Countables and uncountables

Hotmale

Senior Member
Polish
Hello :)

I've been looking for a noun which is uncountable in Polish but countable in English, but so far I am unsuccessful.
It was easier the other way round. For example "rada" or "informacja" is countable in Polish, whereas "advice" and "information" are uncountable in English.

Have you got any ideas?

Thank you :)
Hotmale
 
  • Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    Advices would be countable if they existed. They don't, so you have to say pieces of advice.
     

    Oletta

    Senior Member
    In Polish, as we don't have articles, there's no distinction between countable nouns or uncountable nouns... Still, we do distinguish something like "abstract" nouns.

    You might search for something different, however. As you have mentioned "advice" and "information", the other two i.e. "news" and "furniture" are also to be mentioned. Both "mebel" and "wiadomość" have their plural forms in Polish of course, but we have a word that is similar to the English "news", and it is "drzwi". The word "drzwi" looks like "news" as it is also in the plural form, but it can have either a plural or a singular meaning.

    Drzwi są białe. - A door is white.
    Nasz dom ma 9 drzwi. - Our house has 9 doors.

    To sum it up, in Polish the word "door" is always in the plural (and always takes the verb in the plural), even if it means "one door".
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Would komorne count?
    Advices would be countable if they existed. They don't, so you have to say pieces of advice.
    Aren't they? ;)
    3. an official notification, esp. one pertaining to a business agreement: an overdue advice.
    Source
    2. official information: formal or official information about something, usually received from a distance ( often used in the plural )
    Source


    Tom
     

    Hotmale

    Senior Member
    Polish
    In Polish, as we don't have articles, there's no distinction between countable nouns or uncountable nouns... Still, we do distinguish something like "abstract" nouns.
    I wouldn't agree with it. It is incorrect to say "Kupiłem dwa chleby" but "Kupiłem dwa bochenki chleba". It is similar to English: "I bought two loaves of bread" and not "I bought two breads".
    In Polish there are also uncountable nouns.
     

    Oletta

    Senior Member
    Hmm, I might be an ignorant then, as I think that "Kupiłem dwa chleby" IS correct, but I will ask my friend, a specialist in Polish grammar, and will tell you.

    In everyday language people say "chleby" rather than "bochenki chleba". I studied the Polish/English contrastive grammar for one year at University and I don't remember anything on "Polish countable/uncountable nouns".
     

    Hotmale

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hi :)
    Sorry for replying that late but I was away for a while.
    I am wondering what your friend might have told you.

    I would never say: "Kup dwa chleby" unless I would want to be very casual. In formal Polish I believe it is a mistake.

    Cheers,
    Hotmale
     

    Oletta

    Senior Member
    Yes, colloquially you can say so... but not formally. I live in a region where the Silesian dialect is used frequently and thus although I don't use the dialect my language is bad, I´m afraid. Sorry! She hasn´t answered yet, but I have checked it on my own. In the region I live it is unusual to say: "Proszę dwa bochenki chleba", we also always say" Proszę dwa mleka", "Cztery piwa, proszę" or "Dwa masła". I graduated from the University of Silesia and probably that's why we also didn't pay much attention to the uncountables while discussing contrastive grammar:). But thanks to you I have improved my Polish!!!
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    I wouldn't agree with it. It is incorrect to say "Kupiłem dwa chleby" but "Kupiłem dwa bochenki chleba". It is similar to English: "I bought two loaves of bread" and not "I bought two breads".
    In Polish there are also uncountable nouns.
    I must have been the one who's always been speaking incorrect Polish then...

    Kupiłem dwa chleby is a perfectly natural sentence to me and saying dwa bochenki chleba instead of dwa chleby seems a bit overformalisation to me... In my Polish chleb has always been countable--anyway what you're saying seems interesting as well as almost revolutionary,:eek: could you please give a source saying that it is not?

    Come to think of it, chleb may be used as uncountable, in some contexts, for instance:
    Chleb jest jednym z podstawowych produktów spożywczych w Polsce.
    In this case I wouldn't use chleby są--it doesn't sound good at all.

    Tom
     

    ryba

    Senior Member
    Kupiłem dwa chleby is a perfectly natural sentence to me and saying dwa bochenki chleba instead of dwa chleby seems a bit overformalisation to me...
    Idem.

    Chleb is a "general" word that can be applied to bread in general (Chleb jest jednym z podstawowych produktów spożywczych w Polsce.) or to a single chleb, a piece of bread, called also bochenek.

