Sometimes it’s easier to convey what we want to say with a single saying than by using our own words to express it. This, and the fact that the Polish language is very rich in various proverbs and idioms for every possible occasion, are the reasons why Polish people love using such expressions along with popular quotes from films and literature in their everyday conversations.
But while it makes the informal Polish you can hear on the streets and in homes across Poland so much more colourful and interesting, for beginner Polish learners, it can be quite a challenge to grasp the meaning of what is being said. That’s why to help you keep your Polish conversations flowing and impress your Polish friends, we’ve prepared a short list of sayings grouped thematically and quotes in Polish.
Examples of Polish Proverbs You Should Learn When Learning Polish
Polish Sayings About Friends and Family
- Z rodziną najlepiej wychodzi się na zdjęciach. – Families look best in photographs.
- Meaning: It’s a saying used to say that one cannot count on their family, especially when it comes to money.
- Rodziny się nie wybiera. – Family is not chosen.
- Meaning: You can’t choose your family.
- Prawdziwych przyjaciół poznaje się w biedzie. – You meet true friends when you’re in need.
- Meaning: It’s the Polish version of the English expression: A friend in need is a friend indeed.
- Przyjaciół trzymaj blisko, a wrogów jeszcze bliżej. – Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.
- Meaning: It is important to take care of those you are close with, but also to pay attention to your adversaries.
- Dla przyjaciela nowego, nie opuszczaj starego. – For a new friend, don’t abandon the old one.
- Meaning: Don’t risk losing trusted friends for new friendships that may not last.
- Z kim się zadajesz, takim się stajesz. – Who you associate with, that’s who you become.
- Meaning: It’s the Polish equivalent of Who keeps company with the wolves, will learn to howl.
Polish Sayings About Love
- Miłość jest ślepa. – Love is blind.
- Meaning: When you love someone, you don’t see their flaws.
- Stara miłość nie rdzewieje. – Old love doesn’t rust.
- Meaning: Love does not fade with time.
- Kochają się jak dwa gołąbki. – They love each other like two doves.
- Meaning: This can be said about people who love each other very much and show a lot of affection for one another
- Kto się czubi, ten się lubi. – Those who quarrel like each other.
- Meaning: Friendship can often go hand in hand with disagreements. This phrase can also be used to sum up or defuse arguments.
- Serce nie sługa. – The heart is not a servant.
- Meaning: One cannot choose who they love, nor can they be forced to fall in love.
Polish Sayings About Learning
- Czego Jaś się nie nauczy, tego Jan nie będzie umiał. – What Johnny doesn’t learn, John won’t know.
- Meaning: If you don’t learn something at a young age, you won’t know it later on.
- Ucz się, ucz, bo nauka to potęgi klucz. – Learn, learn, because learning is the key to power.
- Meaning: Knowledge is power and enables you to achieve your goals.
- Mądry Polak po szkodzie. – A Pole is wise after the damage is done.
- Meaning: Similar to the English proverb: hindsight is 20/20. It means that it’s easier to see the results than to predict the risks.
- Broda mędrcem nie czyni. – A beard does not make a man wise.
- Meaning: You shouldn’t judge people based on their appearance, because it can be misleading.
- Mądrej głowie dość dwie słowie. – To a wise head two words are enough.
- Meaning: It’s easy to explain something to a wise person.
Polish Sayings About Work
- Bez pracy nie ma kołaczy. – Without work, there is no kolach. (type of traditional bread)
- Meaning: Similar to the English proverb: no pain, no gain. It means that in order to get something, you need to earn it.
- Cudza praca nie wzbogaca. – Someone else’s work doesn’t make you richer.
- Meaning: If you want to achieve something, you need to work for it yourself.
- Oszczędnością i pracą ludzie się bogacą. – By saving and working, people get rich.
- Meaning: You can achieve wealth by being hard-working and frugal.
- Żadna praca nie hańbi. – No job is dishonourable.
- Meaning: Every job is important and every profession deserves respect.
- Jaka praca, taka płaca. – As the work, so the pay.
- Meaning: How much you earn depends on how hard you work.
Famous Polish Quotes
Sometimes a sentence from a book or film has such an impact on its audience that it finds its way into the language we use every day and becomes its permanent element. There are various Polish quotes from the world of art, as well as politics, that have become quite common this way. Below, you can find a few examples:
- Ciemno wszędzie, głucho wszędzie, co to będzie, co to będzie? (It’s dark everywhere, quiet everywhere, what will it be, what will it be?)
- It’s a famous quote from Dziady, a poetic drama by Adam Mickiewicz. Nowadays, this quote is often used in a humorous way, e.g., when entering or talking about a place that is dark and quiet.
- Sąd sądem, ale sprawiedliwość musi być po naszej stronie. (Court or no court, but justice must be on our side.)
- Kargul, podejdź no do płota. (Kargul, come to the fence.)
- Both of the above are quotes from the Polish film Sami Swoi.
- Jak kochać to księcia, jak kraść to miliony. (If you fall in love, fall in love with a prince, and if you steal, steal millions.)
- This quote comes from the Polish film Nigdy w życiu.
- Jestem za, a nawet przeciw. (I am for it and even against it.)
- A famous quote by Lech Wałęsa.
If you want to be fluent in Polish and speak like a native, becoming familiar with the most common idioms and proverbs is essential. At Polka Dot, you can learn the Polish language and understand Polish culture during online classes taught by teachers who are native Polish speakers!