Polish language series: Rdz 1, na początku

Na początku

This post begins your study of the Polish language using, as your source text, the Biblia Tysiąclecia. You can read this Bible entirely online.

In this first post, you will study the Księga Rodzaju (book of Genesis), rozdział 1 (chapter 1). You will hear rozdział 1 read aloud as rozdział pierwszy (literally, chapter first) in the recordings. The Polish abbreviation for the book of Genesis is Rdz. Genesis 1 is abbreviated as Rdz 1. The Polish for Old Testament is Stary Testament.

Before you begin your study of Rdz 1, you must access the verses on biblia.deon.pl below:

Consult text only

Consult both text and audio

Should the above links ever become unavailable, you will find an archived version of the text here.

In addition to the audio linked above, you will no doubt very much also enjoy the audio in the video below, an absolute pleasure to listen to once you have come to understand the text. That said, the video cannot be played outside of YouTube. To go to YouTube and listen to it, click here. Rdz 1 begins at 0:00 and ends at 8:55.

The notes that follow will assist you in understanding the language of the verses in Polish. Read the verses on your own, and refer to the notes as necessary. Note that the verses have not been reproduced here; you must use one of the links above to read them.

To consult the declension of a noun, I recommend the English Wiktionary and the Polish Wikisłownik (if you cannot find what you are looking for in the one, you might find it in the other). How to search in the English Wiktionary: Enter the Polish noun in the search bar and click on look up. On the page that appears, scroll down to the Polish section, look for the subheading declension, and click on show to open the declension table. You can also consult adjectives, verbs, etc.

In your study of Polish, you will undoubtedly come across language that you do not fully understand, even after having attempted to analyse it: do not let this deter you. Set aside what baffles you, move ahead in your study, and return to that part a few weeks (or even months) later. You may just find that it has started to become clearer.

Polish is a challenge to learn, and the road ahead is long, but you will learn it if you have a strong enough reason to achieve it, consistent study habits, patience and, most importantly, faith.

Werset 1

  • na (+ loc.), in, at
  • początek (m.), beginning
  • Bóg (m.), God
  • stworzyć (pf.), to create
  • niebo (n.), heaven
  • i, and
  • ziemia (f.), earth

Na początku means in the beginning; following na, the masculine noun początek is inflected for the locative case as początku.

Stworzył is the third-person singular masculine past of the perfective stworzyć. Bóg stworzył means God created.

In the accusative, the neuter noun niebo remains unchanged in form; the feminine noun ziemia, on the other hand, becomes ziemię in the accusative. Bóg stworzył niebo i ziemię means God created the heaven and the earth.

Werset 2

  • zaś, on the other hand
  • być (impf.), to be
  • bezład (m.), disorder, chaos
  • pustkowie (n.), wasteland
  • ciemność (f.), darkness
  • nad (+ instr.), over, above
  • powierzchnia (f.), area, expanse
  • bezmiar (m.), vastness
  • woda (f.), water
  • a, and, whereas
  • duch (m.), spirit
  • boży, divine
  • unosić (impf.) się, to flutter

Była is the third-person singular feminine past of the imperfective być. Ziemia była means the earth was; ziemia is a feminine noun. The masculine equivalent of była is był, without the a. In verse 1, you encountered the past stworzył, which is masculine in form: Bóg stworzył. The feminine equivalent of stworzył would be stworzyła, with an a added.

The masculine noun bezład and the neuter noun pustkowie are found in the text inflected for the instrumental case as bezładem and pustkowiem. Ziemia zaś była bezładem i pustkowiem means the earth on the other hand was chaos and wasteland.

Ciemność is a feminine noun; ciemność była means the darkness was. Nad powierzchnią bezmiaru wód can be understood literally as meaning over an expanse of vastness of waters. Following nad, powierzchnia is inflected for the instrumental case as powierzchnią. Bezmiaru is the genitive of bezmiar, and wód is the genitive plural of woda.

Duch Boży translates literally as the Divine Spirit; this is more commonly rendered in English as the Spirit of God. You read: Duch Boży unosił się nad wodami (the Spirit of God was fluttering over the waters). You will recognise unosił as being masculine in form; its feminine equivalent is unosiła. Wodami is in instrumental plural form in nad wodami.

