Does anyone know if chłopak and chłopiec are fully interchangeable? Or do they have a slightly different meaning/style, e.g. is chłopak more informal? Thanks
Though they are both translated as “a boy”, there are some contexts where one of the variants will be preferred.
- chłopiec — usually a small child (~1-10 years old). I wouldn’t say it’s more formal, but it definitely sounds more “gentle” than chłopak.
- chłopak — basically anything between a small child and a young adult. It can have the connotations of something like “a lad” — you can sometimes hear adult people saying “Wyszedłem na piwo z chłopakami” (“I went out for a beer with the lads / my buddies.”) So while you could think it’s more informal, we don’t really have a better word for boys and young adults roughly between the ages of 10 and 20. Also used as the word for “boyfriend”.