Going Shopping


Shown above is a kiosk of the type you’ll find all over Poland, and as you can see, the word kiosk is shared by English and Polish (as is supermarket). Other types of sklep (shop) include the piekarnia (bakery), poczta (post office), apteka (pharmacy), sklep spożywczy (grocery store), sklep mięsny (butcher) and księgarnia (bookshop)

In this post, we’ll look at using the accusative case when shopping to ask for and pay for items. You might find it useful to also revise Polish numbers.

You’ll already be familiar with using czy to turn a statement into a question. So to find out if a shop has something in stock, we can turn “there is” (jest) into “is there..?” (czy jest..?) or, more usefully, the plural form czy są..?. The singular form will only come in useful here when asking for something uncountable, in the same way as we would ask “is there any sugar?” rather than “are there any sugars?”.

We can follow with the nominative form of the noun here – look at these examples:

czy są jabłka? are there any apples?
czy są rękawiczki? are there any gloves?
czy jest woda gazowana? is there any sparking water?
czy jest szynka? is there any ham?


So where does the accusative case come in?

Well, if you want to ask a shopkeeper if they have (mieć) something or if you want to ask for something using the verb prosić, then you’ll know that these verbs are followed by the accusative. These examples use the formal form of the questions as we probably don’t know the shopkeeper:

czy pan ma banany? do you (m) have any bananas?
czy pani ma szynkę? do you (f) have any ham?
czy pan ma wodę niegazowaną? do you (m) have any still water?
proszę mleko / mleko proszę milk please
proszę herbatę / herbatę proszę tea please

You can also use poproszę, which means the same thing but always comes before the noun. In this example, milk is in the instrumental case, as is any noun following ‘z’ (meaning ‘with’).

poproszę kawę z mlekiem coffee with milk please

Note that proszę means not only ‘please’ but also ‘here you are’ and so you’ll hear it when someone passes you something.

How much is it? (Ile to kosztuje?)

Alternatively, you can say “ile kosztuje…” followed by the item in question.


The answer in Poland will of course be in złoty. There is however a quirk when stating amounts of things, which means that złoty ends up with different endings, which you’ll have to learn but will understand when we cover the genitive case:

1 złoty
2-4 złote
5-21 złotych
22-24 złote
25-31 złotych
32-34 złote

This pattern continues, with amounts ending 2, 3 or 4 taking złote and otherwise, złotych.

ile to kosztuje? how much is it?
73 zł siedemdziesiąt trzy złote
56 zł pięćdziesiąt sześć złotych



Now try filling in the gaps in these excerpts using the above and the food vocabulary.


Audio credits: Pl-księgarnia.ogg by Equadus (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

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