Werset 3

  • wtedy, then
  • rzec (pf.), to say, to utter
  • niechaj, let
  • stać (pf.) się, to become
  • światłość (f.), light

Rzekł is the third-person singular masculine past of the perfective rzec. Wtedy Bóg rzekł means then God said.

Niechaj (or niech) is used to create a third-person singular or plural imperative; it is followed by the third-person singular or plural of the present tense.

Niechaj się stanie światłość means let the light become; this is rendered in English as let there be light. I stała się światłość can be understood as and the light became; this is rendered in English as and there was light.

Werset 4

  • widzieć (impf.), to see
  • że, that
  • dobry, good
  • oddzielić (pf.), to separate
  • ona (f.), she, it
  • od (+ gen.), from

Widząc can be understood as meaning whilst seeing. Dobry means good; this is its masculine form. Its feminine equivalent is dobra.

Following other examples seen above, you will recognise oddzielił as being the third-person singular masculine past of the perfective oddzielić. You read: oddzielił ją od ciemności (he separated it from the darkness). is the accusative form of ona; it refers to the feminine światłość. Following od, the feminine noun ciemność is inflected for the genitive case as ciemności.

Werset 5

  • nazwać (pf.), to call
  • dzień (m.), day
  • noc (f.), night
  • tak, so, thus
  • upłynąć (pf.), to go by, to elapse
  • wieczór (m.), evening
  • poranek (m.), morning
  • pierwszy, first

I nazwał Bóg światłość dniem means and God called the light ‘day’. Światłość is in the accusative (it takes the same form as in the nominative); and dzień is inflected for the instrumental case as dniem.

A ciemność nazwał nocą means whereas the darkness he called ‘night’. Ciemność is in the accusative (like światłość, it takes the same form as in the nominative); and noc is inflected for the instrumental case as nocą.

Upłynął is the third-person singular masculine past of the perfective upłynąć. You read: i tak upłynął wieczór i poranek (and thus went by evening and morning). This was the first day of creation: dzień pierwszy.

Werset 6

  • potem, then
  • powstać (pf.), to come into being
  • sklepienie (n.), vault
  • w (+ loc.), in, at
  • środek (m.), middle
  • ono (n.), it
  • jeden, one
  • drugi, second, the other

A potem Bóg rzekł means and then God said.

You then read: niechaj powstanie (let come into a being) sklepienie (a vault) w środku wód (in the middle of the waters); this can be understood as meaning let there be a firmament in the middle of the waters. The firmament takes the form of a vault or dome, which explains the use of sklepienie in Polish.

Compare:

środek > w środku
początek > na początku

You will recall that bezmiar wód means vastness of waters, where wód is in genitive plural form. In the current verse now, w środku wód means in the middle of the waters.

You then read: i niechaj ono oddzieli (and let it separate) jedne wody od drugich (the waters from one another). The neuter ono refers back to the neuter noun sklepienie. Both jedne and wody are accusative plural forms; drugich is in the genitive plural. I niechaj ono oddzieli jedne wody od drugich can be understood more literally as and let it separate the waters the ones from the others.

Werset 7

  • uczynić (pf.), to make
  • to (n.), this
  • pod (+ instr.), under
  • ponad (+ instr.), over, above
  • gdy, when, as

Uczyniwszy is to be understood as meaning having made.

Pod sklepieniem means under the vault (firmament); ponad sklepieniem means above the vault (firmament). After both pod and ponad, you find the neuter noun sklepienie inflected for the instrumental case as sklepieniem.

You can understand the first part of this verse as follows: uczyniwszy to sklepienie (having made this firmament), Bóg oddzielił wody pod sklepieniem (God separated the waters under the firmament) od wód ponad sklepieniem (from the waters above the firmament).

The final portion of verse 7, which leads into the text of verse 8, reads: a gdy tak się stało (and when it became so). From verse 3, you will recall i stała się światłość, meaning and the light became: stała is the feminine form (it ends in a). In the current verse, you find stało, where the o ending indicates that this is the neuter form.

