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Most Difficult Languages - Polish

I've read about the supposed difficulty of many languages. Some I don't know at all (like Chinese or Arabic, which I'd imagine are difficult), but I did have the opportunity to learn one of the hardest, and supposedly the most grammatically-complex Slavic language, Polish. It is certainly harder than Croatian--another Slavic language--which I already knew when I started to learn Polish.

Here's one (somewhat trivial, but illustrative) example of the relative complexity of languages: the number 2.

English, Spanish, Dutch: 1 form (two, dos, twee)

Portuguese: 2 forms (dois/duas) - depending on gender (2 - masculine & feminine)

Croatian: 7 forms (dva, dvije, dvoje, dvojica, dvojice, dvojici, dvojicu) - depending on gender (3 - masculine, feminine, and neuter) and case in one specific form. There were other variants historically but they're not used anymore.

Polish: 17 forms. Depends on gender (3), case for all forms. Pretty much all these forms occur in regular speech (6-11 less often than the others)

Dwa palce


17 grammatical forms for the number 2

  1. dwa
  2. dwie
  3. dwoje
  4. dwóch (or dwu)
  5. dwaj
  6. dwiema
  7. dwom (or dwóm)
  8. dwoma
  9. dwojga
  10. dwojgu
  11. dwojgiem
  12. dwójka
  13. dwójki
  14. dwójkę
  15. dwójką
  16. dwójce
  17. dwójko

Why is Polish so complex?

Poland's history is one of being attacked and subjugated by its neighbors throughout most of its history, either by Germans, Austrians, Swedes or Russians. Many times the speaking of Polish was forbidden, so people were understandably protective of their language and less likely to have foreign intrusion into it. (English readily absorbs foreign words because American, Brits, Australians, etc don't feel like their language is threatened.) Also, "world languages" simplify much more rapidly, while "niche languages" don't have the same sort of pressure.

Even the names of months, which are usually similar in all the languages of the world, retain old Slavonic forms in Polish:

  • January - styczeń (from the Polish word for joining, since January joins two years together)
  • February - luty (from the Polish word for freezing cold; this is the only month that is grammatically an adjective, not a noun)
  • March - marzec (from Mars - the 3rd month is the Roman god Mars's month, as it is in English)
  • April - kwiecień (from the Polish word for flower, since this is the month when flowers bloom)
  • May - maj (the only one adopted from the Roman calendar)
  • June - czerwiec (from the Polish word for reddening...named after the Polish cochineal, a red insect that is used for red dye and is harvested in June - thanks, Lola!)
  • July - lipiec (from the Polish word for linden tree, which blooms in July in Poland)
  • August - sierpień (from the Polish for for sickle, since this is the month of harvest)
  • September - wrzesień (from the Polish word for heather, which turns a brilliant shade of purple then)
  • October - październik (from the Polish word for a type of flax mulch used in the fields during this month)
  • November - listopad (almost literally - falling leaves)
  • December - grudzień (from the Polish word for hardened, frozen ground)

Imperfect and Perfect Verbs in Polish

Another grammatical difficulty is the concept of imperfect and perfect verbs in Polish (and other Slavic languages). The verb "to see" has two completely different verbs in Polish: widzieć and zobaczyć. The only difference is that you use the first if something happens continuously or more than once, and the second if it only happens once.

Widziałem - I saw (repeatedly in the past, like I saw the sun come up every morning)

Zobaczyłem - I saw (only once; I saw the sun come up yesterday)

This is not a tense difference - the verbs themselves are different.

There are many other examples:

to take - brać / wziąć

I took - Brałem (repeatedly), wziąłem (only once)

to sigh - wzdychać / westchnąć

I sighed - wzdychałem (repeatedly), westchnąłem

So for every verb in English, you effectively have to learn two verbs in Polish, which often conjugate in the future tense completely differently from each other (the past tense is usually the same, which makes for relatively easy side-by-side comparisons, like above). The present tense is impossible for the perfective verb because you can not be doing something now and finish it at the same time.

For about 5% of Polish verbs, there is no perfective version, so you luckily only have to learn one verb counterpart.

Plural forms change based on number

The last major wrinkle is that the plural form of nouns changes depending on the number. In English, there is only one plural form for the word "telephone" and that's "telephones", whether you have just 2 or 100. In Polish, it's 2, 3 or 4 "telefony" and 5 "telefonów". (Grammatically speaking, 2, 3 and 4 take the nominative case, while 5 and beyond take the genitive case)

Occasionally the difference between the nominative and genitive forms makes the jump between 4 and 5 awkward sounding.

4 or 5 hands: 4 ręce (rent-seh) but 5 rąk (ronk)


Michał Ptak from Katowice, Dabrowa Gornicza on September 25, 2019:

I confirm, the grammar is extremely complex.

zZzZzZzZzZzZz on July 26, 2019:

I speak (and read) good German and Japanese and lower intermediate Polish. I think Japanese took me much longer than Polish is taking me, but I have a lot more WTF moments when learning Polish. It's not a great analogy but learning Japanese is more like rote memorization and learning Polish is more like learning physics or something. I also took a semester of Russian in university and that is helping a bit because a lot of Polish grammar is very similar (all the way down to the "5 is genitive" bit).

