Join almost 1 million
monthly
readers!

Contact Me

Coaching and Consultation

Language Hacking League!

Join over 50,000 people to get FREE weekly language hacking tips, cool links, site updates & two free chapters of the Language Hacking Guide!

No Spam. Not ever.

Current Mission:


Coach a monoglot in her first ever successful language learning mission! Learn more!

Previous post:

Next post:

What makes learning Polish so easy?

| 68 comments | Category: guest post, particular languages

Today’s guest post is along the lines of my own posts that Chinese, Hungarian, Turkish, Czech etc. are easier than you think, from someone with good experience learning the umpteenth “world’s hardest language“, Polish!

It turns out that it’s not that bad after all! The Polish language can certainly be as hard or easy as any other language, but its difficulties tend to be more loudly advertised (especially by proud natives) than what is actually pretty straightforward about it.

Given the clear need for a little balance in the universe, I asked David Snopek, from LinguaTrek an American who grew up only speaking English, but now has pretty impressive sounding Polish, to chime in and offer some encouragement to those learning this language!

This blog post is based on this popular video that he made in Polish (click “CC” on Youtube to read subtitles in English):

Over to you David!

All over the internet people are saying that Polish is the HARDEST language to learn or one of the hardest which is just simply not true. You can start learning it for free or very cheap (see recommendations later).

This is a widely held view by many Poles (but not all!) and few will hesitate to share this opinion with foreigners or to defend the language’s honor if someone challenges it. I know because I’ve been learning Polish for about fives years.

I regularly make videos in Polish on various topics and the only video I’ve ever made that still receives thousands of views per month over a year after it was publish is the one above (called Polski NIE jest jednym z najtrudniejszych języków na świecie; English: Polish is NOT one of the hardest languages in the world).

Personally, I think Polish is one of the most beautiful languages in the world! There are many great reasons to learn Polish. For me, learning this language has been a joy and, honestly, has changed my life for the better!

I don’t mean any disrespect to the Polish language – but I’ve talked with many people who rationalized giving up on learning Polish because it was the hardest language in the word and they don’t have a talent for languages. There are even more people who wanted to learn Polish – but gave up before they started, because they were convinced it was too hard.

This opinion isn’t helping anyone!

What makes Polish so hard?

I’ve seen many reasons given, but almost all of them focus the number grammatical forms:

  • Nouns can have three genders (some linguists count five)
  • Each noun and adjective can appear in one of seven cases
  • Verbs conjugate for gender, person, mood and time (depending on how you count, this makes over 25 forms of every verb)
  • Verbs come in two aspects (English doesn’t have grammatical aspect)

Are you scared yet? :-) If you want more (although I don’t recommend it!), see the links I gave at the beginning of the article.

When something gets harder, something else gets easier

It’s my personal theory, that all languages are equally hard. I have no linguistic reference to back this up – only my own intuition and the stories of other language learners – but I think that our brains are only capable of holding a fixed amount of linguistic complexity.

So, if some aspect of the language is harder, than some other aspect is easier – or non-existent!

It’s true that there are lots of forms of each individual word in Polish. And it’s true that if you learn Polish, this will be a challenge for you. But many things that would be challenging in other languages AREN’T in Polish!

No articles

One of the most difficult pieces of grammar to learn in English, is when to use “the”, “a”, “an” or nothing at all. In fact, I don’t personally know any non-native speaker that uses them correctly all the time! This is usually how I can identify non-native speakers when their pronunciation is perfect.

(Luckily for people learning English, articles are also one of the least important parts of English grammar! If you use them incorrectly, people will still understand exactly what you mean.)

Unfortunately, for native speakers of English – when other languages also have articles, the rules for using them are frequently totally different!

In Polish, there are no articles! So, you don’t need to worry about them at all.

No word order

In English and many other languages, the order of the words in a sentence is very important to the meaning. “Jan loves Maria” means something different than “Maria loves Jan” and, of course, “loves Maria Jan” is gibberish.

When learning another language, you may encounter a word order different than that of your native language, providing you with an additional challenge.

In Polish, word order is mostly unimportant!

The following sentences all mean the same thing (“Jan loves Maria”):

  • Jan kocha Marię
  • Marię kocha Jan
  • kocha Jan Marię
  • Marię Jan kocha

You can simply speak as the words come to you and not worry about their order.

There are certain word orders that Poles would consider normal in a specific situation. But they are all understandable! This is used to great effect in music and poetry.

Few verb tenses

In English, we have very few verb forms (ie. the words don’t change much). For example, the verb “do” has only the following five forms: do, does, doing, did, done. But we have lots of verb tenses!

