Describing yourself and others

Mushypea

Member
English/ United Kingdom
Czesc

Could anyone tell me please how to describe myself and others in Polish?
For example

I have long/short brown/blonde hair
I am average height/ short / tall
I have blue/ green/ brown eyes

The same for describing what other people look like.

Hope you can help

Dziekuje

Mushypea :)
 
  • dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hello Mushypea,

    I have long/short brown/blonde hair - Mam długie/krótkie brązowe/blond włosy.
    I am average height/short/tall - Jestem przeciętnego średniego wzrostu/niski/wysoki (or "niska/wysoka"; if the person speaking is a woman)
    I have blue/green/brown eyes - Mam niebieskie/zielone/brązowe oczy

    He has... - On ma...
    He is... short/tall - On jest... niski/wysoki

    She has... - Ona ma...
    She is... short/tall - Ona jest... niska/wysoka

    Hope that helps a bit. But please feel free to ask if you have any doubts. :).

    EDIT: "average" also means "średni" but in your example it rather should be translated as "przeciętny". Otherwise it would mean "middle height". Sorry for being imprecise. :D
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Hello Mushypea,

    I have long/short brown/blonde hair - Mam długie/krótkie brązowe/blond włosy.
    I am average height/short/tall - Jestem przeciętnego wzrostu/niski/wysoki (or "niska/wysoka"; if the person speaking is a woman)
    I have blue/green/brown eyes - Mam niebieskie/zielone/brązowe oczy

    He has... - On ma...
    He is... short/tall - On jest... niski/wysoki

    She has... - Ona ma...
    She is... short/tall - Ona jest... niska/wysoka

    Hope that helps a bit. But please feel free to ask if you have any doubts. :).

    EDIT: "average" also means "średni" but in your example it rather should be translated as "przeciętny". Otherwise it would mean "middle height". Sorry for being imprecise. :D
    I'd say exactly all the way round:
    Jestem średniego wzrostu, but not Jestem przeciętnego wzrostu. Przeciętny means average in the sense mediocre, ordinary, common. ... curious to know if it's just my idiosyncrasy.:)


    Tom
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I'd say exactly all the way round:
    Jestem średniego wzrostu, but not Jestem przeciętnego wzrostu. Przeciętny means average in the sense mediocre, ordinary, common. ... curious to know if it's just my idiosyncrasy.:)


    Tom

    Hello Tom,

    In my eyes, "average height" is not equivalent to "middle height". You can even be about 2 metres, and be "average height" at the same time, provided that other people are equally tall as you are. To me, if someone is of "middle height", he is not very tall but also not short. The same in Polish.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Hello Tom,

    In my eyes, "average height" is not equivalent to "middle height". You can even be about 2 metres, and be "average height" at the same time, provided that other people are equally tall as you are. To me, if someone is of "middle height", he is not very tall but also not short. The same in Polish.
    Hm...
    I don't know if I'd use middle height while descibing myslef, I'd go rather for I'm of average height, but then again I'm a Polish native speaker. I, when someone says I' m of average height, instinctively think of them as of being somewhere in the middle of the height scale.

    In your case it is a little bit different as the situation is not the same and you employed different than usually used norms, you describe someone from, say, a group of people who are considered to be tall (in comparision to that "mainstream"). So, when you accept the someone in this group is, say, 1.90 is rather short and one of 2.10 is tall then you are of average height too. I'd not use przeciętny in cases of this type too since the connotations of this word are rather pejorative and I can make out the description that someone is not very tall, in fact. To me your interpretation is, of course perhaps possible, but requires additional context to be well-grounded.



    Tom
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I'd not use przeciętny in cases of this type too since the connotations of this word are rather pejorative and I can make out the description that someone is not very tall, in fact.

    Let's see:

    On jest przeciętnego wzrostu. - looks neutral, may sound pejorative if used ironically. Maybe I just wanted to be too "literal" :D.

    PS: I'm curious to find out what differences native speakers of English can see between "average height" and "middle height". Maybe I'll ask them. :)
     

    candy-man

    Senior Member
    Polish/Poland
    Hm...
    I don't know if I used(or if I had used)/whether I would use(deal!)middle height while descibing myslef, I'd go rather for I'm of average height, but then again I'm a Polish native speaker. I, when someone says I' m of average height, instinctively think of them as of being somewhere in the middle of the height scale.

