Polish/Order of words in a sentence

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In Polish it is possible to move words around in the sentence, and to drop subject or object if they are obvious from context.

These sentences mean basically the same "Henia has a cat", although they are used in different contexts:

  • Henia ma kota (simple statement)
  • Henia kota ma (It's a cat Henia has)
  • Kota ma Henia (It's Henia who has a cat)
  • Ma Henia kota
  • Kota Henia ma (the action "has" is emphasized)
  • Ma kota Henia

Use the first word order, unless emphasizing something.

If apparent from the context, you can drop the subject, object or even the verb:

  • Ma kota - can be used if it's obvious who is being talked about
  • Ma - answer for "Czy Henia ma kota ?" (Does Henia have a cat?)
  • Henia - answer for "Kto ma kota ?" (Who has a cat?)
  • Kota - answer for "Co ma Henia?" (What does Henia have?)
  • Henia ma - this sounds least natural. There is a tendency in Polish to drop the subject rather than the object and rarely you know the object but not the subject. If the question was "Kto ma kota ?" (who has a cat ?), the answer should be "Henia" alone, without a verb.

In particular, "ja" and "ty", and also their plural equivalents "my" and "wy", are almost always dropped.

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