For example:

  • Present simple – I read everyday.
  • Present continuous – I am reading right now.
  • Present perfect – I have read this book before.
  • Present perfect continuous – I have been reading this book for two hours.
  • Future perfect continuous – At 5 o’clock I will have been reading this book for four hours.
  • Past simple – I read all day yesterday.
  • Past continuous – I was reading yesterday.
  • and so on! In total, there are 16 tenses.

If you count tenses the same way in Polish, there are only 5! (Poles count them differently, they’d say there are 3 tenses and 2 aspects.) The following sentences: “I read”, “I am reading”, and “I have been reading” – would all be translated into Polish the same way: “czytam”.

So, forming the verb might be harder in Polish. But knowing when to use which tense, is actually a lot easier!

The alphabet is 95% phonetic!

In English, it can be difficult to know how to pronounce a word from it’s spelling. For example, compare the pronunciation of “oo” in the following words: book, soon, door, flood. It’s different in every word! And there’s no way to know that just from looking at them.

I am a native speaker of English, but even I’ve had the following situation happen to me several times: I’ll learned a new word from reading that I’ve never heard out loud. Then later in a conversation, I’ll try to use it but with the wrong pronunciation and no one knows what I’m talking about! It’s embarrassing, but it’s probably happened to everyone. :-)

On the other hand, the Polish alphabet is almost entirely phonetic. Once you know the rules, you can look at any word and know how to pronounce it.

The opposite isn’t entirely true (hearing a word and knowing how to spell it) but it’s still a lot easier than in English!

Lots of vocabulary with Latin roots

Largely because of its relationship with the Roman Catholic Church, the Latin language has a long history in Poland. Because of this, many words of Latin origin have seeped into the language.

If you speak a language that has borrowed lots of words of Latin origin (like English!), there will be some familiar vocabulary.

For example, many words ending in -cja are directly related to English words ending in -tion:

  • motywacja – motivation
  • sytuacja – situation
  • promocja – promotion
  • and many more!

How to get started learning Polish online?

I think the fact that so few people learn Polish helps perpetuate the view that Polish is so hard. I personally know dozens of people who learned to speak Polish at a very high-level. But frequently when I meet a Pole, they say I’m the first foreigner they’ve ever met who can speak Polish!

Please, help me change this! :-)

Like learning any language, all that’s required is a little time, motivation and an effective method.

If you want to get started learning Polish, I recommend the following resources:

  • Natural Language Learning (Without a Teacher!) – My FREE ebook, which you will receive if you subscribe to my blog! In it, I describe the exact method I used to learn Polish and how to create your own method that will allow you to learn any language on your own. It’s available in both English and Polish.
  • Don’t start learning Polish with the grammar! – An article on my blog where I try to convince you NOT to do what most Polish language courses do: focus on nothing but grammar for years before actually having contact with the real language.
  • Real Polish – A blog and podcast in Polish with some excellent content for learners.

I wish you the best of luck in your language learning journey!

Do widzenia! Pozdrawiam!

Any comments, or other words of encouragement for learners of Polish? Share them with us in the comments below!

***********************

Enter your email in the top right of the site to subscribe to the Language Hacking League e-mail list for way more tips sent directly to your inbox!

If you enjoyed this post, you will love my TEDx talk! You can get much better details of how I recommend learning a language if you watch it here.

This article was written by

Comments: If you liked this post or have anything to say, please leave a comment! I love reading them :)
Just keep in mind that I’ll delete any rude, trolling, spammy, irrelevant or way off-topic comments. Also, use your REAL name, not a brand or business one, and don’t link to your site in the comments unless it’s relevant to this post.
If you have a general language learning question, please ask it in the forums. Otherwise please use the search tool on the right for any other question not related to this post.

———————————–

  • Marek

    Pozdrowienia z Polski!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1046691305 Veronica Nelson

    Wow, I’m a native and I didn’t even know English had that many verb tenses! It’s funny how you just learn things without learning the grammar behind them for your native language. I don’t know why everyone insists you HAVE to learn grammar first with a second language. I don’t mind it because it helps me learn, but there are other ways to learn a language. Your mind is amazingly good at picking up patterns. :)
    Thanks for the awesome blog post! I’m not learning Polish, but this is applicable to any language!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000704616791 Edmund Yong

      Agreed! Native normally don’t have to learn grammar. I had a hard time in English Tenses and super irregular pronunciation. I’m a native Chinese and learn English in school since kindergarten but schools are always terrible in language teaching so it ended up many Malaysian people can only write English. I’m lucky to be helped by ‘Harry Potter’, films ,songs and so forth. umm… Chinese learner, is there any tenses at all in Chinese? I think there isn’t.   

