Polish alphabet with pronunciation

Today a very important lesson – we will try to cover the whole Polish alphabet. If you have any problems with Polish pronunciation or maybe just began studying Polish, this is a great place to start. This lesson may be a bit tedious and difficult but I cannot stress enough its importance. Polish language is a phonetic language. What it means is that the relation between written words and how we pronounce them is very strong. Once you learn how to read and pronounce letters, you will be able to read Polish texts. If you read them aloud even if you do not understand what you are reading, if somebody that knows Polish will understand them.

As we all know, it is not the case in English where there is a number of homophones, words that are spelled differently but pronounced the same way (ate / eight, bare / bear, stair / stare, wood / would, flower / flour ) and so on. Something like that in Polish is almost not possible, once the word is written it will sound like no any other words (the only exception I know is morze and może but there is a more general rule that you pronounce rz as ż).

Why you should learn the Polish alphabet. For various reasons, of course to pronounce words correctly in the first place. But I also think that knowing Polish alphabet will greatly speed up the whole learning process. If you pronounce and read worlds aloud, you engage a few senses at the same time (seeing and hearing) and this will help your memory. Dedicate a few hours for mastering Polish alphabet and you will see the benefits of it in following months.

Please find all the letters of Polish alphabet below. You can play audio of each letter and and also listen to a few words containing the letter. There are some additional rules for pronouncing a few letter pairs. I will also include these rules below. I think it is going to be difficult to remember all the sounds in one go so please visit this page again and pronounce Polish alphabet many times. It also helps to read aloud easy to understand Polish text. You can find some texts by clicking on: Polish texts with audio.

Polish alphabet letters Sound Polish words English/French approximation IPA
A a Play audio Play audio
autobus / bus
mama / mum
bat a
Ą ą Play audio Play audio
ząb / tooth
mąż / husband
(French) son ɔ̃
B b Play audio Play audio
bardzo / very
but / shoe
bike b
C c Play audio Play audio
cytryna / lemon
cukier / sugar
cats ts
Ć ć Play audio Play audio
ćma /
ćwiczyć / to exercise
cheers
D d Play audio Play audio
dom / house
droga / way
door d
E e Play audio Play audio
ekran / screen
echo / echo
bet ɛ
Ę ę Play audio Play audio
imię / first name
kęs / chunk
(French) vin ɛ̃
F f Play audio Play audio
film / film
foka / seal
film f
G g Play audio Play audio
głowa / head
gruby / fat
gest g
H h Play audio Play audio
herbata / tea
hałas / noise
(Scottish) loch x
I i Play audio Play audio
indyk / turkey
interes / business
meet i
J j Play audio Play audio
jak / how
jabłko / apple
yes j
K k Play audio Play audio
kawa / coffee
krowa / cow
scam k
L l Play audio Play audio
lalka / doll
lampa / lamp
lion l
Ł ł Play audio Play audio
łysy / bald
ławka / bench
way w
M m Play audio Play audio
morze / sea
mama / mum
men m
N n Play audio Play audio
nagle / suddenly
noc / night
not n
Ń ń Play audio Play audio
koń / horse
styczeń / January
canyon ɲ
O o Play audio Play audio
ogon / tail
okno / window
rock ɔ
Ó ó Play audio Play audio
ósmy / eight
samochód / car
boot u
P p Play audio Play audio
policja / police
pająk / spider
spike p
R r Play audio Play audio
radar / radar
radio / radio
rolled r like Italian Roma r
S s Play audio Play audio
syn / son
sałata / lettuce
sign s
Ś ś Play audio Play audio
ślimak / snail
śnieg / snow
no good equivalent ɕ
T t Play audio Play audio
tak / yes
test / test
start t
U u Play audio Play audio
duży / big
ulica / street
boot u
W w Play audio Play audio
wypadek / accident
wanna / bathtub
vow v
Y y Play audio Play audio
życie / life
mały / small
rouses ɨ
Z z Play audio Play audio
zebra / zebra
zając / hare
zoo z
Ź ź Play audio Play audio
źródło / spring
źrenica / pupil (anat.)
no good equivalent ʑ
Ż ż Play audio Play audio
żona / wife
żaba / frog
vision ʐ

Some other points regarding Polish pronunciation

Now we know all the letters in Polish alphabet but there a few further points I need to make to give you full information. Let’s put them into ready to read list.

