A Grammar of the Polish Language

Part nine

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Morphology – uninflected parts of speech

5 uninflected part of speech are distinguished traditionally:

You can read more on this classification here.

In fact, some adverbs, so called deadjectival or derivative adverbs, are forms which are created regularly from adjectives. Part of grammarians counts such adverbs among adjectives rightly, treating them as their special inflected forms. They are not admittedly declined by cases or by persons, however they often create forms of the higher and highest degree, e.g. szybko – szybciej – najszybciej ‘fast – faster – fastest’. They also exist adverbs with degrees of comparison, for which the adjective cannot be found, e.g. bardzo – bardziej – najbardziej ‘very – more – most’.

The rest of adverbs are so called original adverbs. In fact they are old forms of various nouns most often, e.g. prawie, chyba, rano, wczoraj, czasem, nocami ‘almost, surely, (in the) morning, yesterday, sometimes, in the nights. A generally accepted opinion does not exist for the classification of this group of words. Sometimes is difficult to distinguish them from particles, and some authors link together both these groups indeed. Others distinguish addings (tak, nie, z pewnością ‘yes, no, surely’) and modalizers. Some derivative adverbs can below to this group (prawdopodobnie, już, jeszcze, zupełnie ‘probably, already, yet, completely’). E.g. short answer tak ‘yes’ is treated as an interjection, a particle, an adverbial pronoun or an adverb (because formally it seems to answer the question how? – we will not find such an effect in other languages, e.g. English, where yes and so they are completely separate words). There also exist adverbs which are formally identical to prepositions, e.g. był już wewnątrz ‘he has already been inside’ (adverb), but był już wewnątrz nory ‘he has already been inside the burrow’ (preposition). Some scholars count also adverbial pronouns among adverbs, e.g. tutaj, nijak, którędy, wszędzie, dotychczas ‘here, by no means, which way, everywhere, so far, adverbial numerals, e.g. potrójnie, trojako, po pierwsze, trzy razy ‘triply, threefoldly, firstly, three times, as well as some words called sometimes numerical pronouns, and sometimes pronominal numerals, e.g. tylekroć, ile ‘so many times, how many’.

There exist adverbs (named traditionally adverbial expressions) which consist of a preposition and a noun that follows it. To students’ nuisance, Polish uses split spelling and spelling as one word very inconsistently here: na pewno, naprawdę, od razu, dokoła, na czas, wewnątrz, na ostatku, nareszcie, przed świtem, na dole, po polsku, za dużo ‘certainly, really, at once, round, on time, inside, finally, at last, before the dawn, below, in Polish, too much’. In spite of the spelling, in respect of their meaning they are single adverbs rather than groups of words. You cannot ask the question na czym? (on what?) – na dole (below), but only gdzie? (where?) – na dole. However, sometimes there exist prepositional expressions which are actually formally identical to adverbial expressions, e.g. przed świtem can be the answer for both before what? (at least hardly), and when? – e.g. schował się do swojej nory z obawy przed świtem (‘he put himself away into his burrow because of the fear of the dawn, preposition + noun), but był niewyspany, bo musiał wstać przed świtem (‘he was sleepy because he had to get up before the dawn’, adverb).

Adverbs can be adjuncts of verbs (e.g. bardzo się boję ‘I am very frightened’), adjectives (bardzo tchórzliwy ‘very craven’), adjectival participles (odkryty niedawno ‘uncovered recently’), adverbial participles (wszedłszy nagle ‘having entered suddenly) or other adverbs (bardzo daleko ‘very far away’). A combination of an adjective or a participle with an adverb happens to be very tight (krótko mówiąc, lekko strawny ‘in a word, easily digestible). Sometimes it is so tight that spelling notes it (jasnowidzący, równouprawniony ‘clairvoyant, equal in rights’).

Interjections are independent parts of the phrase and they express emotions (oj, ach ‘oh’), indications of the will (stop, hej ‘hey’) or they imitate some sounds (bzz, chlup ‘squelch’). Some of them have form which conflicts with rules of Polish phonetics, e.g. they consist of only consonants (brr, psst) or they contain sounds which are absent in the Polish phonetics (e.g. hu hu can be pronounced with the voiceless glottal [h] which is identical to English [h] which is absent normally in the Polish language). The same role like interjections can sometimes be fulfilled by forms of the vocative of nouns (e.g. hej, podejdź tu – chłopcze, podejdź tu ‘hey, come here – boy, come here) or the imperative of verbs (e.g. stop – stój ‘stop – stand’). On the other hand, interjections can replace personal forms of verbs, particularly in the vivid story, e.g. gałąź trach, a my bęc na ziemię. Statements of this type are usually treated as equivalents of sentences however it is worth to be noticed that the interjections which are used here seem to enter syntactic associations (not formally but logically). Therefore there is a view that they are a special kind of verbs (so called exclamatory verbs; the whole statement certainly becomes the sentence then).

There are words which, even if being independent and not entering syntactic associations (so they fulfil the definition of exclamation marks), act as the reaction to someone’s statement, contrary to other interjections. The answers tak, nie, z pewnością ‘yes, no, surely’ belong here. Indeed, many Poles are amazed having learnt that the short answer tak counts among interjections. It is better to count such words, entangled to the context, among the special class called additions which has been proposed recently by some grammarians. However, the term “addition” can have also another meaning, see here.


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