  • Rémi

    Very interesting. I have a polish friend that might want to help me with that!

  • MidlifeSinglemum

    There is a lot of Polish and Russian that has seeped into Modern Hebrew because of the nature of the first big Jewish immigration in the 1880s. So we also use words such as ‘informatzia’, ‘motivatzia’ and ‘protectzia’. Hey, I can speak Polish and I didn’t even know it!

  • http://twitter.com/kantanda Kantan da!

    Cześć!

    Wow, David, I’m a native Polish speaker and teacher and I always think that Poles are just as easily impressed with foreigners speaking their language as Japanese people (commenting on someone who an say “Hello” – “Nihon-go ga jouzu desu ne” [You are veru skilled in Japanese!]). this is because we are aware that we have high amount of difficult phonemes and the case system more complicated than in neighbouring countries. But I am more than glad that someone who LEARNS Polish is able to advocate its non-complex features. 

    You sir, deserve a big, fat hug! 
    *tulas* 

  • http://www.facebook.com/freekarol Karol Darvas

    Polish is also difficult because of its pronunciation. I know there is a difference between ś and sz or between ć or cz. But I dont know how to make the ś and ć sounds. ;)

    • http://twitter.com/tomfrompoland Tom from Poland

       For Polish natives the same is in English, for example a in apple, bad etc. It’s hard because we don’t have this sound in our mother languages.

    • http://www.linguatrek.com/ David Snopek

      Well, I think this comes in stages. :-) First of all, there are very few words where mixing up ć and cz can change the meaning of the word. And when there is, context will almost always indicate which it is. But after listening to lots of Polish, you will slowly be able to hear the difference. Once you can hear it reliably, you’ll eventually learn how to pronounce it.

      I’m still working on learning how to pronounce it, but I can hear it when native speakers speak now. :-)

      Best of luck in your Polish studies!

      Regards,
      David.

  • http://howlearnspanish.com/ Andrew

    This is fantastic, I’ve just been learning a few things about Poland that made me much more interested in visiting there than I was before and I much prefer to become at least moderately proficient in the native language of a country prior to visiting it for any period of time (anything more than a few weeks), so I’ve been kind of wondering about whether I should learn Polish and if so when and how and all that whatnot.

    I completely understand what you’re saying about all languages being roughly equally difficult which makes perfect sense when you think about it: they all do the same thing, express what people want to say, and people want to be able to say about the same amount of stuff the world over–the Japanese don’t have significantly more things to say or express than the Poles or French or Brazilians, you know? So those languages will all be of approximately the same ‘size’ if you will, some of  them might be a bit more efficient than others but it’s almost certainly not going to be by a significant margin–we’re all about the same average level of intelligence and therefore no one’s language is going to be significantly easier or more difficult than anyone else’s.  I’m not sure that made the best of sense but that’s sort of how I’m conceptualizing it.

    Excellent article and video, I’ll be sure to look you up when I start into Polish.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  • TLH

    Thank you for posting this!  I’ve been studying Polish for about a month and it’s really not as difficult as people make it out to be as long as you’re persistent.  Although I might have had a head start, because I already speak German, so the idea of a case system isn’t so scary to me anymore.  Even the cases are manageable if you see enough examples of them being used correctly.  Polish is such a beautiful and expressive language.

  • http://mainlymagyar.wordpress.com/ Bliddy

    Great post!
    I wrote an article on my mainlymagyar blog about how “Hungarian is the Hardest Language in the World!” (it isn’t really!!)  All languages are difficult – and all of them are easy!  It really does depend on your motivation and your mindset.

  • http://twitter.com/KarolGajda Karol Gajda

    1) Thank you for posting this.
    2) I have no clue what anybody is talking about when they mention grammar rules in English, much less Polish. If I had to take an English exam I would likely fail. (I used to use English classes as nap time.) How is it possible I can write/read/speak English? ;)
    3) I speak Polish. Grew up in the US (since before age of 1), but was born in Poland. I’m currently in Wroclaw.

    I mess up a lot speaking Polish, but everybody understands me, and I think more than anything else that is most important. My pronunciation is pretty darn good, but I use unnatural word orders/tenses/all that other stuff. And my vocabulary is lacking compared to my English vocab.

    I have also heard many Poles and foreigners say the language is difficult. “How often do you use it outside of a classroom?” Answer is usually, “I don’t.” Well, Spanish (or insert your favorite “easy” language here) is difficult for *me* since I don’t use it in real life situations either.

