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"Ma"/"nie ma" use in context of "be"

When can I use ma/nie ma in context of "be"? e.g. Tu nie ma mężczyzn (not sure if this is valid).

I saw it in few exercises and I'm not sure about exact usage.

October 3, 2017



Ma/nie ma is a pair to indicate possession - to have sth. You can never use 'ma' in context of 'to be', only 'nie ma' (as negation)

Nie ma is a negation for być in present tense in context of subject existing in particular place. Tu są mężczyźni - Tu nie ma mężczyzn. There are men here -There are no men here. Jestem tu - Nie ma mnie tu. I'm here - I'm not here.

Note that 'nie ma' is the same for all forms and genders.


'ma' in some context can also have meaning similar to should or has to, yet then it is supported with another verb in infinitive. Also in such case in the negation 'nie' will come after 'ma' rather than before. On ma czekać - On ma nie czekać. He has to wait - He doesn't have to wait.


Uses of "mieć"

mieć = to have, possess, in a sense to possess a thing (also abstract):

  • Ania ma psa. = Ann has a dog.

  • Janek ma długi. = Johnny has debts.

  • Dziecko ma długopis = The kid has a pen.

  • On ma dowody = He has proofs

  • On nie ma takiej władzy = He has no such power

  • Wynalazek ma wiele zastosowań = The invention has many uses

  • To ma znaczenie = It matters (lit.: it has meaning)

  • To nie ma znaczenia = It doesn't matter (lit.: it doesn't have meaning)

  • Nie miałem pojęcia = I had no clue.

mieć = to have, possess, in a sense to possess some characteristic
(usually translated as to be in English):

  • Ona ma osiemnaście lat = She is eighteen.

  • On ma rację = He is right.

  • On ma szczęście = He is lucky (lit.: he has luck)

  • Audyt ma charakter ogólny = The audit is of general nature

mieć = to have, possess, in a sense that something has a certain purpose/expectation
(usually translated to English using a construction with "to be"))

  • Zmiana ma poprawić produktywność = The change is designed to improve productivity

  • Wojsko ma uczestniczyć w uroczystości = The army is expected to take part in the ceremony.

  • Ta aplikacja ma mi pomóc w nauce Polskiego = This application is supposed to help me learn Polish.

  • To się nie miało tak skończyć = It wasn't supposed to end like this

When there is expectation that someone is supposed to do something
(sometimes it's similar to English "has to/have to", but with the meaning closer to something between should and has to, sometimes "is going to" - when you're speaking about future events, or "was supposed to" - when talking about the past etc.; it's a little similar to the 3rd case, but I decided to split them):

  • Kto ma to zrobić? = Who should/has to do it?

  • On ma to zrobić = He should/has to/is going to do it.

  • Kiedy dokładnie on ma przyjść? = When exactly is he going to come?

  • On miał posprzątać swój pokój = He was supposed to clean his room.

  • Miałem to zrobić wczoraj = I (male) was supposed to do it yesterday.

  • Kiedy niby miałam to zrobić!? - When exactly was I (female) supposed to do that!?

  • Tak czy siak miałem tam pójść = I (male) would have gone there anyway.

  • Właśnie miałam wychodzić = I (female) was just about to leave.

In the negation of jest/są when used in a sense that something doesn't exist / is not present
(only in negations in present tense we use ma, in the past tense there was no = nie było, future nie będzie):

  • Ona jest w pokoju (neg.) Nie ma jej w pokoju = She is in the room (neg.) She is not in the room.

  • Tu mężczyźni (neg.) Tu nie ma mężczyzn = There are men here (neg.) There are no men here

  • Mężczyźni tu (neg.) Mężczyzn tu nie ma = The men are here (neg.) The men aren't here

  • Dziś go nie ma = He is not present today.

  • Nie ma sprawy = No problem / Dont mention it (lit.: the issue/matter doesn't exist)

  • Już nie ma biletów na ten koncert = There's no tickets left for the concert.

  • W środku ktoś jest (neg.) W środku nikogo nie ma = There is someone inside (neg.) There is no one inside.

There are also some set phrases, that are not literally translated or I don't know in which category they belong, for example:

  • Nie ma jak w domu = There's no place like home / Home sweet home

  • Ma to po swoim ojcu = He/she gets that from his/her father.

  • Co to ma wspólnego ze mną? = What does this have to do with me?

  • Nie ma co się martwić = There's nothing to worry about (and other similar phrases with "nie ma co")

(By no means I'm an expert so correct me if there's something wrong or missing)

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