Powinniśmy znieść karę śmierci. (Sentence Note & Question)

  • znieść (zniosę zniesiesz zniósł zniosła znieśli) (pf), (impf) znosić (znoszę -sisz) = 1] rescind, abolish. 2] (often negative) bear, abide, put up with, tolerate.

Can someone please help? The word ‘znieść’ has two meanings, which seem to partially contradict each other e.g. ‘to abolish’ but also ‘to tolerate’. How would one know, from the original sentence, whether the speaker wanted to abolish the death penalty, or to tolerate (keep) it? Is it because ‘znieść’ is nearly always negated when it means to (be able to) tolerate/abide something? E.g. ‘Nie znoszę jego rodziców’ (I can’t stand his parents)? Thanks!

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Oh, I can definitely see why this looks confusing. There might indeed be some contexts where in order to interpret whether this verbs means “to tolerate” or “to abolish”, you would need to make an educated guess based on the rest of the sentence.

However, in the vast majority of cases, the imperfective form of the verb (“znosić”) will mean “to tolerate”, while the perfective form (“znieść”) will mean “to abolish”.

If that doesn’t seem to make sense at first glance, consider that tolerating (or not tolerating) something is an action that happens over a period of time—hence the imperfective—and abolishing something is an action that happens just once in a specific moment—which is why the perfective is used there.


  • Rząd zniósł karę śmierci. (“The government abolished the death penalty”).
  • Nie wiem, jak ona znosi jego chrapanie. (“I don’t know how she manages to tolerate his snoring”).

Thanks, that makes much more sense now and I can understand why the perfective would usually mean ‘abolish’ (a completed action) and the imperfective usually ‘tolerate’ (an on-going action).

Part of my question was incorrect, because I wrote ‘Is it because ‘znieść’ is nearly always negated when it means to (be able to) tolerate/abide something?’ However, I think I should have written ‘Is it because ‘znosić’ is nearly always negated when it means to (be able to) tolerate/abide something?’. I previously did a sentence check of ‘znosić’ and ‘znoszę’ on Clozemaster and they are nearly always negated, or used in a negative way, e.g. ‘Niestety, musisz nauczyć się znosić ból’, ‘Unfortunately, you have to learn to bear the pain’.

But I guess that words such as tolerate/bear/abide usually have the same negative connotations in English as well. One can either tolerate something or not. If you can’t tolerate something, it means you really don’t like it and cannot let it continue. If you can tolerate something, it still means that you don’t like it but you can just about put up with it for a period of time, until it becomes intolerable.

I think you’re right that “znosić” is more often negated than not, though “almost always” might be a slight exaggeration—I’d say it is negated 70-80% of the time (made-up numbers, but you get the idea).

A good way to understand this might be to view “nie znosić” a bit like an idiom that means “to hate”, and isn’t necessarily a straight-up negation of “znosić” / “to tolerate” (i.e. “not to tolerate”). If you say “Nie znoszę mojego teścia” (“I can’t stand my father-in-law”), it will usually mean that you strongly dislike him, and not that you do not tolerate his presence at all and will leave the room as soon as he shows up.

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Thanks, good tip to view ‘nie znoszę’ as idiomatic.