"They have not believed their daughter."

Translation:Oni nie uwierzyli ich córce.

February 4, 2016

This discussion is locked.


I believe that it should have been "nie wierzyły" in order for "have not believed."

"Nie uwierzyły" would be "did not believe."


Uwierzyć is one of complicated words, because instead if "completed action, it is more like "started believing". But what you are writing as a rule is opposite to what I was taught- that Present Perfect usually translates to Polish present tense or past tense of perfective.

But then I'm like believe is easy- I will just check Bible translation :)


Powiedział mu Jezus: «Uwierzyłeś dlatego, ponieważ Mnie ujrzałeś? Błogosławieni, którzy nie widzieli, a uwierzyli».


Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."


Yeah, Biblical English is exactly what you DON'T want to use! Hahaha


why? I get old-fashioned words, but would they use wrong tense? why?


It's not technically wrong, but it has changed very much since the Bible was translated. Nobody talks like that.


There are, I'm afraid, one or two problems on this page concerning the use of the English verb "believe". First of all, Duo's sentence is not, in my opinion, natural English. The verb "believe" is rather specific and is nearly always used in the Simple aspect. I would translate "One nie uwierzyły ich córce" simply as "They didn't believe their daughter"

We only usually use "believe" in Present Perfect in questions and negatives, and only with "ever" and "never". And we use Present Perfect because we mean "at any time up to and including today" :
"Have they ever believed their daughter?"
"They've never believed their daughter"

Secondly, the concept of Present Perfect - basically that of a past action which has some relevance to the present - doesn't exist in Polish ( which is why Polish students have such problems with it). And the concept of Perfective / Imperfective doesn't really exist in English either, so there's not really much point trying to somehow equate the Past Simple / Present Perfect choice with that between Dokonany and Niedokonany: they are two totally different things.

The most obvious relationship to past Dokonany and Niedokonany is that between Past Simple and Past Continuous, but here this doesn't work as "believe" is a state verb and is not used in Continuous, so "They weren't believing their daughter" is not possible.

Which leaves us with Past Simple, "did not believe" for both uwierzyć and wierzyć, with the possibility of also using "used to" for the second. And how do we know which is intended? - As ever, from context. I'm no expert on the Dokonany / Niedokonany divide, but how about this?:

"When she told him she was leaving him he didn't believe her"
Specific event at a specific time - perfective, "uwierzyć"?

"When she was very young she always believed her sisters when they told her it was Santa Claus who brought her all those presents"
Permanent state or repeated action in the past - imperfective, "wierzyć"?

In the second example we can also use "used" to, and here I'd like to look at one of br0d4's examples:

Nigdy nie wierzyli córce co do jej chłopaków

This describes a repetitive action or permanent state in the past. We have, I think, three options here, but I'm going to add a couple of words so it sounds a bit more natural in English. The basic option would be Past Simple:

"They never believed (what) their daughter (said) about her boyfriends."

In the second option we substitute "never used to believe" for "never believed", and in the third "used to say" for "said". (But we wouldn't usually use two used tos together).

The most important thing is to realise that English and Polish have two very different tense systems, and rather than try and translate one with an "equivalent" in the other language what we should be trying to do is think in the system of the target language, not expect there to be a tense to tense equivalence.





Woah, that is quite an essay. Well, the difficulty in 'translating' the tenses is what causes real problems with dokonany/niedokonany... but I guess I have to accept that "They did not" should be the default, although my first thought when I see it is "Nie wierzyli"...


That's the point we've been trying to communicate in this thread, is that it's BOTH, depending on context, but generally speaking. In this particular case, the verb "to believe" only uses present perfect "has/have believed" with "ever" or "never".


I've added a reply to this comment, but in my own thread, so that the text didn't get too narrow.


Part 2 - in answer to va-dim (sorry, even longer)

And the point I'm making is that we wouldn't normally use "have believed" (without "ever" or "never") in ANY case, not just this one. This was unfortunately originally Duo's answer, and in trying to interpret it you have both suggested at least twice that Imperfective be used to translate "have believed", but I'm afraid it doesn't work like that. As I've said, we wouldn't say "They have not believed their daughter" in ANY circumstances, not just in this context.

Secondly, br0d4h says, and I think you agree, that "have believed" is durative, "recurring many times in the past", but Present Perfect is used to express completed events; it is the opposite of durative in nature. Let's take a verb we can actually use in Present Perfect - "I've been to Paris". This simply means that on at least one occasion I have visited Paris, but there is no suggestion that this was a repeated or recurring action. If we want to talk about repetition, then we add "five times, many times", etc. But that isn't what I understand by durative - it refers to five or many single completed actions.

