Polish  noun case identification

Polish Grammar objective

The objective of this lesson is to understand, what is a noun case, which noun case to use in a sentence, to prepare you for how to read the Polish grammar case tables.

Polish Noun endings depend on three things

  • Number: singular or plural
  • Gender: masculine, feminine or neuter
  • Case: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, locative, vocative.

Number

Singular or plural. Example: house or houses.

Polish noun genders

Nouns have one of three genders in Polish. They are masculine, feminine or neuter

Masculine nouns

Masculine nouns usually end with a consonant, but there are some exceptions, usually relating to occupations:
Mezczyznaman, Kierowca – driver, Dentystadentist.

Feminine nouns

Feminine nouns usually end in the letter a. Here are some common exceptions: PaniMrs, lady, Nocnight, Sólsalt.

Neuter nouns

Neuter nouns usually end in o or e. Lózkobed, Wejscieentrance, Imiefirst name. Polish words relating to occupations normally have both masculine and feminine forms. Student, StudentkaNauczyciel, Nauczycielka.

Polish grammar cases

The purpose of this section is to understand what a case is and when to use which of the seven Polish cases. A case is the context the noun is used in the sentence. The context of the noun in the sentence will determine which case category it is classified to. To understand these Polish case classifications is the most difficult part of Polish grammar, so do your best.

Polish, like Latin or Russian, has cases. Cases have many functions, but they mostly allow the speaker to convey ideas with fewer words, as the endings on the words tell the listener what the sentence is about. Some people argue Polish cases really replace or reiterate English prepositions. But there is more to it, as you will see. Which case to use is really based on the context of the sentence.

What are the most important cases? The most common Polish cases are nominative (dictionary form) and accusative, which account for almost 65% of the Polish cases. The nominative, accusative, genitive, and locative account for over 90% of the Polish cases!

Does English have cases? Yes. English used to be rich with cases before the Norman invasion in 1066 A.D, now it has only remnants.

Let’s look at two examples of English pronoun cases, I and she. “I own this house”, “This is MY house”, “This house is MINE”, “This house belongs to ME”. This is the same word but in different ways. The form changes with the case it is used in. More: “SHE is the one I love”, “I am in love with HER”.

Although not a true case another English example is the use of ‘s to show possession. “This is Mark’s house.” The Polish case is similar: Ten jest dom Marka. The noun ending of ‘Mark’ changes in both languages.

Polish grammar cases in detail

Nominative

Subject of the sentence. Answers the questions: What is it? Who is it? It is a Park. What is it? A park. It is Mark. Who is it? Mark. The park is green. What is green? The park. The man is walking. Who is walking? the man.

Usually used with the verb “to be”.

Genitive

The genitive case has five uses:

  • Indicated possession, replaces the English word for ‘of’, answers the question: Whose is it? Of what is it? Mark’s house (or the house of Mark). The cat’s tail.
  • When the negative ‘nie’ (not) is used in what would normally be the accusative case. Answers the question: What is not here? I do not have a bike.
  • Follows certain verbs such as słuchać (to listen to) and szukać (to look for) I am listing to the CD player. I am looking for my watch
  • Used after the prepositions od( from, since) do (to, into) dla (for), kolo (near, by) z/ze (out of, from). I am going to Krakow . I have been happy since my birthday.
  • Used to express quantity, There are many boxes, There are only a few eggs.

Dative

Generally related to the English preposition “to”, that is doing something “to”.

Answers the question: to what? To who? I am giving the book to Marta I am lending Marta the book. Used with verbs like Dawać-give to Pomagać-help to Pozyczać-lend to.

Accusative

The direct object of most verbs; the object of some prepositions.

Answers the questions: What is the action is about? Whom the action is about? I see the tree. I see what? The tree. I see Mark. I see who? Mark. We would like to visit Krakow. What would you like to visit? Krakow. I have a new dress. What do you have? A new dress.

Most common verbs used: I see, I have, I like.

Other examples: I am going to buy a plane ticket. I am going to buy what? A plane ticket. I am going to sell my car. I am going to sell what? My car.

The accusative also follows preposition that indicate going towards or motion. Przez-through Na-on, to, towards, for I am going to the market. I am waiting for my love. I will be on vacation. I am walking through the building.

Instrumental

Generally related to the English preposition ‘with’ or ‘by’ when referring to transportation.

Answers the questions-whom am I doing something with? With what am I doing something with? I am talking on the phone with Joseph. I am traveling by train. This is also a case of location, most commonly used with “Z” or with.” also Przed-in front of Nad-above Pod-under, bellow Za- behind.

Locative

Case of location.

Answers the questions: who I am talking about? What is it on?

Used with some prepositions, often showing location. On, about, this is the case of location.” Na-on W-in Przy-by, at Po-after o-about On the plane, On the street, In the building ,We are talking about the movie star.

Vocative

Answers the questions who or what are you calling – rarely used do not learn it.

To call someone from a distance.

Examples of Polish grammar cases with George Washington as the noun.

Nominative
This is George Washington.
Genitive
George Washington’s house.
Dative
I am giving a dollar to George Washington.
Accusative
I see George Washington.
Instrumental
I am talking with George Washington.
Locative
The hat is on George Washington.
Vocative
George Washington! Come here. Did you chop down that cherry tree?!