Kontaktował się z Państwem Tom?


#1

Is it me, or does the Polish original look a bit clumsy here? Should it read as ‘Kontaktował się z Państwem, Tom?’ (comma after Państwem)? I would have written it as ‘Czy Tom kontaktował się z Państwem?’ but I’m just a learner!!! Thanks


#2

The word order is actually fine here, it’s just maybe not the most typical one.

In Polish, we often place the most important part of the sentence (new information) at the very end of it, even if is the subject of that sentence. You could say we use word order as a means of putting emphasis on parts of the sentence.

“Czy Tom kontaktował się z Państwem?” works too, though it puts emphasis on the Państwem part (did Tom contact you, or did he contact someone else?) “Czy Tom się z Państwem kontaktował?” is also a valid word order, but it makes it sound like the emphasis is on the verb (did Tom contact you, or did he do something else?).

English usually achieves this with tone and stress (“Did Tom contact you?” vs. "Did Tom contact you?), and potentially also by passive voice (“Were you contacted by Tom?”)


#3

Once again, thanks for the clarification. I never been told before that, in Polish, the most important part of the sentence is often left until the end of the sentence. That’s very useful to know, cheers.


#4

On second thought, I might have gone too far in calling it “the most important part of the sentence”. It’s more about the relevance or newness of the information conveyed.

In cases like the one we’re discusing, the old/known information tends to come early in the sentence, and the new/valuable information comes towards the end. So the first part of the sentence establishes the topic, and the purpose of the later part is to say something new, useful or surprising about it.

Some more typical examples of this would be:

  • Próbowałem skontaktować się z Jarkiem, ale telefon odebrała jego żona. (“I tried to contact Jarek, but it was his wife who answered the phone.).
  • Wiesz, że tę książkę napisał mój dziadek? (a literal translation would be “Do you know that my grandfather wrote this book?” [active voice], but the emphasis of the Polish sentence would be better expressed by “Do you know that this book was written by my grandfather” [passive voice])

#5

Thanks, that clarifies it even more. Cheers!