Gmach / Budynek: different?
Are there any meaning differences between "budynek" and "gmach"? If so, which ones?
Thanks in advance!
Budynek is a neutral word meaning "building" - it can be any building: big or small, private or institutional. Gmach is a grand building, usually an institution, like: gmach szkoły, gmach uniwersytetu (school, university building), gmach sądu (a courthouse). If you find a house or a building overly big and ostentatious you can call it "gmaszysko" (an augmentative form of gmach).
In Polish, we don't call a house 'gmach'. If it is very big, we usually say "wielki dom", "ogromny dom" or if it's also more luxurious, we call it a "willa". Formerly, every house and every flat, even in the countryside was used to be discribed as "gmach". Nowadays, I think it is only used as a description of stately buildings of important institutions. For example: gmach Teatru Wielkiego, gmach sądu, gmach muzeum, gmach hotelu (a representative one of course). We don't use this word in fluent Polish, it is beginning to be seen as an archaic word. Even with these insitiutions, not formally, we say on a day to day basis: budynek Teatru Wielkiego, budynek uniwersytetu, budynek sądu, etc. Also, a big building of expensive restaurant or a shopping centre, or even a skyscraper, despite the fact they are giant, are called "budynek".
"Gmaszysko" has a negative association with the building being described. It's the same the other way round, when you use a diminutive like "gmaszek" (from the word gmach) or "budyneczek" (from the word budynek), it is an expression of positive description.
Good luck on your learning journey. Zuzanna Dąbrowska
Dziękuję barzo for the detailed explanation. Yes, my learning Polish is doing pretty well, I think, partially because of helpful people like you! :)