It’s a much better use of time to focus on learning common words first. Why would you waste your time learning rare words that you’ll neither hear nor use?
It’s really easy to find out what words are the most common in Polish. Use frequency lists to start learning Polish in the most efficient way possible, avoiding learning obscure vocabulary in the process.
Which words will you use the most?
What are the most common words in Polish? “Nie”, “to”, “się”, “na” and “co” to name a few. The easiest way to find the most common words is to search for “polish frequency list” or “most common words polish” in a search engine.
Frequency lists are everywhere
Wiktionary also hosts a word list of the 5,000 most used Polish words based on subtitles from www.opensubtitles.org. Their list has been cleaned up slightly, but you will still spot the occasional English word and name (for instance, “william” is 2,487th and “alan” is 2,490th in the list). You won’t need to learn all 5,000, but the first 1,000 or so is a great starting point which could give you a headstart when it comes to reading and listening.
Rather than finding and manually adding 1,000 sentences into Anki, you can download the HowToSpeakPolish.com First 1,000 Deck, a pre-made deck of the most common 1,000 words in context which was handmade by me.
If you’re looking for a larger list, Invoke IT have created frequency lists in Polish which rank several thousands of words by their usage. However, considering the words “pigmentację”, “dwulatki” and “mleczku” (which are ranked 697,742nd, 697,743rd and 697,744th respectively) are used so rarely, you’d be better off focusing on the very top of the list.
Not everyone has the same common words
Once you’ve learned a good chunk of the common words in general, it’s time to start learning the words which will be common words for you. For example, if you work in a bank, you’re much more likely to need to know banking terms in Polish than someone who works as a teacher. The golden rule is to only learn what is necessary. Keep speaking until you find a gap in your knowledge, then you’ll immediately know which words that you need to learn.
Want ready made sentences with the most common words?
If you’d like some ready made sentences with the most common Polish words in context, but you don’t want to download a pre-made deck like the HowToSpeakPolish.com First 1,000 Deck, then I’d recommend that you add sentences from a phrasebook. The two which I recommend are the only two which I’ve used: Lingea’s phrasebook and Lonely Planet’s phrasebook.
Lingea’s phrasebook is actually an English phrasebook written in Polish for a Polish speaking audience. The benefits of using this book is that the Polish in it is authentic and actually used. If there was one book that I attribute the majority of my success to, this is it. You can find out more about Lingea’s phrasebook here:
Lonely Planet’s, on the other hand, is a Polish phrasebook for English speakers and therefore some of the Polish in it, although not incorrect, may be seen as slightly stiff or textbook-like to the Poles that you use it with. However, since you’ll be picking and choosing what you want from the book, that shouldn’t be much of a problem! You can find out more about Lonely Planet’s phrasebook here:
Which Polish words do you keep seeing everywhere?
One word which I see everywhere is ‘to’, the Polish word with seemingly an infinite number of different meanings! Which Polish words do you keep seeing everywhere? Write a few of them below.
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