Sanja on July 01, 2019:

Super nice article! However, being a Croatian learning Polish, I must say that even Croatian has several more forms of number two that are missing here. So the difference in number of forms between Polish and Croatian is not so scary after all. :)

Szczerze on January 26, 2019:

If you want to understand polish, you have to learn to understand some common mistakes. Even polish people make mistakes in their own language. There is really big difference between polish in books and polish you hear.

sYLVIANNA on October 19, 2018:

I teach Americans to speak Polish for 40 years.....sometimes I just want

to scream how difficult is the language.

uk22 on October 18, 2018:

I believe this to be bullshit, all of what is being said here is also common for Russian and I didn't find Russian exceptionally difficult.

I seriously don't understand how can you claim Polish to be so difficult when it has more latin loan words than Russian and certainly more than languages like Chinese, Finnish or Persian.

The words Hotel, Taxi, expedition, Location, line, logic, etc all have english cognates.

In a language like chinese there are 0 cognates, so even the word for Taxi is completely different

SilverTheGamer on September 30, 2018:

Well done, as a polish person i give this a seal of approval. on September 06, 2018:

Well done!

Mental Intrigue on March 01, 2018:

Polish language didn't seem so complicated to me back in school. It seemed easy, but after learning English, I can see where the headache starts! Kurwa!

Rysiek on March 10, 2016:

Ja pierdolę!!! You are right!

ewa on December 07, 2014:

greetings from Poland, pozdraiwm

Artur on September 08, 2014:

Widziałem/ Zobaczyłem is almost the same in everyday language- means i saw as 'only once'. But it differs slightly depending on situation.

Widziałem - would put more stress on environment, maybe some emotions (but as i told in everyday language it is intuitional usage and in 90% widziałem=zobaczyłem). Widziałem słońce (I saw the Sun) would mean that I saw it and maybe I felt something about it - stress is put on fact that I have seen it.

Zobaczyłem słońce - stress is put on 'słońce' as a thing that has been seen.

If you would like to say that you saw something many times in the past you have to say 'widywałem' ('I have kept seen' or 'I have seen it many times' - sth like that)

Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on August 24, 2014:

dwa/dwojka: They are still rendered as the same word in most languages ("two" in English).

luty: The month is still declined as an adjective. ("w lutym" for example).

The verbs themselves are different; a perfect verb like zobaczyc can only render a perfective aspect to the declined verb, never an imperfective one, for example.

xpil on August 23, 2014:

Regarding the list of 17 grammar forms of the Polish word 'dwa', items 12-17 are not relevant as they refer to the polish word 'dwójka'. 'Two' represents a number, i.e. a mathematical abstract while 'dwójka' is a digit two, i.e. a graphical representation of the number two, using Arabic numerals. Thus, the list actually contains 11 forms of the word 'two' and six forms of the word 'dwójka'. Still very f*cked up I'd say ;)

Now, another misunderstanding is that the word 'luty' ('February') is an adjective. It is not! But the word 'luty' ('freezing cold') is. To understand the difference, look at the English word 'bear'. With no context, one can't tell whether this is a noun (bear, an animal) or a verb (as in 'bear with me for a second').

Finally, there are no 'perfect verbs' or 'imperfect verbs'. The author was referring to 'perfective aspect' and 'imperfective aspect' .

tomeksamcik on August 23, 2014:

It's funny how you don't realize how ridiculous Polish grammar until you read an article like this one.

Lena on June 02, 2014:

Do wszystkich Polaków, którzy uważają, że polski nie jest taki trudny:

Może dla nas wszystkich rodowitych Polaków nasz język nie jest trudny, ponieważ uczymy się go od dziecka. Dla obcokrajowca, który język nie jest za bardzo skomplikowany w sensie gramatycznym jak i w pisowni, to byłby prawdziwy szok, jakby zobaczył zasady w języku polskim. Nie dość, że mamy strasznie dużo odmian, to jeszcze pozostaje ortografia (bo jak wytłumaczysz dlaczego pisze się "ó" zamiast "u" skoro tak samo brzmią).

Sarah Forester from Australia on February 24, 2014:

I have a few Polish friends who have tried to teach me a few times so I can speak to some of their older family members and it is a tough one!

tomek on November 06, 2013:

" I am a Polish native speaker with more than 5-year experience in learning English & Polish in public schools mainly"

Fajnie, tylko jak ty uczysz kogoś to mówi się "teaching", nie "learning"...

Adam on October 18, 2013:

"I niechaj narodowie* wżdy postronni znają, iż Polacy nie gęsi, iż swój język mają."

*"narodowie" is an invalid form, which is used only in the old Polish on September 12, 2013:

Really funny, useful and interesting! I remember when I taught Polish English people. It was like a great adventure for me and for them. : ) That's why its worth learning :)

SzachmytX POLAND on July 18, 2013:

Polak YEAH!!!

Agnieszka on July 08, 2013:

Wszyscy mówią, że nasz język jest najtrudniejszy, ale ja osobiście się z tym nie zgadzam :) Zazwyczaj to ludzie tutejsi (Polacy) tak twierdzą, bo sprawia im to pewnego rodzaju satysfakcję i radość posiadania czegoś co należy tylko do nich i jest dosyć wyjątkowe, i trudne przez innych do nauczenia. Prawdą jest, że większość języków jest nie łatwa i nie można przykleić etykiety, że: Polski jest najtrudniejszym językiem na świecie, bo to bzdura. Nie jest łatwy, ale najtrudniejszy też nie.

Polish is easy, really!