    In your case it is a little bit different as the situation is not the same and you employed different than usually used norms, you describe someone from, say, a group of people who are considered to be tall (in comparision to that "mainstream"). So, when you accept that someone in this group is, say, 1.90 is rather short and one of 2.10 is tall then you are of average height too. I'd not use przeciętny in cases of this type too since the connotations of this word are rather pejorative and I can make out the description that someone is not very tall, in fact. To me your interpretation is, of course perhaps possible, but requires additional context to be well-grounded.



    Tom
    Do not take me for rude or conceited,I did not mean to be like this :) you can correct me as well. (I'd be grateful)
    My guess is that the adjective 'average' in this case is applied well and I see no point in disputing over that. It holds water in the context.
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Do not take me for rude or conceited,I did not mean to be like this :) you can correct me as well. (I'd be grateful)
    My guess is that the adjective 'average' in this case is applied well and I see no point in disputing over that. It holds water in the context.

    The real point is that we need the most precise Polish translation possible of "average" in this context. Now I can state it's "średni".
     

    candy-man

    Senior Member
    Polish/Poland
    I know what the point is,actually. If I didn't, I would not have said that I agree with you ;-) The opinions of you both are totally right. The thing is that you cannot focus on figuring out the exact translation of the word.
    Now, as you say the word is intrinsically understood in many ways.
    The 1# meaning is średni and the 2# one is przeciętny.

    1/Billy is average at maths( she might be doing well but she's not outstanding).
    2/Her height is average(she's not the tallest girl among a certain group of people.)



    Does it help?
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    You really don't have to explain the difference concerning the whole variety of meanings that "average" can acquire in English, we're talking about Polish :). Having said that all, I can sense a subtle difference between "średni" and "przeciętny" (not its pejorative connotations) in this context (height). But maybe only I discern it, no one else. My first interpretation in #2 was "średni", however, after staring at this word for a while, a shadow of doubt crept into my mind. The result was, as you can see, that I replaced "średni" with "przeciętny" shortly afterwards. Apparently I was mistaken about that. My apologies.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    I know what the point is,actually. If I didn't, I would not have said that I agree with you ;-) The opinions of you both are totally right. The thing is that you cannot focus on figuring out the exact translation of the word.
    Now, as you say the word is intrinsically understood in many ways.
    The 1# meaning is średni and the 2# one is przeciętny.

    1/Billy is average at maths( she might be doing well but she's not outstanding).
    2/Her height is average(she's not the tallest girl among a certain group of people.)



    Does it help?
    Well, not quite. The point is that dn88 says said that przeciętny could be used as a translation of I'm (of) average height. whereas to me it doesn't work. You've changed the sentences, here's what the original looks like:
    I am average height
    which, to me, translates as
    Jestem średniego wzrostu.
    I wouldn't ever use Jestem przeciętnego wzrostu..
    Let's not delve into the whole range of meanings of average as it's pointless here--the context is clear-cut.

    Tom

    PS:
    Do not take me for rude or conceited,I did not mean to be like this :) you can correct me as well. (I'd be grateful)
    My guess is that the adjective 'average' in this case is applied well and I see no point in disputing over that. It holds water in the context.
    Thanks (if you have a look at my signature you'll see that I actually want to be corrected; although, I am not really convinced that this is what my sentence should look like... My gut feeling tells me something different. ;) Open to suggestions, anyway. However, the of and that ones are surely well-founded :)).
    PS2: I got your first posts exactly the way dn88 did.:rolleyes:
     

    tom_in_bahia

    Senior Member
    South Florida/Phoenix-Tucson/the Adirondacks. Native of North American English
    Well, I don't think I've ever heard an English speaker say middle height...I think we would say "medium-height". I, personally speaking, don't think I would make that much of a distinction between medium-height and average height.