Werset 8

This verse contains no new vocabulary. Bóg nazwał to sklepienie niebem means God called this firmament heaven. Niebo is inflected here for the instrumental case as niebem. Compare this sentence with those from verse 5, where the instrumental case was also used: nazwał Bóg światłość dniem and ciemność nazwał nocą.

You have seen a number of instrumental forms now: bezładem (m.), dniem (m.), pustkowiem (n.), sklepieniem (n.), niebem (n.), powierzchnią (f.), nocą (f.). Perhaps you will see a pattern in these endings.

The remainder of this verse follows the wording seen in verse 5: i tak upłynął wieczór i poranek (and thus went by evening and morning), with the exception that this was the second day of creation: dzień drugi.

Werset 9

  • zebrać (pf.) się, to gather
  • spod (+ gen.), from under
  • w (+ acc.), into
  • miejsce (n.), place, spot
  • ukazać (pf.) się, to appear
  • suchy, dry

God says: niechaj zbiorą się wody spod nieba w jedno miejsce (let the waters from under the heaven gather into one place). Niechaj zbiorą się wody means let the waters gather. The nominative plural of woda is wody. In spod nieba, meaning from under the heaven, nieba is in genitive form. W jedno miejsce is to be understood as into one place. The nominative singular forms of jeden are jeden (m.), jedno (n.) and jedna (f.). Jedno miejsce means one place; it takes the same form in the accusative.

In verse 6, you encountered w środku, where środku is in locative form: w + locative is to be understood as meaning in. In the current verse, you find w jedno miejsce, where jedno miejsce is in accusative form: w + accusative is to be understood as meaning into.

God continues: i niech się ukaże powierzchnia sucha (and let the dry area appear). You first saw powierzchnia, meaning area or expanse, in verse 2. By dry area, you can understand dry land.

Werset 10

  • ta (f.), this
  • zbiorowisko (n.), gathering
  • morze (n.), sea

In Bóg nazwał tę suchą powierzchnię ziemią (God called this dry area ‘earth’), tę suchą powierzchnię is in accusative form, whereas ziemią is in instrumental form.

In a zbiorowisko wód nazwał morzem (whereas the gathering of waters he called ‘sea’), zbiorowisko is in accusative form, whereas morzem is in instrumental form.

Compare the following:

nazwał Bóg światłość dniem
nazwał Bóg sklepienie niebem
nazwał Bóg zbiorowisko morzem
nazwał Bóg ciemność nocą
nazwał Bóg powierzchnię ziemią

Compare also:

to sklepienie
ta powierzchnia

This verse continues: Bóg widząc (God, whilst seeing), że były dobre (that they were good). This text leads into that of the following verse.

Werset 11

  • wydać (pf.), to bring forth
  • roślina (f.), plant
  • zielony, green
  • trawa (f.), grass
  • dawać (impf.), to give
  • nasiono (n.), seed
  • drzewo (n.), tree
  • owocowy, fruit-
  • rodzić (impf.), to bear
  • według (+ gen.), according to
  • swój, one’s own
  • gatunek (m.), kind, sort
  • owoc (m.), fruit
  • który, which

God commands: niechaj ziemia wyda rośliny zielone is to be understood as meaning let the earth bring forth green plants. Rośliny zielone is in accusative plural form.

roślina (nom. sing.), rośliny (nom. pl.)
roślinę (acc. sing.), rośliny (acc. pl.)

God also commands that the earth bring forth: trawy dające nasiona (grasses giving seeds) and drzewa owocowe rodzące owoce (fruit-trees bearing fruits). Dające is to be understood as giving; rodzące is to be understood as bearing. All nouns here are in accusative plural form.

Na ziemi means on the earth. In the same way that you find the locative case in na początku, you find it in na ziemi. Według swego gatunku means according to its kind. Swego gatunku is in genitive form; swego is a variant of swojego. You can consult the declension of Polish possessive pronouns here. W których są nasiona is to be understood as in which are the seeds. Których is in locative plural form.

I stało się tak is to be understood as and it was so.