Milena on April 10, 2013:

I am willing to help all learners worldwide to overcome their language barrier in Polish:) I am a Polish native speaker with more than 5-year experience in learning English & Polish in public schools mainly. Today I run my own business with exactly tailored language courses via Skype. As a representative of Education & Translation Services I promote our courses worldwide.

Using online technology connected with language learning is really effective. To prove this I offer your first lesson free:) Next lessons: 17 GBP per 60 min. Additional adventage is that:

- you learn anytime from home

- you choose the most suitable starting date for you (you may also plan your next lessons in a convenient term for you)

- you have free consulation with your teacher

If you are still interested feel free to write on my e-mail:

You are welcome:)

Milena K.

Teacher, Translator

Feel free to try the most effective Polish lessons online!

I am willing to teach you Polish via Skype. I am a Polish native speaker with more than 5-year experience in learning English & Polish in public schools mainly. Today I run my own business with exactly tailored language courses via Skype. As a representative of Education & Translation Services I promote our courses worldwide.

Using online technology connected with language learning is really effective. To prove this I offer your first lesson free:) Next lessons: 17 GBP per 60 min. Additional adventage is that:

- you learn anytime from home

- you choose the most suitable starting date for you (you may also plan your next lessons in a convenient term for you)

- you have free consulation with your teacher

If you are still interested feel free to write on my e-mail:

You are welcome:)

MA Milena K.

Teacher, Translator

mleczko on March 09, 2013:

Tak ! Ale przede wszystkim to piękny język :) A młodzież co chwila tworzy nowe skróty

packi on March 04, 2013:

Nie jest taki trudny :]

ronnie on June 08, 2012:

first of all the article gives u no knowledge about polish language. it is very difficult language and even many polish people are unable to speak it good. and I am sure that none of foregins could pronounce for exaple "d?d?ownica" or "rabarbar" correct. and even if some sentence seems to be correct it not always is. polish is hard but beautiful language which mamy people don't appreciate.

gtf on May 28, 2012:

"And when you want to make reservation of two tables in the restaurant you will do this for "dwa sto?y", "dwa stoliki" or "dwa stoliczki"?"

You should say: dwa stoliki. Stoliczki aren't use too often. Stoliczki can be used as table for very little kids or toy. Word: stol(y) is usually used. So we can say: stol or stolik. In restaurant we always say: 1 stolik (plural: (2,3,4)stoliki, 5 or more stolikow). But don't worry, most poles don't know if say something or something other one, for example: "mi" or "mnie"(eng: me)

marthaxd on May 22, 2012:

If polish .my language. is difficul what you could say about German or Russian ? ;d

Kat on April 15, 2012:

Id this article gave you an impression of Polish language being very difficult to learn, I have some bad news for you - it would just make a good abstract to another one, describing how hard it really is to learn this language...If it already seems complicated to you, I can only say - it's not that simple...The author didn't mention one very important issue - there are far more letters in Polish alphabet, due to the fact, that most of regular ones, have several variations, e.g: a - ?, e-?, s-?, and so on...And not only it can be hard to learn this, but just to pronounce most of them will be macht nicht for most...And also, author was wrong about the verb "to see". "Widzialem" (to see), will sometimes mean to see repeatedly in the past, like I saw the sun come up every morning but on most occasions it will mean just the opposite - to see once like "I've seen that movie". If something used to happened repeatedly you would say "widywalem"...just to clarify.

Gyrovago on April 10, 2012:

For some reason, Poles like to say that their language is extremely difficult. What I can say, as a professor, is that I needed 2 years to master the Polish language due to lack of good materials to learn, and also because whenever I met a person, when I tried to speak in Polish, this person switched to English (not too much patience with people learning the language). One thing I haven't read among the comments: Polish is an extremely beautiful language.

irreality on April 10, 2012:

Want more complexity? :)

How would you call table in Polish?

It's easy. You open the dictionary and have the correct word - it is "stó?". But this is suitable for a table of "regular size". For smaller table you have word "stolik", and for really tiny table "stoliczek". It is called familly of words. And of course each of this words can be modified by additional adjective describing its size like big ("du?y"), small ("ma?y"), huge ("wielki"), tiny ("malutki") etc.

So is "malutki stó?" bigger than "du?y stoliczek"?

And when you want to make reservation of two tables in the restaurant you will do this for "dwa sto?y", "dwa stoliki" or "dwa stoliczki"?

Monika on April 08, 2012:

This was an awesome article!

And Steve-I am Polish, English is my second language and I am very clear on the usage of a/the. It does take a while to figure out but since you said you've never met a Pole who has mastered this I'd like to introduce myself! :)

a Pole :-) on March 27, 2012:

there are no articles 'a' and 'the' in Polish, so it's really hard to use them when I try to speak/write in Enlish

cramp on March 21, 2012:

to all who thinks that Polish is easy:

W Szczebrzeszynie chrz?szcz brzmi w trzcinie

I Szczebrzeszyn z tego s?ynie.

Wó? go pyta: ”Panie chrz?szczu,

Po co pan tak brz?czy w g?szczu?”

”Jak to – po co? To jest praca,

Ka?da praca si? op?aca.”

”A có? za to Pan dostaje?”

”The? pytanie! Wszystkie gaje,

Wszystkie trzciny po wsze czasy,

??ki, pola oraz lasy,

Nawet rzeczki, nawet zdroje,

Wszystko to jest w?a?nie moje!”

- Jan Brzechwa ”CHRZ?SZCZ”

Grzegorz on March 16, 2012:

One thing for another!

