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.

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