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Negation Posted by on Apr 6, 2011 in Grammar

Learning the Polish negation is very important, because its structure is used in every day conversation. Polish negation is the process that turns an affirmative statement (I am happy) into its opposite denial (I am not happy).

When a verb is negated, the negative particle nie is always placed immediately in front of it. Nothing can separate a verb from the negative particle nie.

Nie mam czasu. I don’t have time.

Nie kupię chleba. I won’t buy bread.

Nie wiem o co ci chodzi. I don’t know what are you talking about/what you want.

When placed before one-syllable verbs, the particle nie takes the stress:

NIE chcę, NIE wiem, NIE dam.

When using words like nothing, never, nowhere, and so on, Polish also uses nie before the verb, creating the impression of a “double negation”:

Nic nie mam I don’t have anything.

Nic nie robię. I don’t do anything.

Nic mi się nie chce. I don’t want to do anything.

Nikt tu nie mieszka. No one lives here.

Nikt mnie nie lubi. Nobody likes me.

Nikt nic nikomu nie mówi. No one says anything to anyone.

Another common word that occurs together with nie is żaden, żadna, żadne (none, not any), as in żaden stół nie jest wolny (No table is free).

Verbs which ordinarily take the Accusative case take the Genitive case when negated:

Oglądam telewizję. I’m watching television-Accusative.

Nie oglądam telewizji. I’m not watching television.

The negation of be in its existential sense of there is/are is expressed by nie ma (past nie było, future nie będzie) plus the Genitive case:

W sklepie jest piwo. There is beer in the store.

Nie ma piwa w sklepie. There is no beer in the store.

Nikogo interesującego tam nie było No one interesting was there.

Nie będzie piwa na imprezie. There will be no beer at the party.

Nie can be used in quick questions and answers.

Q: Czy możesz mi to podać? – Can you hand this to me?

A: Nie – No

Q: Czy widziałeś to? Did you see this?

A: Nie – No

Q: Tak? – Yes?

A: Nie – No

I think we covered the whole topic. If I missed anything or if you have a question, please let me know in comments below.

Do następnego razu! (Till next time…)


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About the Author:Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew up in 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. Paddy:

    Thanks – some very interesting points int here I didn’t know!

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