Our Polish mistakes in English - some useful tips

That is actually a topic for a a whole book... Or - it could be ;) As every other nation we - Poles do have our typical problems with English, i.e. we make some typical mistakes when speaking the language. This topic has been on my mind for ages and I have always been procrastinating writing a post about it. The reason is very simple - it's an endless topic. You could make lists of mistakes. What I decided to do here is to show you some 'groups' of mistakes that happen most often among Polish students and to stress how 'irritating' they can sound for a native speaker. Have fun!

Some of the most 'irritating' mistakes include:

  • missing Present Simple 'S' in the third person singular (if you say: "She go to school" instead of "She goes to school" you will definitely sound weird)
  • not constructing questions in the correct way (saying "What it means?" instead of "What does it mean?" or "Where she live?" instead of "Where does she live?")
  • forgetting about the right usage of articles... Yes! Articles: THE, A and AN (Students frequently ask if articles are really so important since they are so short and unnoticeable. Well, there's nothing more misleading than that! They are crucial. If you don't know how to use them, your knowledge of English will seem simply basic to the native ears.)
  • overuse of continuous tenses (This error, from my own experience, is one of the most common ones among students and it concerns especially the misuse of Present Continuous. Don't say: "She is always parking her car here." if you don't know what it really means, i.e. using Present Continuous here means that it is something that annoys you - not only a regular activity!)
  • false friends, i.e. words which sound similar in English and Polish - but they mean different things (Among some famous examples of false friends are: 'actual' which means 'faktyczny or rzeczywisty' in Polish, NOT -'aktualny'; 'manifestation' which means 'przejaw or objaw czegoś', NOT - 'manifestacja' or finally 'fabric' which means 'materiał or tkanina', NOT - 'fabryka'.)
  • counting uncountable nouns (What I mean here is saying 'informations' instead of 'some information' or 'advices' instead of 'some advice')
  • misuse of PLEASE (We, Polish speakers tend to use 'please' in the sense of 'proszę' or 'poproszę' when we give or offer something to somebody. 'Please' in English is used only when we ask for something like here: 'Two coffees, please' or 'Come here, please'. When we want to say 'proszę' when we give something to somebody we say: 'Here you are')
  • mistaking SORRY for EXCUSE ME (It seems we know the difference perfectly well, but still one can hear sentences like: 'Sorry! Can I have the menu?' instead of 'Excuse me! Can I have the menu, please?' or 'Sorry! I have a question!' instead of 'Excuse me! I have a question!')

As I was saying before - the examples of those types of mistakes are probably endless, my aim was to group them somehow. I hope it will help and raise your awareness of them.

Some more examples of not only Polish mistakes in English can be found here:


  1. Thank you! Very useful tips:-) The topic is worth mentioning :-)

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