Żyła tam sama.(Question)


Can anyone tell the difference, in this context, if any, if it had been written as ‘Mieszkała ta sama’? Thanks!


We usually use the verb “mieszkać” when talking about the place where someone lives. Something like “Żyję w Warszawie” sounds very unnatural to the Polish ear.

That said, there might be some contexts when using “żyć” coupled with a location is okay, and this seems to be one of these cases.

Here, the emphasis on “sama” (alone) changes the connotations of the verb “żyć” a bit. It’s hard to explain it, but it feels like the meaning conveyed by “żyła sama” (as in “living alone, without a partner or family”) is a bit more personal and less “technical” than the meaning of “mieszkała sama” (as in “inhabiting a place without any cohabitants / roommates”).


Thanks for the clarification. From a learner’s perspective, it seems to be best to use ‘mieszkać’ when simply trying to convey information about ‘living in a particular place’ and to use ‘żyć’ when trying to express something more personal/emotional.


That’s it! Here’s an example that might better illustrate the connotations of “żyć”:

  • “Anna żyje z nim od roku” (“Anna has been living with him for a year”) – the sentence implies that Anna is in a close/intimate relationship with the man, and they’re almost certainly living in the same place.
  • “Anna mieszka z nim od roku” (as above) – the sentence doesn’t really tell us anything about the relationship about the two. They might be a couple, there might be friends, they might even hate each other – all we know is that they share a house/flat.