How do we distinguish between "Who drinks coffee? (on a regular basis)" and "Who is drinking coffee? (right now)"
Generally by context, since Polish doesn't really have that distinction, but for verbs that have iterative form of imperfect aspect you can use it to carry similar/same meaning:
"Who drinks coffee? (on a regular basis)" = Kto pija kawę?
"Who is drinking coffee? (right now)" = Kto pije kawę?
Although that use is considered dated/archaic in certain dialects now.
thx, edited. Goes to show even native speakers have problems with e vs. ę in word-final position. :P
Can this be used to ask 'how many are drinking coffee?' like in English? Or would you use 3rd-person-plural 'piją'?
If you mean a situation where you are making coffee and you ask a group of people(possibly your guests) how many of them wants a coffee too, then in a colloquial way, yes, but "Kto chce kawę?"(who wants coffee?) would be generally better in Polish(at least imho).
Dziękuję! Yes, that's what I was trying to say. And I think you also indirectly answered my second question as well; that 'kto...' questions are asked in 3rd-person-singular (i.e. not 'kto chcesz/chcecie/chcą kawę?').
Yes, "kto" always uses 3rd-person-singular masculine forms for verbs, adjectives and so on, so:
- Kto jest zielony? (Who is green?)
- Kto gra na pianinie? (Who is playing the piano?)
- Kto chce zostać strażakiem? (Who wants to be a firefighter?[literally: Who wants to become a firefighter] )
And so on and so forth - in that respect Polish is just like English, where "who" uses the 3rd person singular conjugation too.
If I say "Who does drink coffee?" then why would that be wrong? Your comments are corrections are welcome please.
I'm not an English native speaker but it seems to me that correct question would sound "Who drinks coffee?".
Thanks my friend... Actually Who does drink coffee? is not incorrect but carries a different sense... it is like someone is doubfut if anyone drinks coffee so it seems like the emphasis is on the word "Does". Thanks a lot and I had realized that in the beginning but still I was wondering if sense is not being understood by me.
If you have ever watched the French movie "RRRrrrr!!!", the Polish-dubbing version names one of the characters (a girl from another prehistoric tribe) exactly "Kto", meaning "Who". And absolutely no one in the tribe of main characters can pronounce it correctly, which is surprisingly hilarious :D