"Umiesz napisać list?"

Translation:Can you write a letter?

March 15, 2016

This discussion is locked.


Do I understand correctly that the meaning of "umieć" is limited to "to be able to" and thus does not cover all meanings of "can"?


„Umieć” means "to be able to, because one possess skills or abilities"
„Móc” means "to be able to, because the circumstances allow it"
„Puszka” is a container, typically made of metal and used for storing food with long expiry date

Are you curious about any other translations of the English word "can"?


And then there is the misuse of "can" (to mean "may") meaning "to be allowed to do sth".


What about potrafić?


Is 'Umiesz pisac list" also fine? Because as I understand it, Perfective is either future tense or past tense and this seems to be neither


This is a present tense, but „napisać” here is used as an infinitive for the modal verb „umieć”.

Perfective and imperfective verbs can be imagined as "completed" and incomplited". If you ask „Umiesz napisać list” then you are asking whether you are able to write a single letter from start to finish, completely. In „Umiesz napisać listy” we have a set amount of letters to be written and we are asking whether someone is able to write them. In „Umiesz pisać listy” you are asking about a general skills for writing letters in general. „Umiesz pisać list” sounds simply not right. It's as if you were asking whether you can pretend you can write a letter in a movie or something.


When an imperfective verb (czytać, robić, pisać, sprzątać) is converted to perfective (przeczytać, zrobić, napisać, posprzątać), is there some kind of thumb rule that can be used?

Is it a coincidence that all the above perfective verbs are formed by prefixing prepositions (przez, z, na, po) or does it mean something?


Verbs can have various prefixes. Some prefixes can change its meaning somewhat (like a phrasal verb in English), while one prefix generally only changes an imperfective verb into a perfective one. Additionally, if a prefix changes the meaning of the verb, there is generally a way to turn that new verb back into imperfective by changing the ending.

For example: "pisać" is imperfective "to write". "Napisać" is it perfective form. "Spisać" means "to write down" and it's perfective. Then "spisywać" is the imperfective form of "spisać".

Unfortunately, I don't know a rule that governs which prefix does what, so I can't tell you anything other that to just tell you'll have to remember them every time. The English Uncyclopedia's article on the Polish language has it explained in a funny way. Most of that article is of course exaggerated for comedic purposes, but the section on verb prefixes is actually pretty accurate.


Do you know how write a letter?


Not acceptable, I'm afraid. It has to be "Do you know how to write a letter?"


Czy at the beginning can still be used? I read this as you can write a list, as in allowing them to write one, not questioning the ability of writing a list, any help? Thanks


Yes, "czy" can still be used, and is an accepted possibility.

BTW, Polish "list" is a "letter" in English.


Yeah sorry im writing from context lol didnt realise i used polish instead of english for the word letter haha! Thanks for the help

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