    It’s an issue of perspective and it’s not unique to just languages.

    I’ve heard Guitar is a difficult instrument. But so is piano. And so is harmonica. And so is every instrument until you learn it. I’ve played guitar for most of my life so it’s easy and I could probably teach most people to play a song within 30 minutes. I’ve played piano for much less of my life (and never have one to play on) so it’s a lot more difficult. And harmonica I’ve practiced for about 2 weeks so it’s “the most difficult instrument in the world.”

    Thanks again.

    Pozdrawiam!
    -Karol

    • Luciana

      best reply ever!

  • http://www.linguatrek.com/ David Snopek

    Dzięki. :-) Osobiście przetłumaczyłbym np. “I have been reading for two hours” na “Czytam od dwóch godzin”, więc to miałem na myśli. Pozdrawiam serdecznie, David.

  • http://www.linguatrek.com/ David Snopek

    Thanks! Well, the problem is that if it had articles, the rules to use them would probably be different. I don’t speak Spanish, but a buddy of mine does and one day he tried to explain to me how articles work in Spanish since you can end up with phrases like El David (The David) which wouldn’t make sense in English. Needless to say, even with similar seeming articles, the rules are not 1-to-1 to English. The same goes for languages with lots of verb tenses – they wouldn’t necessarily line up with the system in your native language.

    In any case, that’s awesome that you’re learing Polish! I wish you luck on your language learning journey – let me know how it goes with Harry Potter!

    Regards,
    David.

  • http://www.linguatrek.com/ David Snopek

    Dzięki. :-) Pozdrawiam serdecznie, David.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YCINJXODIKMDMME47X447A3XC4 S.D.I.

    Honestly, I think the hardest thing about any language is vocabulary. I think people make too much out of grammar and phonology. The later comes naturally with exposure, whereas the former *will* take longer if it’s futher away from your language.

    Also, I don’t know if it has to do with Catholicism. Serbia is a historically Orthodox country, and the language is full of Latin loans (we also have motivacija, situacija and promocija). Although granted, we do share our language with historically Catholic and Muslim peoples (Catholics and Bosniaks).

    • http://www.linguatrek.com/ David Snopek

      I agree completely! I even wrote an article about it:

      http://www.linguatrek.com/blog/2010/12/vocabulary-the-biggest-challenge-in-language-learning

      But for some reason, people do tend to focus on grammar and phonology.

      To the Catholic connection: you know… I think you’re right. Latin did get more use in Poland due to Catholicism, but that probably isn’t why those words are in Polish. Because there are many similar words in Russian too! I’m not sure who to blame: Rome, use of Latin in academia, etc? In any case, those loan words are there now! :-)

      Best regards,
      David.

  • http://twitter.com/rooshv Roosh

    I love Polish women.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

      Me too ;)

  • http://www.linguatrek.com/ David Snopek

    Nie dokładnie. Bo “I have been reading for two hours” znaczy nie tylko, że “czytałem przez 2 godziny” ale, że nadal teraz czytam. “I was reading for two hours” znaczy dokładnie “czytałem przez 2 godziny”. Mam nadzieję, że to ma sens! Pozdrawiam, David.

  • http://www.linguatrek.com/ David Snopek

    Thanks! I absolutely agree. :-) Regards, David.

  • http://www.linguatrek.com/ David Snopek

    I met a Korean woman in Poland who spoke really good Polish! She actually had terrible problems with English and it was really hard for her. :-) But I think it was a question of motivation.

    I agree with your idea that it’s difficult to transform your way of thinking! I’ve seen Americans learning Polish encountering the same problem. I remember being on the Polish course, where I first attempted (and failed) to learn the language. There were people who said things like “Why do they do it that way in Polish? It’s stupid. The way we do it in English is just fine.” :-) There was a resistence to the differences in the language.

    In any case, I agree with the commenter below. It’s difficult if you look at it as difficult. If you just focus on communication, however, you’ll enjoy yourself and before you know it – you’ll have learned the language. ;-)

    I wish you continued success with your Polish!

    Best regards,
    David.

  • http://www.linguatrek.com/ David Snopek

    Thanks! I wish you continued success with your Polish! Regards, David.

  • Mariusz Jamro

    Gre

  • http://twitter.com/waegook_tom Tom Stockwell

    Ahh Polish…I was there for a couple of weeks earlier in the year. All I could say was, “nie mowie po polsku.” It came in handy. Definitely a tricky language, but they have the most satisfaction – I’m learning Korean (considered super hard for English speakers) but if you put your mind to it, it can be achieved!