I imagine that when there is a choice between Perfective and Imperfective, Present Perfect will always translate to Perfective, as they both refer to "perfected" events. The real problem is deciding whether "zrobiłem" is "I did" or "I have done", and whether "robiłem" is "I was doing", "I have been doing", "I used to do", or simply "I did".

So let's look at br0d4h's "This is durative, recurring numerous time in the past". How would we express that in English? Well. "believe" is theoretically a state verb, but perhaps "not believe" can be seen as an event, but that doesn't really matter: the outcome is the same, we either use Past Simple or "used to" - which is used to talk about past states or repeated past events.

"They didn't use to believe their daughter when she spoke about her boyfriends"

And when Imperfective expresses an action in progress in the past, then we would use a Continuous tense, either Past Continuous, as in many of the examples in Duo, or Present Perfect Continuous, depending on the context (see below).

A quick word about Past Perfect, which has also been suggested. It is used to show that a past event occurred before another past event, and is nearly always used in conjunction with a verb in the past:
"They didn't believe her that day, and in fact they hadn't believed her for a long time"

If you want to compare Polish past tenses to English ones, I would suggest the following scheme, but remember that I'm not an expert on Polish, and that not all verbs work the same way. It also appears that on some occasions Present Perfect can be translated with Imperfective (see comment below):


Past Simple - the event is in the finished past
"She tidied her room yesterday"

Present Perfect - an event in the past with relevance to now
- The event happened at an unspecified time in the past
"She has tidied her room"
(it doesn't matter when, but it is tidy now)
- The event happenened in an unfinished period, and could happen again, but each time is a single completed event
"She has tidied her room twice this week"

Past Perfect - for an event completed before another past event
"She had already tidied her room when her boyfriend arrived"


Past Continuous - the event was in progress in the past
"She was tidying her room when the phone rang"

Present Perfect Continuous - The event started in the past and may or not still be in progress
"She has been tidying her room (all morning)"

Past Perfect Continuous - to describe an event in progress before a past event
"She had been tidying her room when her boyfriend arrived"
(She may or may not have finished).

"Used to" (or Past Simple)
- to express a repeated action in the past
"She only used to tidy her room when she was told to."
- or a state in the past which is no longer true
"Her room often used to be rather untidy."

Note that with most action verbs we can also use "would" instead of "used to", and this usage is very common among native speakers
"She would only tidy her room when she was told to".

Note too that we cannot use state verbs in Continuous
"She liked to listen to the radio when she was tidying her room"
(NOT was liking).

I'm not sure if I'm allowed to link to my own stuff, but I've written elsewhere about the differences between Past Simple and Present Perfect, with lots of exercises:



Polish may use imperfective verbs to describe one's experience. Similarly, English Present Perfect may be used to describe one's experience so there are situations when Past Perfect could be translated using imperfective verbs. It may describe some habit or state and then there also would be used imperfective verb. Similarly, when you talk about multiple actions at different times in the past. And there are such sentences in the course. Like for example this one: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/18894513

I will try to translate sentences from this page: http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/presentperfect.html

USE 1 Unspecified Time Before Now


  • I have seen that movie twenty times. - Widziałem [imp.] ten film dwadzieści razy.
  • I think I have met him once before. - Myślę, że spotkałem [perf.] go raz.
  • There have been many earthquakes in California. - W Kalifornii było [neither] wiele trzęsień Ziemi.
  • People have traveled to the Moon. - Ludzie polecieli [perf.] na Księżyc.
  • People have not traveled to Mars - Ludzie nie polecieli [perf.] na Marsa.
  • Have you read the book yet? - Czytałeś [imp.] już tę książkę? [experience] / Przeczytałeś [perf.] już tę książkę? [accomplishment]
  • Nobody has ever climbed that mountain.- Nikomu dotąd nie udało się [perf.] wspiąć na tę górę.
  • A: Has there ever been a war in the United States? - Czy kiedykolwiek w USA miała miejsce [neither] jakaś wojna? B: Yes, there has been a war in the United States. - Tak, w USA była [neither] już wojna. / Tak, w USA miała miejsce [neither] pewna wojna.

