Pies to Psa, but why not Piesa?

I’m sure you’re aware that basically as you change the case of a noun, you often need to change the ending of the word in some way.

There are dozens of rules about when and why (which I’ll have a go at simplifying some of in the future), but one example you see again and again is Pies (Dog), but it’s a strange one because in various cases Pies turns into Psa, Psy, Psu or Psów.  Yet Kot (Cat) (which is another masculine animate noun) changes to Kota, Koty, Kotu, Kotów.

There are other words which do similar things, where some letters are removed before the ending is applied, but until today I hadn’t found anywhere that explained why these words were special, so I had them all lumped together as special nouns you had to memorize, but I really don’t like having to memorize more than necessary.

Today I found a book which gave me a rule to follow, which appears to hold true for lots of other nouns, so I wanted to share while it was fresh in my mind.

If the noun has an ‘e or an ‘ie in the last syllable, then remove it before adding the ending.

Examples of this pattern (with just the one other case to keep it simple)

Nominative Accusative English
Lew Lwa Lion
Dziadek Dziadka Grandfather
Chłopiec Chłopca Boy
Ojciec Ojca Father

Note this only applies (as far as I can tell) to Masculine Animate nouns, but at least it’s one more pattern and one less magic special case to remember.

Prepositions – Locative (Miejszownik)

Finally, some prepositions which result in you needing the Locative (Miejszownik) case for the noun in your sentence.  Most of these are also shared with the Accusative case, but remember Accusative is all about the motion with respect to a destination, whereas Locative is about the location at which the verb is happening.

Jadę w góry <ACC>

I am going to the mountains

Jestem w górach <LOC>

I am in the mountains

I’ll break down more of the rules for deciding which case to use in a later post, but once again, this post is just to put the prepositions in a group to remember.

 na on
 o at (time)
 po after (time)
 przy at
 w in, inside


Prepositions – Accusative (Biernik)

Yet more prepositions which are shared with other cases.  The top few are all shared with Instrumental (Narzędnik), but the difference is that you use Accusative when there’s motion involved.  Similarly some of the latter ones are shared with the Locative (Miejszownik) case.

Kot wszedł pod łóżko <ACC>

The cat went under the bed (motion is involved, so bed is in Accusative)

Kot śpi pod łóżkiem <INS>

The cat is sleeping under the bed (location is involved, not movement so bed is in Instrumental)

Don’t worry too much about the details for now, more explanation and examples to follow.  For now, just treat these as a group of prepositions to learn which will help you be more descriptive in your sentences.

 nad  above
 pod  under
 przed  in front of
 za  behind
 między .. a ..  between .. and ..
 przez  through
 na  to
 o  lean on
 po  for
 w  in, inside

Prepositions – Instrumental (Narzędnik)

In the last post, I started covering prepositions which would lead to the use of Genitive (Dopełniacz) case, so in this post I’ll cover the prepositions which would lead you to need to use the Instrumental (Narzędnik) case.  If you’re not too familiar yet with cases, don’t worry, we’ll get to that later, but for now just learn this set of prepositions as a group.  Visualize the connection between their meanings and group them in your mind so that later when you need to, they’ll be associated with each other for you.

You might notice that ‘z’ is repeated again from the Dopełniacz list, but in this case it means something different.  Get used to it!  Quite a few prepositions can mean different things, but you explain what you want them to mean through the choice of case that you apply to the noun.  Right now, don’t worry too much about that, just focus on the words and their extra meanings and I’ll come back to the cases later with examples.

z with
nad above
pod under
przed in front of
za behind
między .. a .. between .. and ..

Prepositions – Genitive (Dopełniacz)

A preposition is simply a word which you use in a sentence to link a noun (a thing or a person) to the rest of the sentence.  For example, a word like With, To, From, Behind, Under, etc…

In Polish, the preposition is one of the things which might decide which case you’re going to need to use for the noun.  In a future post I’m going to give you a nice diagram which helps guide that decision, but for now, lets spell out some of the most common prepositions and what they mean.

Today I’m going to just focus on those which end up requiring the Genitive (Dopełniacz) case.  I will pull the various cases together in a handy diagram in a couple of posts, but for now, it’s worth learning them in distinct groups so they stick in your memory in the same groups.

z from, out, of, with
od from
do to, toward, into
u at someone’s place
bez without
dla for
blisko near
koło near
obok next to
naprzeciwko opposite
podczas during
w czasie during
z powodu because of
zamiast instead of

And.. ‘I’ or ‘A’?

In Polish, both ‘i’ and ‘a’ can be translated as ‘and‘… So which should you use?

i is used when you’re connecting similar things together or describing things which are happening at the same time.

Adam i Ewa mieszkają tutaj

Adam and Eve live here

Matka i córka są z Polski

The mother and daughter are from Poland

Jem i piję

I am eating and drinking

a is used when you’re contrasting things or emphasizing that things will happen at different times.

Matka jest z Polski, a córka jest z Włoch

The mother is from Poland and the daughter is from Italy

Jem, a potem będę pić

I am eating and then I will drink

You might also consider ‘a‘ as meaning ‘and/but‘ or ‘whereas‘ if that makes more sense to you.

One small thing worth noting is that ‘a‘ is always preceded by a comma, whereas ‘i‘ is not.

Days of the week

Very early in learning a language, you’re going to learn numbers and days of the week.  If you’re going to memorize such things, you might as well get a few others words from the experience and help yourself remember which day is which.

S   niedziela nie + dzieło (no + work)
M poniedziałek po + niedziałek (after + Sunday)
T   wtorek wtórny  (secondary) Second day after Sunday
W   środe środek  (middle) Middle of the week
Th   czwartek czwarty (fourth) Fourth day after Sunday
F   piątek piąty   (fifth) Fifth day after Sunday
Sa   sobota seems derived from the word Sabbath or Shabbat