1) tenses

As English has so many tenses to master, and Polish only three, there has to be a way to present the same meanings from different tenses in English into different words in Polish.

2) many forms of nouns, adjectives and counts.

Not only Polish is a language which adopted historical idea of declination from Latin. You can find it in all Central and Eastern Europe languages, and in German as well (der Tisch, den Tisch, dem Tisch, den Tisch - sounds familiar?). This is exactly the same method of using words, as in Polish: either you transform the ending of the word or you transform the article.

3) Other languages are also difficlut!

For Polish learners it is usually hard to say the difference in meaning between tenses of English: In translation the meaning of "I was in Paris" and "I've been to Paris" is exactly the same. And this is only a most basic example. Furthermore, the difference between "It has been raining" and "It has rained" is even more subtle.

More uncommon example: why the meaning of a verb depends on the preposition following it? "Look up" and "look after" has nothing to do with looking itself...

We can discuss for countless time but assesing, which language is most difficult will never be possible. All the history of the development of a language is built in it, and history of the countries varies.

Pole on March 16, 2012:

Im Polish and I must say I have learned a lot from this short article xD Thanks a bunch!

Maja on March 16, 2012:

I am a Polish sworn translator Dutch, I know English and German as well and you have a point here - Polish is difficult and, as my teacher Dutch at highschool said to me, Polish is a romantic language :)

Diana on March 15, 2012:

Of course its a matter of collocation - not a word stress. Same thing with "zamek" meaning - depending on context: castle/lock/buckle/zipper.

To jest akurat po?yczka z niemieckiego: niemieckiego Schlos równie? ma takie znaczenia.

gab on March 11, 2012:

jjj - if you want to practise some polish, write me an email. :)

jjj on March 10, 2012:

Maybe someone would like to talk with me (Polish) an practise? :)

Dorota Dec on March 09, 2012:

I love my lenguage and hmmmm yes it is difficult, but how emaizing is to have our own lenguage!!!!!!

Kocham moj polski jezyk i hmmmm jest trudny, ale jak niesamowicie jest miec swoj wlasny jezyk!!!!

Blazej on March 08, 2012:


Of course its a matter of collocation - not a word stress. Same thing with "zamek" meaning - depending on context: castle/lock/buckle/zipper.

Or "wiara" - "faith/religion/large group of people"

ania sobczak on March 07, 2012:

...and sorry for my errors. I still hope that what I wrote here doesn't sound stupid or like some complete blasphemy… ;)

ania sobczak on March 07, 2012:

Thanks Clarisse, I see your point. It is probably a matter of collocation - more than a word stress. I gave it as an example of how the word itself can change its meaning depending on how we pronounce it. In most cases 'pewnie' as 'sure' is pronounced in slightly different way than 'pewnie' as 'maybe' or 'perhaps', which often helps us get true intention of a speaker. In the first example we pronounce it like more briefly and enthusiastically.

Let me give you an example: “Pewnie spogl?da?a w przysz?o??” (which you can translate into something like ‘She was looking ahead confidently’, or ‘Maybe she was looking ahead’ – depending on the context).

Anyway, thanks for a lesson :)

Clarisse on March 07, 2012:

Bah, I meant: "because it is NOT exactly an example of word stress." And I was commenting on a comment which is not visible anymore, making my comment pointless :D

Clarisse on March 07, 2012:

Ania Sobczak, but what you are showing is not an example of word stress, no matter how you say it, it will always be "PEWnie" - and never "pewNIE".

The closest thing in Polish to distinguishing meaning depending on word stress would be in combinations of words which are identical sound-wise but differ stress-wise (I am not sure how to explain it but here is an example: the verb "tonie" (is drowning/drowns) will be pronounced: TOnie. While the words "to nie" (like in "Nie, to nie" = "Suit yourself" after someone's refusal to do something) will be pronounced toNIE. But I am not sure it counts because it is exactly an example of word stress but an example of stress in word collocations.

ania sobczak on March 07, 2012:

Well Steve, I think I actually know such a word in Polish. It's 'pewnie'. Depending on the context, it may mean something like "surely", of course" -E.x.: "Gotowy do wyj?cia?" - "Pewnie!" - 'Ready to go?' - 'Sure!'.

Sometimes, hovever, it has quite opposite meaning. E.x.: "My?lisz, ?e b?dzie pada?? - "pEwnie tak" - 'Do you think it is going to rain?' - 'perhaps it is". I stressed E to point that we pernouce this sound a bit longer than in the first example. :)

sonnentau on March 06, 2012:

just one thing - the name "maj" means "plant" or "blossom". there is also an archaic verb "mai?", which means decorating something with green twigs, leaves and so on. as far as I know (I don't have any ethymological dictionary around, I write what I remember from school) the name of the months comes from this greeny-planty-blossomy word, not the other way round.

geonly on March 06, 2012:

heh, in Poland we have this saying: "English is the easiest language... to make a mistake in" :)

Alka on March 05, 2012:

I appreciate your effort while learning Polish ;) Greeting from Poland ;)

Steve Canty on February 26, 2012:

DagaZet, I'm confused. The writer says that "I saw" is expressed in Polish as "widzialem" or "zobaczylem" (no diacritics this time!). I commented that "I see (past)" in English can also be expressed as "I have seen", "I had seen", "I was seeing", "I have been seeing", "I had been seeing", "I used to see", and "I would see". How do you conclude from that that I know nothing about Polish?

