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#1

Hi can anyone explain the difference between wysłać and przesłać?
I asked native speakers on another forum and I received a variety of answers:-

  1. Someone said they are synonymous.
  2. Someone said that wysłać = to send (something) and przesłać - to forward (somebody) something.
  3. Someone said that wysłać means to send a material object and przesłać is to send something non-material (e.g. greetings, or an electronic file).
  4. Someone said that ‘In most cases you can use these two forms interchangeably and there is no specific context in which the use of one of these verbs instead of the other could be considered a serious mistake. However “wysłać(perfective)/wysyłać(imperfective)” is the most general and therefore the most common verb referring to both objects and people and concerns any act of dispatching somebody or something, or forwarding something from one place to another.
    “Przesłać/przesyłać” relates largely to things, rather than to humans and is closer in its meaning to “to forward”, so the act of sending a mail, letter, message, parcel etc. to someone else, to a different place, or different intended recipient. It also seems to accentuate slightly the fact of redirecting something rather than the act of dispatching itself. This form also sounds just a little bit more formal than “wysłać”. I am not fully sure of course but I assume the difference between “wysłać/przesłać” is the same as the one of English verbs “to send/to dispatch”.’
    Which is the best answer? Or is it a combination of several of the answers? Would the original sentence still be grammatically correct and/or sound natural if ‘wysłać’ had been used instead of ‘przesłać’. Thanks in advance.

#2

I’ve read through all those four explanations and I couldn’t help but agree with each of them. But the last one seems to hit all the important points.

I think it’s important to note that the difference between “wysłać” and “przesłać” pales in comparison with pairs with very different meanings like “wyjechać” and “przejechać”. I think that as a learner, you could easily pretend that they are synonymous, or that “przesłać” doesn’t exist at all, and nobody would even notice.

I feel like in many cases, “przesłać” might be something akin to “to send sth over”, compared to “wysłać” as regular “to send sth”. There isn’t that much difference in meaning between “to send” and “to send over”, is there?

I wouldn’t say that “przesłać” is in any way more formal than “wysłać”, they seem equal (i.e. neutral) to me in that regard. For example, a tax office could ask you to “przesłać” some important documents, and at the same time a relative could “przesłać” you hugs and kisses in an email.

As the last speaker noted, there are some contexts where “przesłać” just doesn’t fit in. One example would be “to send someone on a mission/errand etc." — in all such contexts, “wysłać” makes much more sense.


#3

Thanks for clarifying this for me. I’ll take your advice and just regard them as interchangeable at my level but try to remember to avoid usng ‘przesłać’ in relation to humans. Cheers!