, as the concept is handled completely differently in English.

      An optional lesson for each of the cases with solid examples of their uses would be appreciated for new learners I think as well, as they're such a foreign and deep concept for English speakers (they certainly were for me.) Though that might be difficult to implement at this stage.

      I'm getting sidetracked here, thanks again for the tip. :3

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