Werset 12

  • nasienie (n.), seed
  • ich, their

Wydała is the third-person singular feminine past of the perfective wydać (you first encountered this verb in the preceding verse). Ziemia wydała rośliny zielone means the earth brought forth green plants.

Trawę dającą nasienie means grass giving seed; both trawę and nasienie are in accusative singular form. In verse 11, you encountered: trawy dające nasiona (grasses giving seeds), where both trawy and nasiona are in accusative plural form. Verse 11 uses the neuter nasiono to talk about seeds; verse 12 uses the neuter nasienie. Dającą and dające can both be understood as giving; the first is feminine singular, and the second is feminine plural.

trawa (nom. sing.), trawy (nom. pl.)
trawę (acc. sing.), trawy (acc. pl.)

nasiono (nom. sing.), nasiona (nom. pl.)
nasiono (acc. sing.), nasiona (acc. pl.)

nasienie (nom. sing.)
nasienie (acc. sing.)

Drzewa rodzące owoce is to be understood as trees bearing fruits, where drzewa and owoce are in accusative plural form.

drzewo (nom. sing.), drzewa (nom. pl.)
drzewo (acc. sing.), drzewa (acc. pl.)

owoc (nom. sing.), owoce (nom. pl.)
owoc (acc. sing.), owoce (acc. pl.)

In verse 11, you encountered w których są nasiona (in which are the seeds). In the current verse, you now find w których było nasienie (in which was the seed).

In verse 11 and the first part of verse 12, you find według swego gatunku (according to its kind). In the second part of verse 12, you find według ich gatunków (according to their kinds). Gatunku is in genitive singular form, whereas gatunków is in the genitive plural.

Widział is the third-person singular masculine past of the imperfective widzieć.

Werset 13

  • trzeci, third

The text of this verse follows that of the second sentence of verses 5 and 8.

Werset 14

  • ciało (n.), body
  • niebieski, heavenly
  • świecić (impf.), to shine
  • aby, in order that
  • oddzielać (impf.), to separate
  • wyznaczać (impf.), to mark
  • pora (f.), season
  • rok (m.), year

In verse 6, you encountered the singular niechaj powstanie sklepienie (let come into being a firmament); you now find the plural niechaj powstaną ciała niebieskie (let come into being heavenly bodies). The Polish ciało niebieskie means heavenly body; its plural form is ciała niebieskie.

Świecące can be understood as meaning shining. As for na sklepieniu nieba, this means in the firmament of the heaven. You will have guessed that nieba is in genitive form, and that sklepieniu, following na, is in locative form.

na początku
na sklepieniu
na ziemi

Oddzielały and wyznaczały are third-person plural neuter past forms of the imperfective oddzielać and wyznaczać.

You can consult the following to make sense of the remaining usages in this verse:

dzień (nom. sing.), dni (nom. pl.)
dzień (acc. sing.), dni (acc. pl.)

noc (nom. sing.), noce (nom. pl.)
nocy (gen. sing.), nocy (gen. pl.)
noc (acc. sing.), noce (acc. pl.)

pora (nom. sing.), pory (nom. pl.)
porę (acc. sing.), pory (acc. pl.)

rok (nom. sing.), lata (nom. pl.)
roku (gen. sing.), lat (gen. pl.)
rok (acc. sing.), lata (acc. pl.)

Werset 15

  • jaśnieć (impf.), to shine

Ciała jaśniejące means shining bodies (that is, the sun and moon). In the text, you find ciałami jaśniejącymi, in instrumental form.

In verse 2, you encountered nad powierzchnią; in the current verse, you find nad ziemią. You are dealing here with the instrumental case.

Werset 16

  • dwa ciała, two bodies
  • duży, large
  • wielki, large
  • większy, larger
  • mały, small
  • mniejszy, smaller
  • rządzić (impf.), to govern
  • oraz, as well as
  • gwiazda (f.), star

In the first part of this verse, you read: Bóg uczynił dwa duże ciała jaśniejące (God made two large shining bodies).

