English to Polish

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apertium-en-pl 0.1[edit]

Current coverage: Monodix (499/2855, 17%) — Bidix: (599/2855, 19%) [14:12, 28 October 2007 (UTC)]

Note: the categorized vocabulary list contains some spelling errors, e.g. gogzina (godzina) w pót di dziesiąteh (w pół do dziesiątej).



Polish is a highly inflected language; nouns (and adjectives describing them) are declined according to gender, number, and case. Traditionally, Polish is considered to have 3 genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter), but the more modern view[1] is that is contains 5[2]: masculine person (m1 in Apertium), masculine animate (m2), masculine inanimate (m3), feminine, and neuter. The masculine genders can be thought of as steps: in the absence of a particular rule for that case, the rule beneath applies -- a rule for m3 applies to m2 and m1, a rule for m2 applies to m1.

The cases are: nominative (subject), accusative (object), dative (indirect object), genitive (possessive, negative object, quantities), locative (used only with prepositions), instrumental (by means of something), and vocative (addressing something).


Polish has typically two forms for each verb, the perfective and the imperfective aspect. These usually come with a change in stem, for example:

Imperfective Perfective Gloss
widzieć zobaczyć to see
stawiać postawić to set up

The perfective denotes a completed action. According to Wikipedia, "The aspectual distinctions exist on the lexical level — there is no unique method to form a perfective verb from a given imperfective one."[3]

The imperfective is used for the present tense ('Co robisz?': 'What are you doing?') and for negative commands ('Nie rób tego': 'don't (ever) do that', or to use Hiberno English 'don't be doing that'); the perfective for the simple future ('Czy zrobisz to?': 'Will you do it?') and for positive commands ('Zrób to szybciej': 'Do it faster')

[I]n some verbs the perfective form (for example, napisać) is formed out of an underlying imperfective form (pisać), via a prefixisation process that many linguists would argue is a clear example of derivational morphology. On the other hand, in some verbs the imperfective form (for example, kupować) is formed out of an underlying perfective form (kupić), via a ‘suffixisational’ process that many linguists would argue is a clear example of inflectional morphology. Furthermore, in yet other verbs (namely verbs in suppletive pairs such as brać/wziąć) all linguists (as far as we are aware) would agree that there is no morphological link whatsoever between the two verbs. [4]

Apertium notes

As this is lexicalised, there is only one way to deal with it, and that is in the dictionaries, each verb will have two entries in the bilingual dictionary, one for perfective and one for imperfective.

For example:

    <e><p><l>read<s n="vblex"/></l><r>czytać<s n="vblex"/><s n="imperf"/></r></p></e>
    <e><p><l>read<s n="vblex"/></l><r>przeczytać<s n="vblex"/><s n="perf"/></r></p></e>

Further complications[edit]

As well as perfective/imperfective pairs, there are also habitual verbs (czytywałem - I used to read from time to time), and there are pairs which distinguish between non-determined and determined motion (chodzić - to go, with no particular destination in mind vs. iść - to go, with a destination in mind).

Młynarczyk[4] argues that Polish aspect can be further divided, based on the addition of "empty" prefixes, the prefix po, the infix , or with a morphonological change, and provides this table:

ep po- -ną- mpc
class1 yes
class2 yes
class3 yes yes
class4 yes yes yes
class5 yes

Labenz [5] further refines this:

Class Aspect and formant Aktionsart Example
1s impfv state wierzyć 'to be believing'
1s pfv, ep inception of an ongoing state uwierzyć 'to have started believing'
1t impfv transition grubnąć 'to be growing fat(ter)'
1t pfv, ep completed transition zgrubnąć 'to have grown fat'
2 impfv activity siedzieć 'to be sitting'
2 pfv, po- terminated activity posiedzieć 'to have been sitting a bit'
3 impfv ongoing accomplishment czytać 'to be reading'
3 pfv, ep accomplishment przeczytać 'to have read'
3 pfv, po- terminated accomplishment poczytać 'to have been reading a bit'
4 impfv semelfactive activity pukać 'to be knocking'
4 pfv, ep completed semelfactive zapukać 'to have knocked'
4 pfv, po- non-minimal semelfactive popukać 'to have been knocking a bit'
4 pfv, -ną- minimal semelfactive puknąć 'to have knocked once'
5 pfv, mp achievement kupić 'to have bought'
5 impfv ongoing achievement kupować 'to be buying'

In Apertium, these aspect differences can be handled in the Polish monodix.



Polish doesn't have articles, so translating English→Polish, we'll need to remove them, translating Polish→English, we'll need to add them. There are, however, some cases[6] where we can add them.

   Mam               zegar
   have+I            clock+nom
`I have a clock'
Apertium notes

There aren't really any rules to this, so the fallback will be "if we can't tell for sure, leave them out".

Word order[edit]

Basic English and Polish word order are the same, SVO; however, as Polish morphology details the part of speech, Polish word order can vary to provide emphasis.

"Ja kocham Ciebie" = "I love you"

"Ciebie ja kocham" = "I love you"

Object dropping[edit]

In answering questions, it is common in Polish to omit the object ("Czy kupiłeś piwo? - Kupiłem": "Did you buy beer? - I bought"). However, as Polish speakers of English commonly drop the object in English, perhaps it's acceptable for us to do so too.[7]


The Polish reflexive/distributive pronoun 'się' (and its forms) is rather difficult to handle[8] [9]. This may require separate dictionary entries for each form in some cases, but as it may be shared between verbs, or placed freely almost anywhere within a clause, it may be difficult to determine which form to use.


On kocha się - he loves himself (reflexive)
Oni kochają się - they love each other (distributive)
[Oni kochają siebie - they love themselves (reflexive)]
On myje się - he washes himself (reflexive)
Oni myją się - they wash themselves (reflexive)
[Oni myją się nawzajem - they wash each other (distributive)]


Polish-English texts under free licences[edit]

See also: Corpora

Polish texts under free licences[edit]

Other Open Source translation software[edit]

Polish grammar[edit]

Translation Guides[edit]