In Polish we have several verbs of motion which are always
translated into English as “to go”. Everything depends on whether we
are going somewhere on foot or if we are planning to use machines
with wheels such as buses, cars, bicycles, motorbikes, trams, the
metro, or taxis. For example, if we want to say: “I am going to the
cinema” we have to use the verb “iść” (to go on foot), because this
activity (going to the cinema) in general use is by using the feet.
Dzisiaj idę do kina. (Today I go to the cinema).
Teraz idę do kina. (Now I go to the cinema).
If we want to go somewhere by means of transportation we must use
the verb „jechać”.
Dzisiaj jadę do Warszawy. (Today I go to Warsaw.)
Jutro jadę do Paryża. (Tomorrow I go to Paris – the present tense
used as the future tense).
Another problem is when we want to tell somebody about going
somewhere as a frequent activity such as regularly, every day, from
time to time, rarely or never. To talk about going somewhere
frequently on foot we must use “ chodzić” and to tell about going
somewhere by transportation, we make use of “ jeździć”.
Codziennie chodzę na basen. (Every day I go to the swimming-pool)
Zwykle nie chodzę do teatru. (Usually I do not go to the theatre).
Regularnie chodzę na siłownię. (I regularly go to the gym).
Zawsze chodzę do szkoły. (I always go to school).
Często jeżdżę do Berlina. (I often go to Berlin).
Rzadko jeżdżę do Rzymu. (I rarely go to Rome).
Nigdy nie jeżdżę do Tokio, bo jest za daleko. (I never go to Tokio
because it’s too far).
Of course we have more verbs of motion, and it is useful to mention
the verb “ to fly”. To describe going somewhere by plain, we have to
use the verb „lecieć” or „latać”.
Dzisiaj lecę do Madrytu. (Today I go to Madrid).
Co tydzień latam do Monachium. (Every week I go to Munich).
This is not the end of the challenges you have to accept about motion
verbs. Motion verbs require different prepositions depending on the
physical space we are going, such as inside a building, an open space,
an island or to an event.
The sentences: „Idę do pubu.” (I go to the pub), “Idę do klubu.” (I go
to the club), “Idę do szkoły” (I go to the school) requires preposition
„do” using the Genitive case. The same with going to the country or
city: “Jadę do Madrytu” (I go to Madrid), “Jadę do Szwecji” (I go to
Sweden.) However, going to an island joins preposition “na” with
Accusative case, like: “Lecę na Dominikanę “ (I fly to Dominikana),
“Lecę na Kubę” (I fly to Cuba). Exceptions regarding going to islands
are: “Jadę na Litwę, na Łotwę, na Białoruś, na Ukrainę, na Białoruś, na
Węgry”. (I go to Lithuania, Latvia, Belorus, Ukraine, Hungary).
Also if we want to tell somebody about going to some event, we
must use the preposition „na” using the Accusative case. “Idę na
koncert.” (I go to the concert), “Idę na piwo.” (I go for a beer.), „Jadę
na spektakl.” (I go for a spectacle).
Going to the mountains requires the preposition „w”. “Jadę w Alpy, w
Karpaty, w Himalaje, w Tatry.” (I go to the Alps, to the Carpathian
Mountains, to the Himalaya Mountains, to the Tatra Mountains).
Going to the sea, ocean or any body of water requires preposition “
nad” using the Instrumental case. “Jadę nad morze, nad Bałtyk, nad
Atlantyk, nad jezioro” (I go to the Baltic Sea, to the Atlantic Ocean, to
As you can see, motion verbs are one of the most confusing grammar
problems in Polish. To make it easier, I suggest only to imagining
yourself first the space where you will go and the set up (if it is going
to be inside, in an open space or at the event) and after that think
about what is actually treated as an event in Polish.
I hope my story made you even more curious. I wish all of you nice
weekend and please do not give up on Polish! Use Polish! Sing in
Polish! Dream in Polish!
This article was published in “The Wrocław International”- Wrocław’s first
English-language newspaper, July 2011, Issue 6, ISSN 2082-730X