Can anyone please give me a clear definition on the pronoun "na"? Like, when do you use it.

It seems to me that I confuse "na" with "do". For example:

I once said to someone "Pojedziemy do statcji benzynowej." But she corrected me, saying "No, it's 'pojedziemy na stację benzynową.'" Any explanations here?

Dziękuję z góry!

February 7, 2017


Yeah, it only sounds little bit unnatural. Generally one goes do or na. Na can be treated as a preposition that tells you that something is on something, but that's not the whole truth. We use do when we imagine that we will enter a building like e.g church. But we go na if we go to participate in a mass na mszę. Therefore Na is used with activities or events. I go to school = Idę do szkoły. I go to lessons/lectures = Idę na lekcję.

That is by no means an end. If a place where I want to go is not a building but e.g market square we use na - idę na plac/ idę na parking. We think here about places with no roof.

To summarize:

  • do kościoła - into the church
  • na mszę - to participate in a mass
  • na kościół - onto the roof of the church

PS. There are many irregularities here.

You have been corrected because in Polish when we describe a place or activity in the direction of the movement in using the word "na" and "do". In my opinion the easiest way to divide those cases is this: Use "do" when you tell about going: to someone (to dentist - do dentysty, do księdza - to priest, do mamy - to mom) to building that have roof and walls each side (do szkoły - to school, do szpitala - to hospital) Use "na" when you are going: to place that hasn't walls each side (na dworzec - to station, na cmentarz - to cemetery, na stacje benzynową - to gas station)

You must bear in mind that the difference between do and na is historical and not only 'big open space'.

Although, for example, your university is a "building with a roof", it used to describe a campus: Idę na uczelnię. Idę na politechnikę. Idę na uniwersytet.

The same with poczta (post office). Once it was not an "office", but just a place where the messenger announced the news: Idę na pocztę.

The same is the difference between strych (an attic) and piwnica: Idę na strych, Idę na poddasze and Idę do piwnicy. An attic was big open space - in times without electricity it had windows that let light into the staircase into the building. Piwnice were often separate buildings that were used for storage (cellars).

I should also mention cities (do), voivodships (do / na) and countries (do / na). The history of the areas is also important here - but this would require a very long comment.

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