To have, to live, to love: Polish Class 3 Verbs

In the last language post Where are you from? Where do you live?, we met mieszkać, meaning ‘to live’.

This verb belongs to the third of the four verb classes in Polish (also known as the -am -asz verbs), and to conjugate mieszkać, we remove the and add the endings shown below. Once these endings are committed to memory, you can use them on lots of other useful verbs in this class.

 

Polish Class 3 Verbs - Present Tense

 

Notice that Polish distinguishes between you (singular) and you (plural), the latter being used to address more than one person.

Now, in addition to being able to say sentences such as mieszkam w Londynie (I live in London), you can see that we can easily make new statements and questions, such as:

Mieszkają w Londynie They live in London
Mieszkacie w Nowym Jorku You (pl.) live in New York
Mieszkamy w Paryżu We live in Paris

 

Other class 3 verbs are shown below. With this simple set of endings, we can form lots of simple sentences in the present tense:

Verb Example
mieć to have mam I have
kochać to love kochasz you love
czekać to wait czeka he/she/it waits
śpiewać to sing śpiewamy we sing
pytać to ask pytacie you (pl.) ask
biegać to run biegają they run
grać to play gram I play
czytać to read czytasz you read
pływać to swim pływa he/she/it swims

 

But how can we say something a little more useful than ‘she waits’ or ‘you read’?

You could combine a form of kochać with the infinitive of another verb to talk about things that you love to do. For example:

Kocham spiewać I love to sing.
Kochamy grać We love to play.
Kochasz czytać You love to read.
Kochają pływać They love to swim.

 

So now after reading a few short tutorials, it’s possible to say where you live, where you’re from and what you love to do, and to ask the same of others. Next we’ll look at Polish numbers, and see how to ask and answer the question ile masz lat? (how old are you?).

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Być – The Verb ‘To Be’

If you’ve read the post on how to introduce yourself in Polish, then you’ll already recognise how to say I am. You can, informally, tell someone your name simply by saying Jestem Piotr (if your name happens to be Piotr). But what about you are, they are and he/she/it is?

In Polish, you don’t need to say I, you, or we because these words are incorporated into the verb itself. Verbs can generally be categorised into four classes with predictable conjugation, but the verb ‘to be’ is irregular and doesn’t fit nicely into these categories. Here’s how it works for ‘być’:

być (to be)
Ja (I) jestem
Ty (You) jesteś
On/Ona/Ono (He/She/It) jest
My (We) jesteśmy
Wy (You – more than one person) jesteście
Oni/One (They)

 

Because the pronoun (I/you/we etc.) is contained within the verb, you don’t need to say ja jestem. It’s fine just to say jestem. But for the third person forms (he/she/it/they) then it is important to say on, ona, ono, oni or one when forming sentences, because in Polish it’s necessary to specify the gender of the person that you’re talking about.

Notice the two different words for ‘they’. Polish differentiates between a group of people containing one or more men (oni), and an all-female group (one).

How are you feeling?

With the verb to be, we can begin to form sentences about how we are feeling. Adjectives change depending on whether they are describing something male or female, so in these examples the first form is for a man and the second, for a woman:

Jestem głodny / głodna – I’m hungry
Jestem zmęczony / zmęczona – I’m tired
Jestem szczęśliwy / szczęśliwa – I’m happy
Jestem smutny / smutna – I’m sad
Jestem znudzony / znudzona – I’m bored

Or we can even use this structure to find out if someone is hungry or tired, using jesteś and the -y or -a endings depending on whether they are male or female:

Jesteś głodny / głodna?
Jesteś zmęczony / zmęczona?

Knowing this verb will be a great help for the next post: asking someone where are you from? and where do you live?

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