Count to Ten in Polish

If you’re interested in the Polish language, a great place to start is with the numbers one to ten. Don’t worry if Polish looks like alphabet soup: if you study how to pronounce individual letters as well, it’s actually relatively easy to say the numbers. Learn the first few numbers, and practice using them everyday.


Pronouncing the Numbers

  1. Learn the numbers one to five. Start at the beginning and practice the first few numbers. Look at how they are spelled in Polish, but also pay attention to their pronunciation, given in parentheses:[1]
    • One: jeden (ye-den)
    • Two: dwa (dva)
    • Three: trzy (tshih)
    • Four: cztery (chte-rih)
    • Five: pięć (pyen’ch’)
  2. Follow up with six through ten. After the first few numbers, you’re ready go the rest of the way to ten. Pay close attention to the numbers nine and ten, which sound very similar.[1]
    • Six: sześć (shesh'ch)
    • Seven: siedem (sh'ye-dem)
    • Eight: osiem (o-sh'yem)
    • Nine: dziewięć (d'ye-vyen'ch)
    • Ten: dziesięć ( d'ye-sh'yen'ch')
  3. Try pronouncing zero. To give your tongue a bit of a break, try saying zero in Polish. It’s almost the same as in English: zero (zyeh-ro). Now you can count from zero to ten in Polish![2]
  4. Practice the numbers. To make the numbers stick and to make yourself comfortable saying them, take every opportunity to use them. You can write the numbers on flashcards and quiz yourself, but you’ll get even more comfortable using Polish numbers if you use them as often as you can in everyday situations like:[3]
    • Counting money and objects like apples or bottles
    • Doing mental math
    • Playing games that require numbers like Go Fish or Monopoly
    • Using things like phone numbers, addresses, etc.

Learning the Basics of Polish Pronunciation

  1. Study the pronunciation of Polish vowels. The numbers 1-10 in Polish use a majority of the letters from the Polish alphabet. Ordinarily, each letter in Polish has just one sound associated with it (unlike English, where letters like e, a, s, and many others can be pronounced several ways). A few letters in Polish, including several vowels, can have diacritics (small marks) that change they are pronounced.[4]
    • a is like in the "a" “cat”
    • e sounds like the “e” in “red”
    • ą, and ę sound like nasalized versions of the a and e sounds
    • i is like “beet” except when it comes before e. The letters ie together have the sound “ye.”
    • ó and u are pronounced the same, like the “oo” in “boot”
    • y is pronounced like the "y" in “syllable”
  2. Practice pronouncing Polish consonants. Several Polish consonants (b, d, f, h, k, l, p, n, t and z) sound basically the same as corresponding English consonants. Other consonants look familiar, but are pronounced differently, and a few have diacritics.[4]
    • c is a “ts” sound like at the end of “bats”
    • ć sounds like the “ch” sound in words like “cheap” and “chipper”
    • g sounds like a hard “g” in English, like in “give”
    • j sounds like the beginning of “yellow” or “yet”
    • ł is pronounced like the “w” in “water”
    • ń sounds like the “ny” in words like “canyon”
    • r in Polish is rolled, like in Spanish
    • s is pronounced like the “s” in words like “salad,” not with a “z” sound like in words such as “laser”
    • ś sounds like the “sh” sound in “shift” or “shame”
    • w is pronounced like the English “v” in words like “vat” or “van,” except at the end of words, when it sounds like “f”
    • ź sounds roughly like the “zh” sound in “azure”
  3. Learn the Polish consonant clusters. These can look intimidating, but they only have one sound--once you get the hang of them, just treat the clusters as though they were individual letters.[4]
    • ci and cz all sound ‘’ć’’ and like the “ch” sound in words like “cheap” and “chipper”
    • ch together make the sound like at the end of “loch”
    • dzi, dź, and sound like the “j” at the beginning of “jab”
    • rz is either like the “zh” sound in “azure” at the beginning of a word, or a “sh” sound when it comes after other letters
    • si and sz sound like ś, and like the “sh” sound in “shift” or “shame”
    • szcz sounds like “sh” and “ch” running together as a single sound, as in “fresh cheese” said quickly
    • ż and zi sound like ‘’ź’’, roughly like the “zh” sound in “azure”
  4. Learn how words are accented in Polish. Accent (where the stress in a word falls) is also very regular in Polish. In almost every case, it falls on the next-to-last (penultimate) syllable. With the letter sounds and word stress being so regular, you’ll be able to see right away how to say most words in Polish, including the numbers.[5]

Furthering Your Polish

  1. Pick up some simple words and phrases. If you’ve mastered the numbers and the basics of pronouncing Polish, you can start picking up some everyday words and phrases. To make some quick progress, try language learning apps like Duolingo or Babbel. You can also look for videos in Polish on YouTube or other sites to get used to the sound of the language.[6]
  2. Learn some higher numbers. A great place to start expanding your Polish vocabulary is with higher numbers. Once you’ve covered one through ten, try learning some more, like:[6]
    • eleven - jedenaście (yeh-den-ahsh-chye)
    • twelve - dwanaście (dvah-nahsh-chye)
    • thirteen - trzynaście (tshi-nahsh-chye)
    • fourteen - czternaście (chter-nahsh-chye)
    • fifteen - piętnaście (pyeh-nahsh-chye)
    • sixteen - szesnaście (shes-nahsh-chye)
    • seventeen - siedemnaście (shye-dem-nahsh-chye)
    • eighteen - osiemnaście (o-shyem-nahsh-chye)
    • nineteen - dziewiętnaście (dzyev-yeht-nahsh-chye)
    • twenty - dwadzieścia (dvahdzh-yesh-chya)
    • thirty - trzydzieści (tshi-dzhyesh-chi)
    • fourty - czterdzieści (chter-dzhyesh-chi)
    • fifty - pięćdziesiąt (pyehch-dzhyesh-yaht)
    • sixty - sześćdziesiąt (shyeshch-dzhyesh-yaht)
    • seventy - siedemdziesiąt (shye-dem-dzhyesh-yaht)
    • eighty - osiemdziesiąt (o-shyem-dzhyesh-yaht)
    • ninety - dziewięćdziesiąt (dhyev-yehch-dzhyesh-yaht)
    • one hundred - sto (sto)
  3. Pick up some conversational phrases. If you want to start speaking Polish with others, you’ll want to learn some basic phrases like introductions and greetings. Master phrases like:[6]
    • Hello - Dzień dobry (Dzyen doh-bri)
    • How are you?- Jak się masz? (Yak she mash)
    • My name is Loretta - Mam na imię Loretta (Mahm nah eem-ye Loretta).
    • Please - Proszę (Prosh-ye)
    • Thank you - Dziękuję (djen-koo-ye)
    • Excuse me! / Sorry! - Przepraszam. (pshe-prah-sham)
    • Goodbye! - Do widzenia! (Do veed-zhe-nya)
  4. Learn color vocabulary. Polish uses what is called a case system, meaning that most words will change their form based on how they are used in a sentence. This includes words like colors. However, learning their basic, "dictionary" forms will still be very useful for trying to communicate in or understand Polish. Start with these:[6]
    • White - biały (bya-wi)
    • Black - czarny (char-ni)
    • Red - czerwony (cher--woh--ni)
    • Blue - niebieski (nyeh-byeh-ski)
    • Green - zielony (zyel-o-ni)

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