To check if you make these common mistakes, first take the “check your knowledge” quiz below. Once you are finished taking the short quiz, scroll down past the picture to check your results and learn how to correct your mistakes.
Please translate the following sentences from Polish into English:
1) Tańczyliśmy razem z Tomkiem całą noc na imprezie.
2) Nie mam ze swoim bratem dobrego kontaktu odkąd byliśmy dziećmi.
3) Ugotujemy razem z bratem obiad dla mamy, ona uwielbia włoską kuchnię.
4) Czuję, że sąsiedzi robią grila na zewnątrz.
5) My z mamą czekałyśmy na niego całe popołudnie.
Please say the following words out loud:
(record yourself if you can on your phone to check yourself)
(a) Mountain (b) Certain (c) Again (d) Fountain (e) Curtain
(f) Bargain (g) to Maintain (h) Train (i) to Explain (j) Rain.
STOP SCROLLING DOWN UNTIL YOU FINISH YOUR QUICK “CHECK YOUR KNOWLEDGE” QUIZ. THE ANSWERS WILL FOLLOW AFTER THE PICTURE.
The Olympic Peninsula “Hoh Rain Forest,” Washington State – USA
1) Tomek and I were dancing all night at the party.
2) I haven’t gotten along with my brother since we were kids. or My brother and I haven’t gotten along since we were kids/children.
3) My brother and I will cook diner for mom, she loves Italian food.
4) I can smell that the neighbors are barbequing outside.
5) My mother and I were waiting for him the whole afternoon.
Lesson: Questions 1, 2, 3, and 5 are checking to see if you can correctly express when you are talking about yourself in a group with others. In Polish, the construction is quiet different: Tańczyliśmy razem z Tomkiem całą noc na imprezie. Most likely you said something like, “We with Tomek were dancing all night at the party.” or, “We with my brother were cooking dinner…” To the English speaker, they will think that “We” in those sentences equals you plus one more person or a group of people in addition to Tomek (or in question 3, in addition to your brother.) The English speaker will be thinking that “We with Tomek” means you and your friends/partner/family member plus Tomek were all dancing together. Or if you said, “We with my brother don’t get along, since we were children/kids,” I would probably think that you and your other brothers or sisters do not get along with your brother. I remember when moving to Poland, that this was extremely confusing to me when speaking with Poles until I understood the Polish construction.
The construction in such situations where you speak of yourself plus others in a plural situation always starts with the other person or people you are with and then you. Examples:
- My boss and I are going on a business trip tomorrow. (Not… I and my boss are going on a business trip.)
- My children and I are going on vacation this weekend.
- My best friend and I have known each other since we were children.
- My cousins and I were always getting in trouble.
****You should know that native English speakers often use a poor construction here, especially when we are kids. For example, it is very common to hear, “Me and my brother will cook dinner for mom,” instead of the correct, “My brother and I will cook dinner for mom.” I remember many times as a boy when my mom would correct me when I made this mistake, and it’s very common to hear a parent or teacher correcting a child. If you google “me vs. I” you will see lots of videos instructing native speakers how to use them correctly.
Our teachers and parents will teach us by removing the other person form a sentence. For example: Me and my brother will cook dinner for mom. If you take away “my brother” you are left with, “Me will cook diner for mom.” That is obviously wrong, as it should be, “I cooked dinner for my mom.” So it must logically be, “My brother and I cooked dinner for mom.”
Here is a short video made for English speakers trying to learn the difference between using “Me” or “I”:
1)I hope you remember from Polishism 1.0 about the at (not on) used in question 1 (at the party!).
2) For question 3, you may have made the other Polishism of saying “Italian Kitchen” instead of “Italian Cuisine,” or “Italian Food.” “Cuisine” we think more about food that is richer and more refined, and “food” as more like street food and normal restaurants that aren’t very fancy. If you were in Warsaw, “Wieprzowina ze śliwkami at Dom Polski” would be cuisine and “Pierogies at Bar Mleczny” would be food.
