Polish/Feminine noun declension

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Feminine noun declension[edit]

The declension of nouns in Polish is less regular than of adjectives, but follows a pattern that is in many ways similar to adjective declension.

Let's take a look at a few typical feminine declension nouns in singular and are equal to nominative in plural):

Girl (also Girlfriend) Woman Ant Coffee Cow Kasia (Katie)
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative dziewczyna dziewczyny kobieta kobiety mrówka mrówki kawa kawy krowa krowy Kasia Kasie
Accusative dziewczynę kobie mrówkę kawę krowę Kasię
Vocative dziewczyno kobieto mrówko kawo krowo Kasiu
Genitive dziewczyny dziewczyn kobiety kobiet mrówki mrówek kawy kaw krowy krów Kasi Kaś
Dative dziewczynie dziewczynom kobiecie kobietom mrówce mrówkom kawie kawom krowie krowom Kasi Kasiom
Locative dziewczynach kobietach mrówkach kawach krowach Kasiach
Instrumental dziewczyną dziewczynami kobie kobietami mrówką mrówkami kawą kawami krową krowami Kasią Kasiami

As you can see it's quite regular. Possible changes are:

  • softening of final consonant group in the singular dative and locative (which have the same form)
  • change of "o" to "ó" (pronounced /u/) in the plural genitive
  • insertion of "e" between the two final consonants in the plural genitive. You may think of this "e" as a kind of aid to pronunciation. "mrówk" would be pretty hard to say without this "e". The Polish language allows quite complicated consonant groups at the beginning of a syllable, but it tries to avoid complex syllable endings.

These changes aren't specific to the feminine noun declension - they happen throughout the Polish language, so you'd better get used to them.

A bit less typical are feminine nouns that end in "-ia":


Comedy
Singular Plural
Nominative komedia komedie
Accusative komed
Vocative komedio
Genitive komedii komedii
Dative komediom
Locative komediach
Instrumental komed komediami

Notice that in the genitive and the accusative the pronunciation is the same in the singular and plural. This is not usual in Polish, and may cause some problems if number is not obvious from context. One solution is to overemphasise difference between "e" and "ę" in speech (which are usually pronounced the same at word endings). A better solution is to use some adjective or pronoun, for example:

  • "tej komedii" (singular genitive, of this comedy)
  • "tych komedii" (plural genitive, of these comedies)
  • "tę komedię" (singular accusative, this comedy)
  • "te komedie" (plural accusative, these comedies)

And abstract feminine nouns ending in "-ść" (note vocative forms):

Love Height
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nom./Acc. miłość miłości wysokość wysokości
Accusative
Vocative miłości wysokości
Genitive
Dative miłościom wysokościom
Locative miłościach wysokościach
Instrumental miłośc miłościami wysokośc wysokościami

There is some magic here with "ść" changing to "śc" but it's only spelling. You never write the softened version of a consonant before a vowel - you change it to the "normal" version and add "i" to mark it as "soft". You don't have to add "i" if it's already there.

Without this magic endings would look like:

Singular Plural
Nominative i
Accusative
Genitive i
Dative iom
Locative iach
Instrumental iami

Let's try to use that knowledge in practice.

  • Agnieszka myśli o miłości - Agnieszka thinks about love (love in locative)
  • Agnieszka nie myśli o miłości - Agnieszka doesn't think about love (as above)
  • Dziewczyny lubią komedie - The girls like comedies (comedies in accusative)
  • Kobieta pije kawę - The woman is drinking coffee. (coffee in accusative)
  • Dziewczyna nie pije kawy - The girl doesn't drink coffee (coffee in genitive)
  • Basia nie widzi krów - Basia doesn't see cows (cows in genitive)
  • Marta nie lubi mrówek - Marta doesn't like ants (ants in genitive)
  • myśli - third person singular form of "to think"
  • lubi - third person singular form of "to like"
  • lubią - third person plural form of "to like"

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