Czytać – To read or not to read? Posted by Katarzyna on Jun 28, 2010 in Grammar, Vocabulary
Czytać translated is Polish for to read. I had a long conversation with one of my family members, and they pointed out how this word was simple, yet a very effective learning tool when learning the Polish language. In fact, you can use this to conjugate many verbs ending in -ać. Now I did say many, NOT ALL. As with every rule, there are exceptions. However, this one gives you a great basis, because there are several verbs that have the -ać ending.
This is an imperfective aspect verb, meaning that the action is one that is continuous or incomplete and has no known end. It can be conjugated in past, present and future tenses. So we’ll start with the present tense. Let’s conjugate the verb czytać:
Singular, 1st person czytam (I am reading)
Singular, 2nd person czytasz (You are reading)
Singular, 3rd person czyta (He/she/it is reading)
Plural, 1st person czytamy (We are reading)
Plural, 2nd person czytacie (You are reading)
Plural, 3rd person czytają (They are reading)
Now for the past tense, things get a little interesting. When the verb is conjugated, the ending is based on the gender of the noun that is performing the action.
Singular, 1st person male czytałem (I read)
Singular, 1st person female czytałam (I read)
Singular, 2nd person male czytałeś (You read)
Singular, 2nd person female czytałaś (You read)
Singular, 3rd person male czytał (He read)
Singular, 3nd person female czytała (She read)
Singular, 3nd person neuter czytało (It read)
Plural, 1st person male czytaliśmy (We read)
Plural, 1st person female, neuter or non-personal czytałyśmy (We read)
Plural, 2nd person male czytaliście (You read)
Plural, 2nd personal female, neuter or non-personal czytałyście (You read)
Plural, 2nd personal male czytali (They read)
Plural, 2nd personal female, neuter or non-personal czytały (They read)
And last but not least, we’ll go over the future tense of the verb:
Singular, 1st person male będę czytał (I will read)
Singular, 1st person female będę czytała (I will read)
Singular, 2nd person male będziesz czytał (You will read)
Singular, 2nd person female będziesz czytała (You will read)
Singular, 3rd person male będzie czytał (He will read)
Singular, 3nd person female będzie czytała (She will read)
Singular, 3nd person neuter będzie czytało (It will read)
Plural, 1st person male będziemy czytali (We will read)
Plural, 1st person female, neuter or non-personal będziemy czytały (We will read)
Plural, 2nd person male będziecie czytali (You will read)
Plural, 2nd personal female, neuter or non-personal będziecie czytały (You will read)
Plural, 2nd personal male będą czytali (They will read)
Plural, 2nd personal female, neuter or non-personal będą czytały (They will read)
* Side note, the future tense can also be będę czytać, będziesz czytać, będzie czytać, etc. Essentially, this is the conjugated form of być (to be) plus the infinitive czytać.
There it is; to read conjugated in the past, present and future tenses. When I started learning to read and write, it helped me to take the Polish conjugation and write them over and over. Maybe flash cards will work for you. Whatever method works for you, this is a great verb to start with and to learn the endings. I mentioned early on that there were several verbs that were conjugated like this one. A few more to get started with are:
kochać (to love)
witać (to greet)
śpiewać (to sing)
znać (to know)
pamiętać (to remember)
odwiedzać (to visit someone)
zwiedzać (to visit a place)
Lastly, I mentioned there were some that looked like they may be conjugated like this verb but are not. So as not to confuse the issue, I won’t get into them, however, a couple examples to look out for are the verbs spać (to sleep) and stać (to stand). We’ll go over these in another lesson. And speaking of which, please let us know what you do to help yourself learn Polish verb conjugations. Your little trick may help someone else out there struggling.
Do następnego czytania…
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My relatives have an apartment in Ustronie Morski and Kolobrzeg. And i have been to Hel, from Elblag on a boat through the canal.
I’ve just discovered your blog. It’s an interesting read. I’ve been learning Polish for a few years, and have one question relating to verbs.
In the past tense, you add ‘e’, ‘a’ or ‘o’ to indicate gender, and ‘m’, ‘ś’ or (blank) to indicate person. So, if you’re writing or speaking from the perspective of an inanimate object of neuter gender, for example you’re pretending to be an egg who can read, could you say ‘czytałom’? Or if, for some reason, you’re speaking to an inanimate object. “Drzewu, skąd pochodziłoś?” – “Tree, where did you come from?”
I’ve never seen these forms in use. Are they grammatically possible?
hi Ben, that kind of form doesnt exist. In Polish l sth which hasnt got a gender cant speak:) for example dziecko despite its neutrinum (grammaticaly) is a boy or girl, so child has to say: czytałam or czytałem. If an egg would like to say stth, egg would hv to decide either it’s a boy or girl:)
summary: singular neutrinum verbs from 1st and 2nd person (ja,ty) are not used in Polish although theoretically I guess it would be possible: sth like czytałom, czytałoś but dont think even native Polish could understand this:)
Thanks for your reply. 🙂