One of the most challenging things Polish learners need to face up, is prefixation and the way it changes the meaning of verbs. Prefixation can be used to build the aspectual pairs but also to create new verbs, whose meaning may not be so obvious.
There is however a method that can help you to understand and learn verbal prefixes. Compare Polish prefixation to English phrasal verbs – both often combine verbs with prepositions in order to create a new meaning. In English a preposition follows a verb, in Polish it is attached to a verb as a prefix. Therefore, by learning prepositions, you may go a long way in building your inventory of verbs!
Below I present few popular prefixes, their meanings and examples of usage.
wejść (to enter), wjechać (to reach, to drive in), wrzucić (to throw in), wpisać (to write in, to input)
wyjść (to go out, to leave), wyjechać (to leave, to drive out), wyrzucić (to throw out), wynosić (to take out)
z(e)-, s- (down, with)
zejść (to go down), zjechać (to drive down), spadać (to fall down),
do- (to, towards)
dojechać (to reach, to arrive), dojść (to reach, to come to), dolecieć (to reach by flying)
the prefix do- can be also used to express meaning similar to the verb to add
Muszę dopisać zakończenie do mojego eseju. – I need to add (by writing) the conclusion to my essay.
Dodałeś soli do zupy? – Did you add salt to the soup?
Muszę dogotować makaronu, to za mało. – I should cook more pasta, that’s not enough.
odejść (to go away, to leave permanently), odjechać (to drive away), odpisać (to text back, to respond), odnieść (to bring back), oddać (to return, to give back)
przejść (to pass through, to get across), przejechać (to drive through), przepisać (to copy, to rewrite), przemyśleć (to thing through), przeszukać (to search through)
rozdać (to distribute, to dispense), rozejść się (to disperse), rozrzucić ( to throw around), rozlać (to distribute by pouring, to spill)
note that often prefixes are followed by matching pronouns
przejść przez ulicę – to go across the street
dojechać do Krakowa – to arrive to Kraków
zejść z drabiny – to go down the ladder
Put the theory into practice
If the exercise doesn’t work you may find it here.
Check also my previous post about prepositions governing more than one case.