How to learn key phrases in Polish

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To a native English speaker, Polish can appear a daunting language with consonant clusters and a complicated grammar. However, knowledge of a few essential phrases that are applicable to travel in any country will make a visit to Poland easier and more enjoyable. Polish is a phonetic language; it is pronounced as it is spelled. Once a visitor learns a few rules, the pronunciation becomes easier.

Learn greetings and related phrases. The term for “hello” during the day is “dzien dobry”. Pronounce the “dz” as the letter “j” in the name “Jim”, and the end letter “y” as the “i” in “big”, giving a sound like “jen dobri”. Say "dobry wieczor" for "good evening", pronounced "dobri vyechoor". A more formal way of saying hello is “witam”, with the “w” pronounced as a “v”. “Goodbye” in Polish is “do widzenia” , pronounced “do veejenya”. A more informal greeting is “czesc”, pronounced “cheshch”. “Do zobaczenia” is a less formal way of saying “goodbye”. It literally means “see you” and is pronounced “do zobachenya”.

Learn “yes” and “no”. “Tak” in Polish means “yes” and is pronounced as it is written. “No” in Polish is “nie” and pronounced “nye”.

Understand expressions of politeness. In common with other European languages, there are formal and informal ways of addressing someone. When asking anything of anyone, the polite way to address someone is through the third person. “Pan” means “sir, or Mr” while “Pani” is “Miss, Mrs, or Ms”. Both these words are pronounced as they are written. The familiar form of “you” is “ty”, pronounced “ti”.

Learn further polite expressions. “Thank you” in Polish is “dziekuje” pronounced “jenkuye”. “Please” is “prosze”, pronounced “proshe” for a beginner in Polish. “Excuse me” is “przepraszam”, pronounced “psheprasham”. It can also mean “sorry”. This is a very important word as you are able both to apologise for something, and draw attention to yourself without being too intrusive.

Say “gdzie jest…..” when asking for directions to any street or building. This means “where is” and is pronounced “gje yest”. When shopping, ask for the price by saying “ile to kosztuje”, pronounced “eele to koshtuye”.

Learn to count to at least four. “Jeden”, “dwa”, “trzy”, “cztery”, means “one”, “two”, “three”, “four”. These words are pronounced “yeden”, “dva”, “chi”, “chteri” respectively.

Learn to say that you do not understand the language and to ask if someone speaks English. “Nie rozumiem” means “I don’t understand” and is pronounced “nye rozumyem”. “Do you speak English” is “Czy Pan / Pani mowi po angielsku?”, pronounced "chi Pan / Pani movie po angyelskoo?”.

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