Polish/Grouping expressions

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We often want to group nouns or sentences, to say "X and Y" or "X or Y".

In Polish the commonly used word for "and" is "i":

  • Marta i Basia mają koty - Marta and Basia have cats
  • Kobieta je ciastko i pije kawę - The woman is eating a cookie and drinking coffee
  • Kot jest gruby i czarny - The cat is fat and black
  • Adam lubi Martę i Basię - Adam likes Marta and Basia

The word "oraz" may also be used to express English "and":

  • Basia ma kota oraz psa - Basia has a cat and a dog.

It sounds a little more sophisticated. However, you shouldn't use oraz inbetween adjectives - "Kot jest gruby oraz czarny" doesn't sound very natural. When in doubt, say "i".

You can also use "z" + instrumental (with) and "bez" (without) + genitive

  • Magda z Tomkiem są małżeństwem - Magda and Tomek are married (Tomek in instrumental)
  • Magda i Tomek są małżeństwem - Same.
  • Dziecko lubi kanapki z serem - The child likes sandwiches with cheese (cheese in instrumental) - meaning "The child likes cheese sandwiches"
  • Dziecko lubi kanapki i ser - The child likes sandwiches and cheese - this one meaning "The child likes both sandwiches and cheese"
  • Kobieta lubi kawę bez cukru - The woman likes her coffee without sugar (sugar in genitive) - we don't say "her coffee" in Polish, just "coffee"
  • małżeństwo - married couple
  • kanapka - a sandwich
  • ser - cheese
  • cukier - sugar
  • Tomek - popular male name, diminuitive of Tomasz - the English equivalent is Thomas

When you group a few nouns, the result will always be plural, and if any of them was person-masculine, so will the whole expression be.

There are many words for "or" - we mostly use "albo" or "lub" (the same meaning), but "czy" (which usually has a different meaning) may be used for this purpose too, especially in questions.

  • Masz kota albo psa? - "Do you have a cat or dog ?" Proper answers are "tak" ("yes", if you have either or even both) or "nie" ("no", if you have neither)
  • Masz kota czy psa? - "Do you have a cat, or a dog?", meaning "Which do you have, cat or dog?". Proper answers are "kota" ("a cat", if you have a cat but not a dog), or "psa" ("a dog", if you have a dog but not a cat). If you have both or neither some more complex answer will be needed. But "tak"/"nie" ("yes"/"no") will leave the other party rather confused.
  • Marta albo Basia ma kota - Marta or Basia has a cat
  • Adam ma kota albo psa - Adam has a cat or a dog
  • Dziecko je ciasto albo pije mleko - The child is eating cake or drinking milk.

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