I agree with you that not many English speakers have mastered Polish but that is mostly because Polish is not popular as a 2nd language. The whole world (including nearly everyone in Poland) wants to learn English but not many want to learn Polish. You are therefore far more likely to meet foreigners who have mastered English than foreigners who have mastered Polish.

I should add that a lot of Poles can get by in English (the way I get by in Polish) but to say they have mastered it would be an exaggeration,e.g. I have not met a single Pole who knows when to use "a", "the" or nothing. Still, I have to say that I am VERY impressed with the way Polish people speak English. I know how hard it is to learn another language so congratulations!I am also VERY disappointed to meet so many English speakers here who make no effort whatsoever to learn Polish - even after living here for years.

Please give me an example of Polish using stress to distinguish words the way English does (e.g. ENtrance = "wejscie" vs enTRANCE = "oczarowac"). I cannot think of one example. English has a lot.

I said that English phonology is objectively more difficult because it uses stress AND syllable length (e.g. "ship/sheep" to distinguish words. Polish does not do this. As for pronunciation (another aspect of phonology), I think English & Polish both have a lot of difficult sounds (BTW, I find it difficult to distinguish between "Kasia" & "Kasza" ;-))

As for letters that sound the same etc., Polish orthography is INFINITY more simple than English orthography. "knight" is pronounced "nait", "laugh" is pronounced "laf", "their", "they're", & "there" are all pronounced identically... I could go on all day. Actually, English orthography would have to be one of the worst in the world. I really admire you (and others) DagaZet for being able to spell English words.

Oh well, thanks for your response :-) At this stage we'll have to agree to disagree. One last thing, though... for me, the most difficult thing about learning a 2nd language is learning the different way it describes reality. Things that sound perfectly OK in Polish, French, German etc.just don't make sense in English & vice versa.

PeterW on February 26, 2012:

jak dobrze ze wyssalem polski z mlkiem matki:)

DagaZet on February 26, 2012:

Hey I would like to disagree with you Steve C.. I know many Poles that mastered the English Language but not a one foreigner that mastered Polish. And the pronunciation is another thing that you forgot to mention,as well as you do not understand Polish gramma if you say that

" When you say "I saw" = "widzia?em/zobaczy?em", you should have added, "I did see", "I was seeing", "I have seen", "I had seen", "I have been seeing", "I had been seeing", "I used to see", "I would see". Try getting people to distinguish between those & you'll get the idea." it means that you have no idea about Polish..

also stress is not always fixed it depends on the word. Plus there are letters that sound completely the same , but are written differently (u /ó..?/rz,h/ch)also Polish people have problem with that.

I think it is one of the most difficult languages for doesn't mean that Polish people are more intelligent.

It's a big difference between learning language as a child and as a second language.Of course child is able to learn they mother tongue and master the language.and it has nothing to do with how language is difficult. Just the way of absorbing it is different, which you should know if you studied linguistic.

Steve Canty on February 24, 2012:

Hi. First, I don't know where people get these ideas about Polish not having "evolved". Even 19th-century Polish texts are difficult for people today on account of the changes in the language since then. And where is yor evidence they borrowing makes for simplicity? If anything, it makes a language less consistent & increases the number of "exceptions".

Difficulty? When I studied linguistics, I was taught that all languages were more or less equal in complexity, based on the objective fact that the rate of language development in children is universal. To that, I'd add my own observations that: (i) Poles are no more intelligent than people anywhere else & yet they all manage to learn Polish; (ii) the written English I edit from Polish translation agencies is not just bad, it's unintelligible.

To balance your observations, you should have mentioned that Polish has no articles (try teaching the rules for using "a" & "the"), no perfect or continuous tenses, nowhere near the number of conditional structures that English has, no contractions (I am/ I'm)... & other simple features to balance the complex ones. Moreover, Polish phonology seems much simpler to me. Stress is fixed, unlike English, which uses stress to distinguish words (e.g. ENtrance & enTRANCE)and vowel length is fixed, unlike English which has short/long syllables ("ship/sheep"). Spoken English also has strong/weak forms on function words (to/t', and/'n, etc.) I've yet to meet a Pole who has mastered this.

When you say "I saw" = "widzia?em/zobaczy?em", you should have added, "I did see", "I was seeing", "I have seen", "I had seen", "I have been seeing", "I had been seeing", "I used to see", "I would see". Try getting people to distinguish between those & you'll get the idea.

So yes, Polish is difficult but so is every language on the planet & Polish people (and others) manage it.

murphydave from Dublin on February 24, 2012:

I found Polish very difficult to deal with, but I found after a month of learning it all started to make more and more sense, and I soon became a lot more fluent! I've been learning for only 3 months, but I managed very well when I visited Poland last week.

nExoR on February 24, 2012:

about month names - AFAIK there are few mistakes.

MARCH is from 'mazac', 'rozmazywac' - smear, coz there is a lot of melting snow, so everything is smearing.

JUNE - it's a month of poppy seed blossom.

Nick on February 24, 2012:

Ja pierdole, same polaczki tutaj piszo.

polish_girl on February 23, 2012:

well, it's not exacltly right when it comes to verbs. we have 'widzia?em' when we speak about 1 action, 'widywa?em' when we speak about the custom (just like english form 'used to do sth') and 'zobaczy?em' when we want to show the action is already done

czyta?em - I was reading

czytywa?em - I used to read

przeczyta?em - I read it all

Rajmund on February 23, 2012:

Polish is not THAT difficult. It's rules on choosing whether to write "ó" or "u" and similar are quite consistent, and choosing between "h" and "ch" might be difficult for Poles in Poland, who since WWII pronounce them the same way, but for Poles in Wilno (today's Lithuania) it's a no-brainer.

