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A list of most basic Polish phrases

Posted by Damian Novitzky on 22/06/2019
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Polish always had a reputation of one of the most difficult languages on the planet. In recent years, linguists worldwide agreed and named Polish the hardest language on Earth, surpassing Hungarian and Chinese. We want to help you navigate through sibilant sounds and of those endless hisses of the Slavic tongue. That’s why I’ve made a list of 10 most essential and catchy phrases that will help you on the streets of Poland. This guide will show you how to make a perfect command or everyday idioms.

Let’s start by introducing ourselves with manners:

‘Dzień dobry’ (Good morning) – jine-dobree

A simple hello is essential for getting to start any relationship or even just a conversation. ‘Dzień dobry’ is the default formal/neutral greeting in Polish and occurs in absolutely every day and everywhere in Poland. Literally means ‘good morning’, but the phrase can be used in the early hours and late at night. It’s a proper way to address anyone unknown to you during the first meeting.

‘Jak się masz?’ (How are you?) – yak-she-or-mash

This simple sentence was turned into a famous one-liner, by Borat about a decade ago. Although his character is from Kazakhstan, “Jak się masz” is an excellent phrase to start a conversation with a Polish local. That’s a massive advantage of Slavic family of languages.

Siema (what’s up) – sie-my

Once you know who it is, you’re talking too, go ahead and sink into unexpected ways of communicating. The next time you meet someone, you just bump his fist and confidently say “siema”!

In every language on Earth, basic politeness contains “please”, “sorry” and “thank you”.

‘Przepraszam’ (Sorry) – psh-she-pra-sham

Pretty often it’s demonised by any foreigner who is learning Polish, as one of the most unpronounceable phrases in the whole lexicon. When you got it right, you can use it both to apologise and ask folk to move out of the sidewalk.

‘Proszę’ (please) – proshe

Just put some “proszę” after ordering a local Slavic beer or doing some shopping. It’s called “politeness”. Highly recommend!

‘Dziękuję’ (thank you) – jen-koo-yea

Instead of making a shortcut, like “thanks”, the second of the necessary pleasantries in Polish comes in one word. Minor but useful difference.

‘Nie rozumiem’ (I don’t understand) nie ro-zoo-me-em

Imagine that you’re going back home in Uber and driver starts talking fast in Polish. The classic line “I don’t understand” doesn’t work, so “Przepraszam, nie rozumiem” may just be handy and save you from the linguistic nightmare.

‘Czy mówisz po angielsku?’ (Do you speak English?) – ch-mo-vish-po-ang-ee-el-skew

Remember that Uber situation? A talkative driver is one thing, but sometimes you will face some real difficulties. For instance, when a driver will asking you about the destination. “ch-mo-vish-po-ang-ee-el-skew” is one hell-of-a-sentence, but it can be super useful. Maybe even life-saving, but hope not.

Social interactions contain eventual celebrations with more emotional input. Most common is a birthday or just simple cheering because of someone’s promotion at work. Let’s blend in and learn what to say on happy occasions, shall we?

‘Na zdrowie!’ (Cheers!) – nas-dro-v-yea

I know you probably know it from movies and memes, but a little reminder never hurt anyone. Whenever someone is raising a drink or shot of vodka, instead of cheers, you shout nas-dro-v-yea!  Every darn time. Fun fact – It can also be used, when someone sneeze, as an exclamation towards good health. Just like ‘bless you’.

‘Wszystkiego najlepszego!’ (Happy birthday!) – wsh-ust-key-a-go-ni-lep-shea-go

Next, to the “przepraszam”, this sentence tops the list of hardest to pronounce Polish phrases. I know what you think – it’s not as simple as ‘Happy birthday”, but hey – no one said that a job will be easy.

“Gratulacje!” (congratulation!) – gra-too-la-c-yea

The last one is pretty easy and similar. Whenever your friend or colleague say about a new job or finishing watching all Game of Thrones in just one week, you cheerfully scream gra-too-la-c-yea!

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