Major mistakes THE POLISH make

Finally. I’ve been waiting for this article for months and finally it’s coming out! You know, native speakers aren’t always correct. It happens in every language, so it surely won’t be a surprise when I tell you that we have the same problem in Polish. In this article I will list mistakes that Polish people make in their own language. And there are quite a few of them…


Włanczać, wyłanczać. Włączać, wyłączać. This mistake exists, fortunately, only in spoken language. Of course, I crossed out the mistake and wrote in bold the correct way of saying it.

Wziąść. Wziąć. We all have already heard this, right? Or at least „about” this. Why do some Poles say „wziąść” when it’s even MORE DIFFICULT to pronounce than „wziąć” (the correct form)?

Treating non–masculine–personal nouns as masculine–personal. I have already written an article about this topic. It should be read also by some Poles. I saw exactly the same mistakes in books: „dwoma” (masculine–personal form) connected with (non–masculine–personal) nouns: „kulki” (balls), „drogi” (roads, ways), namely: dwoma kulkami, dwoma drogami. It’s wrong! It should be: dwiema kulkami, dwiema drogami. In these examples the nouns are in narzędnik (the instrumental case), by the way.

Półtorej roku, miesiąca, tygodnia. Półtora roku, miesiąca, tygodnia. „Półtorej” is a feminine form of „półtora” (one and a half) so it can be used with feminine nouns: „półtorej godziny, minuty, sekundy, doby, truskawki, wypłaty”. With masculine nouns we use „półtora”.

Pomarańcz to mój ulubiony owoc. Pomarańcza to mój ulubiony owoc. „Pomarańcz” is the name of a colour (orange), „pomarańcza” is the name of a fruit. But not only oranges brings problems. Grapes bring them too.

Winogron to mój ulubiony owoc. Winogrono to mój ulubiony owoc. „Winogrono” is „one grape”, in plural it’s „winogrona” and we use this form even more often. But the form „winogron” is also very common but mistaken!

Dziś jest trzeci marzec. Dziś jest trzeci marca. This mistake is the analogue of saying „Today it’s the third March”. Of course we should say „Today it’s the third (day) of March”. Also we sometimes ask about the date in an incorrect way.

Którego dziś? Który dziś? It’s a little tricky because we answer „Dziś jest trzeci marca” where „trzeci” is in mianownik (the nominative case) but „marca” is in dopełniacz (the genitive case). But we ask about the number — „trzeci” — that’s why we ask „Który?”, not „Którego?”. We might ironically reply „Marca” to the question „Którego dziś?”, actually…

Dwutysięczny siedemnasty. Dwa tysiące siedemnasty. This is how we read the number of a year. Just like we read 1987 as „TYSIĄC dziewięćset osiemdziesiąty siódmy”, we should ready „DWA TYSIĄCE siedemnasty”.

Poszłem. Poszedłem. „Poszłam” if I am a girl, „poszedłem” if I am a boy. A famous professor Jan Miodek says that if you’re a man and say „poszłem”, you’re just feminising yourself.

Bynajmniej wiem co mówię. Przynajmniej wiem co mówię. People use „bynajmniej” when they should use „przynajmniej” — „at least”. „Bynajmniej” is a particle which emphasises negation. That’s something entirely different.

Z resztą, napewno, narazie, na prawdę, poprostu, conajmniej. Zresztą, na pewno, na razie, naprawdę, po prostu, co najmniej. These words in which we somehow „connect” two existing words create problems because two seperate words also make sense. These, in which we disconnect them, create problems because we might think „Maybe it’s a tricky spelling?”.

Using także as therefore. „Także” means „too, also”. I suggest using the word „zatem” for „therefore”.

Dlatego bo. Dlatego że. You probably know that „dlatego że” and „bo” are the same thing — „because”. Some people mix them and receive „dlatego bo” which doesn’t exist in the correct language.

Z wielkiej litery, z małej litery. Wielką literą, małą literą. This mistake is a Russianism. We correctly say „wielką literą” — in capital.