Also Micha? - how can you say „Polish did not evolve”? The language has full capacity of being used in virtually ANY situation since XV century. And it was, as you say, "language of important people". For some time, it was even the main "fancy" language of the tzar's court in Moscow — in same way as French might have been used in Stanis?aw Poniatowski's court.

john oakes on February 23, 2012:

Optician to Pole: "Shut one eye.Can you read the column on the left?": "Read it? I went to school with him!" But to hell with the language -the people are so nice.

Michał on February 23, 2012:

Very interesting article. You schould add that the most difficult for Polish is usage of "u" and "ó", "h" and "ch", "?" and "rz". That letters sound the same.

geonly on February 23, 2012:

But, on the other hand, it's just as flexible as english, because any forigner can say in it anything he wants regardless of the grammar or any construction of the sentence, and everybody will understand, what he's got to say. Spanish, which is a very easy language to learn, isn't that easy to communicate with, as polish language is. Therefore, if one has got no ambition of writing sublime polish poetry, polish language is alongside with english, the easiest laguage to communicate.

arsi21 on February 23, 2012:

I think Marzec (March ) comes from Marzanna, who was a slavian goddess of death and winter. There is a custon of sinking or burning her image on March ( it was believed that if you don't, winter will not end).

And i am not sure if Maj does not come from mai? si? (about flower - to bloom).

Michał on February 23, 2012:

Polish is very difficult, yes, but it doesn't mean anything to be proud of. It means the language has not evolved in history as languages from important people did like English, French or Spanish.

klajn on February 17, 2012:

Polish is really crazy. Imagine ordering some beer.

1 beer - jedno PIWO

2, 3 or 4 beers - dwa, trzy lub cztery PIWA

5 and more beers - pi?? i wi?cej PIW

Eryk Kołakowski on February 13, 2012:

Frederyk: similar case here (father is Polish and my mother is Swedish; my friend Janusz is the same. My mother always complains to my father about them when she comes back from Stockholm from my grandparents :-). Also, why do you spell your name Frederyk? It's Fryderyk. Are you sure you're not inventing a story? :-)

Pawel, others: I don't know what you're talking about. Polish isn't difficult because it borrowed from those lanauages. In fact Polish borrowed VERY little from Russian (although German wss borrowed from, but Czech not so much, who btw were ruled by then Hapsburgs after Bohemia and Moravian passed to them through dynastic succession). And Belarussian and Russian were never languages used in Poland among the nobility. Ruthenians were subjugated by the Poles and the Polish language was the lingua franca among the nobility of Ruthenia. It's true that Latin and French were popular among the nobily depending on the epoch (German was also an administrative alongside Polish in parts of the Commonwealth), but it is absolutely false to say Russian much less Belarusian were widely spoke. Ruthenia was sparsely populated and the nobles who spoke it usually assimilated and adopted Polish. Russian was never even on the map. And I'm not sure what all this talk about germanic stuff has to do with anything. I think you're getting your history from some awful source. The words from Russian are mostly internationalisms like perestroyka.

Ina on February 13, 2012:


I believe you spelled wrong "paradise".

Sebastian on February 02, 2012:

Ha my mom and dad are from poland so as a result i speak polish pretty well. One of the things i enjoy the most is speaking polish to my friend and watching them try to pronounce the words correctly, thing is they never do even though i repeat the word hundreds of times

Pawel on January 25, 2012:

For our Czech and Russian friends - there is several things you can't do in your languages and they exists in polish. I can't find a proper word for it but it's when you make a word from other to make something sound smaller, more cute. You can do it in every Slavic language but not to the extent you got it in polish - it is just possible to make it smaller and smaller infinitely in Polish. The longest word in Polish that soemone put here in comments is just one of such cases. And you can really go with it even further.It's like - Jan - Janek - Janeczek - Januszek - Januszeniek - Januszenieczek - etc... I actually think the reverse is also possible to quite some degree.

Also Polish has a lot more imported stuff from other Slavic languages and this comes from quite bad habit we got - belittling us ourselves. We were importing a lot more from german and even more than Czech who were governed by Germanic originated dynasties etc. Same for Russian that had quite long time a germanophile stature ( XVII century ) and they even originate themselves from Germanic tribe of Rhos' although it got drawn eventually in overwhelming Slavic element ). At times most of our enlighten nobles used to use other languages to bigger extent than their own - be it Latin, French or also Russian ( actually Belorussian cause it was big part of Poland for quite some time ). Thousand years ago we all were speaking one Slavic language but now they have lots of differences and Polish actually got overly complicated that eventually limited whole Polish culture to its own borders.

