Digraphs – dwuznaki Posted by on Apr 23, 2012 in Grammar

A combination of two letters representing one sound is called digraph (dwuznak, plural: dwuznaki). There are few of these in Polish language.

Here they are as well as examples of words we use them in:

CH – In modern standard Polish, “ch” is pronounced identically to “h”. It obviously makes the pronunciation aspect easier while messing up the simplicity of the spelling at the same time… For most Polish students, learning when to use “ch” and “h” is a painful process involving hours of writing mind-bogglingly boring dictations. The same goes for rz and ż, and for u and ó.

chodnik (pavement)

chemia (chemistry)

chleb (bread)

chirurg (surgeon)

chmura (cloud)

chrześcijaństwo (christianity)

 CZ – This sound is pronounced similarly to the English ch in chalk

czas (time)

czerwony (red)

czasami (sometimes)

człowiek (person)

czytać (to read)

czuć (to feel)

 DZ –  it becomes softer sound when followed by “i” (for example “dzik” – boar)

dzwon (bell)

dzban (jug)

– Try not to confuse it with ć or dż!

więk (sound)

wig (lift, elevator)

wignia (lever)

 DŻ – It sounds more or less like the English j in Joe.

em (jam)

dżdżownica (earthworm)

dżdżysty (rainy)

ungla (jungle)

insy (jeans)

entelmen (gentleman)

 RZ – You pronounce it identically to ż – practically the same as the s in leisure or pleasure.

rzecz (thing)

rząd (row)

rzeka (river)

rzadko (rarely)

rzeczownik (noun)

rzeczoznawca (expert)

 SZ – similar to English “sh” in shovel

szary (gray)

szpilka (pin)

szczery (honest)

szarlotka – (apple pie)

szalony (crazy)

szczęście (happiness)[/youtube

Let me know if you have questions:)

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

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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.


  1. Robert Czernkowski:

    Hmm, rz and ż, and ch and h, the same? Not if you listen to my cousins. They are as anal about Polish as I am about English, and they assure me that rz and ż are different sounds. Mind you, in common speech, most people treat them as identical. The same people who pronounce ę as em, ha ha.

    Nice blog, just found it. Will follow. My Polish has become crap cos I have almost zero daily contact with the lingo, and when I go to Poland I find it is getting harder. Need to read Polish aloud more 🙂

    Druh Scoff

  2. Jim:

    Wish I had you to teach me Polish! My folks spoke the language around me, not to me, so I wouldn’t know what they were saying. So Sad for I feel like I was denied part of my heritage.
    So many Polish families did this and I think it was to our collective detriment.

  3. Casimir Ziezio:

    Ah, yes, the parental secret language. I know it not well. But, white yellow and white work for the Vatican, yellow text on white does not work well………

  4. Casimir Ziezio:

    Ah, yes, the parental secret language. I know it not well. But, while yellow and white work for the Vatican, yellow text on white does not work well………

  5. Olwen Roy-Badziak:

    Czesc, Kasiu! Bardzo ciekawie piszesz, mam nadzieje ze duzo osob skorzysta z Twego bloga. Jestem Irlandka, ktora nauczyla sie mowic po polsku. Jesli ja potrafie, to kazdy Polak tez potrafi! Powodzenia!

  6. Duncan:

    I agree with Casimir, please change the yellow for another colour ( not white ) on my smart phone It is nearly invisible. Never the less thank you for digrapths explaination, very helpful and mist practice.

    • Kasia:

      @Duncan Done, sorry about the problem. You should be able to see it now:)

  7. Duncan:

    Thank you Kasia.

  8. Mark:

    Could you give an in depth explenation on the difference between ś and sz and ć and cz… and how could an American best pronounce them… surely the placement of the tongue must be different in Polish. ..?

  9. Gilek:

    What is the difference between dź and dż ?

  10. Bethany Deaton:

    I love reading through an article that will make people think. Also, thank you for permitting me to comment!