  • Marion Cottil

    Słuszne spostrzeżenia :) moje gratulacje i również pozdrawiam z Polski :P

  • http://www.linguatrek.com/ David Snopek

    Hi Alex!

    To be honest, I only have cursory understanding of grammar terminology. If you say “continuous” and “perfect” are aspects, I beleive you. :-) But it’s definitely different than Polish’s system. In Polish, most verbs come in pairs with the same meaning: one you use when you want the imperfective aspect and the other for perfective. In any case, the Polish system always seemed simpler than the English on to me. But that is very subjective!

    Thanks for the comment!

    Regards,
    David.

  • Pippa

    I really want to learn polish and I have some of the basic pronunciation and meanings down ok but the section where you point out grammer is NOT the place to start really encouraged me as I’d dived right in with the vocab and phrases. 

  • http://www.linguatrek.com/ David Snopek

    Yeah, in Polish there is something similar: the word “się”. And there is a natural place for it to land that will sound best for native speakers. BUT you can put it anywhere and they’ll still understand, it’ll just seem a little unnatural. This is actually something that I’ve only recently started to make headway on! In the past, I just put it after the verb for simplicity but now I’m starting to feel where it should go. But it’s taken a while. :-)

    I wish you further success with your Czech!

    Best regards,
    David.

  • Sam Tureski

    This is amazing! Thank you so much!!

  • Donna

    I’m ready to explode!!! I’m currently living in Warsaw and taking a language course to help me learn Polish and I’m having a nightmare with the “Tense’s” I just can’t get past them, just when I think I’ve cracked it, along comes another huge confusion. I don’t understand how I could learn properly without familiarising myself with the 7 tense’s first. I’m doing OK with my understanding, reading and pronunciation (although I still avoid saying the Polish number 3 or anything involving it :) damn you English tongue!)

    Thank you for this site, I’m going to have a good look around and see if I can pick up any tips to make it a bit easier.

    Oh speaking of the “Polish is so difficult” brigade, the best statement I’ve heard is – Learning Polish is only for intelligent people :) I think I’d best quit now if that’s true :)

  • Vadim

    If you know polish then you know ukrainian language. I’m ukrainian man and I understand almost every polish sentence when I reading It and sometimes I can understand real polish talk.

    So If you want to hear some ukrainian words that are similar with polish you can contact me ar skype: go.mirgorod

  • Zosia

    I’m amazed! I’ve never heard any foreigner who can speak Polish like David, with little mistakes. I learn English and French and I’d like to speak these languages so fluently. Congratulations – you have convinced a Pole that Polish is easy. I love English and I must say, articles are so annoying! But I find the pronounciation prettier than ours.

    I wonder what you think about Polish spelling, I mean, the use of “rz” and “ż”, “u” and “ó” etc. Many native speakers have problems with it.

    Bardzo mi się spodobał ten artykuł :) Chciałabym kiedyś porozmawiać z kimś uczącym się pięknego i, jak się okazało, wcale nie trudnego języka, jakim jest polski.

  • ewa

    Hey I from Polen and now I live in Canada. We can help each other. Send me @ ewaklepin@gmail.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/natalia.j.bednarz Nattie Natalinkaa Bednarz

    Im polish.. and this everything in this post makes polish more complicated than it should be.. it’s not this hard…

  • john tylor

    awesome!

  • Mrs Gacia

    I am married to a polish born Australian. I have always admired his language duality and now that we are planning children I want them to grow up bilingual. I started polish speaking classes at evening school. I was amazed how many English speaking third generation poles were there because they wanted to be able to speak to their emigrated elderly grandparents in their native tongue as they were dying. Where there used to be shame in the early 80′s after fleeing communism, to speak polish, I feel there is a real resurgence in the admiration for the language. I tried to learn, and gave up because it was too hard. However after 6 weeks in Poland for my honeymoon I began to dream in polish and string phrases together, linking nouns I knew. When I left my mittens at the snowboarding shop, I went back and said ” proshe je jest scarpekta renka?” (excuse me where are the socks for hands?! ) my husband and the staff were amused and delighted that necessity had taught me so well! Your article has given me renewed enthusiasm, and I’ve always thought that watching soap operas and listening to songs helps too. Thanks again and good luck everyone! Aussie wife who has learnt to wash up the polish way x

  • Raxit

    “Then later in a conversation, I’ll try to use it but with the wrong
    pronunciation and no one knows what I’m talking about! It’s
    embarrassing, but it’s probably happened to everyone. ”
    This happened to me! I heard about and looked up the definition of “suave”. I used it in a conversation, but my friends had no idea what “sweyv” meant. I felt so stupid >.<
    Great post! I'm studying Polish and this is good encouragement.

