Verbs of Motion

There are four important verbs of motion in Polish – iść, chodzić, jechać and jeździć. This might seem complicated, since in English you can pretty much get away with using the verb ‘to go’ in place of all of them, but each of the verbs has its own special use, and once you can remember which is which, they aren’t so problematic.
 

Mode of Travel

Two of these verbs (iść and chodzić) are used to talk about going somewhere on foot
 
The other two (jechać and jeździć) are used to talk about going somewhere by vehicle
 

Frequency

The verbs iść and jechać are used to talk about something done once or that you’re doing now (the determinate verbs).
 
These determinate verbs can also be used to talk about things happening in the near future.
 
The verbs chodzić and jeździć are used to talk about something you do regularly or habitually (the indeterminate verbs).
 
Adverbs of frequency that can be used with these indeterminate verbs include rzadko (rarely), od czasu do czasu (from time to time), czasem (sometimes), często (often) and zawsze (always).
 

Summary

I’ve put together this table to help make sense of these verbs in the present tense:
 
Verbs of Motion
 
Note that the preposition do (to) is followed by a noun in the genitive case. It’s used for travel to cities, most countries and inside most buildings.

Gdzie jedziesz? Jadę do Krakowa Where are you going? I'm going to Kraków (by vehicle)
Gdzie idziesz? Idę do sklepu Where are you going? I'm going to the shop (on foot)
Często chodzimy do kina We often go to the cinema
Czasem chodzimy do klubu We sometimes go to the club

But for certain places, other prepositions are used, such as w + accusative plural (for mountains) or nad + instrumental (for a body of water), or na + accusative (for events and certain other places):
 
Idę… w góry to the mountains
w Alpy to the Alps
na siłownię to the gym
na koncert to a concert
nad morzem to the seaside
nad jezioro to the lake

 

Specifying the Vehicle Used

The instrumental case can be used to add more detail about exactly how you’re travelling:

samochód car jedziemy do Krakowa samochodem we're going to Kraków by car
pociąg train jadą do Paryża pociągiem they're going to Paris by train
tramwaj tram on czasem jeździ do szkoły tramwajem he sometimes goes to school by tram
autobus bus często jeżdżę do Londynu autobusem I often go to London by bus
taksówka taxi jadę do domu taksówką I'm going home by taxi
rower bicycle jeżdżę do pracy rowerem I go to work by bicycle
metro metro/subway rzadko jeżdżą do supermarketu metrem they rarely go to the supermarket by metro/subway

 

Test

Try filling in the gaps!

 



2 thoughts on “Verbs of Motion

  1. What is the difference between iść and pójść? My workbook insists, as an example of choosing between them, that ‘Wczoraj wieczorem Maria poszła do kina’.

    1. Hi, pójść is the perfective form of iść and is used to talk about an action in the past, like the one in your example which happened yesterday evening. See The Past Tense for further guidance!

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