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  5. "Zwiedzam stare miasto."

"Zwiedzam stare miasto."

Translation:I am sightseeing in the old town.

January 25, 2016



Odwiedzić is the Polish word used commonly for 'to visit', as in: visiting family or friends. Zwiedzić apparently really means visiting in the sightseeing way, so I would say Duolingo has a point here


Yes, but the problem is, apparently English doesn't have this distinction, which is what is causing troubles for English native speakers since 'to sightsee'(which is the closest thing in English to "zwiedzać") is rarely used as a verb. ;-)

It would be easier in German(as far as I understand):

  • "zwiedzać" = besichtigen

  • "odwiedzać" = besuchen


Danke. Das macht Sinn. ;)


Is there an grammatical explanation of how adding the prepositions 'Od' and 'Z' as prefixes modifies the meaning of the root? I've also noticed other verbs with 'Przed' and 'Na' prefixes.


This was my thought as well. Wiedzać by itself can be translated as knowing. Z (with) as prefix - may help a native English speaker (like myself) think of zwiedzać as "with knowing" making the sightseeing an active experience. In the same way, Od (from, of, off, between, off, away) as a prefix may help us think of odwiedzać as "between knowing" or "away from knowing" making the visit a more passive instead of active action.

In any case, reading this whole thread of discussion, this is what makes sense in my head to help me keep them straight.

Still, in English one does not say I am sightseeing something. We go sightseeing to a place as in "I am going sightseeing around the old town."


Just in case you don't know or someone else doesn't know: "wiedzać" is not a word, "to know" = "wiedzieć". But if the rest of the logic helps you remember, that's great :)


Thank you! I just did a rough google translate of the original word and its parts and compared that info to this thread. It is good to confirm that I was suspicious of the translation google made. Thanks for clarifying.


they change the meaning of the verb. But there are no actual rules for exact meaning. You can sometimes guess , but sometimes meaning has changed so much you the connection is lost. It's like with English phrasal verbs.


You may have a point. My experience is that my Polish relatives do much more "sightseeing" than I or my friends do here in the US - We do tend to "visit" more casually - I think of sightseeing as something that is more organized and formal, perhaps with a tour guide. I almost never do that kind of Zwiedzanie.


organized and formal, perhaps with a tour guide. is what I think when they say "zwiedzać" :)


I am British and a native English speaker. We rarely use the word sightseeing outside of foreign language classes! We say, for example "I am going to Paris". We might add the purpose more generally, "I am going to Paris...on holiday/for work/to visit friends. In the first, sightseeing is implied. In the second and third, there is a chance that you might be asked, "Will you get the time for some sightseeing while you are there?". That's about the only situation I can think of when it would be natural to use it.


I understand, but we have this distinction and using these rather unnatural English sentences is I think the only way to teach this rather important (for tourists) word.


Yes, you're absolutely right. And it makes sense to learn this word as it is the Duolingo tree for English speakers to learn Polish, not the other way round!


I also find the word 'sightseeing' a bit awkward - I would translate this sentence as 'I am touring the old town'. I find this easier on the ear, and also it makes for a more literal translation than 'sightseeing in', but it might still not be a common way to say it in English


I was given 'touring the old town' instead of 'visiting', and I think this is a case where it suggests transport (coach, bike) whereas the most likely in an old town is that you'd walk.


Why can't I say visiting the old town - does it only translate as sightseeing?


“Zwiedzać” always describes the active process of walking around a place, seeing the sights etc. “Odwiedzać” has a much broader sense, but it is basically used for the passive process of going to a place and simply being there.

We cannot accept “to visit” here, as it changes the meaning of the sentence. If it said “Odwiedzam stare miasto” then sure – “I am visiting the old town” would be the default translation.


I wrote "I'm exploring the old town," but they didn't buy it.


Exploring isn't the same as sightseeing.


This is a question for English speakers.

On the Polish side

zwiedzać- see a place while taking a walk or travelling through it pwn.sjp.pl
or get to know a place during travel or a walk wsjp.pl


As a native English speaker, I would never use the verb "to sightsee". Instead, you can say, for example, "I'm going sightseeing." For me, zwiedzac means to visit.


"I'm going sightseeing" feels just right to this UK Englishman. The Poles here seem to use zwiedzac to express this, whereas odwiedzać means to visit.

EDIT: After reading the 50+ posts of this topic, I recommend promoting "I am going sightseeing in the old town" to Preferred Translation. It's good English and an accurate translation - just what Duo needs.

[28 Jan 2019]


But... doesn't it sound like I am on my way to the Old Town, not already there?


