To [jest] + nominative case VS. instrumental case.

Discussion in 'Polski (Polish)' started by WillingPolyglot, Apr 21, 2014.

  1. WillingPolyglot New Member

    Good evening, everyone.
    Język polski jest bardzo trudny, but I took the decision to learn it, and I won't give up. I'm learning Polish on the internet and with a very useful grammar whose title is "Teach Yourself - Polish", made in the '60. But let's come to the point. In a sentence like

    World Games to impreza organizowana od 1981 roku...

    why is "to" used, with the nominative case? Could you please explain me when and how I have to use this structure (and why it lacks the verb "to be", jest), and when instead I should use the normal construction with the verb 'by
    ć' and the instrumental case? Is it just a matter of grammar or of formal/informal speech too? Przepraszam, pomagajcie mi! Dziękuję!

    A not-so-clever italian guy.
  2. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    Welcome, WillingPolyglote.

    This is not an easy question. ;)
    To nie łatwe pytanie.
    To nie jest łatwe pytanie.
    Both are fine. Both are different from the structure in the original (unfortunately).

    Going back to your sentence:
    World Games to impreza organizowana od 1981 roku...
    Here "to" is considered by some Polish grammarians a verb. The structure is the following:
    subject+copula verb+predicative
    Both the subject and the (noun) predicative are in the nominative. Here's the first definition of "to" and some of the examples offered by Uniwersalny słownik języka polskiego, PWN:
    «utożsamia obiekty lub okoliczności»:
    Ziemia to planeta.
    Śmiech to zdrowie.
    Ta pani to moja żona.
    Uderzyć słabszego to wstyd.
    Żyć to pracować.
    Oglądanie telewizji to strata czasu.
    Wychowywanie dzieci to zajęcie dla cierpliwych.
    Dwa i dwa to cztery.
    łączone przez czasownik to wyrażenia rzeczownikowe występują w tym samym przypadku; w zn. 1 tylko w mianowniku [...]. • czasownik to może łączyć czasowniki wyłącznie w bezokoliczniku.
    Both World Games to impreza organizowana od 1981 roku. and World Games jest imprezą organizowaną od 1981 roku. are equally correct. I can't see any difference between the two (except the other one appears to me a bit more formal). Maybe someone esle will shed some light on this point.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2014
  3. jasio Senior Member

    Buon giorno, WillingPolyglote,

    I distinguish between the two primarily for stylistical reasons.

    Although, like Thomas1 wrote, both are correct, I often find the latter syntax slightly too obvious, like from a grammar book for beginners, so as an initial phrase of the paragraph the former just looks better for me. Also, in the same paragraph there is probably more information about the event, participants etc. Using the first syntax helps avoiding repeating the same, basic syntax (and the same word 'jest') in several consecutive phrases.

    Keep going with learning, WillingPolyglote, if you have this kind of questions, your Polish must be much better than my Italian. ;) How long are you learning it?
  4. WillingPolyglot New Member

    Hello (buongiorno, Jasio)! Thank you both for your explanations! My Polish is not good at all, very basic actually, since, as I said, it's a quite difficult language (especially considering the different, mostly non-latin-derived vocabulary); moreover, I have been 'studying' it desultory for 4 months...I also have to brush up my English and especially my German :$. There are no 'difficult' or 'easy' question for me, I just saw that 'to' construction quite often on internet and I thought it would be important to understand it. :)
    Dobra noć!
  5. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    And this is a weird idea.

    Besides, the construction has nothing mystical in it. It's just an idiomatic construction with elision of the verb "jest" (copula) in a compound predicate. It would be easier to understand if it was written with a coma: "World Games, to (jest) impreza ...", just very similar to Italian "Campionato mondiale, questo (è)* un avvenimento spettacolare ...

    *I know that (è) can't be dropped in Italian.
  6. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    Come to think of it, not necessarily so weird. I'd say it replaces a copula. Let's have another look at the original sentence:
    World Games to impreza organizowana od 1981 roku.
    Now with "jest":
    World Games to jest impreza organizowana od 1981 roku.
    World Games jest to impreza organizowana od 1981 roku.
    However, I've got the impression that "to" might be a pronoun in these two sentences (the first one requires a rather specific context).
  7. BezierCurve Senior Member

    My 2 cents... as for the example given by Thomas: "To nie łatwe pytanie." can be very likely put in form of "To niełatwe pytanie." ("nie-" joined with negated adjectives).
  8. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    "to" has none of the properties of a verb in Polish language: neither conjugation by person, tense, aspect, nor mood. It is just an idiomatic construction consisting of a preposition, elided verb and a noun. Note that a similar construction with adjective instead of a noun wouldn't work in Polish.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2014
  9. NotNow Senior Member

    Please give us students of Polish an example. Is there something wrong with a sentence like To przyjemne?

  10. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    To nie takie proste. ;) This sentence looks OK. At first glance, I can only say that your phrase looks similar to mine and is different from the ones we're discussing from a grammatical angle. Could you provide some context?

    I think that may be the only correct version. :eek: Thanks for pointing this out. :thumbsup:

    Yet it works like a (copula) verb and can be negated.
    Why preposition?
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2014
  11. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Nothing wrong whatsoever as far as I am concerned,

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