Polish Language Blog

Verb “to like” and its Polish Equivalents Posted by on Feb 2, 2010 in Vocabulary

In our last post we talked quite a bit about liking (or not) something (or someone). And I have finally realized (hey, better late than never!) that maybe this verb – “to like” – is not as clear and straightforward in Polish, as it is in English.

In English it’s used for just about anything. You can use it when talking about food, as in “Do you like this potato salad?”
Or when talking about clothes – “I like this dress.”
Or when talking about people – “I like Anna, she’s so helpful.”

In English you just say “like” and that’s it. “To like” is a very handy verb.
But not so in Polish. Oh no! When translating from English to Polish “to like” can morph into a couple of different things.

Let’s go back to the potato salad for a second (what can I say, I’m hungry):

  • Do you like this potato salad? – Smakuje ci ta sałatka ziemniaczana? (asking someone who just shoved a big forkful into his/her mouth).

See what happened?
Suddenly, “to like” became “smakować”, as in “it tastes good and I like it”.

Of course, you can also say:
Lubię sałatkę ziemniaczaną but this is a very general statement that you like potato salad in general. Whether the verb “to like” morphs into “smakować” or “lubić” when talking about food, you have to figure out based on the context.

Now, let’s go clothes shopping (which reminds me I still need to buy a new pair of gloves, my hands are purple from the cold):

  • I like this hat. – Podoba mi się ta czapka. You’ve just tried it on and you’re going to buy it.

See what happened?
Suddenly, “to like” became “podobać się”, as in: you like something enough to buy it.
Or when commenting on someone else’s stuff:

  • Podobają mi się twoje buty. – I like your shoes.

This “like” can also be used when talking about people. As in:

  • Ona mi się podoba – I like her (the way she looks).

Again, whether “to like” can be translated into Polish as “lubić” or “podobać się”, you need to figure out from the context.

And then there’s this old-fashioned, garden-variety “lubić”:

  • Lubię Anię, bo jest fajną dziewczyną. – I like Ania, because she’s a cool girl.
  • Lubię muzykę i jazdę na nartach. – I like music and skiing.
  • Lubię zapach świeżego chleba. – I like the smell of fresh bread.

And so on…

And that’s pretty much the deal with “to like” in Polish. Fun, isn’t it?

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  1. kuba:

    Na pewno, Anię, jest fajną dziewczyną