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How to use conjunctions in Polish Posted by on Jun 4, 2014 in Grammar, Polish Language

Conjunctions (spójniki) are words that link different parts of a sentence together. A simple sentence won’t have any conjunctions, just a subject, a verb, and an object: ‘I went to the shop”, where ‘I’ is the subject, ‘to go’ is the verb, and ‘shop’ is the object. But some sentences, known commonly as complex sentences (złożone zdania), will have a bit more information, and often to fit this in, we use conjunctions.

Image by Cast a Line on Flickr.com

Image by Cast a Line on Flickr.com

In English the most common conjunction is probably ‘and’, but there are loads more that we use frequently. Notice how words like ‘or’, ‘both’, ‘either’ and ‘neither’, ‘although’, ‘because’ and ‘since’, allow us to add more information to a sentence without starting a new one.

In Polish conjunctions are used in precisely the same way, adding clauses to sentences to give more information. However, there is no direct translation for many English conjunctions into Polish, and many function in different ways than we are used to.

Today let’s take a look at some of the simpler conjunctions in Polish, and some more complex ones.

Three of the most useful conjunctions in Polish (as in English) are probably, a (and),i (and),albo (or).

You are probably thinking…’how can both, ‘a’ and ‘i’ mean the same thing?!’ That’s because Polish divides the usage of the English ‘and’ into two separate functions, ‘and’ to mean ‘also’, and ‘and’ to mean ‘while’. Simply put, one lists things, while the other indicates that you are speaking about a different action or event.

For example, if I wanted to say ‘my dog and my cat’, I would use the Polish i, to signify that this is just a list of things: Mój pies i mój kot. But, if I wanted to describe two actions for example, I would use the Polish a: Jestem studentem, a ty jesteś nauczycielem (I am a student, and you are a teacher).

Sometimes a can also mean ‘but’, though only in particular circumstances: ‘’To Kasia, a kto to?’ (That is Kasia, but (and) who is that?).

The Polish word for but is “ale”, and it is used in the same way as its English counterpart: Uczę się polskiego, ale polski jest bardzo trudny (I am learning polish, but it is very hard).

After you have got the hang of the simpler conjunctions, learning some of the harder ones is a great way to make your speaking more dynamic; imagine not being able to say words like ‘because’, ‘rather’ or ‘although’ in English. Hopefully this list of conjunctions and usage examples will help:

Lubię Janka aczkolwiek czesami jest bardzo irytujący. ( I like John, although he is really annoying sometimes.)

Kocham szkołę ponieważ jest fajna. (I love school because it is fun.)

To jest zarazem dobre I złe. (This is good and at the same time bad.)

Jej pies nie może zasnąć dopóki się z nim nie pobawi. (Her dog cannot fall asleep unless/while she will play with him.)

Lubię to, jednakże wolę tamto. (I like this, however I prefer that.)

Just as in English, conjunctions are a great way to add fluency to your speaking, making you sound less like a foreigner and more like a native, whilst allowing you to make more complex sentences with greater meanings.

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.


Comments:

  1. Stan:

    Just as there is a different use for i and a when saying and, which has been explained here, could you please also explain the difference between bo and poniewaz (because) when using them.