  • amine !

    this blog is the reason i’am learning polish dzięki ! :D

  • Sylwia

    Znalazłam ten artykuł przypadkowo i muszę powiedzieć, że jestem pełna podziwu :) jesteś świetny, mówisz bezbłędnie i płynnie. Gratuluję! Musiałeś włożyć wiele wysiłku i pracy, by osiągnąć tak niesamowity efekt!

  • Sara

    I learn Chinese. It has five (with the neutral one) tones, not seven.

    I’m Polish and I think your Polish is very good, your mistakes are tiny, many Poles make more mistakes than you do;)

  • Katica

    Think about it this way…if children can learn the language as a child … admittedly they hear it constantly …then surely it is not too hard for us Adults to learn it too,,,the problem with being an adult is we have the convenience of giving up…bored or lack motivation or delay it etc…where as a child you need to understand to survive…

    So sure languages are hard but are they really ? or is it our accustomed to comfortability that is disallowing us to delve further and to continue to learn said language we desire…?

    Like I said if children are born not able to speak anything but proceed to understand and speak as children a very *difficult* language…which they have no knowledge it is difficult they just hear and mimic it etc…adults should have that advantage of already being able to get a kick start…since we already understand how words work etc…

    So it’s *ourselves* that make it seem hard it’s inside us…we already form these thoughts…of it being hard…children – babies don’t …they just follow and mimic and start to hear the words over and over again…they don’t form these obstacles… we as adults do…

    By the way I’m trying to learn the Polish Language…I wish to one day live in Poland…

  • Max

    disagree. French and German were a lot easier than Polish. Using incorrect declination sounds funny whereas if you miss off an article it doesn’t affect the understanding in general. English is a lot easier at a basic level but starts to become more difficult with the introduction of phrasal verbs. I have many friends who are fluent in other languages but still struggle with Polish so whole heartadly disagree with your analysis.

  • http://www.facebook.com/harld.castillo Harld Castillo

    I started to study Polish less than a week ago. My native language is Brazilian Portuguese and I learned English on my own throughout the years and now I give English classes online. I’m using the Michel Thomas Method to learn Polish. I’m acquainted with the Method and I find it very useful, fun to work with and easy. Its focus is on sentences with the verb conjugation in all tenses as a primary factor. I’ve already learned a few thing in Polish with only some 20 minutes of audio like, Czy Pani ma nie jest tego? Co Pan czita? Czy to jest bank czy teatr? -To jest bank.
    It actually doesn’t sound so bad as it looks when we read it.

  • arturo

    If you think it from another point of view… having 5 verb tenses instead of 16… to express the same ideas… it makes Polish again more difficult than English… I don’t agree with the video. There are languages much more complicated than others.
    Arturo,

  • abandontheshiphornet

    This will come in handy! I already know some really basic polish. I want to learn polish because my best friend is polish and we will be travelling together. He only taught me how to swear :P I learned most of what i know already from google translate and confirmed with him if I said it right. it’s not THAT hard, the hardest part for me is pronouncing things correctly.

  • Olga

    W języku polskim jest jeszcze jedna rzecz o której nie wspomniałeś – ortografia i jej zasady, które spędzają sen z powiek nie jednemu dziecku w szkole :) Kiedy h i ch, u i ó, ż i rz, sz i rz :)

  • Beata

    Loved your video. My mother tongue is polish but I can also speak English fluently. I think that once you learn one other language learning third, fourth etc is much easier as you no longer care about the grammar that much. As you are trying to work out the meaning of the sentence rather than the meaning of the individual words. Interestingly I find English really easy and can write great stuff if English but I am not very good at writing in my own language. Strange but true. I find the best way to learn languages is to find a topic that interests you most. You are more likely to stick with something that you find interesting. So if you like cooking… learn about cooking and recipes in another language. It is great fun.

  • Natalia

    Well I am Polish and I have to disagree with you David. You either do correct word order or you do conjugation. Which one is easier you chose yourself. In Polish the conjugation explains the meaning of the sentence. If you omit both of them the whole sentence is very confusing. Second thing is the ortogrpahs which is difficult for Poles as well. For example “napewno” or “na pewno”, “poprostu” or “po prostu”. In the end it all depends where you need to use the language. If it’s tourism people don’t care. However if it’s your job incorrect grammar and ortographs are considered very bad. If you are just willing to speak up and have a nice chat then of course Polish is a piece of cake but remember that then you cut 70% of the language :). It’s like saying- Chinese is easy, just don’t study 4000 characters. Conclusion- proper Polish is not easy. However I am really happy to see there are people willing to learn it. It’s all about motivation in the end.