Większy is the comparative form of wielki. Mniejszy is the comparative form of mały. You find both większy and mniejszy in neuter accusative form: większe, mniejsze. You read: większe (the larger), aby rządziło dniem (in order that it governed the day), i mniejsze (and the smaller), aby rządziło nocą (in order that it governed the night). The o ending of rządziło tells you that this is the neuter form of the verb. Dniem and nocą are in instrumental form.

God also made the stars:

gwiazda (nom. sing.), gwiazdy (nom. pl.)
gwiazdę (acc. sing.), gwiazdy (acc. pl.)

Werset 17

  • umieścić (pf.), to place

God placed the heavenly bodies in the firmament: i umieścił je Bóg (and God placed them) na sklepieniu nieba (in the firmament of the heaven), aby świeciły nad ziemią (in order that they shone upon the earth).

Werset 18

This verse presents no new vocabulary.

Compare:

aby rządziło (from verse 16)
aby rządziły
(current verse)
in order that it governed
in order that they governed

Werset 19

  • czwarty, fourth

Werset 20

  • zaroić się (pf.), to teem
  • rój (m.), swarm
  • istota (f.), creature
  • żywy, living
  • ptactwo (n.), fowl
  • latać (impf.), to fly

God says: niechaj się zaroją wody (let the waters teem) od roju istot żywych (with a swarm of living creatures). In od roju istot żywych, roju is in genitive singular form, whereas istot żywych is in the genitive plural.

istota (nom. sing.), istoty (nom. pl.)
istoty (gen. sing.), istot (gen. pl.)
istotę (acc. sing.), istoty (acc. pl.)

The Polish for living creature is istota żywa. Its plural form is istoty żywe.

God continues: a ptactwo niechaj lata (and let the fowl fly) nad ziemią (above the earth), pod sklepieniem nieba (under the firmament of the heaven).

You will recall from the notes above that a third-person imperative is created by using niechaj (or niech) followed by the third-person singular or plural form of the present tense. In ptactwo niechaj lata, the singular lata is used because ptactwo is a singular noun. In niechaj powstanie sklepienie, from verse 6, the singular powstanie is used because sklepienie is also a singular noun; however, in niechaj powstaną ciała niebieskie, from verse 14, the plural powstaną is used because ciała is a plural noun.

Werset 21

  • potwór (m.), monster
  • morski, marine, sea
  • wszelki, every, all
  • rodzaj (m.), kind, sort
  • pływać (impf.), to swim
  • skrzydlaty, winged
  • różny, different, various

The Polish for sea monster is potwór morski; large sea monster is wielki potwór morski. You read: stworzył Bóg wielkie potwory morskie (God made the large sea monsters).

potwór (nom. sing), potwory (nom. pl.)
potwora (acc. sing.), potwory (acc. pl.)

You also read: stworzył Bóg […] (God made) wszelkiego rodzaju (every sort of) pływające (swimming) istoty żywe (living creatures). You will have perhaps noticed that the genitive form rodzaju is also used in the Polish name for the book of Genesis: Księga Rodzaju.

Którymi zaroiły się wody can be understood as with which the waters teemed.

With the aid of the vocabulary listed above, work out the rest of the verse on your own. (If a word from this verse is not listed above, it is because you have already encountered it in a previous verse.) Remember that you can search Wiktionary and Wikisłownik for declensions.

Werset 22

  • pobłogosławić (pf.), to bless
  • słowo (n.), word
  • płodny, fruitful, fertile
  • mnożyć (impf.) się, to multiply oneself
  • zapełniać (impf.), to fill
  • rozmnażać (impf.) się, to reproduce

Pobłogosławił je tymi słowami is to be understood as God blessed them with these words. Note the use of the instrumental case in tymi słowami.

Bądźcie is the second-person plural imperative of the verb być. Mnóżcie is also a second-person plural imperative, this time from mnożyć (to multiply). Note their endings. You read: bądźcie płodne i mnóżcie się (be fruitful and multiply yourselves).

Abyście contains aby. Observe its ending.

Werset 23

  • piąty, fifth

Werset 24

  • bydło (n.), cattle
  • zwierzę (n.), animal
  • pełzać (impf.), to crawl
  • dziki, wild

Try to make out the first half of this verse without any help; it does not contain any new usages.