Natalia on January 13, 2012:

I'm form Poland and I'm so proud of the people, who want to learning polish. Reading the comments I'm so proud of my nationality, really proud. :D [sorry for my english ^^']

Iw on January 09, 2012:

wiecie co jest najgorzes, wytlumaczyc obcokrajowcowi przypadki, bo przeciez u nich stol to stol a nie stol stolem stolowie stole

maria on January 05, 2012:

i dated a polish man and i really tried to learn the language. i was able to learn sweet words, or some basic greetings, thank etc, but i think it would take me 3 years studying and living in poland, to try to really speak it. it is such a complex language, not so much for the pronounciation, that is also hard, but mostly in logic. i speak 5 languages, most of them latin ones, the supposed beautiful languages, but i always found polish the most beautiful one. it is sweet and tough at the time. and i admire that most polish i met had some knowledge about the origin of words and were really proud of the language.

mona on December 22, 2011:

a very interesting article! that's true that you use widziec if something happens continuously and zobaczyc when it happens only once. But there's one thing I want to add: for something that happens regularly, you would use "widywac"

Cezar Zb on December 15, 2011:

Polish has 5 genders. Neutral, Feminine and three Musculine. No animated like "table" animated human like "man" and animated animal like "dog"

Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on December 11, 2011:

Hey: your ancestors conquered it (read "The Deluge"/Potop by Sienkiewicz), so there must have been some appeal for your countrymen.

Hey on December 11, 2011:

Why would anyone want to live in that godforsaken contry anyway? Eastern europe is jus a parasite!

Bartolametni on November 19, 2011:

"4 or 5 hands: 4 r?ce (rent-seh) but 5 r?k (ronk)"

No 'ronk', but 'r?k' :-)

Łukasz on November 18, 2011:

"Konstantynepolitya?czykiewiczówna po?o?y?a rozrewolwerowany rewolwer na kaloryferze obok sto?u z powy?amywanymi nogami."

I'm from Poland and I can say it so fast ;)

Polish is really difficult language :)

Kinga on November 14, 2011:

yukioo on October 23, 2011:

None of the Polish citizens, can't speak perfectly in Polish language !

Kamila on September 28, 2011:

A mnie jest wstyd za tych dupków co wypowiadali si? wcze?niej. Zawsze znajdzie si? ch?tny do popisania si? przekle?stwami:( mam nadzieje ?e jeste? z siebie dumy!

DarkDXZ on September 24, 2011:


I'm Polish and when I hear immigrant trying to speak Polish, then...

Well, for us Polish is...Polish - but that's because it's our native.

I feel full respect for all of you guys that managed to fully understand and learn Polish.

Let Chuck Norris be with you.


Niech Chuck Norris b?dzie z wami. (in Polish)

Tvrdak on September 16, 2011:

I am native Czech speaker, and I can tell you, Czech language has the same features as you mentioned for Polish in the article. We don't perceive our language as difficult, but I of course can imagine how hard it must be to learn for someone who's language doesn't flex words. It is also quite easy to learn other Slavic languages for a fluent Slavic speaker because the rules are very similar. They are even mutually understandable to some degree. I have no problem to fully understand Slovak speaker, and a little problem with understanding what Polish speaker says (in general).

Jacek on September 14, 2011:


Polish speakers: You want to catch a bus. One drives by. You realize it's the number 2 bus, the one you wanted to take. How do you say, "Hey, number 2! Stop!"

We would probably shout: Kurwa! Stój! ;)

rjsadowski on August 23, 2011:

Interesting article. Have you explored Hungarian or Finnish which are menbers of the Finno-Ugric branch of languages? (not Indo-European) Also Basque which appears to be a unique language.

htodd from United States on August 14, 2011:

Awesome..nice post

ladyisabell on August 10, 2011:

And say it :

W Szczebrzeszynie chrz?szcz brzmi w trzcinie

I Szczebrzeszyn z tego s?ynie.

Wó? go pyta: ”Panie chrz?szczu,

Po co pan tak brz?czy w g?szczu?”

”Jak to – po co? To jest praca,

Ka?da praca si? op?aca.”

Frederyk Lars Ingessen on August 08, 2011:

Its good that Polish is such a hard language!

At least no immigrants from third world countries want to come here, thank God!

Look what happened to my father's country- Sweden!

half Swedish and half Polish= 100% sexy!

Sverige i Polska!

asdefo on July 04, 2011:

zalosni kurwa jestescie. Tylko polacy sie wypowiadaja bo gowno jakiegos amerykanina czy francuza obchodzi wasz obsrany polski. Zakopleksione cipy. "I'm polih, I'm polis...." pitiful

Ewelinka on July 04, 2011:

forms of "robi?" (to do/ to make)

robi?, zrobi?, robi?, zrobi?, robisz, zrobisz, robi, zrobi, robi?, zrobi?, robimy, zrobimy, robicie, zrobicie, robi?em, zrobi?em, robi?am, zrobi?am, robi?, zrobi?, robi?a, zrobi?a, robi?o, zrobi?o, robili?my, zrobili?my, robi?y?my, zrobi?y?my, robili?cie, zrobili?cie, robi?y, zrobi?y, b?d? robi?, b?d? robi?, b?d? robi?a, b?dziesz robi?, b?dziesz robi?, b?dziesz robi?a, b?dzie robi?, b?dzie robi?, b?dzie robi?a, b?dzie robi?o, b?dziemy robi?, b?dziemy robili, b?dziemy robi?y, b?dziecie robi?, b?dziecie robili, b?dziecie robi?y, b?d? robi?, b?d? robili, b?d? robi?y, rób, zrób, niech robi, niech zrobi, róbmy, zróbmy, róbcie, zróbcie, niech robi?, niech zrobi?, robi?bym, zrobi?bym, robi?abym, zrobi?abym, robi?by?, zrobi?by?, robi?aby?, zrobi?aby?, robi?by, zrobi?by, robi?aby, zrobi?aby, robi?oby, zrobi?oby, robiliby?my, zrobiliby?my, robi?yby?cie, zrobiliby?cie, robi?yby?cie, zrobi?yby?cie, robi?yby?cie, zrobi?yby?cie, robi?cego, robi?c?, robi?cych, robione, zrobione, robiony, zrobiony, robiona, zrobiona, robieni, zrobieni, robionych, zrobionych, robionym, zrobionym, robionej, zrobionej, robionemu, zrobionemu, robionej, zrobionej, robionego, zrobionego, robion?, zrobion?, robionymi, zrobionymi, robi?cy, robi?ca, robi?ce, robi?cego, robi?cych, robi?cemu, robi?cej, robi?cym, robi?cego, robi?c?, robi?ce, robi?cym, robi?cej, robi?cymi…

