Polish Verbs & Essentials of Grammar
March 10, 2013
Author Oscar E. Swan
Publication Date 2009
Skill Level Beginner, Intermediate
This oddly titled book by Oscar E. Swan is thorough, well-written, and smart. I say oddly titled because, despite the appearance of the word “Verbs” in quite large letters on its cover, the book in fact begins with a chapter entitled “The Polish Alphabet and Sounds,” followed by chapters on nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, numerals, prepositions, conjunctions—and only then, verbs!
Maybe verbs are more marketable than nouns and pronouns?
In any case, you also get two additional chapters, on “Important Sentence Constructions” and “The Most Important Polish Verbs.”
Sometimes Polish Verbs & Essentials of Grammar was a bit much to process, and for many native English speakers in this laissez-faire grammatical age, it may simply be too technical and grammatical. But that is Polish for you! Polish is itself technical and grammatical, with seven cases and endless endings to memorize.
The section on numbers is crazy. Mr. Swan cautions, “The Polish numeral system strikes most people as complex. Indeed, it has probably never been exhaustively described, and usage can vary from speaker to speaker.”
He goes on to give what he calls a “basic outline.” His basic outline lasts pages. The recurring theme is, Polish numbers change form—a lot! Which version of a number you use depends on case (i.e., is the number connected to the subject or the direct object or the indirect object or something else altogether?), the gender of whatever it is you are counting, whether what you are counting is a person or not, and other considerations.
In English, a two is a two is a two. In Polish that is not the case.
The book contains no grammar exercises, so if you are seeking a workbook, this is not it.
I am glad I had Polish Verbs & Essentials of Grammar to complement my other Polish grammar books, because if I hadn’t been able to read about the major Polish grammatical points two to three times apiece in different sources, I don’t know that I could have remembered enough of the grammar to keep going!