Speak like a Polish native. Everyday expressions you need to know
Language is not only grammar. Whether we like it or not, language is full of colloquialisms, grammatically incorrect phrases, curses or abbreviations. A good Polish language teacher should teach how Poles speak every day – real people, not smoothed characters using perfect Polish.
Sooner or later a student will ask why his co-workers ask “jak tam?” instead of “jak się masz?”, how some old-fashioned textbooks teach.
1. No/ no jasne, no pewnie
„No” basically means „yeah”. „No jasne/ no pewnie” – “yeah, sure”. We say it when we want to confirm something or agree to something. Some people could start a sentence with „no”, like „no czemu nie” [yeah, why not], „no nie wiem” [yeah, I don’t know].
– Jedziemy jutro w góry, jedziesz z nami?
– No pewnie! O której godzinie?
– Are we going to the mountains tomorrow, are you coming with us?
– Sure! What time?
2. No ba / ba
A slightly ironic expression of confirmation or utmost agreement with the statement made by your interlocutor. As if what this person was saying was so obvious that all you need to say is… „no ba”.
In English it could be „duh” or „you bet”, “indeed”.
– Warszawa to wspaniałe miasto.
– No ba! Dlatego tu mieszkam.
– Warsaw is a great city.
– You bet! That’s why I live here.
3. No co ty/ Nie, no co ty / coś ty
Come on! come off it! Get away!
We said to express surprise, disbelief or scepticism. Also used to tell someone that you do not believe what they are saying is true, the person is not being serious or that you strongly disagree with them:
– Wyprowadzam się za granicę.
– No co ty! Myślałam, że lubisz tu mieszkać.
– I move out aboard.
– Come on! I thought you like living here.
4. No nie? [isn’t it?] – used to strongly agree with what someone has said about someone or something.
– Bardzo drogo jest w tym sklepie…
– No nie? Chodźmy gdzieś indziej.
– In this store it’s very expensive.
– Isn’t it? Let’s go somewhere else.
5. Serio? [Seriously]
6. Jak tam? Co tam? Jak leci?
How’s it going? What’s up? More informal way to ask “how are you” in Polish.
7. Dokładnie [Exactly]
This word is a carbon copy of English and not everyone likes it. The Polish equivalent is “właśnie”. However, it is hard not to notice that – especially among the younger generation – this “exactly” is much more popular.
8. Spoko [Cool]
Abbreviation of spokojnie (calmly) meaning cool, all right, okay, chill, and the like.
– Pożyczysz mi dychę?
– Spoko, nie ma problemu.
– Can you lend me a 10 złotych?
– OK, no problem.
9. Jakoś to będzie [It’ll work out somehow, things will work out in the end]
The BBC wrote about “Jakoś to będzie”, comparing this Polish saying to Danish Hygge.
– Wyrzucili mnie z pracy.
– Nie martw się, jakoś to będzie.
– They fired me.
– Don’t worry, it’ll work out somehow.
But I’m sure you already know it 😉