Conjunctions (spójniki) are words that link different parts of a sentence together. A simple sentence won’t have any conjunctions, just a subject, a verb, and an object: ‘I went to the shop”, where ‘I’ is the subject, ‘to go’ (here in the past tense form ‘went’) is the verb, and ‘shop’ is the object. But some sentences, known commonly as complex sentences, will have a bit more information, and often to fit this in, we use conjunctions.
In English the most common conjunction is probably ‘and’, but there are loads more that we use frequently (I even used one just then, ‘but’). Notice how words like ‘or’, ‘both’, ‘either’ and ‘neither’, ‘although’, ‘because’ and ‘since’, allow us to add more information to a sentence without starting a new one.
In Polish conjunctions are used in precisely the same way, adding clauses to sentences to give more information. However, there is no direct translation for many English conjunctions into Polish, and many function in different ways than we are used to.
Here we will look at some of the simpler conjunctions in Polish, and some more complex ones. We will also deal with how and when they can be used.
The Simpler Conjunctions
Three of the most useful conjunctions in Polish (as in English) are probably, a (and),i (and),albo (or).
I know what you are thinking...’how can both, ‘a’ and ‘i’ mean the same thing?!’ That’s because Polish divides the usage of the English ‘and’ into two separate functions, ‘and’ to mean ‘also’, and ‘and’ to mean ‘while’. Simply put, one lists things, while the other indicates that you are speaking about a different action or event.
For example, if I wanted to say ‘my dog and my cat’, I would use the Polish i, to signify that this is just a list of things: Mój pies i mój kot. But, if I wanted to describe two actions for example, I would use the Polish a: Jestem studentem, a jesteś studentem (I am a student, and you are a student).
Sometimes a can also mean ‘but’, though only in particular circumstances: ‘’To Asia, a kto to?’ (That is Asia, but (and) who is that?).
The Polish word for but is ale, and it is used in the same way as its English counterpart: Uczę się polskiego, ale polski jest bardzo trudny (I am learning polish, but it is very hard).
Some Harder Conjunctions
After you have got the hang of the simpler conjunctions, learning some of the harder ones is a great way to make your speaking more dynamic; imagine not being able to say words like ‘because’, ‘rather’ or ‘although’ in English. Hopefully this list of conjunctions and usage examples will help:
Lubię Bena aczkolwiek czesami jest bardzo irytujący. ( I like Ben, although he is really annoying sometimes.)
Jej tata jest dość stary. (Her dad is rather old.)
Kocham szkołę ponieważ jest fajna. (I love school because it is fun.)
To jestzarazem dobre i złe. (This is good whereas this is bad.)
Jej pies nie może zasnąć dopóki się z nim nie pobawi. (Her dog cannot have fun unless she plays with him.)
Lubię to jednakże wolę tamto. (I like this, however I prefer that.)
It’s worth learning and getting used to using conjunctions. Just as in English, they are a great way to add fluency to your speaking, making you sound less like a foreigner and more like a native, whilst allowing you to make more complex sentences with greater meanings.