Musieć, woleć, chcieć – Polish modal verbs (A1)


The post includes:
– forms and usage of the modal verbs in Polish;
– conjugation of the modal verbs;
– online exercises;
– exercises to download


Modal verbs  are used to express ability, obligation, possibility, and so on. They are always combine with other verbs. Below you may find the most useful Polish modals and their most common meanings.




In Polish we tend to use the verb musieć when in English you would rather use the verbs should or need.
Mój komputer ledwie działa, muszę kupić nowy. – My computer barely works, I need to (I should) buy a new one.


Conjugation of modal verbs

In the present tense we conjugate the modal verbs acording the patterns:
umieć (conjugation -m/-sz): (ja) umiem, (ty) umiesz, (on/ona) umie etc.
woleć (conjugation -ę/-isz): (ja) wolę, (ty) wolisz, (on/ona) woli etc.
musieć (conjugation -ę/-isz): (ja) muszę, (ty) musisz, (on/ona) musi, (my) musimy, (wy) musicie, (oni/one) muszą
chcieć (conjugation -ę/-esz): (ja) chcę, (ty) chcesz, (on/ona) chce etc.
móc (cojugation -ę/-esz): (ja) mogę, (ty) możesz, (on/ona) może, (my) możemy, (wy) możecie, (oni/one) mogą

Past tense forms are regular (except the verb móc):

Chciałem pojechać do Hiszpani, ale nie mogłem, bo musiałem pracować. – I wanted to go to Spain but I couldn’t because I had to work.
Rok temu nie umiałam mówić po polsku. – A year ago I couldn’t (didn’t know how to) speak Polish.


Conjugation of the verb ‘powinien’ is irregular:
(ja) powinienem              powinnam
(ty) powinieneś                 powinnaś
(on) powinien               (ona) powinna           (ono) powinno
(my) powinniśmy     powinnyśmy
(wy) powinniście       powinnyście
(oni) powinni                (one) powinny


In modern Polish those forms are used regardless of whether we refer to the present, past or future. The tense is understood from the context of the conversation.

Powinienem skończyć projekt. – I should finish the project.
Powinienem skończyć projekt wczoraj. – I should have finished the project yesterday.


Download a pdf with exercises here .


let’s practise


If the exercise doesn’t work, you may find it here

About the Author



I have started my career as a tutor at Jagiellonian University and now I have been conducting Polish lessons working both with private and business clients from all over the world. I'm a big fan of grammar - Polish grammar especially ;)

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