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What are the basic sentence structures of Polish?

and can you also tell me the basic sentence structure of Spanish:)

April 11, 2016



While Polish is word order is flexible there are some rules or guidelines for the less awkward or poetic sentences.

we never separate prepositon and (adjectives + noun/pronoun), and preposition is always first.

words describing object are always before or after that object, their position is immovable but depends on the part of speech, and the function.

we rarely separate nie+ verb (in that order) , when nie is placed somewhere else it changes the meaning of the sentence.

We do not like to place pronouns at the end of the sentence. We do not like to place pronouns as objects at the beginning of sentence.

If a sentence could be misunderstood it's better to use Subject-Verb-Object word order

Subject Verb Object (in sentence with subject) is often understood as more "neutral" word order.


"Kobieta czyta mi książkę" then, would be the natural word order? I was given a suggested "correct" response of "Kobieta mi czyta książkę."
Are both sentences good ?


Both are good. The first one is slightly better in my opinion.


Thanks. Here is another one that has been bothering me :
"Śniadaniem jest kanapka z serem i mleko."

Usually I have seen the instrumental case come After the verb być (Pies jest zwierzęciem, for example). Is the position of the instrumental sometimes interchangeable? Does it change the emphasis? Is it just as correct to say :
"Śniadanie jest kanapką z serem i mlekiem" ?

Although, I can see a potential problem with my second example. Is it confusing to have "z serem i mlekiem" both in the instrumental after "kanapką"?


Where did you take this sentence from? I don't see a sentence like that in the course (I looked through all the sentences with 'breakfast').

That is a very strange sentence. It's not totally wrong, but the context would have to be very specific. I was once on a diet when I had all the meals for the next day delivered and they were packed in separate boxes. I can imagine asking myself "ok, which one is the breakfast" and in such a context, "Śniadaniem jest..." could theoretically work. Still weird though.

There are contexts where it makes sense to start with the noun in Instrumental. I wrote something about it in Part 1,5 here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/16373167

The best example would be "Mordercą jest Tom". (I believe it could be rendered as "The murderer is Tom"). You know that there was a murder, there are some suspects, and it turns out that it was Tom who did it. The alternative, "Tom jest mordercą" is more like "Tom is a murderer."

As for "Śniadanie jest kanapką [...]", this one's even worse. Again, grammatically it's correct, but this time it's impossible to defend it semantically. It would mean that you define the whole notion of "breakfast" by saying that "Breakfast is a sandwich [...]". Which it's not. Breakfast is a meal ;)

"z serem i mlekiem" pose no problem here, they wouldn't make it more confusing at all.


Cześć, Jellei. There was no place to click on "reply" under your response, so I'm responding under my own post, and we'll see where it turns up. :-)

"Śniadaniem jest kanapka z serem i mleko." was indeed a sentence that I got from the Duolingo course, though I can't say now whether it was in the English/Polish tree or the Polish/English tree, since I am now working on both at the same time. (This, by the way, has helped me, when I was feeling overwhelmed by some of the new material in the English/Polish tree, to go to the "reverse" tree and see things from another perspective.)

Since the new crown system started I've been doing a lot of review, and not necessarily in linear order down the tree. Most likely I got this sentence from one of the food sections, or perhaps from a "defining" section. When I encounter it again I will let you know where I found it.

I didn't like the second sentence much, either. It was an attempt to start the sentence with the nominative and put the instrumental where I am used to seeing it, but then I wondered if it didn't sound like I was talking about a "cheese and milk" sandwich. :-)

So, if I want to say what's for breakfast, perhaps the best is to start with "Na śniadanie ..." ?

Thanks for the link. I have read that post before but will go back and study the examples again (and again).

Dziękuję bardzo.


OK, I found this sentence in the English for Polish speakers course indeed. The default Polish sentence is "Śniadanie to kanapka z serem i mleko." which grammatically looks perfectly fine, but to me it does sound as if you defined "breakfast" by being a sandwich. I asked the course admins if they shouldn't consider removing this sentence.

Yes, "Na śniadanie jest..." is the best option to say it :) After all, even in English you rather use "for breakfast".

You're welcome :) Always a pleasure to answer such questions.


I also found this sentence again (Polish->English tree), this time being asked to translate from English to Polish. When I made an error, the "correct" sentence still came up as "Śniadaniem jest kanapka ...", but when I went to the discussion page, it now gave "Śniadanie to kanapka z serem i mleko."

In the same exercise (Food section), there is another sentence beginning with the instrumental :
Jedzeniem jego kotów jest mleko https://www.duolingo.com/comment/17588715
I wonder what you think of this one and whether there is a way of saying this beginning the sentence with the nominative.

Another example of "Breakfast is ..." :
Sniadanie to jajko i kawa https://www.duolingo.com/comment/26503844

I am still very much a beginner in Polish and unfortunately don't understand yet the comments written in Polish.

Jeszcze raz bardzo dziękuję. (I hope that's right)


Yes, "Jeszcze raz bardzo dziękuję." is perfectly correct :)

Hmmm... "Śniadanie to jajko i kawa." is basically the same as what we discussed earlier, just different products.

"Jedzeniem jego kotów jest mleko" is surely unusual, but definitely better. Although it sounds as if milk was the only thing those cats eat... If you were to start with Nominative, then it's "Jedzenie jego kotów to mleko". But it still sounds as if they didn't eat anything else.

As for the comments in Polish... I'm not exactly sure if they are worth reading. As English is the most basic foreign language, it is obviously taught in (almost) every school. I believe that the general level of knowledge of English among the young people in Poland is quite good. That means that a significant part of users of the "English for Polish" course will be children, teenagers, and - I'm sorry - less educated people. Of course, there will also be educated people who just never focused on learning English much - or simply forgot it, or even people from the communist era who learned Russian, not English. But generally what I want to say, is that the language used in the comments may simply be wrong.

I opened "Breakfast is an egg and coffee." discussion, and the top comment (Jajko i kawa ochyda w polonczeniu \:) has two orthographic mistakes and lacks Polish characters. It should be "Jajko i kawa to ohyda w połączeniu". Another comment (Po polsku to chyba powinno być "są" a nie "jest") claims that a plural verb should be used in the sentence, but the subject is undoubtedly singular, not plural. And this is a Polish guy 'trying' to make an absurd grammatical mistake in his own language. Then the last comment (Ja lubię jak się wymawia)... I don't even understand it. He likes the pronunciation, I believe, but his comment is just... weird.


Polish, I can't say for sure, but I can help with Spanish.

Spanish has a similar sentence structure to English, actually. It is a SVO (Subject, verb, object) language, which means that like in English, we have the subject of the sentence, the verb in which the subject is doing the action to the object, and the object which is being acted upon. Example:

"The dog runs in the box." (dog= subject, jumps= verb, box= object)

In Spanish, the sentence would be "El perro corre en la caja."

But unlike in English, Spanish sentences that confirms a negative start with "no" (i.e, "No tengo la manzana") which would be the English equivalent of "don't" or "not" (so the translation of the sentence in my example for this is; I don't have the apple). Spanish also has direct pronouns, which show who is directly being affected by an action as oppose to just being affected, and they are placed near or at the beginning of the sentence (after pronouns and "no"). Also, you can usually omit pronouns (unless it's in 3rd person and you want to be specific, or it's past tense 1st or 3rd person), because the verb conjugation reveals who is doing the action.

And adjectives can come before or after nouns ("gato triste" and "triste gato" both mean "sad cat"). Usually this is interchangeable, but more often you'll see the adjective after the noun.

Hope this helps and if you have questions I'll answer them best I can.


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