TAK, NIE, CO, ALE, ZA and their surprising extra meanings

Posted on Posted in Beginners, Intermediate, Upper Beginners

Did you know that ‘tak’ not always means ‘yes’ or ‘co’ doesn’t translate as ‘what’? Today I have for you 5 common Polish words that, used in certain phrases, change their meanings completely.


Tak used before an adverb translates as ‘so’

Nie jedź tak szybko! – Don’t drive so fast.
Dziekuję, ale nie zjem tak dużo. – Thank you, but I won’t eat so much.

Tak can also be used as an equivalent of English ‘like that, that way’; mostly used in spoken Polish

Zróbmy to tak! – Let’s do it like that!
Tak wygląda ładnie. – It looks nice that way (like that). (notice that adding a comma would change the meaning: Tak, wygląda ładnie – Yes, it looks nice)

Ale added at the begining of a sentence expresses exclamation, puts an emphasis.

Ale dzisiaj jest ładna pogoda! – It’s such a nice weather today!
Ale jestem zmęczona! – I’m so tired!

Ten sweter jest za duży. – This sweater is too big.
To mieszkanie jest za małe. – This flat is too small.

Co is used to express frequency

Chodzę do kina co miesiąc. – I go to the cinema every month.
Co drugi dom jest pomalowany na biało. – Every second house is painted white.

Used in informal conversations only.

Wiesz, o czym mówię, nie? – You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
Chciałbyś wiedzieć, nie?  – You would like to know, wouldn’t you?

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