Use of "się"

I wanted to ask what are (I say 'are' because I know there are many) the uses of "się" in Polish. I know that one of them is the reflected pronoun, "myself, yourself, oneself", for example: - "Nazywam się" = "I call myself" = "My name is" - "Uczę się" = "I teach myself" = "I learn"

I also know that some verbs require it, like: -"Bać się" = "To fear" -"Stać się" = "To happen"

But I get confused in phrases like "tak się nie robi". How exactly do we use "się"?

Dziękuję za pomoc!

June 13, 2016


I'd say that the 'tak się nie robi' is an impersonal form. It translates to "It's not how it's done", and we can extend using impersonal forms to probably any verb you can think of, although some constructions could sound surprising. Let's think of some:

"Nie pływa się po jedzeniu" - One doesn't swim after eating (one shouldn't)

"Spotyka się tu głupich ludzi" - One meets stupid people here (one can meet)

"W naszym kraju nie lubi się masła" - In our country, butter is not liked (we don't like butter in our country)

"Mówi się, że on nie myje rąk" - It is said (they say), that he doesn't wash his hands.

"Do nauki polskiego nie używa się dżemu truskawkowego" - Strawberry jam isn't used in learning Polish.

And so on, and so on. It can be 'a general rule', like 'tak się nie robi', or the one about swimming, it can be used like in some of the other examples... hard to generalize. Does that help at least a bit?

June 13, 2016

It kinda does. So if I understand well, "się" can also be used to designate an impersonal pronoun? For example, in "Bo mi się podoba", would "się" be translated as "it" as in "I like it"?

[EDIT] Also, would 'Tak się mówi po polsku' mean 'That's how you speak (one speaks) Polish? 'Się' being an impersonal 'you'?

June 14, 2016

Well, actually "podobać się" is just a normal reflexive, there's no word 'podobać' without 'się'.

But the other example - yes, it's impersonal.

June 14, 2016

I suggest reading an article about reflexive verbs on Wikipedia: There are listed various uses of reflexive pronouns with examples. I would classify your sentence as Intransitive or Impersonal.

June 13, 2016ę.html

  1. «zaimek będący formą biernika, używany zwykle przy czasownikach, odpowiadający formie siebie, np. Widziała się w lustrze.»
    (genitive form alternative to siebie)
  2. «zaimek tworzący stronę zwrotną czasowników, wskazujący, że sprawca czynności jest jej odbiorcą, np. Ubrali się i wyszli., lub nadający im odcień znaczeniowy wzajemności, np. Psy goniły się po trawniku.»
    reflexive pronoun
  3. «zaimek nadający czasownikom odcień znaczeniowy intensywności, np. Wrócił się bez potrzeby.» pronoun making verbs more intensity
  4. «zaimek stanowiący część niektórych czasowników, niewnoszący żadnego dodatkowego znaczenia, np. śmiać się, urodzić się, wyobrażać sobie, zakochać się»
    a part of verb
  5. «zaimek tworzący z formą 3. osoby lp czasowników orzeczenie zdań bezpodmiotowych, np. Zrobiło się późno.»
    a pronoun making with 3rd person singular a subjectless sentence ex It was getting late
  6. «zaimek tworzący w połączeniu z czasownikiem formy o znaczeniu biernym, np. Wychowywał się u dziadków.»
    *pronoun creating a sentence that has a passive meaning ex. he was raised at his grandparents' *

I guess your question was for meaning 5 and 6.

Number 5. I can only recall this with (z)robić
3rd person singular of (z)robić się+adverb=it +form of get+adverb

number 6 is very common and gets translated to English in various ways. sometimes it is translated to passive. "obiad podaje się o 5" dinner is served at 5. sometimes you use "they" mówi się że.... they say that. a czasem używa się "you"= and sometimes you use you.

June 13, 2016

I don't think I get the 'passive' part. I don't know how a dinner can be passive, unless this is just a Polish thing. If we just say "obiad podaje o 5", are we giving some kind of meaning to 'obiad'?

June 19, 2016

well "lunch is served" is passive even in English, anyway many other languages also have the passive formed in a similar way

June 19, 2016

"Obiad podaje się o piątej" means the dinner is served at 5.

"Obiad podaje o piątej" means that the dinner serves (something) at 5.

June 19, 2016

For me, "(ktoś) Obiad podaje o piątej" is more likely to mean: (somebody) serves the dinner at 5. "Obiad podaję o piątej" would be "I serve dinner at 5".

August 28, 2016
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  • podaję is 1-st person singular.
  • podaje is 3-rd person singular.

As you wrote, "Obiad podaję o piątej" means "I serve dinner at 5".

But Jellei wrote "Obiad podaje o piątej". That may have 2 meanings: either there is implied object or implied subject. With implied subject it means "(He/She/It) serves dinner at 5". With implied object it means "The dinner serves (something) at 5".

