Poland is an avid sporting nation. From the world class football players it has scattered throughout top clubs in Europe, to the highly competitive volleyball and hockey leagues that never fail to grasp the nation year on year, the Poles participate in a really wide variety of sports. Being able to talk about what sports you play or enjoy is great for getting to know people, and will allow you to talk about some of the things that really interest native poles. Who knows, you may even find a golfing partner or worthy chess opponent in the meantime.
Let's take a look at some of the sentences and vocabulary that you will need to be able to talk about what sports you play in Polish.
Describing What Sports You Play
When it comes to describing what sport you play in Polish you can use two different verbs. The first, and most common, is the verb 'grać'. This is actually the exact Polish equivalent of the English word 'to play', so there are instances where it's not appropriate for use in Polish, just as in English. For example, you don't say 'I play running', but you do say 'I play football'; precisely the same constraints of usage are relevant to the verb 'grać' in Polish.
Naturally, you will have to conjugate the verb to reflect the subject of the sentence you are talking about. Familiarise yourself with the various verb endings, so that you will be able to speak about sports in relation to both yourself and others, in the singular and the plural. The various conjugations are as follows: gram (I play), grasz (you play), on/ona gra (he/she plays), gramy (we play), gracie (you [plural] play), and grają (they play).
Before we get to sentences, you'll notice that in all the examples, when you describe what sport you play in Polish using the verb grać, you will also have to use the preposition 'w', after the verb and preceding the noun for the sport; in Polish you literately say 'I play in...'.
After using the verb in the correct position, and adding the 'w' preposition, all you have to do is add the sport you want to say it is that you play. Remember, the verb grać can only be applied to those sports that its English equivalent can too. So, you can say 'I play golf' (gram w golfa), 'I play tennis' (gram w tenisa), 'I play volleyball' (gram w siatkówkę; volleyball is a particularly popular one in Poland, probably because they're good at it!), 'I play chess' (gram w szachy), or 'I play football' (gram w piłkę nożną).
For the sports that you can't use the verb grać to refer to, Polish has another verb, and it's much more encompassing. There is no direct English equivalent, but the Polish verb 'uprawiać' means something like ‘practice’, or ‘do’ (but in a more active sense than the Polish ‘robić’). What's more, it's only appropriate for asking people about sport, not answering. So, you can ask, 'jaki sport uprawiasz? (what type of sport do you play?), but you must answer using either the verb grać, if it's appropriate, or simply with the noun or the verb of the sport (if it cannot be used in conjunction with grać). For example, I could reply with, 'gram w golfa', but also simply, 'biegam' (I run - an example of the verb answer), or 'pływanie' (swimming - an example of using a noun for the answer).
It's worth remembering both of these verbs, because while it's fine to be able to answer with one, questions about sports and what you play are often made with the other (uprawiać). However, remember, that unlike with many instances of Polish verbs, you don't need to reply with a particular form of the verb 'uprawiać', instead you must answer using the verb or noun that's appropriate to that particular sport. Don’t worry though, understanding which sports these are is pretty easy; it's virtually the same as in English.