    I would think, just by numbers, that if you took the heights of every person in the world and averaged them, it would probably be close to the middle of the two extremes, give or take a millimeter. But, I don't know how Polish would deal with this as far as the underlying significance of one versus the other, but just from this discussion, I would say it is more idiosyncratic than dialectal.
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Well, I don't think I've ever heard an English speaker say middle height...I think we would say "medium-height". I, personally speaking, don't think I would make that much of a distinction between medium-height and average height.

    I would think, just by numbers, that if you took the heights of every person in the world and averaged them, it would probably be close to the middle of the two extremes, give or take a millimeter. But, I don't know how Polish would deal with this as far as the underlying significance of one versus the other, but just from this discussion, I would say it is more idiosyncratic than dialectal.

    Yes, I've already learned that "middle height" is a bit dated expression. Now I'm wondering how I could have used "middle" instead of "medium"... Actually I meant "medium" at the moment of writing #2. There's a tremendous difference between them. Thanks tom_in_bahia.
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Actually, I dunno what you exactly referred to- I'm not convinced(...
    ),but it's not possible to say if I would...

    g'night ;-)

    (Off-topic)

    Of course it's possible to say that, and Tom used it correctly in his post.

    "I don't know if I'd use..." - "if" acts here as "whether", it's not a conditional clause or something else; "I don't know whether I would use..." is perfectly fine.

    No offence meant, really, you can point out my errors as well :).

    All the best,

    dn88
     

    Mushypea

    Member
    English/ United Kingdom
    Thank you for your help :) I read in my dictionary sredni and przecietny and I couldnt make up my mind which was correct either! I have found a BBC web page that is specifically for teaching English to Polish speakers and ther is a small list of Polish words next to it. And I was pleased to find out that the word for describing yourself as someone of medium height is sredni! As im only in the beginning stages of learning Polish, just learning basic phrases, I havent really started on the grammer, can you tell me why it is sredniego and not just sredni?

    Dziekuje bardzo :)

    Mushypea
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you for your help :) I read in my dictionary sredni and przecietny and I couldnt make up my mind which was correct either! I have found a BBC web page that is specifically for teaching English to Polish speakers and ther is a small list of Polish words next to it. And I was pleased to find out that the word for describing yourself as someone of medium height is sredni! As im only in the beginning stages of learning Polish, just learning basic phrases, I havent really started on the grammer, can you tell me why it is sredniego and not just sredni?

    Dziekuje bardzo :)

    Mushypea

    You're really welcome :).

    I'll try to explain why it is "średniego", not "średni". Namely, it's due to declension. In Polish we decline adjectives as well as nouns (I should say together with nouns), which can be seen in this example. Here "średniego" is in the genitive case.

    nominative - średni wzrost
    genitive - średniego wzrostu
    dative - średniemu wzrostowi
    accusative - średni wzrost
    instrumental - średnim wrostem
    locative - średnim wzroście
    vocative - średni wzroście

    If you really wanted to use "średni", you'd have to say something like: "Mam średni wzrost", however, that sounds a bit awkward (although you would be understood). I don't know how to explain it well to you, but please don't feel discouraged from learning Polish :D.
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I think "I am of medium height" conveys the idea of the genitive to English speakers. :)

    Yes, I think so too. The part "of medium" acts here as the genitive case of the Polish adjective "średni". That said, "of medium" is equivalent to "średniego". Hope that we've helped. :)
     

    Mushypea

    Member
    English/ United Kingdom
    Thank you for trying to explain it to me dn88 :) Im still a bit confused about all the different cases but Im sure I will understand eventually!
    I noticed that for brown hair 'brazowe' was used. Do you have to change the endings for colours as well? I guessing that if its plural you add on an -e but if I was talking about what someone was wearing :

    Byl ubrany niebieskim sweter

    Would that be ok? I hope you dont mind, it just that I have two phrasebooks, in one it says niebieski and the other niebieskim ( and for brown it's brazowym)and i'm never sure which is correct!:confused:

    Dziekuje

    Mushypea
     

    dn88

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you for trying to explain it to me dn88 :) Im still a bit confused about all the different cases but Im sure I will understand eventually!
    I noticed that for brown hair 'brazowe' was used. Do you have to change the endings for colours as well? I guessing that if its plural you add on an -e but if I was talking about what someone was wearing :

    Byl ubrany niebieskim sweter

    Would that be ok? I hope you dont mind, it just that I have two phrasebooks, in one it says niebieski and the other niebieskim ( and for brown it's brazowym)and i'm never sure which is correct!:confused:

    Dziekuje

    Mushypea

    Hi :)

    In this context colors are adjectives as well, so we have to change the endings.