March 10, 2017
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There is a group of verbs, that have different meaning with "się" and without "się", in these cases "się" is a part of the verb. Samples:

  • wydać się - be rumbled
  • wydać - spend (money) ; issue (a document) ; produce (a magazine) ; publish (a book) ; utter (exclamation) ; deliver (verdict) ; give (directions)
  • okazać się - turn out ; come out
  • okazać - show, display (emotions) ; present (pass, permit) ; exhibit (abilities)
  • zająć się - take care
  • zająć - take (time) ; take (a stand ) ; save (a place) ; occupy (a castle)

There are more like that, but it is hard to make any complete list of them.

March 10, 2017

I also wanted to ask about "Jak się masz". Why do we say "Mówi się, że..." , "Robi się późno" but not "Jak się ma"? Is it just a frozen expression like "dzień dobry"?

June 21, 2016

"Jak się ma" is possible, if it has some "on/ona/ono/pan/pani" implied.

  • Widziałem wczoraj Marka. (I saw Marek yesterday)

  • Oooo, jak (on) się ma? (Oooo, how is he?)

Also "jak się pan ma" is possible, although kinda weirdly mixes the formal 'you' with informal rest of the phrase.

So as "jak się masz" is addressing someone directly, it uses the second person singular. It is a 'personal' construction.

June 21, 2016

So is it like conjugating the verb "mieć się", if there is such a verb?

June 21, 2016

Yeah, exactly.

June 21, 2016

Also "jak się pan ma" is possible, although kinda weirdly mixes the formal 'you' with informal rest of the phrase.

What would the proper formal phrase be, then, for "How are you[, sir]?"

August 30, 2017

I guess "Jak się pan miewa?"

Maybe "Jak się pan ma" is not that weird... after all, not every relation which uses 'pan' must be totally formal. It's really hard to theoretize.

August 30, 2017

Well, I think there is no exact English equivalent of "się" but it is a auxiliary reflexive pronoun If you know French or Spanish they call it "se" in infinitive French example: Je m'appelle = My name is literally: "I call myself"

I am also novice in Polish but when I looked at it online by using French resources they got me less distracted than English ones though French is not native for me.

June 21, 2016

I kinda saw it like that as well. I must admit, French has really helped me in many ways during my Polish learning, like the difference between "Co" and "Jaki". I saw this as the difference between ''Quoi/Qu'est-ce que" and "Quel". I can't imagine how hard it must be for people with English as a sole language to understand it. Not to mention the French vocabulary in the Polish language: portfel, fotel, plaża, krem, szezlong, you name it..

June 21, 2016

well English also has "what" and "which"...

June 24, 2016

True, but I don't use "Which" as much, doesn't sound right in some situations... and I don't see "Which" always being translated to "Quel"

June 24, 2016

"Się" Usually means direction of/the expression of the certain "self" you are mentioning/that takes action in something. Another problem with this word is that, it's often mistaken by foreigner for "siebie", which is version of “się” but is used mostly only to your body self. That is something also an unconscious mistake for native speakers.

For the clearer understating, I hope that will help you somehow.

  • -- Adam, mleko się^ gotuję. Zaraz się^^ wykipi, zajmij się^^^ tym.
  • -- (Adam, the milk is boiling. It will spoil in a second. [You] Take care of it.)

  • ^ Who is the mentioned subject? [The Milk.]

  • ^^ What will do the subject? Alternatively, what will happen to the subject? [It will spoil. It will leak outside something that shouldn’t.]
  • ^^^ Who is the next mentioned subject, to who the expected action has been moved? [Adam]

More complicated talk.

  • -- Umyje się^ (It will wash [itself]) [Speaker already have in mind the subject/mentioned self, but does not says it loud, which is common situation when people talks. {In Polish, the speaker usually have in mind by automatic, to which self/subject/action is mentioning. Also, the receiver usually knows the subject/self/action that is mentioned.} ^If you say there “Umyję się” the target will change to your self.]
  • -- Kto się umyje? (Who will wash? )
  • -- Zmywarka. (The Dishwasher, [by itself]) Ma taką funkcję czyszczenia się przez czyszczenie siebie. (It has that function of washing itself, by its body by itself.)
  • -- Ty też się umyj. (Go wash yourself also.)
  • -- Niech Marta umyję się. (Let Marta wash herself)
August 14, 2016

bold is **

cursive is *

August 14, 2016

It works! Thanks :D Let the God reward you in the Childr... Good food.

August 14, 2016

*Zaraz wikipi, not Zaraz się wykipi.

August 29, 2016

(...) mleko się gotuje; Niech Marta umyje się.

August 29, 2016
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Better: "Niech Marta się umyje". We do not leave "się" at the end of the phrase, unless there is no other way, as in orders: "Umyj się!" ("się" never ever can be at the beginning of the phrase).

October 13, 2017

Similar way as ся in russian language. For example: Uczyć się is the same in russian as "учиться"

August 8, 2017
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