"Pamiętam, że sprzedawał ryby."

Translation:I remember that he was selling fish.

April 12, 2016

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How would you say 'he sold fish' in the sense that he did that continuously for a period of time, e.g. 'Last summer he sold fish'?


That's exactly "sprzedawał".

Unfortunately, the perfective/imperfective difference doesn't translate easily into English. But I don't know if with no further context like the one you provided, the English sentence could be understood in this continous way... could it?


I think 'I remember he sold fish' would suggest that interpretation.


Darn lack of perfective/imperfective distinction in English :| Makes everything more complicated, because then often "well... one version is a lot more probable, but the other one is technically correct as well". It does make learning harder... but what can one do. Added your answer.


I remember that he used to sell fish?


That should be accepted.


When a man says, "I remember that I was selling fish," how is it in Polish? Is "sprzedawał" also suitable for "I" and "you" (sg.m.) in Past Imperfect?


No, that would work in Russian (maybe you know some), but not in Polish. In Polish, every grammatical person has their own form, and it also accounts for gender of the subject of the sentence.

So, a man will say "Pamiętam, że sprzedawałem ryby" and a woman will say "Pamiętam, że sprzedawałam ryby".


Yes, Russian is my native language :). Unfortunately, Polish lessons in Duolingo are not accompanied by grammatical explanations. I'll try to find a good textbook.

Thank you very much for your answer!


Czech is similar to Russian in this regard, then: There, you have two basic forms for the past tense, but the first two persons in singular and plural have to be accompanied by the respective present-tense case of the verb “být”, for clarification. :-) The sentence would apparently be: “Pamatuji že prodal(a) ryby.” (Feminine variant in brackets)


The way I see it, Czech is closer to Polish in this respect. While Russian lost these distinctions in the past tense, both Czech and Polish retained them, the difference being that the Polish auxiliary verb was shortened to an agglutinant suffix.

En: I remember that I used to sell fish.
Cz: Pamatuji si, že prodávala jsem ryby.
Pl: Pamiętam, że sprzedawałam ryby.
Ru: Я помню, что я продавала рыбы (no trace of the auxiliary verb).

Technically, the Polish -m is still movable, just like the Czech jsem, as you could also say:

Pl: Pamiętam, żem sprzedawała ryby.

Which, however, is not very common in modern Polish.

Fun fact: The Czech auxiliary verb already shows signs of a contraction process, as it's most commonly pronounced as just /sem/ in this context.

According to Wiktionary, the second person auxiliary jsi can even be shortened to just one letter in colloquial speech and become an agglutinant suffix, just like in Polish:

En: I remember that you used to sell fish.
Cz: Pamatuju si, žes prodávala ryby.
Pl: Pamiętam, żeś sprzedawała ryby.


(I also saw that I missed what I previously stated, namely the clitic in the Czech language that indicates the first- or second-person singular or plural) Now that you say it, it's true—althtough I wouldn't have drawn a comparison of the suffixes -m or -(a)ś in the Polish language to the Czech jsem or jsi. Perhaps Slavists could show a relation between these two indicators of the past tense in the respective languages, which would understate it, but otherwise, I would be doubtful about it.

Were there a rule that regulated the shift of the past-tense suffix to conjunctions? Because this looks somewhat... Weird, irregular, perhaps a colloquial play of rules, comparable to the omission of articles or prepositiosn in the German language, especially among youngsters of migratory heritage. (You may have heard about the jab “Ich geh' Bahnhof” (I go station), which is usually expressed to show such a background).

I heard about this omission of the initial phone, my former teacher of Czech at university, when I learnt Czech for the first time, for one semester, told us about this minor convenience when we learnt how to tell our name. (Jmenuji se...) In the end, I wouldn't have figured out how to audibly express the J as followed by a nasal M. Only with the addition of a schwa in between.

So far, in the Duolingo course, this shortening has only been used in relation to the verb “být”, in shape of byls and bylas, so that, unless you know for sure, I cannot verify if this is a universal rule amongst all verbs in Czech.


Well, if you look at the penultimate line in my previous comment, you will see clear evidence of jsi turning into an -s suffix.

If you're not convinced:


Chapter (Changes to the auxiliary in Polish, pages 40-42)

And here's another one from the University of Brno (in Polish, page 2):



Many thanks for the first text, this is really interesting, although I now believe that Old Polish seems to be preserved dominantly in Bible Verse and liturgical texts.

But if I understand the first source correctly, you refer to the example number (67), as this to me showed one of the clearest examples of this reduction to agglutinating clitics. In the end, I think, my doubt was nourished by the Czech format of standing separately instead of agglutinating, which made me hesitant to draw strict relations. In retrospective, it is in vain to be doubtful as endings always indicate the case.

The second text was even more obvious and finally convinced me. Czech, in the end, stopped one step before Polish, one could say bluntly, although perhaps a bit misleading. Well, in the end, I say the same thing about Yiddish in comparison with Modern High German.


Used to sell more like the perfective tense?


No "used to" is definitely imperfective.

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