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Affirmative and Interrogative forms – Part II Posted by on Jul 29, 2012 in Grammar, Languages, Polish Language

Today I will continue Affirmative and Interrogative forms – Part I post.

Some questions require interrogative pronouns such as who, when, why, etc. Since word order in Polish is not strictly determined, a speaker is practically free to choose how to ask a question depending on his/her attitude and the information (s)he is most interested in. Beginner learners of Polish will probably want to start with some basic sentence structures as it can be quite difficult to grasp all the nuances at once.

The examples below illustrate the following sequence: question word + verb (in a correct form) + object.

Co robisz dzisiaj wieczorem? What are you doing tonight?

Gdzie mogę kupić koronkowe obrusy? Where can I buy lace tablecloths?

Kiedy znalazłeś nową pracę? When did you find a new job?

Jaki jest jej ulubiony kolor? What is her favorite color?

In Polish, some interrogative pronouns have only one form. Others must agree on gender, number, or case with the words they are linked to.

Invariable question words

Gdzie – Where

Gdzie jedziemy w tym roku na wakacje?

Where are we going on vacation this year?

Gdzie oni mieszkają?

Where do they live?

Kiedy – When

Kiedy ona wyszła?

When did she leave?

Kiedy możesz mi pomóc?

When can you help me?

Dlaczego – Why

Dlaczego płaczesz?

Why are you crying?

Dlaczego ona to zrobiła?

Why did she do that?

Jak – How

Jak się masz?

How are you?

Jak się wymawia to słowo?

How does one pronounce this word?

Polish is considered to be far less melodious than English. In fact, people from English-speaking countries may find the Polish way of speaking monotonous. This is because of different pitch and pronunciation patterns.

Nevertheless, intonation is important in Polish; since the word order in affirmatives and interrogatives is often exactly the same, the tone of voice and accent help speakers to differentiate between them.

Idziemy do domu.↘ ( Affirmative sentence)

We’re going home.

Idziemy do domu?↗ (Question)
Are we going home?

Pada śnieg. ↘
It’s snowing.

Pada śnieg?↗
Is it snowing?

Kasia była już w Grecji.↘
Kasia has already been to Greece.

Kasia była już w Grecji?↗
Has Kasia been to Greece yet?

Oni byli wczoraj w domu. ↘
They were at home yesterday.

Oni byli wczoraj w domu?↗
Were they at home yesterday?

As illustrated above, Polish yes-no questions usually have rising intonation:

Lubisz Kasię?↗
Do you like Kasia?

Idziemy do kina?↗

Are we going to the cinema?

Czy my się znamy?↗

Do you know each other?

By contrast, questions beginning with an interrogative pronoun typically have falling intonation:

Gdzie byłeś wczoraj?↘
Where were you yesterday?

Jak możemy się tam dostać?↘
How can we get there?

Co powinnam zrobić?↘
What should I do?

Of course, this is only a general rule. Polish intonation depends heavily on the intentions of a speaker. The best way to learn it is to listen to native speakers and try to notice how they change it to suit different question types and moods.

And here is a little video to show you the intonation:

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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.


Comments:

  1. John:

    Thank you Kasia for your lessons. Your family is very similar to mine and we have taught our daughter Polish too from birth. I am in Poland now. Some of these I know, but others not so well. I plan on using some of these expressions dozens of times from today.

  2. Lynn Dunegan:

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