False friends - the Polish "no" means many things... September 20 2015, 2 Comments

Useful Polish phrases with audio. 

When you listen to Polish people speaking Polish in an informal situation, you will hear the word no on many occasions. To your confusion, it has not much to do with the negative word no in English. On the contrary, it's a colloquial expression for tak meaning yes. When Poles agree, they nod their head and say no. Check out this short dialogue:


A: Czy to prawda, że znów chcesz kupić nowy samochód? (Is it true that you want to buy a new car, again?)

B: No! Czas na zmianę. (Yes! It's time for a change)

The same word works when forming questions:

A: Mam pytanie (I have a question) says one person

B: No? (Yes?/Well, what is it?) replies the other person with a rising intonation.

When you're unsure about something, use no:

No, nie jestem pewny/pewna. (Well, I'm not sure [man/woman speaking])

No, nie wiem. (Well, I don't know)

There is no better way to express how much you appreciate your future mother-in-law's cooking than by saying:

No, to jest wyśmienite! (Well, this is absolutely delicious!)

When someone is telling a very interesting story and you simply can't wait for them to get to the end, you can rush them politely:

No, no i co dalej? (Well, come on, what happened next?)

No is also used to emphasise an order:

Chodź no tutaj! (Come here!)

Or to express a warning:

No, ale bez żartów! (Don't you dare play any jokes!)

And finally, it expresses finality:

No to cześć! (Goodbye then!)

No to do następnego tygodnia! (Till next week then!)