    Take a look at this sentence:

    Produkujemy ciastka, chleby i bułki, oraz torty, makarony i inne pieczywo.

    You can also say:

    Produkujemy ciastka, chleb i bułki, oraz torty, makaron i inne pieczywo.,

    but that would mean they bake only one kind of bread and one kind of pasta. Well, it may also mean they make different kinds of bread and pasta, but when you say chleby and makarony, in plural you do it in order to put emphasis on the fact that they bake many kinds of them and there is no other possibility.

    I don't know what this kind of nouns is called though.


    I think pieczywo is completely "uncountable" when not accompanied by an adjective. The presence of an adjective changes the situation:

    pieczywo chrupkie -> paczka pieczywa chrupkiego (or
    pieczywo chrupkie as a notion)
    pieczywa chrupkie -> rózne rodzaje pieczyw chrupkich

    or

    Zakład wyrobów cukierniczych i pieczyw dietetycznych.

    Sól is an interesting case. It is "uncountable" when it means "the thing you use when cooking/baking to make food salty":

    Kupi
    łem sól. (Ile?) Dwie paczki.
    Kupi
    łem dwie paczki soli (singular).

    and it is countable as a chemistry term:

    sole organiczne i nieorganiczne
    sole mineralne
    sole kąpielowe odprężające.

    Actually it seems to me that every polish word has a plural form, only they are not always used in all the contexts.
    The only words that don't have a singular are words like drzwi, spodnie (nie mówi si
    ęspodzień, just like you don't say trouser in English) but this doesn't make them uncountable.

    I'd say we don't have uncountable nouns in Polish.



    PS: Polish is a very interesting language. You can say kupi
    łem marchewkę/kupiłem dwa kilo marchewki (marchewka in singular, although it actually refers to many carrots), but you say kupiłem ziemniaki/dwa kilo ziemniaków (ziemniaki in plural) and it doesn't mean marchewka (carrot) is uncountable nor does it mean ziemniaki (potatoes) has only a plural form.

    Why "pó
    ł kilo bobu, fasoli, pietruszki", etc. (bób, fasola, pietruszka - singular), but "pół kilo ziemniaków / kartofli / pyrów (as they say in Poznań)", in plural?

    Hehe.
     

    Piotr_WRF

    Senior Member
    Polish, German
    Well, cukier, pieprz, mąka (sugar, pepper, flour) are uncountables and don't have a plural. But so they do in English, too.
     

    ryba

    Senior Member
    Well, cukier, pieprz, mąka (sugar, pepper, flour) are uncountables and don't have a plural. But so they do in English, too.
    www.kamis.pl - Pieprze - the very sencond result in Google for "Pieprze" (do not confuse with pieprzę;))

    Pieprze
    , the plural form is used to denote that there are many kinds of pepper (in store, etc).

    Mąki.
    Wiele rodzajów mąk można podzielić m.in. produkowane ze zbóż i wytwarzane z innych niż zboża roślin. Stosowany jest także podział na mąki tzw. chlebowe i niechlebowe.
    Do mąk chlebowych zaliczamy mąki pszenne i żytnie, są one zgodnie z nazwą wykorzystywane do wypieku chleba (...)

    From Wikipedia, mąka
    Cukry is the same case as sole: has a plural in chemistry terminology and, well, I think cukry and sole can also be used in shops, etc. to remark there are many kinds of sugar (cane sugar, beet sugar, etc.).
     

    ryba

    Senior Member
    I stand corrected. I should have double-checked it when I decided not to include sól (salt) in the above list. :)
    Well, don't worry, partially you were right, the words used for calling loose, powdery substances (cukier, sól, piasek, etc.) and liquids are "uncountable" when talking about the quantity of them as substances (i.e. paczka mąki = a bag of flour) and are countable when talking about their kinds, although not always it sounds good (i.e. different kinds of flour: różne rodzaje mąki sounds better than różne mąki). Różne rodzaje mąk would sound even stranger and would mean:
    1. there are different kinds of kinds of flour.
    2. "different kinds of torments/tortures" (from męka). :D
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Well, don't worry, partially you were right, the words used for calling loose, powdery substances (cukier, sól, piasek, etc.) and liquids are "uncountable" when talking about the quantity of them as substances (i.e. paczka mąki = a bag of flour) [...]
    Let me throw in my lump of salt then...;)
    A sentence like:
    Kup mi dwa piwa jak będziesz w sklepie.
    isn't at all strange, is it for you?
    Also, I think I have heard something like Kup jedną sól, dwie mąki, dwa makarony, trzy ziela angielskie...