    • Marcin

      Dear Natalia! I am also a Pole and I think that you made some mistakes:
      1) You either do correct word order or you do DECLENSION, not conjugation. Conjugation is the modification of a verb from its basic form and exist both in Polish as well as in English. However, in English is very, very poor (only 3 pers. sing is modified). What makes the order of a sentence unimportant in Polish is declension (that is a modification of noun, adjective, etc.), exactly a case declension. Because “Jan” and “Maria” have different cases – the word order is not necessary. Thus, the meaning of the sentence is made by declension, and neither conjugation nor word order. It is a suffix, that is an ending of a word different for each case, which makes the meaning of a sentence.
      2) Then, In correct Polish language the word order is only a conventional matter. Of course there might be examples where different cases have the same form and then it might be confusing. But it is rather rare. Of course I am talking about correct Polish when user of the language uses 7 cases correctly. Then you can omit the word order and use only declension and everybody who use correct Polish will understand you without any problem.

  • Mirjana

    Dear, My name is Mirjana and I am going to Poland in September and I will spend there 4 months for sure (hopefully more) so Im starting to learn polisH language. i love this country i love people i love the langauage and i am highly motivated in learning it so i hope i will make it :D

  • Agnieszka

    Hej, powiem Ci dlaczego Polacy sami uważają go za jeden z najtrudniejszych języków na świecie – to dlatego, że spora część nas Polaków sama nie potrafi się nim dobrze posługiwać, pisać poprawnie ortograficznie, stawiać odpowiednio przecinków, a nawet mają problemy z odmianą niektórych rzeczowników (są nawet strony na facebooku, na których tłumaczą nam “poprawną polszczyznę” :D ). Sęk w tym, że aby porozumiewać się na ulicy i napisać maila – nie trzeba ani znać ortografii, ani interpunkcji, ani idealnie stawiać akcentów. Jednak, żeby napisać tekst na dwie strony druku i nie zrobić żadnego błędu – no cóż – myślę, że ponad połowa ludzi spotkanych przypadkowo na ulicy nie byłaby w stanie tego dokonać :) Podobnie jest ze związkami frazeologicznymi :) Już nie wspominając o tym, że nawet nasz nieszczęsny prezydent zrobił nam wstyd i wysłał list dyplomatyczny z dwoma błędami ortograficznymi w jednym zdaniu – komu jak komu, ale jemu nie wypadało.

    Cieszę się, że spodobał Ci się nasz język :)
    pozdrawiam
    Agnieszka :)

  • Kaveh_Aahangar

    Totally crap statement, nobody can speak English FLUENTLY in
    3 or 6 or 9 months or even in years. It needs tens of years of study because
    English is a very difficult language and every word has 10 or 100 different
    meanings

  • Sherry

    Hi David, I have to say that being a native English speaker and not knowing more than 10 words in Polish, you sound like a native Polish speaker to me! :) its amazing! I can not wait to be able to speak this language. I am very drawn to it (for some reason?) and have been watching You Tube videos for maybe two weeks now. I just feel like it is something I want to learn so wish me luck! Hopefully with enough practice over time I will be fluent! Have a great day and thank you for all of this wonderful information!
    Sherry

  • DanCelt

    W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie – there is no foreigner who can pronounce that quote.

  • Ashley

    Hi,
    I have been learning polish through the pimsluer language program and I finally finished it. I then started learning another books on tape program for polish but it was exactly the same thing. I am now stuck with reading and progressing as I only know so much. There was no real conversations within the program. I tried a more intermediate course but that literally threw me in the deep end. Not only can I not hold a full conversation but I am stuck with the several ways of saying; You, Them, They, I, etc. I’m not sure how to build further from here.
    Thanks

  • Satisek

    You cant just say “This language is the hardest or easiest”, the difficulty mostly depends on your native language. Let’s talk about pronoucination, if you’re english speaking person it will be pretty much impossible for you to ever learn how to correctly pronounce japanese words even after 10 years of living in japan it will be obvious for natives that you’re not a native speaker, but if you’re polish speaking person you will be able to learn how to talk japanese with japanese accent in the matter of minutes, its so easy for us that when japanese hear you talk japanese they will get so confused that they might actually think that you’re native japanese speaker.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

      This is the most ridiculously hilarious comment I think I’ve ever read on this site – especially if you are actually being serious. This is 5-star nonsense :D