…many forms of words like e.g.: depending on gender, case for all forms, tense etc…


This was easy… try to see the difference between “u” and “ó”, “?” and “rz”, “h” and “ch” etc.

Ewelinka on July 04, 2011:

forms of "by?" (to be):

by?, jestem, jeste?, jest, s?, jeste?my, jeste?cie,

by?em, by?am, by?e?, by?a?, by?, by?a, by?o, byli?my, by?y?my, byli?cie, by?y?cie, byli, by?y,

b?d?, b?dziesz, b?dzie, b?dziemy, b?dziecie, b?d?,

by?bym, by?abym, by?by?, by?aby?, by?by, by?aby, by?oby, byliby?my, by?yby?my, byliby?cie, by?yby?cie, byliby, by?yby, by?oby, b?d?cego, b?d?cej, b?d?cych, b?d?cym, b?d?c?, b?d?cymi…

Luke on June 17, 2011:

I believe that "7 genders" is not true. From Polish Wikipedia:

male osobowy ("person", eg. a student)

male ?ywotny nieosobowy ("living, not person" eg. a dog)

male nie?ywotny ("not living" eg. a hat)

female (eg. a book)

neutral (eg. a child)

On to ZROBI?- He did it

Ona to ZROBI?A - She did it

Ono to ZROBI?O- It did it

My to ZROBILI?MY- We did it

Wy to ZROBILI?CIE- You did it

Oni to ZROBILI - They did it(to mens or mens and womens)

One to ZROBI?Y- They did it(to womens

asdsdsdsd on June 13, 2011:

Polish is so difficult..;) I'm from poland and thousands people here can't Polish gramma yet!For us sure..Polish can be easy. But foreigners who want to learn polish I wish perseverance really difficult language..

Kafar on May 31, 2011:

Polish is one the most difficult language because it has words from all neighbouring coutries (especially German and Russian). I am Pole and I have (or I think I have) a good command in English - by comparing these two languages I would say it isn't possible for a foreigner to learn my mother tongue. On the other hand, there is no need in learning Polish - English is much more practical nowadays :)

Eitatetaata on May 30, 2011:

"Widzia?em - I saw (repeatedly in the past, like I saw the sun come up every morning)"

Actually, it's not like that. The form that you describe would be: "widywa?em". "Widzia?em" refers to continuity, not repeatedness.

tssujo on May 25, 2011:

I'm a Polish teacher and I have to admit that the language is difficult, but everything depends on motivation. I know students who are totally fluent. Of course, grammar can be scary, but skilled teacher and well- prepared lesson is all you need! I wish you all good luck!;)

Gdanskian on May 25, 2011:

The Polish language is a femme fetale - the kind of girl you try to please constantly, trying to guess her mood at the moment, and no matter what you do, how hard you try, she always says, "Wrong again!"

Poles always say there are only three tenses. Garbage. Zrobi?em co?, robi?em co? is exactly I did and I was doing - you just use different forms of the verb. Zjem i jem is again - i am eating and I eat.

The biggest difference between learning Polish and English is that in English, you learn a few words, they don't change, and you string them together and it makes more or less sense. People understand you. You cannot say ANYTHING whatsoever in Polish without studying lots and lots of grammer. Also, English speakers are used to their language being mangled by Poles, Chinese, Indians, Scots, Jamacians, French, New Yorkers, etc. etc. and can understand just about anything said in English. Poles have often never heard an accent, and often cannot understand at all.

I can speak Polish fine, but when writing, all the mistakes come out...

wolk on May 25, 2011:

Andryuha, luckily enough i'm a pole who speaks russian as well, so you can hear it straight from horse mouth - polish is pretty tougher to learn than russian. Verbs has only two, very simple conjunctions, in polish there are much more of them plus there is overhelming amount of irregular verbs. Moreover, the same we have in past tense, not just 4 regular forms - ???, ????, ????, ???? ;) by?em/by?am, by?e?/by?a?, by?/by?a/by?o, byli?my/by?y?my, byli?cie/by?y?cie, byli/by?y. If it comes to the nouns, declination is also far more difficult.

adam on May 17, 2011:

Jan, Polish language has TWO THOUSANDS varieties of word "robi?" (do), if you modyfied it by all modes, cases, times, plural and singular forms, genders and many other Polish different shit.

And other thing, polish for women and men is different. Women has other form of verbs.

Polak :) on May 16, 2011:

I apologize for my language w?umaczy?em google

I'm Polish and Polish to me something is easy

how it is used to codzie? can get used to it and the whole grammar is just need to learn how to scratch

Although I'm studying English and German (a gymnasium) and there is useful to know what a noun or verb but the pronoun, adverb, article somehow they are not useful