Question 2 also deals with the construction of liking or not liking someone. In Polish you use “mieć dobry kontakt,” so most likely you said, ” We with my brother don’t have good contact since we were children.” or ” My brother and I don’t have good contact, since we were children.” Now, everyone will understand you but this isn’t how we express it in English, and it sounds to the native ear a bit strange.
We use the phrasal verb: to get along with. As In I don’t get along with my roommates anymore. Or I really get along with all my brothers. The British will say, “to get on with.” Do you get on with your colleagues?
Question 4 deals with the difference between the Polish “czuć” and English “to feel.” In English, “to feel,” is only used with physical sensations, like: “I can feel your breath on my neck,” or “I cannot feel my legs,” or “The blind man feels his way through the darkness.” Also it can be used with emotions and states, like: “I feel sad today,” or I feel exhausted after work,” or, “I feel so good on this vacation.” It can never be used like in Polish for “to smell,” and in English it sounds really really funny.
I remember when I first came to Poland and didn’t realize that czuć doesn’t mean to smell, and I was with my new roommate at the time on a walk. At this time in Warsaw, there was a whole “mine field” of dog poop and navigating it was a bit tricky. Anyways, on our walk she stopped close to some really smelly dog poop and said, “It’s horrible feeling all this dog shit. Don’t you feel it?” and at that moment I thought she was completely crazy and I wasn’t sure who was this new roommate I was living with?!?!? Did she really want me to feel this shit? To the English speaker it is really not obvious that “to feel” is connected “to smell” in another language like Polish. After about 5 more such mistakes in the first week I was in Warsaw, I soon realized that in Polish you can also “feel a smell,” czuję zapach.
I know some Polish teachers teach this, but it is something to pay extra attention to, as you will surely be misunderstood if you use “to feel” incorrectly.
Here’s the idea:
*** Also, you probably made another Polishism that I put into the sentence. In Polish, you often say, “Robić grila.” where in English, we put into the phrasal verb, “to grill out” or “to barbecue.” So if you said, “I feel that the neighbors are making a grill outside,” then it means that you are intuitively feeling that the neighbors are putting together a new grill. You need to say correctly, “I smell that the neighbors are grilling out/barbecuing outside.”
Lastly with the pronunciation of words ending in “-ain,” it is a very common mistake to always pronounce such words with the ‘a’ inside, like in the words: Train, to Maintain, to Explain, Rain.
HOWEVER, the majority of such words ending in -ain are pronounced without the ‘a’. Like Moun-tyn, Cer-tyn, A-gyn, Foun-tyn, Kjur-tin, Bar-gin.
You have to look up the pronunciation or listen to a fluent English speaker to hear which way the ending -ain will sound like. If you have to guess, however, it’s usually good to choose the pronunciation without the ‘a’. Listen to me pronouncing them for you:
Now check yourself again. First translate the sentences and then scroll down to find the answers:
- My z bratem mamy na ten temat inne zdanie niż pozostali.
- Wróciłam do domu i poszliśmy z mężem na zakupy.
- Jedziemy z mężem i z dziećmi na wakacje do Chorwacji.
- Czy masz z szefem dobry kontakt?
- Czy twoje dzieci się ze sobą dogadują?
- Czy czujesz tego faceta za nami? Chyba nie brał prysznica przez miesiąc.
- Będziemy robili z przyjaciółmi grila nad Wisłą w ten piątek.
- My brother and I have a different opinion about this topic than the others.
- I came back home and my husband and I went shopping.
- My children, husband, and I are going on vacation to Croatia.
- Do you get along with your boss?
- Do your children get along with each other?
- Can you smell that guy behind us? Probably he hasn’t taken a shower for a month.
- My friends and I will grill out/barbecue by the Vistula this Friday.
I hope this was helpful, if you have any questions please write them below in the comments.