The title of the first lesson in my polish textbook is:

"Kim jesteś? Kim pani jest? Kim pan jest?"

What's the meaning of these sentences? I guess: "Who are you?"

So is it also possible to say

"Kto jesteś?"...

What is the difference between kim and kto here?

Or is it wrong to use "kto" here? Or perhaps sounds it a bit weird to native speakers?

May 4, 2017


There are to many examples of „Kto (ty) jesteś?” to call it simply an error. There is also a version where the movable ending is attached to kto making it: „Ktoś jest?" or „Ktoś ty?” (this -ś, may also signify contraction of jesteś). Er even: „Kto ty?”. Other popular versions are: „A ty kto?” „A ty to kto?” and „Coś ty za jeden?”.

This kind of question was much more popular around 100 years ago. It is very often to find it in books, lyrics and translations of the Holy Bible. Aside „Kto jesteś?” and „Ktoś jest” this type of questions is still popular nowadays.


"Kto" is Nominative. Here you need Instrumental so only "Kim" is correct.

I think that the main difference for me is that "Kim" would be used when you ask the person you are addressing directly who they are, ie: A:Kim pani jest? / Who are you? B:Jestem nauczycielką / I am a teacher

"Kto" I think is used when you are asking someone about who someone else is, ie: A: Kto to jest? / Who is he? / Who is that person? B: To jest pan Nowak / That is mister Nowak

"Kto jesteś" is out-dated, definitely not something a native speaker would say.

Hope that makes it clearer :)
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Well... but you can also easily say "Kim jest ten mężczyzna?" (Who is this man?), "Kim ona jest?" (Who is she?), etc...

Hm.. true. I guess "Kim" can be used in both situations then, whereas "Kto" can not.

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