Polish Conditional Tense


The polish conditional is used to mostly correspond with the English word “would”. It has a relatively simple conjugation.


Conditional Tense Conjugation

– Formed by combining the past tense forms of the 3rd person of a verb with the particle “by” + personal endings.

3rd person past tense + by + personal ending = conditional

– Here is the chart of personal endings:

Singular Plural
1st Person m śmy
2nd Person ś ście
3rd Person


Być (be)
Gdybym więcej ćwiczył, byłbym chudszy.
(If I exercised more, I would be skinnier)

Czytać (read)
Czytałbym książkę, gdybym miał więcej czasu.
(I would read the book if I had more time)

Umieć (know how)
Czy ty byś umiał to zrobić?
(Would you know how to do this?)

Ciągnąć (pull)
Ciągnęliby to.
(They would pull this).

Móc (can/be able to)
Mógłbyś mi pomóc?
(Would you be able to help me?)


Conditional Constructions

– The particle “by”, which is attached to the personal ending, can be detached from the verb and placed before it. Both forms are widely used.

Gdzie chciałbyś mieszkać? Gdzie byś chciał mieszkać?
(Where would you want to live?)

– When “by” is a part of a clause introducer, like in gdyby and żeby, the “by” and its personal endings cannot be shifted back to the verb. Also, the verb can never take another form of “by”.

Gdybym był bogaty, bym za to zapłacił.
(If I was rich, I would pay for this)
NOT Gdybym byłbym bogaty, bym za to zapłacił.


Conditional Usage

– The conditional is used for polite requests, wishes, statements expressing attenuated assertions, suggestions, or desires, warning or orders, conjectures combined with an expression surprise or disbelief.

Czy moglibyście mi podać cukier? (Would you be able to pass me the sugar?)

Nie byłbym tego taki pewny (I wouldn’t be so sure of this).

Uważaj, żebyś nie upadła (Watch out so that you wouldn’t fall).

Clauses of Condition

– Use gdyby, jeżeliby, jeśliby, jakby
Means “if”

– Refers to a condition that failed in the past, thus producing no result.

Gdybym miał pieniądze, kupiłbym samochód.
(If I had money, I would buy a new car).

– Or to a connection that has not yet been but might be fulfilled in the future.

Gdybyśmy znali wasz adres, napisalibyśmy do was.
(If we knew your address, we would write to you).


Object Clauses

– Uses clause introducers żeby, aby, or by
Expresses a desire for an action

Bardzo proszę, żebyście na niego poczekali.
(Please, wait for him).


Clauses of Purpose

– Uses clause introducers żeby, aby, or by
Means “in order to”, “so that”

Mówię ci o tym, żebyś wiedział.
(I’m telling you about it, so that you would know).

– When these clause introducers żeby, aby,or by are used in this sense, the verb connected with them takes either an infinitive or conditional tense conjugation, based on what the subjects are:

If the subjects are the same, the verb stays in the infinitive.

Kupiłem pianino, żeby na nim grać.
(I bought a piano to play on it).
“I” is the subject in both clauses. “I” bought the piano, and “I” am going to be playing on it.

If the subjects are different, the verb gets the conditional tense conjugation.

Kupiełm pianino, żebyś na nim grał.
(I bought a piano so that you would play on it).
“I” is the subject in the first clause because “I” bought the piano. “You” is the subject in the second clause because “you” are going to be playing on it.


Clauses of Manner

– Uses clause introducers jakby, jakgdyby
Means “as if”

Ona się zachowuje, jakby była małą dziewczynką.
(She is behaving as if she was a small girl).


Jeśli/jeżeli/jak vs. gdy

– These both mean “if” in English, but are used differently in Polish.

– Jeśli/jeżeli/jak are used for situations that are real and can happen.

Jak nie będziesz zajęty, to pójdę do twojego domu.
(If you won’t be busy, then I’ll go to your house)
This situation is possible and can happen.

Gdybyś był młodszy, byłbyś bardziej wysportowany.
(If you were younger, you would be more athletic).
Gdyby is used here because this situation is referring the past and so can no longer happen. The subject “you” is not younger, so it is not possible that “you” would be more athletic.