    Although, I think it may depend on the word in question, since I wouldn't say Zamów dwa piachy, but rather Zamów dwie wywrotki piachu.

    Tom
     

    ryba

    Senior Member
    Let me throw in my lump of salt than...;)
    A sentence like:
    Kup mi dwa piwa jak będziesz w sklepie.
    isn't at all strange, is it for you?
    Also, I think I have heard something like Kup jedną sól, dwie mąki, dwa makarony, trzy ziela angielskie...

    Although, I think it may depend on the word in question, since I wouldn't say Zamów dwa piachy, but rather Zamów dwie wywrotki piachu.

    Tom
    You're absolutely right, Tom, the generalization I made was too broad. In Polish we have a great liberty to use metonymy and it is indeed very often used in such cases. We make an association between a container and its content, et voila:

    Kup dwie wody (two bottles of water), dwie Cole (two cans/bottles of Coca-Cola).
    or dwa soki z pomarańczy (two bottles/cartons/boxes/glasses of orange juice).

    PS: Zamów dwa piachy, hahaha, sounds funny.:) I guess we don't order sand often enough to have it lexicalized.
     

    werrr

    Senior Member
    Hello :)

    I've been looking for a noun which is uncountable in Polish but countable in English, but so far I am unsuccessful.
    It was easier the other way round. For example "rada" or "informacja" is countable in Polish, whereas "advice" and "information" are uncountable in English.

    Have you got any ideas?

    Thank you :)
    Hotmale
    Is “(słodkie) pieczywo” uncountable in Polish? English “pastry” is countable.
     

    Duya

    Senior Member
    Whatever
    But pastry is not countable - at least, not any more or any less than pieczywo. One can talk about different types in plural (e.g. This bakery is known for its excellent pastries), but that would be also plural in Polish [I assume].
     

    werrr

    Senior Member
    But pastry is not countable - at least, not any more or any less than pieczywo.
    English “pastry” could be both countable and uncountable depending on the meaning. You can say “two pastries” meaning “two items of pastry of the same kind”. The only disputable problem is whether the Polish term “pieczywo” is equivalent to the countable meaning.
    One can talk about different types in plural…
    One can always talk about different types of uncountable things, either in plural or singular, but in Slavic languages it typically enforces the usage of different numerals (uncountable = not usable with basic numerals).
    (e.g. This bakery is known for its excellent pastries), but that would be also plural in Polish [I assume].
    I’m not sure of Polish (thus I did ask), but in Czech there should be singular (You can see even the version with plural, but it is unstylistic):
    “This bakery is known for its excellent pastries.” = “Tato pekárna je proslulá svým výborným pečivem.”
     

    erdeku

    New Member
    polski/Polska
    I'd say we don't have uncountable nouns in Polish.
    I cannot agree with this statement. Some abstract nouns do not have plural, even if we try to produce one it is never used.
    Examples: nienawiść (hatred), wyrazistość (distinctness), sensowność (reasonableness), pomyślność (prosperity), zawiść (jealousy).
    One may find many, many more.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    English “pastry” could be both countable and uncountable depending on the meaning. You can say “two pastries” meaning “two items of pastry of the same kind”. The only disputable problem is whether the Polish term “pieczywo” is equivalent to the countable meaning.
    In the second, countable, meaning we would use a different translation--something like ciastko, etc.

    One can always talk about different types of uncountable things, either in plural or singular, but in Slavic languages it typically enforces the usage of different numerals (uncountable = not usable with basic numerals).
    Could you please give an example (bolded part)? Thanks. :)
    I’m not sure of Polish (thus I did ask), but in Czech there should be singular (You can see even the version with plural, but it is unstylistic):
    “This bakery is known for its excellent pastries.” = “Tato pekárna je proslulá svým výborným pečivem.”
    Ta piekarnia jest znana ze swojego wybornego pieczywa.
    Singular is what we would use here (if by pastries you mean various types of bread).

    Tom
     

    Oletta

    Senior Member
    Welcome back to the thread..... I haven't had time to answer the question of countability and unaccountability of Polish nouns. There's no such a thing in Polish grammar as countable and uncountable nouns. Thomas1 is right, no doubt.

    Both expressions are correct:

    "Poproszę dwa chleby"

    and

    "Poproszę dwa bochenki chleba"

    The problem of the seeming formality or non formality of the expressions, might be rooted in the precision rather than countability... .

