Polish/Noun cases

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Noun cases[edit]

There are seven cases of noun and adjective declension in Polish. So far we have only introduced the nominative (mianownik) and the accusative (biernik), in Polish:Basic sentences 1. The whole list, in traditional order, is:


Nominative[edit]

No need to memorize endings as nouns and modifiers in this case. Use the basic, unmarked, dictionary forms.

  • Indicates the subject of a sentence.
    • Gosia pisze książkę. - Gosia is writing a book. (Gosia in nominative because she is the subject of the sentence)
  • Used for most lone adjectives and sentences of the type "To jest X".
    • Piotr jest przystojny. - Piotr is handsome. (przystojny is in the nominative)
    • To jest moja żona. - This is my wife. (moja żona is in the nominative)

Genitive[edit]

  • Used to imply possession. Often corresponds to English 's or of:
    • Adam widzi kota Agnieszki - Adam sees Agnieszka's cat (Agnieszka in genitive)
    • Kot Piotra pije mleko - Piotr's cat drinks milk (Piotr in genitive)
  • Used with units or amounts:
    • puszka piwa - a can of beer (Beer in genitive)
  • Used after certain prepositions such as dla, do, od.
  • Used for the direct object in a negative sentence (Only if the positive sentence would use the accusative!):
    • Kot pije mleko - The cat drinks milk. (Milk in the accusative)
    • Kot nie pije mleka - The cat doesn't drink milk. (Milk in genitive)
    • Agnieszka jest dziewczyną - Agnieszka is a girl. (Girl in instrumental)
    • Adam nie jest dziewczyną - Adam is not a girl. (Girl remains in the instrumental)
    • Agnieszka daje kotu mleko - Agnieszka gives milk to the cat (Milk in the accusative, cat in the dative)
    • Agnieszka nie daje kotu mleka - Agnieszka doesn't give milk to the cat (Milk is now in the genitive, cat still in the dative).

Dative[edit]

  • Indicates the indirect object. To whom something is given, or action for somebody:
    • Basia daje kotu mleko - Basia gives milk to the cat. (Cat is in the dative.)
    • Znajdę ci dom. - I'll find you a house (for you).
  • After certain verbs, like dziękować komuś (to thank someone), pomóc komuś (to help someone), wierzyć komuś (to believe someone)
  • expressions of the type:
    • Jest mi zimno - I'm cold
    • Jest nam smutno - We're feeling sad
    • Będzie wam trudniej... - It will be more difficult for you guys...
    • Śniło jej się, że... - She dreamt that...
  • when something is taken away or something befalls someone
    • Zdechł im pies - Their dog died
    • Wzięli mi komputer - They took away my computer
    • Zgasła mojemu sąsiadowi nadzieja - My neighbor's hopes were extinguished.

Accusative[edit]

  • Indicates the direct object of the sentence
    • Piotr kocha Kasię. - Piotr loves Kasia.
    • Bożena spiewa piosenkę. - Bożena is singing a song.
  • Used with some prepositions to indicate a motion/change (Note that the same preposition + locative or, more rarely the instrumental, indicates a state/condition )
    • "na stole" - on the table (a state/condition, so you need to use the locative)
    • "na stół" - onto the table (motion, so accusative)
    • "na poczcie" - at the post office (state/condition so locative)
    • "na pocztę" - to the post office (motion so accusative)
    • "pod stołem" - under the table (a state/condition, pod is one of those prepostions which take the instrumental, not the locative)
    • "pod stół" - towards and under the table (motion so accusative)

Exception: The preposition "w" (in) takes the locative when indicating a state/condition, but to imply change you must use the preposition "do" + genitive.

  • "Jestem w sklepie" (I am in the shop), but "Idę do sklepu" (I am going to the shop) instead of "Idę w sklep".

Instrumental[edit]

  • Indicates the tool or means
    • Basia jedzie samochodem - Basia is driving a car. (The car is the tool or means so it needs to be in the instrumental)
  • A few prepositions, like "z" ("with") or "za":
    • Adam jest z Basią - Adam is with Basia (May either mean "in this moment", or more permanently, for example as boy- and girlfriend.)
  • With certain verbs "być" (to be), "zostać" (to become), "interesować się czymś/kimś" (to be interested in something):
    • Basia jest dziewczyną - Basia is a girl.
    • Adam jest chłopakiem - Adam is a boy.
    • Marzena interesuje się modą - Marzena is interested in fashion.
    • Piotr jest przystojnym chłopakiem. - Piotr is a handsome guy.


Exceptions: Most lone adjectives and "To jest X".

  • Piotr jest przystojny. - Piotr is handsome. (przystojny is in the nominative)
  • To jest moja żona. - This is my wife. (moja żona is in the nominative)

Locative[edit]

  • Never used alone, only in connection with certain prepositions, like "w" (in) and "o" (about).
    • Chłopak myśli o dziewczynie - The boy is thinking about the girl.
    • Adam jest w banku. - Adam is in the bank.


Vocative[edit]

  • Used to address someone directly
  • Often replaced by the nominative in colloquial language, however the vocative remains common in the following situations:
    • To address someone in a rude or offensive manner (A phrase like ty kretynie! ("you moron!") or ty idioto ("you idiot!") can only be expressed in the vocative, never in the nominative).
    • In formal situations, Panie Kazimierzu, niech pan przyniesie te klucze.
    • In affectionate contexts, such as Kocham Cię Krzysiu! ("I love you, Chris!")

Only masculine and feminine singulars have a separate form.


Before declension tables are provided, let's take a look at adjectives:


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