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Polish Modal Verbs

Modal verbs generally match other verbs. However, in Polish there are also such modal verbs that do not have typical verb endings. Such forms are impersonal and have no subject in the nominative case. If you want to know more, read the article to the end!

Polish Modal Verbs

The basic Polish modal verbs are: must (musieć), want (chcieć) and can (móc).
Conjugation of Modal Verbs (Present Tense)

Must (Musieć)

The verb ‘must’ in Polish is an imperative verb that tells us to do something or that we must do something urgently.
For example:
Present tense:
I must buy a ticket for a train. / Muszę kupić bilet na pociąg.
He must pay his phone bills. / On musi zapłacić rachunki za telefon.
You don’t have to come with me. / Nie musisz jechać ze mną.

Past tense:
He had to go to the police to report the car stolen. / Musiał iść na policję zgłosić kradzież auta.
I had to refuel the car. / Musiałam zatankować auto. (fem.)

Future tense:
You will have to call Piotr and ask if you can come with Beata. / Będziesz musiał zadzwonić do Piotra i zapytać, czy będziesz mógł przyjść z Beatą.
We’ll have to walk around because this road is closed. / Będziemy musieli pójść na około, ponieważ ta droga jest zamknięta.

Conjugation 'must' (past tense)

English also has other forms for necessity like “have to” and “need”, which is not the case in Polish where we use just the word musieć.

For example (present tense):
Children have to go to school. / Dzieci muszą chodzić do szkoły.
No one needs to know about it. / Nikt nie musi o tym wiedzieć.

Can (Móc)

In Polish, the verb “can” has several meanings. The Polish verb móc is used to express the ability to do something.

For example:
Present tense:
I can go to the doctor today because I have the day off. / Mogę iść dzisiaj do lekarza, bo mam dzień wolny.
I can’t eat nuts. I’m allergic to them. / Nie mogę jeść orzechów. Jestem na nie uczulony. (masc.)

Past tense:
You could have called her yesterday. Today Ania went on vacation and her phone is turned off. / Mogłeś zadzwonić do niej wczoraj. Dzisiaj Ania pojechała na wakacje i ma wyłączony telefon.

Future tense:
Can we go to the cinema today? / Czy będziemy mogli iść dzisiaj do kina?

Conjugation 'can' (past tense)

Want, Would Like to (chcieć)

For example:

Present tense:
We want to go to a restaurant for a dinner today as a large group and celebrate my promotion. / Chcemy dzisiaj iść dużą grupą do restauracji na obiad i świętować mój awans.
She doesn’t want to go to school today. She feels bad. / Ona nie chce iść dzisiaj do szkoły. Źle się dzisiaj czuje.

Past tense:
They wanted to go to the concert, but there were no more tickets. / Oni chcieli pojść na koncert, ale nie było już biletów.

Future tense:
I’d like to buy this dress. She is so cute. / Będę chciała kupić sobie tę sukienkę. Jest taka ładna.

Conjugation 'want'(past tense)

Conjugation of modal verb (future tense)

Interesting Fact

You must have learned that when in Polish there are two verbs in one sentence, we put a comma between them. This is one of the few cases when two verbs not only do not have to, but cannot even have a comma between them.

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