Essential Polish Grammar – Formal and Informal

FORMAL WAYS OF EXPRESSION

Feminine Masculine English translation
Dzień dobry pani doktor. Dzień dobry panie doktorze. Good morning Mr./Mrs., Miss, Doctor.
Dobry wieczór pani profesor. Dobry wieczór panie profesorze. Good evening Mr./Mrs., Miss, Professor

NOTE: it is important to know that such greetings in English “How are you?” Jak się masz?, or “How is it going?” Co słychać? Jak leci ? (informal) are not used as greetings in Polish. Instead, they are treated as questions requiring information. They are answered in Polish with such feedback as: good or bad mood information, complaints, worries or the opposite. The interlocutor normally follows with a more specific question about the situation, offers help, etc.

In the formal contact, such words as pan and pani are followed by the 3rd person singular form of a verb, and the plural państwo, panie, and panowie are followed by the 3rd person plural form of a verb.

Być (To Be)

Feminine  —
3rd person singular
Masculine  —
3rd person singular
Feminine  —
plural 3rd person plural
Masculine  —
3rd person plural
Ona/pani jest. (she/Mrs. is) On/pan jest. (he/Mr. is) One/panie są. (they/women are) Oni/panowie są. (oni/panowie są) (they/men are)

The forms pani and pan are connected with age and social status; therefore, they are used to address adults. (Polish matriculation age is officially recognized as 18 years old.)

Although the formal nature of some social contacts is predetermined, it is possible to change the formal into an informal type of contact; however, there are socio-cultural rules that govern such transition. A woman may suggest such a change to a man, an older person to a younger person, or someone of a higher social rank to the inferior. Below are the phrases used to do so:

To introduce yourself in a formal way you need to give both the forename and the surname.

Below are the example formulas:

Below are some phrases used to introduce others in a formal way.

Beginning Ending English Translation
Szanowna Pani./Doktor./Mario. Z wyrazami szacunku. (Regards) Respectable Mrs./Doctor./Mary.
Szanowny Panie./Doktorze./Marku. Z poważaniem. (Sincerely) Respectable Mr./Doctor./Mark.
Droga Pani Mario… This is a semi formal form:
Dear Mrs. Mary…

Note: Szanowny Panie Doktorze, Szanowna Pani Mario  —  it is customary that all the words referring to the addressee are spelled with a capital letter at the beginning.

INFORMAL SPEECH

In informal contacts, the speakers address one another using their first names and the 2nd person pronoun singular or plural ty  —  you singular; wy  —  you plural. Usually in any given sentence the name or the pronoun is not repeated, so the 2nd person form is indicated by the form of a verb.

The semantic nature of diminutive rests are their inherent meaning of intimacy and a friendly attitude on the part of the speaker. Another characteristic is that they often contain soft consonants: (ś,ć,dź,ń)

Beginning Ending English translation
Kochana Mamo/Marysiu/Babciu Całuję…/Całuski… (kisses) Dear Mom/Mary/Granny
Drogi Janku/Tato/Synku Ściskam Cię (hugs) Dear John/Dad/Son
Witaj Marku! Serdecznie pozdrawiam! (Warm greetings) Hello Mark!