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"zaś" ...

Okay, so I'm not sure whether this word actually appeared in the course or not, but as I find myself going into intermediate and advanced content on my own (advanced coursebooks or radio podcasts/blog posts/ newspaper articles...) I often encounter this word, and while I understand the other "spójniki", in part because I speak another Slavic language where there are straight equivalents that mirror the Polish ones, I just can't seem to grasp the meaning of this one.

In the dictionaries I went to it's often translated as "and" or "but", however when they give example sentences often what they do is just not translate this word at all and kind of just "leave it out".

So my question is simple: what does it mean ? Does it add a particular flavor/intonation to the sentence ? Does this word have a synonym ? How important is it in a sentence ?

It would really help me if some native Poles or advanced L2 speakers could answer my question. Thanks in advance :-)

September 22, 2016



It's kind of hard to explain, I'd say it's something in between the meanings of English "but" and "and". The most common use of it that I can think of is to emphasize a difference between some things or people in a sentence showing those differences. I think that in some of such sentences you can also translate it as "while" in English (however both "but" and "and" would also fit). Look at those examples: Koty są miłe, myszy zaś nie - Cats are nice, while mice aren't. Katarzyna lubi koty, Anna zaś nie - Katarzyna likes cats, while Anna doesn't, Zimy w Polsce są zazwyczaj chłodne, lata zaś ciepłe - Winters in Poland usually are cool, while summers are warm.


Very interesting, thank you for your answer. It makes more sense now when I think of it as "while". So would a synonym of this word be "natomiast", or perhaps "tymczasem" ?


I think it is more less like Polish "a". The difference is, that it feels more "bookish", and it cannot be placed just after the comma ( at the beginning of a clause) .


Oh okay, so it's not used in everyday speech. I think I just need to be able to understand what it means when I get this word in a text then. Thanks :-))


word "zaś" we use very rarely. i don't know how explain , it is literary phrase . phrase used often in book not in everyday talk , i can say that it is old-fashioned phras


Thanks :-) I think I understand what it means now, thank you for your help.


Mariusz is right - "zaś" is very rarely used in contemporary conversations, and as you can see from http://cytaty.pl/szukaj/?q=za%C5%9B seems to be used primarily in old proverbs and the Bible.


If you use source with proverbs and Bible quotes, proverbs and Bible you will find.

As you can see here, modern books - fiction, handbooks and essays uses this word as well. But it is not used in every day conversations.


fair point :)


I forgot to link the source, edited now


Thanks :-)

I found this passage in a book I'm using to study right now:

"Moja matka jest Polką, to jest jej język ojczysty, w domu zawsze mówiło się po polsku, z kolegami zaś po angielsku."

Would this sound unnatural or too bookish in spoken speech ? How would you rephrase it ? Thanks in advance !


It does feel a bit out of place.


W domu mówiło się po polsku, ale z kolegami po angielsku

W domu mówiło się po polsku, a z kolegami po angielsku

W domu mówiło się po polsku, z kolegami natomiast po angielsku.

Natomiast is almost a synonym, but I don't feel like it's more natural than zaś (even though dictionaries put only "zaś" in that cathegory)

there is also a colloquial/dialect second meaning of "zaś" , meaning (in some regional dialect"= again, second one, and colloquial "na zaś"= for later.


Seems perfectly fine to me personally. But I was also once 'accused' by one of my translation teachers that I use too many archaisms - most of them didn't seem strange to me at all ;)


Yes I did see a lot of Bible quotes when looking for the meaning, but I thought I'd ask some real Poles just in case ;-)


'zas' makes me think about English expression 'on the other hand' - although it's much shorter, it seems to be a good equivalent. And in Polish I think you can replace zas with z drugiej strony, which is nearly exactly on the other hand


Wow, thank you for your comment, I understand better now.

And I had another question; can "zas" be equivalent to "a", the little word used when opposing two things? Thanks in advance for your answer ! :-)


I think in most cases it sounds perfectly all right. Do you have any specific example you're curious about?



" Mnie to jutro nie będzie. Wszystko załatwi koleżanka: ja zaś życzę panu przyjemnej podróży i szerokiej drogi powrotnej."

Does the sentence in itself sound natural ? Can one say "a ja" here ?


Both sound good for me


Sorry for late answer, but if you come to silesia, you may hear people saying "zaś" for "again". For ex. "Zaś to muszę zrobić" = "I have to do this again".


Wow, that's interesting, thank you for your answer ! I suppose it's something regional/dialectal. Or is it acceptable in everyday modern Polish ?


Of course, in this meaning it is regional, mostly used in Silesian voivodeship. It much more casual language. It's acceptable when your hangin out with friend etc but in work or university not really :D


In my opinion it means something similar to English "while" in the meaning of "but". And yes, it's indeed rarely used, especially, in speech, but well-understood, especially in the context. I think it's also closely related to the phrase "za to", which means something similar but is much more common in everyday language (less in written Polish, though).

There's also a phrase where it doesn't have its standard meaning at all: "tak na zaś", "just in case", used, as far as I know, when you take something with you in case it might come in handy at some point. Be careful not to overuse it - it's heard really rarely and can easily become very irritable when someone says it too much (and in a wrong context). I don't know if it has any connections to the regional usage that was mentioned in another comment.

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