Readers’ Questions – “bez” and “nie” Posted by on May 4, 2009 in Grammar

Yesterday was a public holiday in Poland to celebrate the Constitution of May 3rd, 1791 (Konstytucja Trzeciego Maja). And it made me realize that I didn’t really know all that much about this historical event. So off to google I went. And what did I learn? A whole bunch of really boring historical bits of which only this stuck in my head – that the the Constitution remained in effect for only a year before being overthrown. Hmmm… not a very good track record. When I told my husband, he asked, “And you guys celebrate THAT?” But he did say it was a curious coincidence that Japan also celebrates its Constitution Day on May 3rd.

But let’s move on to more exciting stuff. Warning, warning – grammar ahead!

One of our readers here (hi Bea!) sent an email with a somewhat confusing question:
You quoted “bez wizy” meaning “without a visa”.  This sentence doesn’t require “nie“?

No, it doesn’t require “nie”, because if you are saying that you are without something, that’s all you need to say. That’s how it works in English and luckily it’s almost exactly the same in Polish. I say “almost” because Polish nouns have cases.
So, we say:

  • bez wizy – without a visa, in this context also “no visa necessary”

Want more examples? No problem. Take a look:

  • bez pieniędzy – without money,

For example:
Przyszedł tutaj bez pieniędzy. – He showed here up without money.

  • bez namysłu – without thinking.

For example:
Bez namysłu dalam mu pieniądze. – Without thinking, I gave him money.

  • bez mleka – without milk

Kawę bez mleka proszę. – Coffee without milk, please.

  • bez męża – without (here we stick a possessive pronoun/adjective in English) husband

Przyjechałam do Polski bez męża. – I came to Poland without my husband.

And what can you tell me about the nouns that follow “bez”? Can you guess which case this is? Of course you can! And you don’t even need to guess, because I’m sure you know it already!
Dopełniacz (genitive) – we covered it a while back, remember? Just put “genitive” in the blog’s search box and you should get a list of previous posts on this case.

  • mąż (husband) – nominative, męża – genitive (sounds like accusative, but in this case it’s the genitive we want, trust me)
  • mleko (milk) – nominative, mleka – genitive
  • pieniądze (money, this is plural in Polish) – nominative, pieniędzy – genitive
  • wiza (visa) – nominative, wizy – genitive

See, it wasn’t all that difficult, now was it?

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  1. mandolinlady:

    Hi am an early learner, but found it helpful! thankyou.

  2. Anita:

    Just found your Blog – Great stuff. re. History & 3rd May, would “the short life” have anything to do with the 2d partition of Poland in 1793??