  • Sebastian

    Bardzo dobry artykuł! Świetnie mówisz po Polsku

  • languagelearner

    Hi Benny,
    Thanks for this article, now I understand why my Polish husband speaks English the way he does. My husband is Polish and can only speak what I call broken/mixed up English. I speak fluent English and Chinese and a few words of Polish. I was confused why he speaks english in a way he did not care about the word order and it puzzled me when he spoke. Now I’ve decided to pick up Polish since I find the language so beautiful when he speaks it to me, as beautiful as French. Thanks for the tips, I am excited to learn and I am hoping I will know my husband more from an intelletual level vs just talking to him in basic elementary terms. Please let me know if there are other tips you know to make my learning easier. I’ve been listening to my husband speak to his family but really do not know what they are saying, hopefully listening to them will somehow help me. He is excited that I am willing to pick up this language and perhaps move to Europe. So other language will be on my radar such as Fench and German.

  • asiek

    Mówisz po polsku lepiej niż niejeden Polak. Gratuluje:) Muszę przyznać, że sami Polacy często go kaleczą więc do łatwych z pewnością nie należy. Co do odmiany słowa ”dwa” to rzeczywiście używamy chyba większości z tej 17-stki ale to nie znaczy, że trzeba posługiwać się nimi wszystkimi. Ja dobrze mówię po hiszpańsku, ale kilka rzeczy trudniejszych po prostu omijam i jest ok. Zmobilizowałam się teraz i muszę wziąć się za swój angielski. Pozdrawiam serdecznie:)

  • Szymon

    Nie jest trudny ?! :D Powodzenia przy nauce odmiany przez przypadki – “wasz cudowny” David Snopek nie odmienia słów jakoś szczególnie dobrze.

  • Domi

    The most difficult time I have is that when I speak to people in Poland (on Skype) – they do not agree on how to pronounce words – the correct words to use – the way that words are positioned in a statement/sentence, etc.
    I have searched the internet for a good site to use/help – and while there are many – none of them are great.
    Do not think of this as a negative statement – I am having a great time learning the language – it is great !!!

  • Jon Glass

    There are two aspects of Polish that make it difficult, in particular, for Americans, and English speakers in general. 1. Polish is an inflected language, which, like this post says, means that word order doesn’t change the meaning of the sentence, like English, which is syntactic. Reading Polish while learning the language is easy, but hearing it spoken, and grasping the meaning of the _sentence_ (vs. meanings of individual words). While studying Polish, I got 5s and 6s, and could read newspapers after a couple months, but I couldn’t carry on a conversation for a long time, and understanding others in conversation was impossible because of this. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. It took a short period if intensive immersive communication before it “clicked” and suddenly, it was like I could understand all the birds chirping around me.
    2. Pronunciation of Polish is most impossible. It’s hard to explain, but Polish vowels require the mouth to be much more open inside than English. I think that American English is probably the laziest language there is, which makes Polish all the more difficult. It took me weeks to pronounce words like „sprzedaż” and „Grzegorzecka”. A few sounds in particular, like the letter R. That sound is almost always a dead-giveaway that someone is an American, and it creeps in over time, even when the American tries to pronounce his Rs properly in Polish. Heck, even Poles living in America fall into the American R after a while, which can be heard when they speak Polish. ;-) Other sounds we just can’t hear the difference between, ś vs sz or ć vs cz, etc. One has to distinguish them by how they feel in the mouth, not by sound, which will come much later, and even then, mastery is still a long ways off.
    After 15 years, I still hear on occasion “You speak Polish very well”, to which they never add, but mean “for a foreigner”. ;-) And that’s the way it’ll always be.

    I should add, though, that I’ve studied French, German, Japanese and Polish, and only ever became fluent in Polish. It is my favorite language I’ve learned, and find it to be beautiful, and the Polish people to be beautiful as well.

  • wholenewstrain

    Jibberish and/or gibberish. Polish is hard to learn and speak correctly period. The example with word ordering is silly. There is only one way to say it correctly depending on what you mean. Polish depends on context so much that you can say same things differently and different things the same. To summarize it is quite hard to pronounce, conjugate and spell in polish but it is doeable. However, it is 1000 times harder to pronounce it perfectly and use proper endings/words depending on the context/situation. Chrzaszcz brzmi w trzcine z powylamywanymi nogami a kaloryfer jest czasem wyrewolwerowany. Nazywam sie major Bien I mam stopien majora. Kopsnij szluga.

  • Camryn

    Well I just recently wanted to start learning Polish my great grandmother is from Poland and I’m fascinated with how she sounds and how beautiful the language is. So I’m going to try to learn it. Hopes for the Best!