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"Potrafić", "umieć" and "móc" - can you give me examples?

Could you please give me some examples which make clear the difference between those verbs? I know there is a difference and I think get it on a theoretical level. However, in practice the dictionaries tend to give me similar or identical examples.

This is what I have inferred from the texts I've encountered:
potrafić - to succeed in doing something
umieć - to have the skills to do something
móc - can

Is that correct?

Also, what would be the perfective counterpart of umieć?


For learning: Polish
Base language: English
Category: Uncategorized



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    I think potrafić i umieć are more close to each other than móc. Still, potrafić seems to be more official, e.g. Uczeń potrafi wymienić najważniejsze wydarzenia- A pupil is able to point the most important events. However, I don't see general difference in usage of potrafić i umieć. E.g. "I can sing" can be rendered as "Potrafię śpiewać" as well as "Umiem śpiewać". As far as I understand the Polish usage, both verbs can be used synonymously.

    1.Móc expresses often a possibility. E.g. :"Nie możesz mnie zabić" means "You can't kill me" (because, for example, I believe you are too honest person to kill me, or I'm persuading you, that killing me won't be good thing for you) while "Nie potrafisz mnie zabić" means "you don't have enough skills to kill me".
    2. Móc expresses also state of being allowed to do something, e.g. "Mogę spacerować"- "I can walk" (when I was prisoned, I couldn't, but now I can).
    3. Móc, however, can be sometimes used as a synonym of potrafić and umieć. Nie potrafię wysłać emaila- I can't send an e-mail (I'm not enough skilled to do this) can be equivalent of Nie mogę wysłać maila. The latter, however, can also mean "I'm not allowed to send an email".
    4. Móc tells us also, that there is a possibility, that something can happen: Niemcy mogą tu wrócić- Germans can come back here.

    I must say, that your question made me think a lot about this verbs. I'm not sure I can give a general rule, but I can resume as follows:

    1. Potrafić, umieć and móc can be use in the sense of "having certain skills"
    2. Móc can express state of being allowed to do something, while other two verbs can't.
    3. Whether móc means "to have a skill" or "to be allowed to" can be easily learned from a context.
    4. Móc express possibility that something may happen (the other two verbs can't).

    As contemporary Polish has only one past tense (czas przeszły), perfective version of umieć is umiałem (masculine singular first person), umiałam (feminine singular first person), umiałeś/aś, (second person singular m/f), umiał/umiała/umiało (third person sing. m/f/neuter), umieliśmy/umiałyśmy (first person plural m/f), umieliście/umiałyście (second person plural m/f) umieli/ umiały (thirs person plural m/f).
    Hi :)
    I have to agree with Camille that potrafić and umieć are more close to each other than móc.
    And your definitions, Maria, are also good. But I can give you some examples.
    We often translate phrase I can swim into Umiem pływać , but we can also say Potrafię pływać.
    In most situations, meaning is the same, but potrafić is more formal.
    In colloquial speech we use rather umieć than potrafić. In some cases, we can translate I can swim into Mogę pływać. - for example when we had a flu two days ago, but now we're healthy, I mean, there are no contraindications to do that now.
    I can't speak Spanish. can be translated into Nie umiem mówić po hiszpańsku. or Nie potrafię mówić po hiszpańsku. - and there is no differences between it. But we often say just 'Nie mówię po hiszpańsku'.
    I can do it. = Umiem to zrobić or Potrafię to zrobić, when some skills are necessary. Umiem zrobić zadanie domowe. Potrafię ugotować obiad. Umiem tańczyć. Potrafię śpiewać.
    I can do it = Mogę to zrobić if someone ask you a favour. e.g. Możesz mi pomóc? Tak, mogę.
    Możesz mi to dać? - Could you give me that?
    You should say 'potrafię' when you have some skills at last, when you've been learning sth, and now you can do that, or when you're trying to do sth, and suddenly you do that correctly. Nareszcie potrafię upiec to ciasto.
    Umieć should be translate into 'can'. :)
    I hope it'll help you.
    Bye, bye , Kate :)
    Moc = Might
    Umiec = To be able to, can (ona umie to zrobic-She can do it )
    Potrafic = can ,be able to ( ona potrafi to zrobic-she can do it ) nie potrafic zrobic czegos-be unable to do somthing )

    'Potrafić' means to be able to do something; we use this word to tell about use our skills in practise, for example 'Umiem gotować' - 'I can cook', 'Umiem prowadzić samochód' - 'I can drive (a car)'.

    'Umieć' (originate from noun 'umiejętność' - 'skill' means, that we can do something what we learnt; it means that we have sufficient possibilities/knowledge to do something; for example 'Umiem odpowiedzieć na to pytanie' - 'I am able to answer for this question'.
    Generally we can use 'potrafić' and 'umieć' words as interchangeable words.

    'Móc' (originate from noun 'moc' - 'power') is the most often use and the most generally from this verbs, and means that we can do something, for example 'mogę to zrobić' - 'I can do it', 'czy mógłbyś wstać?' - could you stand up please?'.

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