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Formal and Informal Greetings in Polish

Ivonka Activity: 10 / 4
Joined: Oct 27, 2006 ♀
  May 12 '07 /  #1
What is "a greeting"? It is a kind of a polite expression or a gesture done when greeting another person.

We all know that greetings are essential part in our everyday life no matter where we live, what we do, who we are or what culture we belong to. We cannot imagine a single day without greeting somebody.

There are lots of different kinds of greetings which are used in various situations depending on how well we know a particular person, on time of the day or circumstances of the meeting. The words said when greeting people can express respect or be just a normal polite expression. Very often, they show joy because of the meeting or even are a spoken joke.

Now, I would like to present some most important and common Polish expressions used to greet people.

Dzień dobry is a general official form of greeting people we do not know and older people. We use it no matter whether it is morning (in English: Good morning) or afternoon (in English: Good afternoon).

Dobry wieczór (in English: Good evening) is similar to Dzień dobry, but it is used in the evening.

Dobranoc (in English: Good night) is said when people leave each other in the evening or before going to bed.

Do widzenia! (in English: Goodbye) is used when someone leaves or is left.

Cześć! (in English: Hi!, Hello!, Bye!) is an informal expression we use both when we want to greet our friends, relatives, children and people we know well and when we want to say goodbye.

Witam! or Witaj! is quite similar to Cześć! but a little bit less emotional.

Czołem! is again close to Cześć! but it sounds more archaically and less familiar.

Jak się masz!, Jak się miewasz!, Co u Ciebie słychać! or Co słychać! (in English: How do you do?, How are you?) is a greeting which expresses interest in mood and health condition of the person we have met.

Polish language has also got a few more informal ways of greeting. Here are they:

Graba!, Grabula!, Witka!, Kopsnij witkę!, Strzała! or Strzałeczka! are mostly used by men. It encourages to offer one’s hand and is connected with the gesture of shaking hands (used by people who know each other very well).

Piątka!, Kopsnij piątkę! or Przybij piątkę! are very similar to Graba! etc. but it is connected with the gesture of ‘giving somebody five’.

Kopę lat! meaning: I haven’t seen you for ages! It emphasizes the fact that a lot of time has passed since the last meeting.

Sie masz! or Sie ma! is a shortened version of Jak się masz! (How do you do?) which has become characteristic among teenagers.

Szczęść Boże! (in English: God bless!) is a greeting sometimes used by Catholics. The answer is: Daj Boże!

Similar in meaning is: Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus! or just Pochwalony! (in English: Praised be Jesus Christ!). As a reply to this greeting we say: Na wieki wieków, amen!

We have also got some gestures which are sometimes used as a greeting:

- Shaking hands,
- Taking off one’s headgear for a moment,
- Raising one’s open hand up,
- Nodding one’s head,
- Giving somebody five,
- Smile,
- Kissing somebody’s hand (a man kisses a woman’s hand),
- Kissing one’s cheeks,
- Embracing.

As you can notice, there are lots of ways to greet people we meet and this is the case not only in Polish, but also in other languages. It is quite important because every time we see a person we realize we should greet him/her as it would be unkind not to say anything.

Remember: A greeting is a notice and a sign of politeness and good behaviour.

sparrow Activity: 3 / 246
Joined: Apr 24, 2007 ♂
  May 13 '07 /  #2
Great stuff. Sticky please!

telefonitika   May 13 '07 /  #3
Ivonka -- the information is brill :)

xXlisaXx Activity: 8 / 188
Joined: Apr 11, 2007 ♀
  May 13 '07 /  #4
Thanks Ivonka

Marek Activity: 4 / 869
Joined: Feb 15, 2007 ♂
  May 15 '07 /  #5
Nie oddawno na przyjeciu w Konsulacie Generalnym Rzeczpospolity Polskiej sluchalem:
"Dobry wieczór, Pani Basiu! Caluje Pani raczki." (Przepraszam, nie mam polskich znaków w moim komputerze.)