Just a heads-up to let you know I've just reworked my 28 Jan 2019 post.

to go sightseeing is a "compound verb", resolving the ambiguity and excluding Jellei's alternative interpretation "I am on my way to the Old Town, not already there".

[3 May 2019 09:17 UTC]


EDITED 2 May 2019 09:36 UTC
Today, on revisiting this thread, I find I must reverse my original answer (D__n, it could, too! - I forgot going's ambiguity.) because I forgot that to go sightseeing can only be read as a compound verb [probably not the correct linguistic terminology...].

The two consecutive actions implied in Jellei's query are expressed by:

  • I'm going to the Old Town to go sightseeing. – or:
  • I'm on my way to the Old Town to go sightseeing.

BTW People from my home town (near Manchester, UK) might well use the horribly colloquial but absolutely unambiguous "I'm doing the tourist(y) thingy in Warsaw" – which Duo hopefully rejects!

thingy: rzecz (PL); Dingsbums (Ger.)
the tourist(y) thingy: what tourists do


I see your point. So the only way round it would be 'I am sightseeing in the Old Town'.


in English we visit people just to be there with them but we visit places to look around them. a bit of sightseeing is implied. if we are not going to do any sightseeing we just say we are going there, not that we are visiting. so i think you should accept visit in the implied context of this sentence.


YES, this is for English speakers who often use the word "visit" instead of sightsee.


does it mean you would use visit?


I would, yes. As Mascha said, we wouldn't really use 'sightsee' as a verb on its own, but with the verb 'go'. The best one word verb equivalent would be 'tour' or 'visit'.


This is not a good english sentence!


It looks ok to me. What do you think is wrong with it?


It feels weird to count wrong the translation "i'm visiting the old town " as it really is correct and the most commonly used phrasing for a lot of english speakers. I understand the point of underlining the 2 different polish words, though.


"I am going sightseeing around the old town"?


Makes sense to me, added.


English and Polish have the verb "to be" "być" which can have two separate meanings which in Portuguese can be the verb "estar" ou "ser". To visit can actually work the same way for Zwiedzać and odwiedzać.


Actually, if you want to get technical, Polish has three, sort of – based on my browsing of some dictionaries, it seems that (note that I do not speak any Portuguese or any other Romance language for that matter, so I can easily be wrong here) "estar" = „stać” (but it only works for locational "to be", not for general notion of current state and never as an auxiliary verb, unlike in Portuguese, so it has much narrower use in Polish); "ser" = „być”, and we also use „mieć” ('to have') for negations of 'to be'. ;)

But your general notion that sometimes semantic equivalence can't be established between words in different languages is obviously true. ;)


I have been to the old town in Warsaw and it's really quite nice :)


this makes me remember an old song "Pójdę na stare miasto"


Why does the English require the use of in?


Because sightseeing means seeing the sights and you can't see the sights old town.


Why is it "the old town" and not just "old town" without the?


Can "miasto" be translated as "place" too? That is the exact meaning in other slavic languages.


But not in Polish :) What you mean is "miejsce". Still close, but a bit more different.


"I am sightseeing in the old town" sounds really unnatural to me as a native English speaker. As many others have said, 'visit' is the closest natural-sounding English verb for 'zwiedzać'.

I guess to force the use of the word 'sightseeing' over 'visiting' would be like if Duolingo insisted on 'whom' when translating 'kto' in the non-nominative cases (kogo, komu and kim). It's technically correct, but it doesn't sound natural to most modern-day native English speakers.


'whom' vs 'who' was a never-ending debate, but 'who' has won ;)

I know, I know. But sometimes we can't be natural in both languages at the same time. Or rather: we can, but it doesn't help in learning. If "I am visiting" was the main answer, then we would have no right to reject "Odwiedzam Stare Miasto", which isn't exactly the most common Polish sentence and isn't what was meant. Basically, it's better if we're unnatural in English than in Polish.

Oh, "visit" isn't even accepted... well, it should be. Added now.


Clearly this one goes on and on! While you're about it (thank you for adding 'visit', by the way), I wonder if you could remove 'touring'. This is one of the few instances where the English suggests that travelling in a vehicle that you distinguish in Polish from walking.... Most old towns are such that you are unlikely to get good vehicular access, especially by coach (which is what comes to mind). We might 'tour' a country, or a region, we might even include a 'town' on a tour, but I don't think it is what the Polish sentence suggests. Thanks for your patience, by the way!


What about the segways? ;) Some people use them... or the melexes... this seems possible, although not the greatest. It's only an accepted version anyway.


I think you could possibly use a melex, but not a Segway for this! The mind begins to boggle...

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