  • Two letters in the alphabet sound the same: ó and u Play audio. In the past that was not the case but after a period of a few centuries the letters sound now exactly the same. O few examples words with both these letters: Play audio ubiór, ludobójstwo, półnuta, umówić się (attire, genocide, half-note, to make a date ). OK, but now the question is when writing, can I use any of these letters? No, you need to use correct spelling. If you are in doubt there are certain rules however you really need to remember the words to use correct spelling. Be aware that even some people from Poland make these spelling mistakes and many Polish lessons in the primary school are dedicated to this topic. I think that the best way to remember correct spelling of the word is by reading and writing a lot in Polish.
  • Letter h and letters combination ch sound the same: Play audio. In other words, if you see ch you just say h ignoring c completely. Examples: Play audio hak, bohater, wahadło, choroba, chomik, chytry (hook, hero, pendulum, illness, hamster, cunning). Again, you need to know the spelling but for the time being just remember that if you see ch pronounce it as h.
  • (si ci zi) When letter i stands after letters s, c or z it changes these letter’s pronunciation. S sounds like ś, c sounds like ć and z sounds like ź. A few examples: Play audio siedem, sito, siano, ciało, cicho, cień, zima, zielony, ziemia (seven, sieve, hay, body, quietly, shadow, winter, green, earth).
  • When you see c and z together (cz) pronounce them as ch in English: Play audio (like in chap, chop, chain). A few Polish words with these letters together: Play audio często, czajnik, czarny, cześć, czapka, czosnek, czekolada, pączek, kaczka, tęcza, mecz, klucz (often, kettle, black, hi, cap, garlic, chocolate, doughnut, duck, rainbow, match, key.
  • When you see s and z together (sz) pronounce them as sh in English: Play audio (like in shark, shell, push). A few Polish words with these letters together: Play audio szachy, szyba, szyszka, szminka, poduszka, muszla, puszka, mysz, listonosz, kapelusz, grosz (chess, glass, pine-cone, lipstick, cushion, shell, can, mouse, postman, hat, penny)..
  • When d and z are together (dz) they sound like: Play audio. Egzamples: Play audio dzwon, dzban(bell, jug).
  • When d and ź are together () they sound like: Play audio Examples: Play audio dźwig, wiedźma, miedź (crane, witch, copper). dzi has also similar sound: Play audio dziesięć, godzina, dziecko ten, hour, child (you can still hear i after dz).
  • When you d and ż are together () they sound as: Play audio A few examples: Play audio dżdżownica, dżem, dżungla, brydż (earthworm, jam, jungle, bridge).
  • There are a few other minor strange things going in Polish pronunciation but I think they are not so important. Like in other languages, when people speak fast things are not pronounced properly. For instance instead of saying ą and ę people say on and e. B at the end of the word can be pronounced as p, d as t, z as s, dz as c and also rz/ż as sz. But as I said, these are only minor points and if you will pronounce words carefully you will still be understood, the only difference will be that you will sound more posh 🙂

That is all this time. I hope this is relatively easy to follow guide of Polish alphabet and pronunciation. As I said before, it is going to be difficult for you to learn all of this in one go. Visit the lesson again and learn some more. There are many letters that are pretty much the same as in English (a, b, d, f, g, m, n, p, s, t, z), and you can ignore them. Try to learn one of two specific letters to Polish alphabet, read and listen to the audio and you will see the progress.

As always, please feel free to ask any question regarding this topic. Thanks in advance.

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