TOPIC 1 Experience


  • I have been to France. - Byłem [neither] już we Francji. Odwiedziłem [perf.] już Francję [once] / Odwiedzałem [imp.] już Francję [more than once]. This sentence means that you have had the experience of being in France. Maybe you have been there once, or several times.
  • I have been to France three times. - Byłem [neither] we Francji 3 razy. You can add the number of times at the end of the sentence.
  • I have never been to France. - Nigdy nie byłem [neither] we Francji. This sentence means that you have not had the experience of going to France.
  • I think I have seen that movie before. - Myślę, że widziałem [imp.] ten film już wcześniej.
  • He has never traveled by train. - On nigdy nie prodróżował [imp.] pociągiem.
  • Joan has studied two foreign languages. - Joan uczył się [imp.] dwóch języków obcych.
  • A: Have you ever met him? - Czy kiedykolwiek go spotkałeś [perf.]? B: No, I have not met him. - Nie, nigdy go nie spotkałem [perf].

TOPIC 2 Change Over Time


  • You have grown since the last time I saw you. - Urosłeś [perf.] odkąd widziałem cię ostatni raz.
  • The government has become more interested in arts education. - Rząd zainteresował się [perf.] bardziej edukacją artystyczną.
  • Japanese has become one of the most popular courses at the university since the Asian studies program was established. - Język japoński stał się [perf.] jednym z bardziej popularnych kursów po zapoczątkowaniu programu studiów azjatyckich.
  • My English has really improved since I moved to Australia. - Mój angielski naprawdę się poprawił [perf.] odkąd przeprowadziłem się do Australii.

TOPIC 3 Accomplishments


  • Man has walked on the Moon. - Człowiek postawił [perf.] stopę na Księżycu.
  • Our son has learned how to read. - Nasz syn nauczył się [perf.] czytać.
  • Doctors have cured many deadly diseases. - Lekarze rozwiązali [perf.] problem wielu śmiertelnych chorób.
  • Scientists have split the atom. - Naukowcy podzielili [perf.] atom.

TOPIC 4 An Uncompleted Action You Are Expecting


  • James has not finished his homework yet. - James nie skończył [perf.] jeszcze swojej pracy domowej.
  • Susan hasn't mastered Japanese, but she can communicate. - Susan nie opanowała [perf.] jeszcze perfekcyjne japońskiego, ale jest w stanie się komunikować.
  • Bill has still not arrived. - Bill jeszcze nie przyszedł/przybył [perf.].
  • The rain hasn't stopped. - Deszcz nie przestał [perf.] jeszcze padać.

TOPIC 5 Multiple Actions at Different Times


  • The army has attacked that city five times. - Wojsko zaatakowało [perf.]/atakowało [imp.] to miasto 3 razy.
  • I have had four quizzes and five tests so far this semester. - Miałem [neither] dotąd cztery quizy i pięć testów w tym semestrze.
  • We have had many major problems while working on this project. - Mieliśmy [neither] wiele poważnych problemów, pracując nad tym projektem.
  • She has talked to several specialists about her problem, but nobody knows why she is sick. - Rozmawiała [imp.] z kilkoma specjalistami na temat swojego problemu, ale żaden z nich nie wiedział, dlaczego jest chora.


Thank you for your precision.

  • 2475
  • "wierzyć" has durative aspect, so it means "to not believe - never or over a longer period of time"
  • "uwierzyć" has perfective aspect so it means "to not accept as true what somebody says".

Therefore I think that:

  • They have not believed their daughter = Oni nie uwierzyli ich córce or Oni nie uwierzyli swojej córce
  • They did not believe their daughter = Oni nie wierzyli ich córce or Oni nie wierzyli swojej córce

An article about aspects


I agree with the durative. That's exactly my point.

Nie wierzyli: "They have not believed their daughter about her boyfriends." This is durative, recurring numerous time in the past.

Nie uwierzyli: "They did not believe their daughter about her boyfriend yesterday." This is a perfective aspect, specifying a single completed event.

I'm not a native Polish speaker, so I'm not arguing, but I am a native English and Russian speaker and understand how perfective and imperfective aspect apply between English and Russian. In this Polish course I've come to understand how similarly Russian and Polish are structured. For example, in Russian (written with Polish alphabet):

Oni nie wierili swojej doćkie = They have not believed their daughter. Imperfective, durative, happening in the past over time

Oni nie powierili swojej doćkie = They did not believe their daughter. Perfective, occurred one, specific time.

I'm assuming that wierili and wierzyli are the same, and powierili in Russian is uwierzyli in Polish.


In this narrow context I would translate durative wierzyli as Past Simple and perfective uwierzyli as Present Perfect, since they are both perfect. So, I think the translation Duolingo offers is correct.