    (On) był ubrany w niebieski sweter. (accusative)

    literally: He was dressed in a blue sweater.

    "brązowym" and "niebieskim" are either instrumental or locative.

    You know, the ending of an adjective also depends on the gender of a noun it precedes, that is:

    sweter (masculine), hence "niebieski sweter"
    bluzka (feminine), hence "niebieska bluzka"
    pióro (neuter), hence "niebieskie pióro"

    Does it help a bit?
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Just to add a thought:
    Would that be ok? I hope you dont mind, it just that I have two phrasebooks, in one it says niebieski and the other niebieskim ( and for brown it's brazowym)and i'm never sure which is correct!
    As far as I can tell we wouldn't use niebieskim/brązowym with the verb ubierać.
    And out of sheer curiosity if they are used with this verb in your phrasebook, could you please provide a sample sentence?

    As for your guessing about the e ending in the plural you're right:
    Miał na sobie niebieskie dżinsy.
    Założył niebieskie buty.


    Tom
     

    Mushypea

    Member
    English/ United Kingdom
    Czesc

    One of the phrasebooks i'm using at the moment is from Berlitz. There wasnt any verb used as such. It was in the colour section: Im looking or something in black, green, red etc..

    Szukam czegos w kolorze...
    czarnym
    zielonym
    czerwonym

    Is it correct to say it this way, if you are not asking for anything in particular like a shirt or jacket?
    Which verbs could I use to describe what someone is wearing/dressed in? I have seen a number of verbs in the dictionary and i'm not sure when to use them. I know that Byc ubranym is to be dressed in, but I thought I used that to describe what someone was wearing in the past, is that right? Whats the difference between them? What does zalozyl mean?

    Ubierac sie w
    Byc ubranym
    Miec na sobie
    Wycierac sie

    I've tried to have a go myself at writing something! I think i'm using the right verb:

    He is wearing black trousers and a white shirt

    (On) ma na sobie czarne spodnie i biala koszula


    Mushypea :)
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Czesc

    One of the phrasebooks i'm using at the moment is from Berlitz. There wasnt any verb used as such. It was in the colour section: Im looking or something in black, green, red etc..

    Szukam czegos w kolorze...
    czarnym
    zielonym
    czerwonym

    Is it correct to say it this way, if you are not asking for anything in particular like a shirt or jacket?
    Yes, in that case it is very good Polish.
    You could also say On był ubrany w sweter w kolorze czarnym. but it sounds stuffy and there are not many occasions when you'd want to use this wording.

    Which verbs could I use to describe what someone is wearing/dressed in? I have seen a number of verbs in the dictionary and i'm not sure when to use them. I know that Byc ubranym is to be dressed in, but I thought I used that to describe what someone was wearing in the past, is that right? Whats the difference between them? What does zalozyl mean?

    Ubierac sie w
    Byc ubranym
    Miec na sobie
    Wycierac sie

    I've tried to have a go myself at writing something! I think i'm using the right verb:

    He is wearing black trousers and a white shirt

    (On) ma na sobie czarne spodnie i biala koszula


    Mushypea :)
    Your sentence is perfect, I am only adding the diacritical marks to it:
    (On) ma na sobie czarne spodnie i białą koszulę.
    Another common way to say this:
    Włożył czarne spodnie i białą koszulę.
    Ubrał się w czarne spodnie i białą koszulę.


    As for być ubranym I think it can be used in the present too, but on the other hand you indeed use it most often to describe one's apparel in the past.
    Jest ubrany w czarne spodnie i białą koszulę.

    You also added wycierać się, it isn't used in the sense you mean. Wycierać się means to wear (thin/a hole) but in the sense of becoming weaker/thinner because of using/being old.

    Tom
     
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