A Linguistic Comparison of English and Polish

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Syntactic Functions

In an analytic language like English, the syntactic function of a sentence constituent is determined by its position.

On the other hand, Polish is a synthetic language, which means that syntactic functions of constituents are marked by case.

Phonological Features

In many languages, including Polish, there is anticipatory assimilation of unvoiced obstruents immediately before voiced obstruents. For example,

Polish prośba 'request' is pronounced [[ˈprɔʑba]] (instead of *[[ˈprɔɕba]]).

In both languages, the voicing of phonologically voiced obstruents varies depending on the context. In Polish, there is a rule of word-final devoicing, but its activity is counterweighted by voicing retention in connected speech, whose degree depends on dialectal variability.


The verbs 'runąć' & 'zdołać' are examples of PERFECTIVE TANTRUM.

Polish Cases

There are 7 Polish cases:

  • Nominative (mianownik) - kto? co?
  • Genitive (dopełniacz) - kogo? czego?
  • Dative (celownik) - komu? czemu?
  • Accusative (biernik) - kogo? co?
  • Instrumental (narzędnik) - z kim? z czym?
  • Locative (miejscownik) - o kim? o czym?
  • Vocative (wołacz)


  • Juxtapositions - złożenia: numer telefonu – telephone, pasta do zębów - toothpaste
  • Regular compound (interfix): gwiazda + zbiór = gwiazdozbiór
  • Solid compounds – zrosty: oka mgnienieokamgnienie, dobra nocdobranoc

Adjective Functions

  • kurtka skórzana → material function, made of
  • wycieczka autokarowa → instrumental function
  • kora mózgowa → locative function
  • krem wybielający → purpose adjective, used for
  • dżem malinowy → source function, ? is the source
  • komunikat rządowy → subjective function

De-adjectival Verbs & Their Categories

  • weselić się → stative
  • opróżnić → causative
  • rosnąć → inchoative - process

Denominal Verbs & Their Meanings

  • kretynieć → to become N
  • grupować → to cause to become N
  • matkować → to act like N

Word Formation Processes

  • Back clipping: pozdrowieniapozdro, laboratorylab
  • Forward clipping: autobusbus, hamburgerburger
  • Blending: Combining two separate lexemes: breakfast + lunch = brunch
  • Nominalization – deriving nouns from verbs or adjectives
  • Lexicalization – creating new words, one word can have a different meaning

Derived Verbs

Aspect in Polish

  • Perfective - an event is complete: przeczytać
  • Imperfective – ongoing event: czytać

Formal Patterns of Aspect Marking

  • Prefixation: na-pisać
  • Suffixation: kupo-wa-ć
  • Suppletion: kłaść/położyć, brać/wziąć

Lexical aspect – modifying the meaning of the verb: pisać->odpisać->napisać->zapisać

Iterative verbs – verbs denoting habitual or repetitive character of an action: pisywać, grywać


  • Resultative – expresses effects or results: I've read a book (implies: I know the book)
  • Continuative – action which began at some point & is still going: I've lived in London since 1980 (implies: I still live in London)


  • Indicative – to give facts
  • Conditional – to talk about a situation which could take place only if a certain condition is met (hypothetical questions): Gdybyś mnie poprosił, pomógłbym ci
  • Imperative – no tense distinctions: Niech ona czyta
  • Subjunctive – only in English, making commands: I suggest that he be punished

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