Why have you decided to translate it this way? I see you are a native speaker, but your point doesn't seem any logical to me. Maybe it's a chance for me to learn something new)))


"They haven't believed her," present perfect, is open-ended, not a completed task but perhaps even durative/continuous, making it an imperfective aspect. (English doesn't have perfective/imperfective verbs, just simple or perfect tenses along with participles.) You are correct that the simple past tense, "They didn't believe her," can also be durative, open-ended in context, but it is usually a complete, finished event that already happened. When comparing past tense and present perfect, the past tense is definitive and the present perfect is habitual, repetitive:

I ate the strawberries. I'm done. Zjadłam. RU: sjel.

I have eaten strawberries. When? Did I finish?How many times have I eaten strawberries in my life? Jadłam. RU: jel.

You can also say, "I ate strawberries many times," durative, Jadłam..., but that's using context to specify, because English doesn't have perfect/imperfective to eat.

Past perfect does work with uwierzyli, though: They had not believed her.

Just another note, you wrote "both are perfect." Perfect is part of a tense, and perfective is a verb aspect. They are two different things. I really hope this helps. I do understand from a Russian brain why this is confusing. In Russian you choose a perfective or imperfective verb to get your thought across. In English, the context can specify your thought whether durative or completed whole, whether your tense was past, present perfect, or past perfect. Most of my friends are Russian and immigrated more recently than me. This is a common confusion in how they speak English.


I agree that you need a wider context in English, but your explanations of tenses usage seem just wrong to me. Let me explain why.

I ate the strawberries. I'm done. Zjadłam. Съел. It's done indeed, but you only want to mention the fact that you ate them in the past in general. So in this case I would use ел. Я ел клубнику. Jadłem truskawki.

They didn't believe her. Oni nie wierzyli jej. Они ей не верили. Just as a fact (no present relevance here).

I have eaten strawberries. Jadłam. Ел. 1) It presupposes you now have some experience, a result of this action. I have eaten strawberries and now I don't want any/ and now I can tell you what they are like. So it can also be ел. Я [уже] ел клубнику. [Już] jadłem truskawki. We use these verbs here to indicate that time is indefinite, so you should use Perfect in English for sure. And I remember you've written somewhere in the comments about this. 2) But the same "have eaten" can be translated as съел/ zjadłem if we want to underline that only one action has been completed: I have eaten strawberries - I have just finished eating strawberries (present relevance). Я съел клубнику - уже закончил есть клубнику. Zjadłem truskawki - już skończyłem jeść truskawki.

So: They haven't believed her. Oni jej nie wierzyli [probably several times during the time period]. Они ей не верили. But here, in this context the second option is better: Oni jej nie powierzyli. Они ей не поверили. It still can be Past Perfect, but you can't just say They had not believed her. You need another action in Past Tense, like They said they had not believed her. And if we remove reported speech here we get the same Present Perfect. They said: "We haven't believed her".


I basically agree with you here. Both past tense and present perfect can be interpreted as either perfective or imperfective in Polish (and Russian). Our two brains, yours and mine (and other people in this thread) seem to interpret the opposite from each other. Your interpretation of past tense leads you to Polish imperfective, but from my experience speaking English, past tense leads me to perfective aspect more often than present perfect would. To have done something is imperfective unless specified. Did something is perfective unless context has a general meaning not specific. Don't forget was doing which fits better with imperfective than did. Again, depending on the context, both could work. It's just my experience as a native English and Russian speaker as to why uwierzyli/powierzyli fits better to believed and wierzyli fits better with have believed and were believing. There is no direct Polish-English perfective/imperfective because English doesn't have them, and Polish doesn't have present perfect or past perfect because past tense perfective/imperfective verbs +context take care of it. You convinced me that both are correct, and I hope I got my point across as to which sounds better in English. Since this is a Polish course, though, all of my English stuff is irrelevant. I'm just trying to learn Polish.


Why "One nie uwierzyły ich córce" is correct"? Can a lesbian couple have a child in Poland?


"One nie uwierzyły ich córce" means that "They have not believed their (some other people's) daughter."

"One nie uwierzyły swojej córce" would mean that "They have not believed their own daughter".


for "córka" to be daughter of oni/one the sentence would be Oni nie uwierzyli swojej córce/ one nie uwierzyły swojej córce.

One nie uwierzyły ich córce. means

They( females) have not believed their (some people's already mentioned before) daughter.

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