Grammar and Spelling
Section One - Grammar and Spelling
1. Gender and case: There are three genders - masculine, feminine and neuter - and seven cases that determine the endings of other nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. in Polish.
Genders are not easily recognisable, but a crude hint could be:
2. One-letter words: i (and), z (with, from), w (in, at), o (about, at), a (and, while), u (in, at).
3. Capitalisation: Upper case for polite forms of address is used for pronouns in the second person singular and plural: Ty (sing. informal), Wy (pl. informal), Pan/Pani (sing. formal), Państwo (pl. formal). These forms are all nominative case, in other cases the endings change and occasionally the root changes (e.g. from Ty to Ciebie). Lower case can also be used for these forms depending on the context.
Capitalisation rules are similar to English for proper names and at the beginning of sentences, but are different for:
- Headings/titles, where only the first letter of the first word is capitalised, although there are exceptions to this rule (names of magazines, newspapers, publication series). There is also an option to have all the letters in a title capitalized, e.g. YELLOW PAGES.
- Bullet points, which can start with either upper or lower case. Lower case is more likely if the points complete the sentence, but on the whole it seems that more often bullet points start with upper case.
- Days of the week/months/languages/academic titles (e.g. dr, mgr = Master of Arts), which all begin with lower case.
- Polite forms of address for second person singular and plural, which begin with upper case.
4. Plural: Nouns following the digits 2, 3 and 4 take the nominative ending, whereas all other numbers, including all those between 10 and 20, require the noun to be in the genitive.
Section Two - Punctuation
1. Full stops: No full stop after the main title on the title page. No full stop after the title/heading that is all in upper or lower case (can be used where only the first letter is upper case).
2. Bullet points: Either no punctuation marks at the end of any points (but the last one can be followed by a full stop), or a comma or a semi-colon at the end of each point with the last one being followed by a full stop. Bullet points may all end with a full stop if they are all full grammatical sentences.
3. Spacing: No spacing between the last letter and punctuation marks, i.e. end?, end!, end:, end... etc.
4. Dashes: No dash after a colon as there is in English sometimes, i.e. 'end:' is fine, but not ' end:-'.
5. Speech marks:
English: "I'm so tired," he said, "I just want to
go home". In most Polish novels, dashes are used instead of speech marks:
Please note that the first quotation mark is placed low.
Section Three - Measurements and Abbreviations
1. Measurements: Only metric measurements are used.
Time: 24 hour clock, so 10 am is 10.00 and 3 pm is 15.00. The abbreviation godz. (time, hour, o'clock) is sometimes used before the numbers, e.g. godz. 15.00.
Date: usually written 25.8.99 or 25/08/99 or 25.08.1999. The usual order is day.month.year, but in computer printouts the reversed order and hyphens are occasionally used: year-month-day. The abbreviation r. (year) can optionally be used after the numbers, e.g. 25.8.99 r.
The decimal comma is used (3,7%) and numbers over 999 can be separated by a space (16 000) or a dot (16.000). Though it is also acceptable to use no thousand separator.
No space in 34°C or 34%, but spaces are left before all other measurements, i.e. 25 cm; 48 g, etc.
Currency: i.e. 20 zł or 20 PLN. The abbreviation PLZ is the symbol of the old Polish currency and is no longer valid.
Thousands: tys = 1000, therefore 2 tys = 2000.
Dear Sir / Madam = Szanowny Panie (when writing to a man) / Szanowna Pani (when writing to a woman) / Szanowni Państwo (general, when you don't know the sex of the addressee)
m (for metre) = m
EMEA (Europe, Middle-East & Asia) = Europa, Bliski Wschód
There are strict rules in Polish governing the use of full stops in abbreviations, e.g. dr (= doctor) never has a full stop unless it refers to a male and is not in the nominative.
r. = year
Section Four - Hyphenation
Hyphens are used occasionally, e.g. to combine double surnames, two colours (e.g. czarno-biały = black and white), two languages/nations (e.g. polskoangielski = Polish-English).
As a general rule, hyphens are used after vowels, e.g. ala-basater, dru-karka.
If there are two or more consonants, the hyphen should come after the first one, e.g. przed-stawić, roz-winąć. Exceptions are when the sound is ch, cz, sz, dż, dz, dź, rz, as they consistute single sounds. The rz sound may be split in some rare cases, where it stands for two separate sounds. Although there are two consonants they represent a single sound, therefore they cannot be divorced!
If there are no consonant clusters, hyphenate after a vowel, e.g. za-wo-dowy.
Section Five - Miscellaneous Peculiarities
The usual form for writing names is name followed by surname, or sometimes two or three names followed by a surname. In some rare cases the surname is written in front of the name to underline formal tone, but it is becoming rare and old fashioned.
rz, sz, cz, ch, dż, dz, dź represent one sound and should not be hyphenated.
Polite form - you, to you = Ci, Tobie, Ciebie, Was - should be in capital letters.
Proper nouns (e.g. PostScript) can sometimes start with a lower case letter, depending on the grammatical context.
Section Six - Geographic Distribution
Polish is the only official language, used in all contexts and all regions in Poland.
Polish is spoken by almost all of the 35 million inhabitants of Poland, by about 700,000 people in the United States, and by smaller groups in Lithuania, Ukraine, Canada, Brazil and other countries. It is one of the Slavic languages and thus part of the Indo-European family. Polish vocabulary naturally resembles that of the other Slavic languages.
Polish is spoken/used in the following countries:
Source: http://www.worldlanguage.com/Languages/Polish - Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.
Section Seven – Character Set
[ ] = Alt key codes
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