Hello, reader! How are you? It’s nice to be greeted at the beginning of an interaction, isn’t it? Greetings mark the start of an encounter, which is why they’re the first terms that we learn in a foreign language. To ensure that you have lots of pleasant interactions, let’s take a look at all the different ways to say hello in Polish!
Greeting Friends In Polish
The greeting that the majority of people already know (and that also raises the most questions in terms of pronunciation) is the elusive Cześć! (Hello!). It’s pronounced roughly like chech-sh-ch, in case you’re wondering. A word that’s easier to pronounce is Witaj! (Hi!), and this also more or less means hello in Polish. Beware, though: You should only use the greetings cześć or witaj when you’re with friends or young people as they are strictly informal greetings!
Polish For Formal Occasions
If you’re talking to strangers or to someone you’re not particularly close to, then Dzień dobry (Good day) is most frequently used. It’s worth noting that Dzień dobry is also used before noon in Poland — mornings don’t have their own greeting here. From about 6 pm onwards, you should switch over to saying Dobry wieczór (Good evening). Have you noticed yet that dobry comes last in Dzień dobry but first in Dobry wieczór? This has to do with word emphasis and Polish rhythm: It contradicts Polish rules if dobry, which has two syllables, is placed before dzień, which only has one syllable. Look at how much grammar you’re learning already!
If you want to address people even more formally, you can address men with Witam pana! (literally “Hello, Gentlemen!”) and women with Witam panią! (Hello, ladies!).
Teen Slang In Poland
Like practically everywhere in the world, Polish youngsters have a language all their own — and their own greetings. In addition to cześć and witaj, you will also often hear the term Hej!, taken from the English “hey.” Anyone who wants to sound more casual can use the term Hejka!, which roughly translates as a cuter version of “hey.” (The ending –ka in Polish is diminutive, meaning that it makes the word sound smaller and cuter, similar to –chen in German. We don’t have these English, but trust us — they’re adorable.)
Special Grammatical Cases
As already mentioned above, greetings are important for entering into discussions and making personal connections. Polish people really like things to be personal, which is why the salutation has its own case: the vocative! If you want to greet your friend Kasia by name, you would say Cześć Kasiu! The change in ending from –a to –u signals a special case and turns the meaning into an affectionate “I’m with you, Kasia!”
If the idea of a special grammatical case stresses you out — don’t worry. You don’t have to learn the correct ending for every single Polish name in the vocative in order to personally greet others! It’s not incorrect to just say Cześć Kasia, and with the younger generation in particular, the vocative is often considered to be rather dramatic. For this reason, it’s falling out of regular usage.
Small Talk In Poland
A bit of small talk, or at least asking someone how they’re doing, is required in Polish (just as it is in English). This is especially important to do between greeting someone and entering into a discussion about a topic like religion, politics or monetary matters. Anyone who asks Jak się masz? (How are you?) isn’t usually expecting a detailed — or even honest — answer. Like with the English “How’s it going?”, a simple “Dobrze, dziękuję! A ty?” (Good thanks, and you?) will suffice. Younger people have their own version here, too, so Jak się masz? is simply shortened to Siema? If someone doesn’t think that’s cool enough, they can change it to Siemanko.
If you want to know how someone’s been doing recently, you ask Jak leci? (How are you?), Co słychać? (What’s up?) or Co nowego? (What’s new?). But it’s not surprising to just hear Nic takiego! (Not much!) or even E, stara bieda! here (Same old!) back — Polish people are masters of understatement. A real all-rounder is the word tam (literally: “there”). You can ask how things are going by simply saying Co tam? (literally: “what’s there?”) or Jak tam? (literally: “how’s there?”), but you can also combine it with other questions to form new greetings like:
- Jak tam leci?
- Co tam słychać?
- Co tam nowego?
So now you know how to say hello in Polish! Time to get out there and start some great conversations.