    In the past one could buy a vast variety of bread shaped as loaves or having shapes that not necessarily resembled what was traditionally thought as "a loaf". I have even found such a bakery in Upper Silesia where they still bake bread which they call "staropolski" (old Polish) and its shape resembles a plait rather than a traditional loaf. And there, standing in a queue, I noticed people distinguishing between a traditional loaf and the old Polish plait.

    A lady said:

    "Jeden staropolski i dwa bochenki chleba, proszę".

    Thus, for some people now its might sound more formal to say: "dwa bochenki chleba", and more colloquial to say" dwa chleby", but for most of Poles it doesn't make any difference. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the old Polish distinctions between the shapes of bread added to the contemporary nuances on the matter.
     

    JakubikF

    Senior Member
    I have watched this thread and I noticed that a lot of participants of this discussion have very weird views on Polish grammar. We do have countable and uncountable nouns as English does. It was proved well by arturolczykowski. I would never agree that expression like "Kup dwa chleby/mleka/wody/masła" etc. might be correct in any way. Even if sometimes it is possible to hear such expression in colloquial speech, it won't mean it's correct. Olleta, nobody in their right mind would claim that correctness of "dwa chleby" is the same as "dwa bochenki chleba". And I am almost sure it has nothing to do with the formality or non formality and with the different shaped of loaf in the past... I must say it's a bit silly theory. Bread, milk, sugar etc. is uncountable and that's why we are obliged to put some kind of determinant of the quantity before such nouns.
     

    Oletta

    Senior Member
    Tak, to sa już nowe publikacje.... nie uczono nas takiego nazwenictwa na gramatyce kontrastywnej. Ale i tak nie chodzi tutaj o policzalność bądź niepoliczalność słowa "chleb". Myślę, zę pan Dyszak wdrożył do swego artykułu terminologię germańską. No i jest to artykuł naukowy, a nie gramatyka języka polskiego. Ale może się mylę. W kazdym razie dawniej czegoś takiego nie uznawano, jeśli pojawił się taki termin to będzie to dwudziesty pierwszy wiek, lub tez końcówka dwudziestego...

    Jakub, I have asked several Polish grammarians I am not an authority in the respect I only try to indulge into the matter. All of the grammarians denied the existence of countability and uncountablity of Polish nouns in old Polish grammars, or they are wrong which I don't know. I wasn't taught anything of the sort when dealing with contrastive grammar. I was taught that it's the feature of English not Polish. In the case of Polish we deal with abstract nouns etc...but never countable or uncountable.
     

    JakubikF

    Senior Member
    we deal with abstract nouns etc...but never countable or uncountable.
    Ok I may be wrong as to the name of such nouns but I am still sure of the correctness or non correctness of "chleby" vs "bochenki chleba". As far as I noticed you tried to confirm that both forms are right. For English native speaker which learns Polish it is simpler to present it as countable or uncountable nouns. In fact they act almost in the same way. One more thing. I noticed examples like "w tej piekarni piecze się wspaniałe chleby". It sounds for me extremely incorrect. I would always say "w tej piekarni piecze się wspaniały chleb" or "w tej piekarni piecze się wpaniałe rodzaje chleba" using chleb ONLY in the singular number.
     

    Oletta

    Senior Member
    For English native speaker which learns Polish it is simpler to present it as countable or uncountable nouns. In fact they act almost in the same way. One more thing. I noticed examples like "w tej piekarni piecze się wspaniałe chleby". It sounds for me extremely incorrect. I would always say "w tej piekarni piecze się wspaniały chleb" or "w tej piekarni piecze się wpaniałe rodzaje chleba" using chleb ONLY in the singular number.
    JakubikF, in Słownik języka polskiego tom 1 A-K red. prof. dr Mieczysław Szymczak, you can read that it IS fairly correct (plural - y), you can even a read similar sentence:

    "Kupić dwa chleby razowe."

    Certainly, when you teach someone Polish you can use every effective method. But here, in this case, it sometimes sounds for people to be incorrect to say: "chleby" because it depends on the region of Poland you live in. Grammatically it is correct.
     

    JakubikF

    Senior Member
    I think we have to leave this question because I suspect different dictionaries would give us opposite answers. As for the region I live in. I live in Pomerania where I wasn't taught any kind of dialect or regional way of speaking etc. and I think I speak the most correct Polish without any traces. Nevertheless it doesn't mean I may not be wrong :)
     
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