The plural of the nominative zwierzę is zwierzęta.

You should be able to figure out the meaning of pełzające based on similar forms already encountered: dające, rodzące, świecące, jaśniejące, pływające.

Compare:

według swego gatunku
(according to its kind)

według ich gatunków
(according to their kinds)

według ich rodzajów
(according to their kinds)

Werset 25

  • po (+ loc.), along, on

Różne rodzaje is in accusative plural form. Dzikich zwierząt is in genitive plural form. You read: Bóg uczynił różne rodzaje dzikich zwierząt (God made different kinds of wild animals). You find more genitive forms in the remainder of the sentence.

Werset 26

  • wreszcie, after all, at last
  • człowiek (m.), man
  • nasz (m.), our
  • obraz (m.), image
  • podobny, similar
  • my, we
  • panować (impf.) nad, to rule over
  • ryba (f.), fish
  • powietrzny, aerial, (of the) air
  • wszystek, every, all

God says: uczyńmy człowieka (let us make man) na Nasz obraz (in[to] our image). Człowieka is in accusative form; also in accusative form is Nasz obraz following na. Nam is the dative form of my.

Niech panuje nad means let him rule over; following this, you have a succession of nouns in the instrumental case. For example, nad rybami morskimi means over the sea fishes.

Compare:

nad wodami
nad rybami

Werset 27

  • więc, so, therefore
  • on (m.), he
  • mężczyzna (m.), man
  • niewiasta (f.), woman

Go is the accusative form of on: na obraz Boży go stworzył (in[to] the divine image he created him). Also in accusative form are mężczyznę and niewiastę.

Werset 28

  • po czym, thereupon
  • błogosławić (impf.), to bless
  • oni (m.), they
  • mówić (impf.), to say
  • do (+ gen.), to
  • zaludnić (pf.), to people
  • siebie, oneself
  • poddany, subject

Im is the dative form of oni; nich is the genitive. You read: po czym (thereupon) Bóg im błogosławił (God blessed them), mówiąc do nich (whilst saying to them). Compare mówiąc to widząc, from verse 4.

In verse 22, God said to the animals: bądźcie płodne i mnóżcie się (be fruitful and multiply). In the current verse, he says to the man and woman: bądźcie płodni i rozmnażajcie się (be fruitful and reproduce). You first encountered the verb rozmnażać się in verse 22.

Sobie is the dative form of siebie. It is to be understood as to yourselves here. You read: abyście zaludnili ziemię (in order that you people the earth) i uczynili ją sobie poddaną (and make it subject to yourselves).

The remainder of the verse contains vocabulary that you have already encountered.

Werset 29

  • oto, behold
  • wy, you (pl.)
  • przynosić (impf.), to bring
  • ziarno (n.), seed
  • cały, entire
  • mieć (impf.), to have
  • dla (+ gen.), for
  • one, they
  • pokarm (m.), food

God says to them: oto wam daję (behold, to you I give) wszelką roślinę (every plant) przynoszącą ziarno (bringing seed). Po całej ziemi is to be understood as on the entire earth; całej is in feminine locative form.

God also says that he gives them: wszelkie drzewo (every tree), którego owoc (whose fruit) ma w sobie (has within itself) nasienie (seed).

The remainder of the verse is to be understood as: dla was będą one pokarmem (for you they shall be as food). Was is the genitive form of wy; pokarmem is in instrumental form.

Werset 30

  • polny, of the field, rural
  • powietrze (n.), air
  • wszystko, everything
  • co, which
  • poruszać (impf.) się, to move
  • pierwiastek (m.), element
  • życie (n.), life

You should be able to make out the first half of this verse, taking note of all the genitive forms following dla.

The second half of the verse can be understood as follows: i dla wszystkiego (and to everything), co się porusza po ziemi (which moves on the earth) i ma w sobie (and has within itself) pierwiastek życia (the element of life), będzie pokarmem wszelka trawa zielona (every green grass shall be as food).

Werset 31

  • bardzo, very