Nienawidzieć, kupywać, wymyśleć, domyśleć się, łabądź. Nienawidzić, kupować, wymyślić, domyślić się, łabędź. Some people connect „nienawidzić” with „widzieć” and they receive „nienawidzieć”. The form „kupywać” is quite mysterious and I don’t know why some people come up with this. „Wymyślić, domyślić się” are similar to „myśleć” and that’s why you can often hear the mistaken form. Why some say „łąbądź” instead of „łabędź” („swan”)? I don’t know.

Pojedyńczy, tylni. Pojedynczy, tylny. They mean „single (thing)” and „rear”. Why some people use the incorrect form? Who knows. Maybe it sounds better? Not to me though.

Fakt autentyczny. Fakt. I didn’t want to write about logical mistakes because they exist in other languages too but this one is too common. Every „fakt” is „autentyczny”. So we should say just „fakt”.

Wg., dr., mgr.. Wg, dr, mgr. Abbreviations are sometimes tricky but these aren’t. When the last letter of the abbreviation is the last letter of the word we are shortening, then we usually don’t put a dot after it. You can read more about abbreviations in Polish in this article.

Język Polski, polacy, polki. Język polski, Polacy, Polki. We all know that the name of our country is written with „P”. But what about other words connected with Poland? Well… It depends, as you can see. We definitely write adjectives with small letter. On the other hand, names of nations are written with capital letter. But not only countries create problems.

Wrocławiak, Wrocławianin. wrocławianin. First of all, we write names of inhabitants of cities in lowercase. Second of all, the correct forms of names of inhabitants of Polish cities (almost?) always end with –nin. Forms such as „warszawiak”, „krakowiak”, „wrocławiak”, „poznaniak” are used but they’re not neutral, they’re a little offensive. Unfortunately, many people aren’t aware of it!

Orginalny. Oryginalny. A mistake caused by almost unhearable „y” in this word.

Dyplom dla Adama Nowak. Dyplom dla Adama Nowaka. I received a few times a diploma in which my surname was not declined. I’ll paraphrase a legendary Polish linguist Jan Miodek: every surname in Polish should be declined! Only surnames with endings –er, –el can be declined in two ways („e” can evanesce or not).

Nadczo, natczo, naczczo. Na czczo. This causes problems! It’s an expression which means „on empty stomach”. The word „czczo” exists (practically) only in this phrase. That’s why people sometimes can’t write it.

Proszę panią. Proszę pani. This mistake is so common! Unfortunately I can’t even explain why we should say „proszę pani”. It’s an expression we say when we want to be noticed by a woman. For example children say it to a teacher at school when they want to ask a question.

Oglądać telewizor, widzieć coś w telewizorze, słyszeć coś w telewizorze. Oglądać telewizję, widzieć coś w telewizji, słyszeć coś w telewizji. Well, you can watch the device but it’s not really interesting. It’s probably black and made of plastic. But why don’t you watch these moving images? That’s called „telewizja”.

Pisze. Jest napisane. „Pisze” is the active form, not passive! When you see a word, it’s already written — „jest napisane”. „W tej książce jest napisane, że…”. But you can also say „W tej książce pisze” but you must say who is writing. For example: „J.K. Rowling pisze w tej książce, że Harry Potter jest czarodziejem”.

Uczelnii, opini. Uczelni, opinii. At the end two mistakes that I sometimes make. „I”, „ii”, „ji” at the end of a word is hell. The rule is based on pronunciation about which Poles don’t even care. The thing is you pronounce „uczelńa” (uczelnia) but „opinja” (opinia) (according to scientists). In practice, hardly anyone is aware of it! I got to know about it a few weeks ago! When nobody knows the rule, it’s difficult to follow, isn’t it?

Michał i Marcin to bracia. Oboje są wysocy. Michał i Marcin to bracia. Obaj są wysocy. This mistake I commit all the time, literally. We use „obaj” when we say about two men. „Obie” when about two women. „Oboje” when about a man and a woman. All these words mean „both”. Sometimes when I say „Oboje są wysocy”, I hear the reply „Oboje to takie instrumenty”. Because „oboje” is also the plural for „obój” — „oboe” (an instrument).

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