Czy wyrazenie jeszcze jest zwykle dzisiaj w Polsce, albo przestarzale?

glowa Activity: 1 / 292
Joined: Apr 6, 2006 ♂
  May 15 '07 /  #6
Marek, it's rather outdated. However, it can be used as a funny greeting to someone you know.

Marek Activity: 4 / 869
Joined: Feb 15, 2007 ♂
  May 15 '07 /  #7
Dziekuje! :)
"Outdated". Co to znaczy?


dude   May 15 '07 /  #8
good info ;)

Marek Activity: 4 / 869
Joined: Feb 15, 2007 ♂
  May 15 '07 /  #9
Thanks again for your input. My suspicion was right!

Michal Activity: - / 1,871
Joined: Feb 27, 2007 ♂
  May 16 '07 /  #10
Quoting: Ivonka
Kopę lat! meaning: I haven’t seen you for ages!

Kopa lat is in fact an old Polish word for sixty but the expression kopa lat is not used now except in the countryside.

Quoting: Ivonka
Here are they:

Here they are and not here are they!

smol   Sep 5 '07 /  #11
'Caluje Pani raczki' raczej jest uzywane, i nie w zartach; nie zbyt czesto ale tak.
'Caluje Pani raczki' is still used and not in a jocular way; not too often but still used

espintl   Jan 9 '08 /  #12
Inne wyrażenia na powitanie:
"Co słychać",odpowiedź np "Wszystko w porządku"
How is it (literally: what can be heard?) Everything ok.
"Co słychać w wielkim świecie",odpowiedź żartobliwa ""Tależy gdzie się ucho przyłoży"
What is happending in the big world? It depends on where zou put the ear.
"Się masz z rana"jokingly, How are you this morning?
"jak zdrówko?" How are you feeling?"

"Spadam" is anotherform of saying goodbye frequently used in my youth, which mean "I am falling"
"Trzymaj się" meaning "Stay tuned" or leterally "HOld on to yourself"
"Trzymaj się okna" jokingly "HOld on to the window"


P.s. The great part of greetings in Polish would be a play on words, often funny, since I have not been to Poland for some 20 years, I cannot guarantee that things had not changed.

Lettuce Activity: 1 / 23
Joined: Dec 23, 2007 ♂
  Jan 10 '08 /  #13
To jest bardzo dobrze! (Please feel free to correct my Polish)


krysia Activity: 24 / 3,108
Joined: Aug 10, 2006 ♀
  Jan 10 '08 /  #14
Lettuce wrote:
(Please feel free to correct my Polish)

don't feel like it...

Big Bill Activity: - / 1
Joined: Jun 26, 2008 ♂
  Jun 26 '08 /  #15
I am going to Poland for a holiday. I wish to be polite and know some greetings. However I find the pronunciations difficult, any tips please.

VaFunkoolo Activity: 6 / 657
Joined: Mar 24, 2008 ♂
  Jun 26 '08 /  #16

nah hey

gin dobry

allrite mate

telefonitika   Jun 26 '08 /  #17
Big Bill:
Big Bill

browse the language threads you will find loads of resources

tsh1020   Dec 1 '09 /  #18
My Dad used to always say something in Polish when we entered our home after being away - something about Jesus Christ bless those that enter???? My recollection of the phonetic pronounciation is: Nah Benji Puffaloni Jesus Christus. Can anyone tell me what the proper Polish would be? My dad passed away several years ago and my siblings and I are trying to find out more about the greeting.

vivil   Dec 1 '09 /  #19
Nah Benji Puffaloni Jesus Christus

Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus

LittleFrog   Dec 2 '09 /  #20
Grabula!, Witka!, Kopsnij witkę!,

To be onest i've never heard those expresions in my live:P Especially kopsnij witke- kopsnij means give me but more like 'share with me' and is rather informal and a bit outdated word. witka? isn't that a part of some tree?

Is there anyone from Poland on this forum who really uses the expressions? I'm really curious

tsh1020   Dec 9 '09 /  #21
Thank you so much!

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