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 (mianownik)
- Genitive (dopełniacz)
- Dative (celownik)
- Accusative (biernik)
- Instrumental (narzędnik)
- Locative (miejscownik)
- Vocative (wołacz)
No need to memorize endings as nouns and modifiers are 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)
- Used to indicate 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).
- 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.
- Indicates the direct object of the sentence
- Piotr kocha Kasię. - Piotr loves Kasia.
- Bożena śpiewa 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".
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 cretin!") 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: