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Polish Declension in Use

a booklet by barsorro

(... you've guessed right — you can skip that part :))

The following is my attempt to familiarize foreign learners of Polish with the subject of declension and case

I am a complete amateur in languages and language teaching. The idea to produce a guide like this has come
out of internet friendships and meeting people attracted to Polish language and interested in learning it.
Being myself fond of languages I have understood my friends' impractical fancy ;) and wanted to do all I can
to keep up their interest and help their study. Unfortunately, maybe just on account of an inadequate search,
I was unable to find much free self-study material for them on the Internet . ( the time.)

As a result, I've been brought to try and explain the intricacies of Polish grammar by myself. I realize that this
is a bold endeavour, both generally (as Polish is probably one of the more difficult languages to learn, quite
different from the non-Slavic languages of the West that I'm able to compare it with, and featuring some
grammatical concepts that may prove a substantial challenge to everyday users of English, Spanish, or
Portuguese), and — especially — for a person like me, who lacks any advanced formal education in the field
of languages. Not only did I have to learn up on some of the essential grammar theory and terminology as I
went along, I also struggled with methodology and composition. I have simply never done anything like this
before, nor learned how to do it.

In consequence, the script you have in front of you can probably serve as a good example of how this kind of
things should not be written :). Its use of terminology is intuitive in places, and more than once — just plain
inventive. What is probably worse, the text features a multitude of digressions and side-notes, loosely related
to the main threads of thought they appear in. This has been probably my biggest fault at the work: I just
couldn't help myself explain almost everything at once :)

Of course, I'm offering you this self-critique (... remember: I come from a post-communist country :)) as a
sort of caveat. I wouldn't have finished writing the script, and, quite surely, I wouldn't have submitted it here,
if I had thought that it was useless. No, I believe that, actually, it is not too bad :) I think I have reached my
goal of presenting a concise, but possibly comprehensive, overview of the system of declension cases in Polish
language: of showing — both in a sketchy theoretical description and on examples — when and what for each
case is used. My goal was to inform about and to acquaint with the usage, so I think I can be pardoned for
some theoretical imprecisions — in fact, as it is, I believe I might have used an excessive amount of

I chose declension, because I suppose that must be the most alien and intimidating area of Polish grammar
for most foreign learners. In the numerous side-notes I've also smuggled in elements from other areas; most
of them deserve a separate and much more detailed treatment, but I felt it was impossible to leave
unexplained some of the grammatical structures that surface in the examples.

An important note: this is a guide on function and usage. I haven't dealt in any way with the patterns of
morphological changes in inflected words. I will speak straight with you: the patterns are rather numerous
and not all that simple. In my opinion, trying to learn them synthetically would be extremely difficult and
tedious. There are, of course, breakdowns of the morphological paradigms, and you are welcome to check
them out — for example, here:

but I suggest that you don't spend too much time on them. You can use those tables to get a general overview,
and later, if necessary, to try and construct — or confirm your speculations on — inflected forms of some
nouns you need (when you do that, watch out for the changes that have to be made to many of the ending
stem-consonants!). Yet, as far as learning is concerned, I think it is better to set on acquiring the patterns
more intuitively: by reading texts — seeing words, realizing what a word's function in a sentence is and what
declension case it must be in — and thus, slowly and naturally, tuning your mind in to them. If you would still
rather get some "clinical" exposure first, I suppose this set of tables should be a bit better for that than those
from the previous link:

(feminine and neuter noun charts are hyper-linked at the bottom of the page)

I really wish I could offer you a web address of a "declinator" — an applet that would present you with the full
declensions of any given substantive. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find anything like that, so it looks
like there's no real way around using the declension tables once in a while.

HOWEVER, for a piece of good news, as I am writing this I have looked in to Wikisłownik, which is the
Polish part of the Wiktionary, and I can see that many (perhaps even: most) of the popular nouns are given
there together with their full declensions!


The declensions are presented on the page of an entry word, under the title: "odmiana". The "lp" marker
stands for "liczba pojedyncza" = singular; "lm" → "liczba mnoga" = plural. Declensions are listed after each
marker in the regular order:
1. nominative, 2. genitive, 3. dative, 4. accusative,
5. instrumental, 6. locative, 7. vocative
— but most of the forms are presented as only the suffix that has to be added to the word-stem;
the nominative is given as a whole word, and the stem is the part of it that comes left of the vertical
dividing line "|" (if there is no such dividing line, then it means that the nominative form has no suffix and
that the whole of the word in nominative is the stem);
in situations of a stem-change in an inflection form, the whole inflected word is shown.
I think that the Wikisłownik can to some degree stand as a surrogate "declinator".

Things are easier the opposite direction. You can enter any word found in a Polish text into the "znajdź
słowa" (find words) searchbox of this dictionary: (PWN dictionary of Polish orthography)

and you will get the base form (the nominative) of the word (plus select irregular inflection forms if that word
has such — but those are not presented in a particularly clear way, I'm sorry)

Then, once you have that base form, you can use these online dictionaries to look up its meaning in English:

(these are the ones I use and like; there are others around, too... and let's not forget about the Wikisłownik
which works very well as an interlingual dictionary)

At the end of this foreword, I'd like to recommend to you three Internet addresses with valuable resources to
help you extend your knowledge of Polish, and of Polish grammar in particular:

- "A Grammar of the Polish Language" — a brilliant public domain compendium of Polish grammar by
Grzegorz Jagodziński:

- Oscar E. Swan's "Polish Grammar in a Nutshell"
(had I found that one earlier, maybe I wouldn't have written this booklet :))

- a very impressive (at the first look at least) Polish section on the Transparent Language site
(featuring a really, really nice blog in English about Poland's current events, curiosities and trivia, as well as
some language games and interactive tests):

I suppose that the only thing left for me to do now is to wish you pleasant and fruitful studies :) I really hope
you don't get discouraged easily — Polish may not be an easy language to learn, but there are areas of its
grammar in which it is actually much simpler than, for example, English (tenses, the co-ordination of tenses,
the conditional mood); in addition to that: Polish vocabulary tends to be markedly more specific than that of
English, so the context is much less of an issue in the interpretation of things said.

As far as declension and inflection patterns are concerned, it might all look terrifying when approached from
the angle of classifications and charts. In practice, however, as soon as you get to know 200-300 substantives
with a few (a random 2 or 3, not necessarily all) inflection forms for each of them, your mind will be ready to
supply the missing forms by making them up, based on the memory and on intuitive perception of the
morphological changes occuring in similar words in the desired declension case form. Some of the forms
deduced this way will, obviously, be wrong, but you can always try cross-checking them with a declension
chart and with the dictionary of orthography... And besides — you don't expect to learn without making
mistakes, do you? :) I've got a Polish proverb for you that fits the occasion:

"Jak się nie przewrócisz, to się nie nauczysz."

("If you don't stumble and fall even once, then you will not learn for good.") :)

I keep my fingers crossed for you! You have no reasons to worry — after all there are about 40 million
speakers of Polish, and I'd venture to say that at least half of them can be called fairly articulate and fluent ;)
You wouldn't think those 20 million are are all exceptionally gifted for languages, would you? :)

A zatem... Powodzenia!
(Well then... I wish you success!)

(Let's go! [literally: "We start / commence!"] )

The declension chart number 1. Here is an example of all declension forms of three nouns (selected quite
randomly) of three different genders (the masculine, the feminine, and the neuter). I'll try to use those nouns
in many of the example sentences I'm going to make in the course of this booklet, but it's not always possible
to use just those three — so, this chart is meant as a general overview of the number of declension cases and
the way they modify the nouns. Pay attention to the ordinal numbers for the cases — they are traditionally
always listed in that very order — I'm going to use those numbers to refer to specific declension cases.

ord.num. Polish name int. name ex.noun.masc. ex.n.fem. ex.neut.

1 mianownik nominative kot truskawka dziecko
2 dopełniacz genitive kota truskawki* dziecka
3 celownik dative kotu truskawce dziecku
4 biernik accusative kota truskawkę dziecko
5 narzędnik instrumental kotem truskawką dzieckiem
6 miejscownik locative kocie truskawce dziecku
7 wołacz vocative kocie! truskawko! dziecko!

*) in case of all nouns ending in "-ka" the form of genitive (singular) is identical to the plural nominative —
the word "truskawki" also stands for plural: "strawberries".

From now on I'll be either using the name of a case or — and I'll be doing that most of the time — an acronym
with the case's number, example:

Przynieś (r4) tu kota (d4, kot). — Bring the cat here.

d4 = declension (case number) 4 = the accusative (biernik)

r4 = case government for case 4 — I'm going to use the letter "r" here, because "case government" is called
"rekcja" in Polish (we've borrowed the term from German), and I think that the letter "r" will stand out better
and be more noticeable in the text. Possibly, I'm also going to use "rekcja" in the explaining text, because it
seems a handy, single-word term. More about the idea of case government:

And now let's get down to business and see what those cases are all about! :)

>>> d1. the nominative (mianownik)

This case is used for the words (mainly a noun, but it can also be a personal pronoun, or even a
proper/personal name [because they also undergo declension in Polish]) that is the subject of a sentence.

Kot (d1) pije mleko (d4). — A/The cat drinks milk.
Truskawka (d1) rośnie na krzaku (d6). — A/The strawberry grows on a shrub.
Dziecko (d1) grzecznie (adv.) się bawi (v).
— A/The child is playing in a nice and orderly manner.
(the verb in that example is "bawić się" (it's a reflexive verb in Polish);
explanations of the reason for a verb's position at the end of the sentences and
of an inversion like the one to "... się bawi" will appear later on in the
booklet; let me just say that "Dziecko bawi się grzecznie." would have been
correct as well)

Ja (d1) jem śniadanie (d4). — I'm eating breakfast.

Ona (d1) myje naczynia (d4). — She is washing/washes dishes.
Wy (d1) chodzicie na długie spacery (d4). — You (plural) go for long walks.

Ania (d1) mieszka teraz w Anglii (d6). — Ania lives in England now.
Wojtek (d1) uczył się (r2) angielskiego (d2) ze (r5) mną (d5).
— Wojtek learned/used to learn English with me.
("angielskiego" is the genitive form of the noun/adjective "angielski"; "mną" is
the instrumental case form of the personal pronoun "ja";
don't get terrified with the symbols — I'm putting so many of them here to
show you that the use of the genitive form (d2) of "angielski" is enforced by
the case government ("rekcja") (r2) of the verb "uczyć się" (to learn: in Polish
it's a reflexive verb — something like "to teach oneself"), and that the
instrumental form (d5) of "ja" is enforced by the rekcja (r5) of the preposition
"z/ze" (with)... yes... prepositions, too, have their own case governments in
Polish: they require a specific declension form in the words that follow
them...; I will not use so many symbols at once in other examples: just remember
the rule — a symbol refers to the word/words that come immediately before it)

>>> d2. the genitive (dopełniacz)

The functions of the genitive:

a) to indicate possession — it doesn't have to be something material, it can be some quality or either a
physical or a non-physical state. It is the substantive that stands for the possessor which comes in the
genitive. The genitive is also used to indicate a belonging to specific subcategory: where the noun in genitive
is the one that defines the category and allows for a precise distinction of what we're talking about (look at
the example with "krzak truskawki" below).

Futro kota (d2) jest miękkie. — The fur of a/the cat is soft.

Krzak truskawki (d2) jest niski. — A shrub of strawberry is low.

(note that in English it is more correct to say: "A strawberry shrub is low.")

Zabawka dziecka (d2) jest bezpieczna. — The toy of the child is safe.

Kolczyki tej sławnej aktorki (d2) były z platyny (d2).

— The earrings of that famous actress were ~made~ of platinium.
(the nominatives = "(ta) (sławna) aktorka" (fem.), "platyna" (fem.);
the explanation for why it's "z platyny" and why "platyna" comes in the
genitive here you will find in point "e)" of this section on the genitive)

Odpowiedź tego pana (d2) była prawidłowa.

— The answer of this gentleman was correct.
(in a better English: "This gentleman's answer was correct.";
the nominative = "(ten) pan" (masc.))

Jakość tych zdjęć (d2) jest marna. — The quality of these photos is poor.
(the nominative = "(te) zdjęcia" (plural)
→ singular nominative = "(to) zdjęcie" (neut.))

Plaże Brazylii (d2) są piękne. — The beaches of Brazil are beautiful.

(the nominative = "Brazylia" (fem.))

Skóra Ani (d2) jest dość ciemna. — The skin of Ania [Ania's skin] is quite dark.
(the nominative = "Ania" (personal (first) name))

Włosy Manueli (d2) są długie, rude i lśniące.

— Manuela's hair is long, red and shiny.
(the nominative = "Manuela" (personal (first) name))
in Polish we don't use a collectve noun for "hair"; instead, we employ the
plural of "włos" (a hair); that's why the grammar number mismatch between the
original sentence and the translation:
"Włosy ... są... <and here comes a list of adjectives in their plural form>"
— "(The) hair... is...";
one more thing: the adjective "rudy" (here inflected into plural adjective
"rude" to fit the plural "włosy") is used specifically and solely with reference
to the red colour of the hair, or to a red-head person :))

As you can see, both regular nouns and proper (personal) names are inflected into the genitive form and used
in the function described by this point ("a)"). However, notice that this is not so with personal pronouns —
when a "possessor" is to be denoted by a personal pronoun ("ja", "ty", "on", etc.), we have to use an
appropriate possessive pronoun :

"mój/moja/moje..moje/moi (*)" — my, "twój/twoja/twoje..twoje/twoi (*)" — your,

"jego" — his, "jej" — her, "jego" — its (for "ono" — 3.person.neuter),
"nasz/nasza/nasze..nasze/nasi (*)" — our,
"wasz/wasza/wasze..wasze/wasi (*)" — your-pl.,
"ich" – their

(*) — these two last forms refer to two plural genders: non-personal-
masculine and personal-masculine
— we are not going into the details of that now, but if you're interested in the
question of genders, look there: — ;
the three forms that come before the two marked with the asterix (*) apply to
the "possessed" things being of the masculine, the feminine, and the neuter
gender, respectively (so, we have, e.g., "mój kot (m)", "moja truskawka (f)",
"moje dziecko (n)");
when the "possessor" is in the third person, there is just one possessive
pronoun serving for every gender of the things posessed (e.g., "jej kot", "jej
truskawka", "jej dziecko");
possessive pronouns follow declension — what is presented above are possessive
pronouns in their nominative forms; we'll get to the inflection patterns for
possessive pronouns some other time...

— for comparison, here are the genitive case forms for personal pronouns:
"mnie" (gen. of "ja"), "cię / ciebie" (... of "ty"),
"jego" ("on"), "jej" ("ona"), "jego" ("ono"),
"nas" ("my"), "was" ("wy"), "ich" ("oni")
( as you can see some of the forms are identical ).

And note: while the "possessor" noun in genitive nearly always comes second in the word order, to the
"thing that is possessed", a possessive pronoun nearly always comes before the thing possessed.


Moje (possessive pronoun) włosy są krótkie. — My hair is short.

(not! : "Włosy mnie (pers.pron. in d2) są krótkie." —WRONG!
"Włosy moje (poss.pron.) są krótkie." —not plain wrong,
but most unnatural in normal usage)
Twój (poss.pron.) pies jest milutki. — Your dog is cute.
(not! : "Pies ciebie (pers.pron. in d2) jest milutki." —WRONG!
"Pies Twój (poss.pron.) jest milutki." —not plain wrong,
but most unnatural in normal usage)
Jego (poss.pron.) motocykl jest bardzo głośny. — His motorbike is very loud.
(here, there would have been less difference, because, as we have noticed
earlier, the genitive form of the personal pronoun "on" (he) is identical to the
possessive pronoun for that person; however, if the "jego" were to be placed
after the subject "motocykl", then the resulting sentence — "Motocykl jego jest
głośny." — would have looked very unnatural and stilted: this "jego" would have
been perceived as being the possessive pronoun — for, as we know, a personal
pronoun genitive in the possessive role is a grammatical error — and the
positioning of a possessive pronoun after a subject is only allowable in solemn
utterances and in verse)

b) as the direct object in negative sentences. This is very characteristic of Polish grammar: in all the
instances where a positive sentence has a direct object in the accusative (and this is so probably in more than
90% of all direct objects), the corresponding negative sentence must have this direct object set in the
(side-note: quite a number of careless and/or under-educated native Polish speakers have some difficulty
with that rule, but it sounds really bad if someone, who otherwise speaks fluent Polish, makes the mistake of
leaving direct objects in the accusative in negative sentences).

Note: a very typical example of this usage is the Polish way of saying
"there is not <something> {here, there}
/ there are not <some things> {here, there}
/ <something, some things> isn't (aren't) {here, there}"
— "Nie ma {tu, tam} <noun in genitive>" :

the cause for the use of the genitive lies in the literal reading of a sentence of this type:

"<indefinite subject [1], 3.person.singular> nie ma <object [2]>"

"<indefinite subject [1], 3.person.singular> doesn't have <object [2]>"

[1] - in this case: an unidentified 'somebody' representing us all

[2] - in this case: the thing that is 'missing',
... and an additional important fact is that the "rekcja" for the verb
"mieć" (to have) wants an object in the accusative

— as you can see, the thing that is "missing" — the "thing" from the sentence "there isn't <a 'thing'>" — is the
direct object (of the verb "mieć"), and so in the negative sentence ("... nie ma ... ") the "thing" must be put
in the genitive.

Tu nie ma mojego kota (d2). — My cat isn't here.

[quite literally: Here (it) doesn't have my cat.]
(the corresponding positive sentence would be — and watch out for a totally
different grammatical construction, including the fact that in this one "kot" is
the subject (!!):
"Mój kot (d1) jest tu." — My cat is here.)

Other examples of negative sentences:

Nie głaszczę mojego kota (d2) zbyt często. — I don't stroke my cat too often.
(notice, however, that the noun "kot" has identical forms for the genitive (d2)
and the accusative (d4), so that a positive sentence, which takes the object in
accusative, looks practically the same:
Głaszczę mojego kota (d4) bardzo często. — I stroke my cat very often.)

Nie jem truskawki (d2). — I'm not eating a strawberry.

(The positive would be: "Jem truskawkę (d4).")
Nie gryzę truskawki (d2). — I'm not chewing a strawberry.
(P: "Gryzę truskawkę (d4).")

Nie mam dziecka (d2). — I don't have a child.

(P: "Mam dziecko (d4)." : notice that the accusative in the neuter nouns (i.e.
those ending in "-o" is always the same as the nominative (d1, the "basic"
Nie lubię jej dziecka (d2). — I don't like her child.
(P: "Lubię jej dziecko (d4).")

By negatives we don't only mean negative statements but also negative interrogatives (= question sentences)
and negative imperatives (= orders or requests):

Nie głaszcz ich dziecka (d2)! — Don't stroke their child!

(a positive imperative sentence would be: "Głaszcz ich dziecko (d4)!"...
although a more natural one would actually be "Pogłaszcz ich dziecko (d2)!": why
is that so is a subject for another lecture... ; as for now, we're trying to
concentrate on the fact that where positive sentences of any kind — including
imperatives, like here — have objects in the accusative, the corresponding
negative sentences have them in the genitive)

Nie jadłeś jeszcze nigdy w życiu truskawki (d2)?

— Have you never eaten a strawberry in your life?
(note that in Polish we use a double negative in such sentences:
"Nie jadłeś ... nigdy ..." — "nigdy" means "never" — while in English you
either say "Haven't you ever ..." or "Have you never ...";
a positive question here would be: "Czy jadłeś już kiedyś (w życiu) truskawkę
(d4)?" — "Have you already [ever] eaten a strawberry (in ~your~ life)?")

And let's stress that once again: we are talking here of sentences whose verbs take direct objects in the
accusative — which is the absolute majority of verbs that take direct objects (more about direct objects and
the accusative case in the section about the accusative — further on in the text). These verbs include those
used in the examples above: "mieć" (to have), "jeść" (to eat), "głaskać" (to stroke (give caress))

c) For some verbs the object must always be in the genitive (instead of the usual accusative—d4). In
other words: they present a (fixed) case government for the genitive. Among those verbs are:
"dotykać" (to touch), "używać" (to use), "doświadczać" (to experience (sth), to suffer (sth)),
"pozbywać się" (to get rid of), “bronić" (to defend),
"pilnować" (to watch over sth-sb / to stand guard to sth-sb / to keep an eye on sth-sb)

Pozbywam się tego kota (d2)! — I'm getting rid of that cat!

Używam truskawki (d2) do zrobienia tego koktajlu.

— I use a strawberry to make that cocktail.
(... literally it's more like: "(...) for the making of that cocktail.", but
that's not really important right now)

Ta kobieta pilnuje mojego dziecka (d2), gdy jestem w pracy.

— That woman watches over my child when I'm at work.

Bezdomni często doświadczają zimna (d2). — The homeless often suffer cold.
(the nominative = "zimno" (noun, neuter))

Dotknęłam gorącego garnka (d2) i się poparzyłam.

— I touched [fem.] a hot cooking-pot and I burned [fem.] myself.
(the nominative = "(gorący -adj.) garnek" (masc.); the reflexive pronoun "się" —
which, in Polish, is the same for all persons, i.e., it stands equally for:
"myself", "yourself, "himself", ..., "yourselves", "themselves" — is usually not
placed "hanging out" as the last word in a sentence)

Prawo powinno bronić każdego obywatela (d2). — The law should defend every citizen.
(the nominative = "(każdy) obywatel" (masc.))
Broń mnie (d2)! — Defend me!
d) when a certain quantity of a substance (or even of something abstract) is the complement (the object
or a "quasi-object") of a verb — that substance comes in the genitive in those situations. Often (but not
always) a word like "trochę" (some), or "odrobinę" (a little bit of) precedes a substantive put in genitive used
this way:

Nalej mi wina (d2), proszę. — Pour me (some) wine, please.

(in English you need to add the word "some", in Polish — because the verb choice
and the genitive complement — it is not strictly necessary: it becomes evident
that it's some quantity of wine that is meant;
the nominative = "wino" (neutr.))

Trzeba dodać odrobinę cukru (d2).

— There is a need to / It is necessary (= Trzeba...) to add a little bit of sugar.
[in English it would probably be best to say: "It needs a some/a little more sugar."]
(the nominative = "cukier" (m))

Tego (d2) jest tu mnóstwo! — There is a lot of that in here!

("Tego" = genit. of "to" ("this/that") = "of that" — it's abstract: we don't
know what the speaker was talking about, but it's not important: the speaker
wants to inform us about the quantity of something — we are probably expected to
know from the context what it is that he/she means)

Mam już dość jego zachowania (d2)! — I already have enough of his behaviour!
(the nominative = "(jego) zachowanie" (fem.); in proper English, one that is
more remote from Polish syntax, this sentence would be: "I've already had enough
of his behaviour.")

e) many prepositions (and prepositional expressions) are always followed with nouns in the genitive. In
other words: those prepositions govern the genitive case. Some of them are (I cannot absolutely warrant that
the list is complete, but I guess I managed to remember most of them :)):

- "dla" (for)
- "od" (from: for all situations not covered by the preposition "z/ze" [look below]: and especially, when you
get something from a person)
- "do" (to, into)
- "z/ze" (out of — in the sense that something is made of something (parts, materials);
out of / from (inside) — to say that somebody or something comes from a place, is taken out of
a place, or has this place as the origin; in case of people, it can be used to denote the country, the city, etc.,
that they come from; generally speaking, this is the preposition to which the English "from" would be
translated in clear majority of situations;
"ze" is a phonetic variant used in those situations in which the first sound of the following word
would make pronounciation nearly impossible: so, we have "ze srebra" and not "z srebra")
- "bez" (without)
- "obok" (beside, next to)
- "wewnątrz" = "w środku" (inside)
- "na zewnątrz" (outside)
- "powyżej" (higher than, above)
- "poniżej" (lower than, below)
- "wzdłuż" (along, alongside)
- "zamiast" (instead of)
- "podczas" = "w czasie" (during)

Raz w tygodniu kupuję jedzenie dla kota (d2). — Once in a week I buy food for the cat.
Chyba zjem gruszkę zamiast truskawki (d2).
— I think ("chyba" = I think that / it seems to me that / probably) I will eat a pear instead of a strawberry.

Dostała to w prezecie od dziecka (d2). — She got this as a present from a/the/her child.

Some examples using other nouns to demonstrate the use of the remaining prepositions
followed by nouns in the genitive:

Dla Manueli (d2) portugalski jest łatwy. Dla mnie (d2) jest trudny.
— For Manuela Portuguese is easy. For me ~it~ is difficult.
(the nominatives = "Manuela" (... yes, declension applies to proper names as
well); "ja" (pers.pron.);
side-note: notice that, in Polish, in the second sentence there is no need for
an explicit subject — just like in Portuguese or Spanish, it's enough to say
"Dla mnie jest trudny.": "Dla mnie on jest trudny." wouldn't be wrong, but it
would be unnatural in this place; ["portugalski" ← "język portugalski" → "język
(masculine)" → "on"])

Zdenerwowany człowiek chodzi od ściany (d2) do ściany (d2).

— An upset [nervous; angered] person is walking from one wall to another.
[literally: from wall to wall]
(the nominative = "ściana" (f))

Ten naszyjnik jest ze złota (d2). — This necklace is (made) out of gold.
(the nominative = "złoto" (neuter);
"ze" is a form of "z" — there are just those two existing (the "z" and the
"ze"); don't worry: there are no words "zi" or "zu"... well... there is "za",
but that's a different preposition... and a different story :)
the "ze" is used when the first syllable of the substantive that follows would
make it too difficult to pronounce the it together with the preposition;
for the story of "za" — which is a totally different, unrelated preposition —
look into sections about prepositions in the descriptions of the accusative and
instrumental cases)

Woody Allen jest z Nowego Jorku (d2). Ja jestem z Krakowa (d2).

Mój przyjaciel jest z Brazylii (d2). Zespół ABBA był ze Szwecji (d2).
Czy jesteś z Polski (d2)?
— Woody Allen is from New York. I'm from Kraków.
My friend is from Brazil. The band ABBA was from Sweden.
Are you from Poland?
(the nominatives = "Nowy Jork" (m)", "Kraków (m)", "Brazylia (f)",
"Szwecja (f)", "Polska (f)")

Najlepsze zegarki są ze Szwajcarii (d2).

Tego ciasta nie upiekła moja mama. Ono jest ze sklepu (d2).
Te jabłka są z mojego drzewa (d2).
— The best watches are/come from Switzerland.
My mom didn't bake this cake*. It is [comes] from a shop.
These apples are [come] from my tree.
(the nominatives = "Szwajcaria (f), "(to) ciasto (n)", "sklep (m)", "(moje)
drzewo (n)"; the noun "jabłka", as you can guess, is the subject of the last
sentence, so it's in the nominative form as well, but this is the plural
nominative — the singular is "jabłko (n)";
I've combined the sentences again, as I did in the example above, because they,
again, demonstrate a common trait: in the previous example, the common
denominator was the notion of a city or a country being the place that a person
comes from; in this example, we're talking about a place of origin for a thing;
I think a short explanation is due with regard to the sentence marked with the
asterix (*). This sentence is basically the same as the following sentence, only
with its word-order modified:
"Moja mama (d1) nie upiekła tego ciasta (d2)."
[d2 — because "to ciasto" is the direct object in a negative sentence: we
have already covered this application of the genitive in the point "b)"]
I expect you now to be asking the question: why then this modified word-order?
The answer is the emphasis. In a situation like we have here with this sentence
and the one following it, in English one would use the passive mode in the first
one, because it is the cake the that is central to the message. So, we would
"This cake wasn't baked by my mom. It comes from a shop." (probably the Present
Perfect Tense should actually be used in the first sentence: "... hasn't been
baked...", but let's not get further into that).
In Polish, however, (and that's the benefit resulting from declension), we have
a very flexible word-order, which we can use to focus the reader's (or
listener's) attention on certain parts of a sentence without resorting to means
such as the passive voice: in fact, passive voice is not used too often in
Polish, and it is particularly little seen in informal language.)

Nie będę dziś wychodzić z domu (d2). — I will not be getting out (of home) today.
(the nominative = "dom (m)")

Jak długo leci się z Warszawy (d2) do Paryża (d2)?

— How long is the flight from Warsaw to Paris?
[more literally: How long does one fly from Warsaw to Paris?]
(the nominatives = "Warszawa (f)", "Paryż (f)";
"leci się": this is actually a subject for a separate little "lecture", but
since it's nothing too complicated why should I leave it as a mystery? You might
be recognizing the "się" as the reflexive pronoun (which, incidentally, is one
and same for all grammatical persons). However, in this grammatical
construction, it doesn't have much to do with reflexiveness. The combination
<ve rb in the 3.per s.s ing> + "s ię" is used in much the same way as the "one/you" + <ve rb in the
3.per s.s ing> in English — to speak about actions where the subject is poorly
defined, or those that are talk of a universal experience: those of the second
group usually having the nature of some experimentally proved truths, or
O tym koncercie wciąż jeszcze się mówi!
— One still keeps talking about that concert! /
/ People still keep talking about that concert.
Gdzie kupuje się znaczki pocztowe? — Where do you buy postal stamps?
Czym usuwa się te plamy? — What does one remove these stains with? )

Magik wyjmuje królika (d4) z kapelusza (d2).

— The magician is taking (*out) a rabbit out of a hat.
(the nominatives = "królik" (m), "kapelusz" (m);
the "*out" is put there to indicate that the Polish verb "wyjmować" means "to
take out (of somewhere)" — this verb is only used when the object of the action
is inside something)

Nie da się żyć bez przyjaciół (d2). — It's impossible to live without friends.
(the nominative = "przyjaciele" (plural);
the phrase "da się" — being a specific figure of speach based on the verb
"dawać" (to give) — is used impersonally to express the idea: "it is possible
(to do something)", "it is managable (to take/suffer sth)", "This is doable."—
("Da się."))

Na tym zdjęciu stoję obok mojego zwariowanego kolegi (d2)

i mojej najlepszej przyjaciółki (d2).
— In this photo I'm standing next to my crazy pal [male] and my best friend [female].
(the nominatives are: "(mój -possess.pron.) (zwariowany -adj.) kolega (masc.)",
"(moja -p.p.) (najlepsza -adj.) przyjaciółka (fem.)"
note that the conjunction "i" ("and") does not by itself have any
influence on the declension case of "moja najlepsza przyjaciółka" (conjunctions
are totally neutral with regard to declension): the reason why that part of the
sentence is in the genitive is that it, too, is associated (and governed by) the
preposition "obok"; in fact, the end of the sentence could look like this:
"...stoję obok mojego zwariowanego kolegi i obok mojej najlepszej
przyjaciółki.", but the repetitive "obok" wouldn't look well;
in English you say "in the photograph", in Polish you use the preposition "na"
which most contexts corresponds to the English "on").

Wewnątrz tego owocu (d2) nie ma pestki (d2).

— There is no stone (= big seed) inside that fruit.
(First, the nominatives: "(ten) owoc" (m), "pestka" (f);
now, notice that the use of the genitive case has two different motivations
here: "tego owocu" is demanded by the preposition "wewnątrz", "pestki" is
demanded by the fact that we have "pestka" as the object of a negative sentence
— in this case: a typical "There is no..." sentence)

Chciałbym zobaczyć, co jest w środku kota (d2).

— I would like [male subject] to see what is inside a cat.
(... of course, this sentence is only a bit of black humour; and... it's
correct! (although I'm sure cats would be of a different opinion :))

Na zewnątrz jego domu (d2) stoi jakiś podejrzany człowiek (d1).

— Outside his house there is a suspicious-looking man/person standing.
(the nominative = "(jego) dom" (m);
"(jakiś) (podejrzany) człowiek" (masc.) is the subject of this sentence: once
again, I have used the flexible word-order to place the key element of the
sentence at the the head of it — that sentence equals this one: "Jakiś
podejrzany człowiek stoi na zewnątrz jego domu.", where you have the more
familiar "subject, verb, object" order;
I can't resist a temptation to divert your attention from the main subject for
yet a moment...: note that the "jego dom" ("his house") is not the house
belonging to the suspicious-looking man — not only because that would make no
sense as far as the message of the sentence is concerned, but also because in
Polish the possessive pronoun used for the subject of a sentence is "sw ój "
(inflected appropriately to the number, gender and case of the thing
"possessed."). Examples:
"Ja umiem zadbać o sw oj e sprawy." — I can take care of my business.
"I" is the subject of the sentence, and the "possessor" of the business.
"Ona musi spakować sw oj ą walizkę." — She must pack her suitcase.
"She" is the subject of the sentence and the possessor of the suitcase.
while (when the subject is not the same as the "possessor")...:
"Ona umie zadbać o mo je sprawy." — She can take care of my business.
"Ja muszę spakować je j walizkę." — I must pack her suitcase.
This rule is not very strict if the subject is the 1st or the 2nd grammatical
person (either singular or polural); however, for a 3rd person subject a variant
of "swój" is the only correct possessive pronoun.
Therefore, had I wanted to say that a suspicious man is standing outside his
own house, I would have said:
"Podejrzany człowiek stoi na zewnątrz swojego domu.")

W tym miejscu woda w morzu sięga mi tylko powyżej kolan (d2).

— In this place the water in the sea reaches for me only above my knees.
(first, this is not very good English, but I didn't want to stray too far away
from the Polish syntax — in a proper English it would be something like this:
"At this spot, the water of the sea reaches only above my knees.";
second, the nominatives: "kolano" (singular, neuter, nominative) → "kolana"
(singular, neut., genitive); "kolana" (plural, nominative... yeah, I know it
looks just like sing. genitive...) → "kolan" (plural, genitive))

Mam tego (d2) powyżej uszu (d2)! — I have this reaching above my ears!
(this is a figurative and very popular way of saying
"I've really had enough of this!";
the nominatives: "to" ("this") (neuter); "ucho" (singular, nominative) →
"ucha" (singular, genitive), uszy (pl. nom.) → uszu (pl. genitive); "tego" =
genitive of "to" (demonstrative pronoun);
the reason for the genitive form of "to" ("tego") is that we're speaking of
some "quantity" of his behaviour, or rather — of experiencing that behaviour:
look at the last example illustrating the earlier point "d)")

Ta sukienka jest długa — (ona) sięga poniżej kolan (d2).

— This dress is long — it reaches below the knees.

Jego wyniki były poniżej oczekiwań (d2). — His results were below expectations.
(the nominative: "oczekiwania" (plural — this noun usually comes in plural))

To był cios poniżej pasa (d2)! — This was a blow (a punch) below the waistline!
(= (figurative) something grossly unfair;
the nominative = "pas" (masc.); note that "pas" means the "waist" (or
"waistline"), i.e. the middle part of a human body, but it also means "a belt":
after all, that's where you wear a belt, isn't it? :))

Droga biegnie wzdłuż rzeki (d2). — The road runs alongside the river.
(the nominative: "rzeka" (f))

Używam ołówka (d2) zamiast długopisu (d2). — I use a pencil instead of a ball-point.
(the nominatives: "ołówek" (m), "długopis" (m);
the motivations for the use of genitive are different for the two nouns in the
sentence: "ołówka (d2)" is demanded by the verb "używać" (look at sub-point
"c)"), "długopisu (d2)" is required by the preposition "zamiast")

Podczas jazdy (d2) autobusem musisz trzymać się poręczy (d2).

— During a ride in a bus you must hold onto a handrail.
(the nominatives = "jazda" (f), "poręcz" (f);
like in the previous example, the reason for inflecting "jazda" into its
genitive ("jazdy") is the "rekcja" of the preposition "podczas", and the reason
for the use of genitive "poręczy" is the "rekcja" of the verb "trzymać się" (to
hold on / to hold onto sth);
the noun "jazda" can describe any kind of journey on wheels, including getting
a ride in a car or driving one)

W czasie deszczu (d2) dzieci się nudzą. — During the rain children get bored.
(or, in a good English: "Children get bored when it's raining.";
the nominative = "deszcz" (m);
maybe it's not the best place for that, but let me quickly clarify that the
verbal phrase "to get bored" corresponds in Polish to a reflexive verb "nudzić
się" — now, the "się" part can come either after or before the main verb, and it
is usually avoided that the "się" would come as the last word in a sentence.)

>>> d3. the dative (celownik)

a) The main function of the dative is to designate the indirect object of a verb. What it means is that if
we have an action that takes an object (a person or a material thing), but the result of the action affects
another person (or thing), then that "another" person (or thing) we call the indirect object and the
substantive for that person (or thing) we (usually) put in the dative. In English, designation of the indirect
object is achieved through the use of constructions like "to me", "for you" or just by putting the indirect
object before the direct object in the order of the sentence.

Here are some examples of English sentences to show what I mean :)

"She gave me a book." — "a book" is the direct object, "me" is the indirect object.

"He bought his child a toy." — "his child" is the indirect object, "a toy" is the direct object. The object of the
verb "to buy" is the thing you buy, and that's the direct object, but an important goal of the sentence is to
show the beneficiary of the purchase, the person whom the result of the action really affects — and that's the
child (the indirect object of this sentence).

"Give it to me." — again, we have the verb "to give" here, but in this case the indirect object comes as second
in the order of sentence, so the "to me" construction must be used.

And now some examples using the three model nouns: a cat, a strawberry, a child.

Czeszę kotu (d3) futerko (d4). — I comb / I'm combing the fur for my cat.
("futerko" = diminutive of "futro"; when we speak about the soft coat of the
small furry animals, we use the dimunitive; note: a more universal term for the
hairy coat of an animal is "sierść"... yeah, how did I guess you wouldn't like
it much? ;) (... I mean: the pronounciation.) Unfortunately, this the only word
to use with regard to dogs and horses...; all neuter nouns (i.e. these ending
with "-o" have the accusative (d4) form identical with the nominative (d1))

Cukier dodaje słodyczy (d2) truskawce (d3). — Sugar adds sweetness to a strawberry.
(in most situations the indirect object would be something animate, a person or
an animal, but, as this example shows, it doesn't have to be so. What is
affected by the adding of the sugar? "Truskawka", right? :) So we have a
strawberry in the dative.
—I don't want to pile to many things in one place, but in this sentence you can
see another example of the genitive (d2) being used to say that sugar a certain
amount, or some, sweetness (d1 = "słodycz") to the strawberry — this is the
aspect of genitive usage that we've talked about in the point "d)" of the
earlier section).

Czytam książeczkę mojemu dziecku (d3). — I'm reading a (children's) book to my child.
(the nominatives = "książeczka" (f), "(moje) dziecko" (n);
"książeczka" is the dimunitive of "książka" (f) which is "a book": "książeczka"
often suggests a small format of a book — and therefore it is often used for
personal documents in the format similar to that of a passport — but it is also
the word that is applied to all books for little children)

b) the important thing to remember is that the action described by the verb affects the indirect object —
this says nothing about the nature of the effect, which doesn't have to be, and very often is not, beneficial or
advantageous to the indirect object.

Ukradli mi (d3) zegarek.

— They [= somebody, we don't know who, some thieves] stole the watch "for me".
(of course, in English a sentence like that looks ridiculous and one would say
"They stole my watch." — I'm just trying to use the nearest corresponding
grammatical construction. In Polish it is also correct to say "Ukradli mój
zegarek.", which literally has the meaning of "They stole my watch."; however,
this doesn't appear as natural as the variant with the dative which puts
emphasis on the person affected;
"mi" = the dative of "ja" (pers.pron.))

Temu chłopcu (d3) umarła matka (d1).

— [syntax translation:] For that boy / To that boy ~his~ mother has died.
(ATTENTION!!: the "syntax translation" is meant to show the structure of the
sentence! The natural way to speak the same message in English would be: "This
boy's mother has died.". As before (in the sentence with the watch), we prefer a
sentence like "Temu chłopcu (d3) umarła matka." to "Matka tego chłopca (d2)
umarła." in situations when this is a recent event and when we want to touch
upon the personal and tragic aspect of the fact. We want to show that what
happened really affected somebody. The second sentence — which literally means
"The mother of the boy (has) died." ("Matka tego chłopca umarła.") — sounds
quite impassionate and almost suggests that this is something that happened in a
further past. An important note to make is that the Polish sentence does not
carry the meaning that the mother died for the boy in the way it is understood
in the English language: that she died to save his life, or to protect him. No.
Here we speak only about the fact that her death influences him (his life);
"(temu) chłopcu" = the dative of "(ten) chłopiec";
"matka" is the subject of this sentence — Polish syntax is very flexible, so
there is no problem in modifying the word order so that the thing that the whole
sentence is about would appear right at the start)

Zepsuł się nam (d3) samochód. — The car broke down on us.
(I think that this americanism — this "on us" — has a very similar function to
the Polish dative: in this sentence it's not so important that car broke down,
but that the failure affected the "us": probably, "we" couldn't get somewhere on
"nam" = the dative of "my")

c) The Polish like it a lot to speak about things happening without there being somebody that can be held
responsible :) OK, joke aside, I'm speaking here about sentences with indeterminate subjects. Something
happened, but we're totally uninterested or unable to say who did it. And yet... we are often interested who
was affected by the action :)

Perhaps somewhat funnily, some of those things that we speak about so impersonally in Polish are quite
personal experiences — I guess we assume that they come to us whether we want them or not, and that's why
we put ourselves as objects rather than subjects of them :)

Look at these examples:

Jest mi (d3) zimno. — [syntax tr.] (It) is cold to me.

— [proper En.] I feel cold. (or: It's cold (here)).

Jest mi ciepło. — I feel warm. (...You don't need to give me your sweater, dear :))

Czy nie jest Ci (d3) za gorąco? — Don't you feel too hot?
(ATTENTION!: this is not a question: "Don't you think you're too attractive?" ;));
("Ci" = the dative of "Ty")

Jej (d3) jest smutno. — She feels sad.

("jej" = the dative of "ona")

Jest mu (d3) trudno.

— Things are difficult for him. / He's finding his life hard.
("mu" = the dative of "on")

As you can see, the repeating pattern of those examples is:

Jest + nou n/p ron oun in da tiv e + adv erb
(all adverbs end in "-o", so if you know that something is not a noun and when
it ends in "-o" it is an adverb;
... to be quite precise, in the example with "jej" above, we have the pronoun
in the first position in the sentence, but that's just a matter of word order:
placing the pronoun first makes more emphasis be put on it: such modification to
the word order may suggest that the "she" of the sentence was sad while "the
others" (some "others", we don't know who) were not; of course, the following
variant of the sentence is equally correct: "Jest jej smutno.").

There are also a few verbs about impressions and personal experiences for which we use a different type of
dative construction — which is, again, a construction in which the person who feels and experiences the
things is not the subject but the indirect object of the verb.

Ta piosenka podoba mi (d3) się. — [syntax tr.] This song "presents itself well" to me.
— [proper En.] I like this song.
(Don't get too scared about the seeming "weirdness" of it. And don't take this
English "present itself" too directly — the Polish verb "podobać się" isn't so
stiff and formal: it is a really nice verb whose meaning is something like "to
be likeable", "to be pleasing".
It's important that you understand the way we express the notion that we like
something in the Polish language: we, sort of, don't say that it is us who
choose to like it — it is more that the thing itself is pleasing and we cannot
help being affected by it. Isn't that sweet? ;))
Actually, I believe that the Spanish language has a similar dative construction
for the "I like sentences", doesn't it?
"Me gusta la canción." — I like the song.
"No me gustan hormigas." — I don't like ants.

one note: sentences of this type

"Podoba mi się <coś (d4)>"
have the meaning:
"<something> appeals to my senses [especially to the sight]" ;—
but when you speak about something that fits your preference, that is in your
taste, that you have a sympathy for, when you talk about people you like, or
things to eat, when this "liking" is stronger and lasting, then you say:
"Lubię <coś (d4)>"; this expression follows the typical grammatical patern,
i.e. the person who likes this "something" (or somebody) is the subject of the

Wydaje mi (d3) się, że coś zrobiłem źle.

— ~It~ seems to me that I have done [masc.v.form] something wrong.
(actually — surprise, surprise! ;) — there is not much to add or explain there,
because in English the expression is similar, the only difference being that in
Polish we have a reflexive verb: "wydawać się")

Przypomniało mu (d3) się, że musi wziąć lekarstwo.

— He remembered that he had to take a medicine.
— [syntax translation:] ~It~ reminded itself to him, that he has to take a medicine.
("mu" = the dative of "on";
well, there's one more thing that you might have noticed: in Polish, in a noun
clause (which is a type of subordinate clause like the one in this example, i.e., one that serves as a complement of the verb of
the main clause) we don't adjust the tense to fit the tense of the main clause — so we
have "musi" (present tense) no matter what the tense of the main sentence: in
this case — the past ("przypomniało się"))

Śniło jej (d3) się, że lata. — She dreamt she was flying.
(It's quite impossible to make a "syntax translation" for this one. The verb
"śnić" can, in some situations, be used like "to dream" in English, with the
"dreamer" being the subject and the active agent in the sentence: "Ja śnię." -
"I'm dreaming." But in case you want to tell the story of a vision you had in
your sleep, it is much more common and more natural to say that something "was
dreamt to you". I think it makes a lot of sense, because we don't actively shape
our dreams, do we? (... Hello, Mr. Freud! ;);
in this example you can see again how the noun clause (the subordinate clause)
is in present tense ("lata": the past would have been "latała") even though the
main clause speaks about an action that was happening in the past: "śniło jej
się" - the present would be "śni jej się"))

d) Some verbs take the main object in dative (like an indirect object) even if there is no direct object
(which nearly always comes in the accusative) given in the sentence. Look at those examples:

↺ dziękować (to thank):

Dziękuję Ci (d3). — Thank you.
(and not "Dziękuję Ty (d1)." or "Dziękuję Cię (d4-accus.).")
Podziękuj temu panu (d3). — Thank this gentleman. [imperative sentence]
(the nominative = "(ten) pan")
Podziękuj jej (d3) za prezent. — Thank her for the present. [imperative sentence]
(the nominative = "ona").

Just consider that (in the logic of the Polish language) thanking is not a process in which you somehow
modify or directly influence somebody, which is what usually happens when you have actions (verbs) that
take a direct object. Rather than that, thanking seems to be viewed as an action that is only directed at
somebody. It so as if we didn't "thank a person" ("dziękować kogoś (d4)" — incorrect) but thanked "to a
person" ("dziękować komuś (d3)") (of course, this second expression is incorrect in English).

A similar thing happens with the Polish verb "to help" (↺ pomagać). We look upon the action as one of
"giving help to someone" ("pomagać komuś (d3)"), rather than doing something that somehow directly
changes the person that is being helped.

Często pomagam mojemu tacie (d3). — I often help my dad.

(the nominative = "(mój) tata" (masc.))
Janek pomaga swojemu bratu (d3) napisać wypracowanie szkolne.
— Johnny is helping his brother write a school essay.
(the nominative = "jego/(swój) brat" (masc.);
the use of inflected "swój" (instead of "jego") is dictated by the fact that
the "possessor" refered to by this possessive pronoun is also the subject of the
sentences - I've presented that shortly as an extended side note to one of the
examples in the point "e)" of the section on the genitive).
Pomóż mi (d3)! — Help me!

Another important verb using an indirect object in the dative is the Polish equivalent of the English
"to say / to tell / to speak" — "↺ mówić". Well, this is not one verb in Polish to cover all situations
of a person speaking or saying things to another person / other people, but this is certainly the one
most used. The person that you tell the things always comes in the dative, whether the sentence says
what was said or not. One note: unfortunately, the perfective form of the verb "mówić" is quite
irregular: "powiedzieć". (We'll talk about the perfective aspect of verbs at some other occasion).

Powiem mojej dziewczynie (d3) o moich problemach.

— I will tell my girlfriend about my problems.
(the nominative = "(moja) dziewczyna" (fem.)
side-note: yes, I could have also used "swojej" in place of "mojej" in that
sentence; however, this is not obligatory for 1st-person subjects (while it is
obligatory in case of some of the other grammatical persons, particularly: the
3rd); in fact the individual possessive pronoun ("moja"), when used with a 1st-
person subject, appears more personal)
Powiedz mi (d3)! — Tell me!
Zawsze mówię Ci (d3) prawdę! — I always tell you the truth! ;)
Powiedział swojemu tacie (d3), że rozbił jego samochód.
— He told his dad that he had crashed his [i.e., his father's] car.
(the nominative "jego/(swój) tata" (masc.);
once again you can observe the use of an "individual" possessive pronoun
("jego") and the "generic", "meant-for-the-subject" "swój": the dad "belongs"
directly to the guy who is the subject of the sentence; the car, however,
doesn't directly belong to the guy, but to the dad — and this we are informed
about on account of the "jego" having been placed before the car. Had the car
also directly belonged to the guy, the sentence would have been as follows:
"Powiedział swojemu tacie, że rozbił swój samochód." - here the owner of the
car and the "owner" of the dad is the same person.)
Mówiłem mu (d3), żeby uważał. — I told him [not once] to be careful.
(... again, this is a matter of the perfective / imperfective aspect of a verb,
and we won't deal with that here in detail - let me just say that "mówiłem" is
the imperfective form of "mówić", and that if the sentence was meant to inform
about a single specific warning then we would have it use the perfective and,
consequently, look like this: "Powiedziałem mu, żeby uważał."... of course, in
both cases it is a male person who was giving the warning: if it had been a
female, the conjugated verb would have ended with "-am"))

There is probably yet a number of verbs that use dative for the main object. Two more that I can think of now
"↺ wierzyć <komuś (d3)>": to believe <somebody>, and "↺ ufać <komuś/czemuś (d3)>": to trust

Wierzę Ci (d3). — I believe you.

Nie wierzę temu politykowi (d3)! — I don't believe that politician!
(the nominative = "(ten) polityk" (masc.))
Ufam mojej przyjaciółce (d3). — I trust my (female) friend.
(the nominative = "(moja) przyjaciółka" (fem.))
Po prostu jej (d3) ufam. — I simply trust her.
(the nominative = "ona" (personal pron.))
Nie ufam mojemu kotu (d3)! — I don't trust my cat!
(nominative = "(mój) kot")

(You might want to notice that in the negative sentences above the objects do
not change into genitive. Remember: only the direct objects in the accusative
case change their grammatical case (to the genitive) in negative sentences.)

>>> d4. the accusative (biernik)

The accusative is by far the most used case for direct objects — which means that, except for some verbs
that take direct object in the genitive (some of which I already presented earlier) and really few that use the
instrumental case (which I'll cover later), almost every transitive verb has its direct object in the
accusative. In other words, if you have a verb that speaks about some action that has an object, in about 80%
of situations that object will be in accusative case. The direct object is what the action of the verb directly
influences or changes in some way. It can also be a direct result of an action.
ATTENTION!: in negative sentences we always use the genitive instead of the accusative!


Karmię (r4) mojego kota (d4). — I'm feeding my cat.

Właśnie kroję (r4) ostatnią truskawkę (d4). — Just now I'm cutting the last strawberry.
(nominative = "(ostatnia) truskawka")

Matka uczy (r4) dziecko (d4) myć zęby (d4).

— The mother teaches the child to wash ~its~ teeth.
(nominatives = "dziecko" (neuter: the neuter nouns, all of which end with "-o", have identical forms for the
nominative and for the accusative), "zęby" (plural: nouns whose plural form ends with "-y" in the nominative, have the
same form in the accusative); the singular nominative is "ząb" (masc.) (a tooth));
notice that we have two verbs here — the entire phrase "myć zęby" is the
indirect object of the verb "uczyć", but, more importantly, let's observe that
both of the verbs ("uczyć" and "myć") are transitive and take a direct object in
the accusative — r4; the direct object of "uczyć" is the person you teach — in
this case: "dziecko (d4)", and the direct object of the verb "myć" is what you
wash — "zęby (d4)")

I could practically end there... but why not have a few more examples? :) (especially if I have found them, so
I didn't even have to invent them :) — I've borrowed the example sentences from a matchless free
compendium of Polish grammar by Grzegorz Jagodziński, available online at: )

Matka widzi (r4) syna (d4). — A/The mother sees ~her~ son.
(the nominative = "syn" (masc.))
Słyszę (r4) muzykę (d4). — I (can) hear music.
(d1 = "muzyka" (fem.))
Jemy (r4) obiad (d4). — We are eating dinner.
(d1 = "obiad" (masc.))
Pijecie (r4) wino (d4). — You are drinking wine.
(d1 = "wino" (neuter)).
Opowiem (r4 + (optional) r3) Ci (d3) bajkę (d4).
— I will read you a children's story / a fable / a fairy-tale.
(d1 = "bajka" (fem.);
the translation to English makes things a bit confused but the direct object
here is "bajka", because what you read is a story, not a person — the person you
read the story to is the indirect object of the action of reading; the English
sentence can be easily modified to show that clearly: "I will a story to you.")
Pacjent dostaje (r4) lekarstwo (d4) codziennie z rana.
— The patient gets the medicine every day in the morning.
(d1 = "lekarstwo" (neuter))
Twoje zachowanie (r4) martwi rodziców (d4). — Your behaviour worries ~your~ parents.
(parents = "rodzice" (d1, pl.); singular "parent" — "rodzic" exists, but is
rarely used, because in Old-Polish that word clearly referred to a father, not
to a mother. Therefore, "rodzic" is used only in the formal language. The
normally used form is "jedno z rodziców" — "one of the parents".)

Oh yes, I would have nearly forgotten that there are a couple of prepositions that take words in accusative :)

I can now recall five: "na", "pod", "za", "przed", and "w/we"...

There's a catch, though. These prepositions do not always govern the accusative case. There are no
prepositions with a single "rekcja" for the accusative case.
These five I have just named are prepositions that belong to what I'd like to call a "dual-rekcja" category.
This means that they govern one case in one type of situations, and another one in other situational settings.
Well, it's not so bad, as it looks at the first glance: all those prepositions have a "primary rekcja" ― which for
the "na" and the "w/we" is the locative (d6), while for the "pod", the "za" and the "przed" is the instrumental
(d5) ― and they have a "secondary rekcja", which is always one for the accusative.
Now, the "primary rekcja" is the one that is used in the majority of situations (I'd like to refer to them as
"static situations"). The rekcja for the accusative ("the secondary rekcja") applies only to the situations where
the preposition describes the destination, the goal, or the specific target of an aimed movement ― which can
also be an action of thrusting, poking, stabbing, or shooting. I'd like to refer to them as the "motion-
towards situations". The important thing characterizing the "motion-towards situations" that require the
use of the accusative rekcja is that the movement would be directed, that it would be dynamic, and that it
would be aimed at reaching the target.
I realize that in theory it looks like a pretty bizzare concept, but the examples will show you that it's not that
difficult in practice.

Here are the prepositions again:

"na" — on top of / onto the top of — the version that is used with a word in the accusative is "onto the
top of"

"pod" — under (underneath, beneath) — again, the word that comes after it is put in the accusative
only when there is aimed movement directed to a place which is underneath something

"za" — behind / in behind — the second translation variant carries the sense of a motion-towards
situation, which is one where we would put the substantive that follows in the accusative

"przed" — in front of / to the front of — in the instances where the second translation variant applies,
we have the accusative rekcja

"w/we" — in / in (into) — this preposition governs the accusative nearly exclusively in situations where
the following substantive is a target of a thrusting, poking, punching, pricking, kicking or shooting action;
watch out not to form too strong a mental association between the "w/we" and the English "into", as the
"into" more frequently corresponds to the Polish preposition "do" (which we have already met with in the section
about the genitive, which is the declension case it governs)
(the "w/we" variantivity is motivated by facilitating pronounciation — just like
in case of the "z/ze" that we have already seen in the section on the genitive)


Skoczył na stół (d4). — He jumped onto a/the table.

But—: Leżał na stole (d6―locative). — He was lying on a/the table.
(the nominative = "stół" (masc.))

Samochód (d1) przewrócił się na dach (d4). — A/The car rolled onto its roof.
But—: Samochód (d1) leżał na dachu (d6). — A/The car was lying on its roof.
(the nominative = "dach" (masc.))

Rzucam pieniądze (d4 —d ir ec t ob jec t) na stół (d4— be ca us e of the prep osi ti on and the dyn ami c ac tio n) .
— I'm throwing money on the table.
But—: Pieniądze (d1) leżą na stole (d6). — The money is lying on the table.
(nominatives: "pieniądze" (plural―the word is usually used in plural), "stół" (masc.))

Wchodzę pod stół (d4). — I'm coming in under a/the table.

But—: Siedzę pod stołem (d5―instrumental). — I'm sitting under a/the table.

Kot (d1) ucieka pod stół (d4). — A/The cat is running [running to hide / escaping] under a/the table.
But—: Kot (d1) śpi pod stołem (d5). — The cat is sleeping under a/the table.

And now for an interesting example :) :

The reflexive verb "chować się" (literally: "to be hiding oneself") can be used in two ways:
1. to say that a sbd/sth is moving furtively (silently, "invisibly") to a place where they can hide, or
2. to say that sbd/sth is "staying low" in a hide-out.

Now look how the choice of the declension case tells us whether the little girl is still running to her hide-out,
or if she's already there, just lying low and keeping quiet — notice that nothing changes in the whole sentence
except for the gram. case of one noun :)

Dziewczynka (d1) chowa się pod łóżko (d4).

— A/The little girl is going in under a/the bed to hide there.
(nominative = "łóżko" (neut.))
Dziewczynka (d1) chowa się pod łóżkiem (d5).
— A/The little girl is hiding under the bed.
(we don't know how long she's been there; actually, she might have just slid in
there, but she is not in the process of running to the bed or squeezing in under
it right now :))

Pacjent wchodzi za parawan (d4). — The patient comes in behind the screen.
(nominative = "parawan" (masc.))
Compare—: Pacjent (d1) czeka na lekarza (d4) za parawanem (d5—instrumental).
— A/The patient is waiting for a/the doctor behind the screen.
(the nominatives = "lekarz" (m), "parawan" (m);
accidentally, we have one unplanned usage example here — "na lekarza" is also a
situation where we have the preposition "na" followed by a noun in the
accusative : however, this is something a bit different, because here the "na"
doesn't have the function of telling us about a location — this "na" belongs to
the "rekcja" of the verb "czekać": in English we say "to wait for sbd/sth", in
Polish, "czekać na kogoś/coś (d4)")

Wyszłam za drzwi (d4).

— I went [fem.verb.form] out of the door / I stepped outside (through) the door.
— [literally:] I went behind the door. [bad English]
Compare—: Stałam za drzwiami (d5). — I was standing [fem.verb.form] behind the door.
(the nominative = "drzwi" (always plural in Polish!))

On zawsze pcha się przed szereg (d4). — He always pulls forward of the line.
— [even more literally:] He always pushes himself to (a place) in front of the line.
(the nominative = "szereg" (masc.);
the phrase "pchać się przed szereg" is a Polish idiom signifying as much as "to
come out volunteering when nobody needs you to, or when it can even cause trouble or embarassment";
its meaning is noticeably different from the seemingly similar English phrase
"to step out of line")
Compare—: Prezydent przemaszerował przed szeregiem (d5) żołnierzy (d2).
— The president marched through in front of a line of soldiers.
(notice that the president did not walk towards the soldiers: he just walked
along the line formed by them — which means that we have no "motion towards"
situation, and so the preposition "przed" adopts the more common of its two
variantive case governments here — the one for the instrumental, d5)

Ten idiota (d1) uderzył w mój samochód (d4), gdy stałem na czerwonym świetle (d6)!
— That idiot hit my car as I was standing at the red signal!
[literally:] (...) as I was standing on the red light.
(the nominatives:
"(mój) samochód" (masc., the accus. form looks the same),
"(czerwone) światło" (neut.) — the phrase "stać na czerwonym świetle" makes
use of the preposition "na" with its ordinary, "primary" government for the
"idiota" (masc.) this is the subject of the main clause, so it is the
nominative form — I just wanted to assure you that I have made no mistake here:
it's one of the few masculine nouns in Polish that end with "-a" and show a
declension pattern similar to that of feminine nouns;
this is an example of the preposition "w" being coupled with an accusative
object, because of the "motion-towards" situation, or more specifically: an
action of hitting something (in Polish it's expressed as "hitting into something"), which is the most
typical sort of action requiring the accusative after the "w";
this particular example sentence could have used a different verb combined with
the "w": "wjechać w" ("to drive into" (with the sense of: to have a collision
"Ten idiota wjechał w mój samochód (d4) (...)" ("That idiot drove into my car
(...)"), and as you can see the nature of the situation calls for the accusative
rekcja of the "w" also in this eventuality.
side-note: the subordinate clause here is an adverb clause — we need to corelate the tenses of the clauses simply
because the whole point of this particular subordinate clause is to say when the action of the main clause took place (this is different
from what we had with the subordinate noun clauses in two examples for the point "c)" of the section on the dative))
Compare—: Zawsze wożę mapę (d4) w samochodzie (d6).
— I'm always carrying a map in ~my*~ car.
(the nominatives: "mapa" (fem.), "samochód" (masc.) — *) you may have already
noticed it in the earlier examples that in Polish we use possessive pronouns
quite sparingly and we don't place them before the nouns whose belonging or
direct relation to the subject comes as obvious from the context;
in Polish there are two popular verbs corresponding to the English carry:
"nosić" and "wozić" — the first is fitting to use when you carry the things
walking (like a porter, or when you simply carry little things on you, in the
pockets of your clothes or on your body); the second comes into play when we use
any means of transportation)

One notable exception to the rule regarding the choice of case government in the "dual rekcja" prepositions is
the verb "sia dać " — to take a seat — does not use the accusative, even though it is a verb that speaks about
a "motion towards". With that verb, the noun that comes after a preposition uses the same case as with the
"static" (not speaking of any dynamic changes) verb: "siedzieć" — to be sitting. See the examples:

Siadam na krześle (d6). — I take a seat on a chair.

Just as well as with—: Siedzę na krześle (d6). — I'm sitting on a chair.
—Notes: the nominative = "krzesło" (neuter). The first activity is "dynamic"
(with a quality of a set target of the movement, i.e. of a "motion towards"), the second is "static", but the
dynamic "siadać" always uses the same "rekcja" as the static "siedzieć". The
"primary case government" of the preposition "na" is for the locative (d6); let
me repeat it, the "secondary rekcja" (for the accusative (d4)) would be used in
most of the dynamic, "motion-towards" situations ― not those concerning the
action of the verb "siadać", though.

Chłopczyk siada za stołem (d5). — A/The boy takes a seat behind a/the table.
And pretty much the same here—: Chłopczyk siedzi za stołem (d5).
— A/The little boy is sitting behind the table.
—Same thing as before, the only difference being that the natural complement
for the preposition "za" is a word in the instrumental case (d5).

It's really time to finish the story of this declension case, but... I remembered a preposition that ALWAYS
takes the accusative in the word that follows it! :) That preposition is "prz ez " — "through", "across", "by".

Zawsze ostrożnie przechodzę przez ulicę (d4).

— I always go across the street carefully.
(the Polish sentence puts the emphasis on the "carefulness" (that's why "zawsze
ostrożnie" — "always carefully" — goes up front and starts it), so in English
this message would be put best like this: "It's always carefully that I cross /
go across the street."; the nominative = "ulica" (fem.))
Patrzę przez okno (d4). — I'm looking out a/the window.
(in Polish we say "I'm looking through a/the window"; the nominative = "okno"
Ta szafa nie przejdzie przez drzwi (d4)! — This wardrobe will not go through the door!
(the nominative = "drzwi" (always plural))
Koń skacze przez przeszkodę (d4). — A/The horse is jumping [across] a hurdle.
(in English the verb jump can be used transitively, that is: the thing that is
being jumped over simply becomes the direct object, and thus no prepositions are
necessary; in Polish the verb "skakać" is always intrasitive: it cannot have a
direct object and there has to be a preposition ("przez", "nad") used before an
object (an indirect object);
the nominative = "przeszkoda" (fem.);
"przeszkoda" comes from the verb "przeszkadzać": to disturb, to be a trouble,
to be an obstacle/hurdle)
Ten samochód się nie psuje, bo został wyprodukowany przez Niemców (d4).
— This car doesn't break down, because it had been produced by the Germans ;))
(the nominative = "Niemcy" (plural);
singular forms = "Niemiec" (masc.) (d1), "Niemca" (d4))

>>> d5. the instrumental (narzędnik)

a) The main role of the instrumental case is to indicate that a substantive is an instrument or a means (a
method, a way) by which the action of the verb is executed. This "instrument" doesn't always have to be a
physical object.
In English that function of the instrumental is handled by putting "with" in front of the word ("to be doing
something with something"), or with such constructions as "by means of <something>", "using
<something>", or, in specific circumstances: "by <something>".


Piszę list (d4-accu) piórem (d5-instr). — I'm writing a/the letter with a pen.
(the pen is the instrument, the tool of the action of writing; the letter is the
direct object of the action — it is what directly results from the writing;
the nominatives = "list" (masc.), "pióro" (neut.))
Manuela lubi pisać piórem (d5). — Manuela likes to write with a pen.
(side-note: a simple infinitive — ending in "-ć" — comes after the verb "lubić"
when we speak about liking to do something)

Codziennie jadę do szkoły (d2) autobusem (d5). — Daily / Every day I go to school by bus.
(the bus is a means of going;
——it is important to know that in Polish we say:
"idę" ("iś ć" = to go (on foot)): when we go on foot;
—while, when we use some means of transport we say:
"jadę" ("je cha ć" = to ride (.../in/on sth)): for any kind of land vehicle,
"lecę" ("le cie ć" = to fly (in/on sth)): for any air/space transport,
or "płynę" ("pł yną ć" = to float (in/on sth)): for water transport;
with all these verbs (jechać, lecieć, płynąć) the specific vehicle is usually
indicated by a noun in the instrumental;
—off-topic: we have a use of the genitive in this sentence: "do szkoły (d2)"
(to school) — the preposition "do" is always followed by a word in the genitive;
the nominatives = "szkoła" (fem.), "autobus" (masc.))

Mieszam zupę (d4) łyżką (d5). — I'm stirring (=~ mixing) the soup with a laddle.
(the nominatives = "zupa" (fem.), "łyżka" (fem.); the soup — direct object, the
laddle — the tool of the action)
Nie wiem, jak opisać to (d4) słowami (d5). — I don't know how to describe it with words.
(the nominatives = "to" (neuter) (= it, this),
"słowa" (plural, d1) — "słowo" (sing.,neutr.,d1))
Nie wiem, jak wyrazić to (d4) jednym słowem (d5).
— I don't know how to express that with one word.
(the nominative = "(jedno) słowo" (neuter))
Pisarz oczarowuje czytelników (d4) opowieścią (d5).
— The writer enchants the readers with the story.
(the readers, being the direct object of the enchanting, are also the direct
object of the sentence — so, they come in the accusative;
the nominatives: "czytelnik" (singular, masc., d1), "czytelnika" (d4),
"czytelnicy" (plural, d1), "czytelników" (pl., d4); "opowieść" (singular, fem.,

Note that the action doesn't have to be intentional:

Ubrudziłam sobie (d3) bluzkę (d4) sosem pomidorowym (d5).

— I soiled [fem.v.form] myself the blouse with tomato sauce.
(this is also an interesting sentence because we have three different
grammatical cases in use here:
(1) the direct object of the sentence is the blouse, because it was the blouse
that was soiled;
however, (2) we also have an indirect object, because the soiling of the blouse
really affected — personally even more than grammatically ;) — the owner of it:
the "me" (a woman) in the sentence; it is the "me" who is complaining about the
misfortune and its consequences; for that reason we have a reflexive dative
[this reflexive dative "sobie" — just like the accusative "się" — is
universal: "(to) myself", "(to) yourself", "(to) himself", "(to) herself", "(to)
ourselves", etc.];
and finally, (3) we have "the means", "the method", or "the instrument" of the
soiling ;) — with tomato sauce: this comes in the instrumental;
the nominatives:
"sobie", being universal to all gram. persons it, doesn't have just one
nominative: well, in this case it would be "ja";
"bluzka" (fem., d1), "sos (masc.) pomidorowy (adj. -masc.) (d1)")

b) Probably the second most frequent use of the instrumental is that when it is coupled with the verb
"być" (to be) in all sentences of the type:
I/you/he/they... am (are) / was (were) / will be... somebody/something.
(those sentences speak of a function, a role in life, a status in it, etc.)
ATTENTION: this "somebody/something" means a noun. If the word after the (conjugated) "być" is an
adjective, then that adjective is put in the nominative (the "basic form" — the only thing to take care of there
is to make it agree with the subject about the gender: masculine, feminine, or neuter).

Manuela jest aktorką (d5) i piosenkarką (d5). — Manuela is an actress and a singer.
(the nominatives: "aktorka" (fem.), "piosenkarka" (fem.))
Basia jest prześliczną dziewczyną (d5). — Basia is a wonderously beautiful girl.
(the nominative = "(prześliczna) dziewczyna" (fem.))
Panna Santos jest Brazylijką (d5). — Miss Santos is a Brazilian.
(the nominative = "Brazylijka" (fem.), the masculine form is "Brazylijczyk"(d1))
Robert DeNiro jest sławnym aktorem (d5) i reżyserem (d5).
— Robert DeNiro is a famous actor and director.
(the nominatives: "(sławny) aktor" (masc.), "(sławny) reżyser" (masc.))
Martin Luther King był odważnym człowiekiem (d5).
— Martin Luther King was a brave man (person).
(the nominative: "(odważny) człowiek" (masc.))
Jane Goodall ratowała goryle (d4). Ona też była dobrym i odważnym człowiekiem (d5).
— Jane Goodall was saving gorillas. She too was a good and a brave person.
(the nominatives: "goryle" (plural, d4 has the same form as d1),
"goryl" (sing.,masc.,d1); "(odważny i dobry) człowiek" (masc.))
Musiałby być wariatem (d5), żeby to zrobić! — He would have to be a madman to do it!
(the nominative: "wariat" (masc.) → a female "wariat" is "wariatka" (a madwoman ;);
a more natural way to express this message in English would have been "He would
have to be crazy to..." — with an adjective)
On będzie tu nowym szefem (d5). — He will be the new boss here.
(the nominative = "(nowy) szef" (masc.) → female boss = "szefowa" (fem., d1))

As said before — the situation is different when the words describing the person are just solo adjectives —
without nouns. Then, the adjectives come in the nominative — the "basic" form (whose gender, let me repeat,
must agree with that of the subject). Look at these examples and compare them to those above to see the

Manuela jest utalentowana (adjective, d1). — Manuela is talented.

(...—Let's play and add a noun now... we'll get, for example:
Manuela jest utalentowaną (adj. d5) aktorką (noun, d5)).

Basia jest prześliczna (adjective, d1). — Basia is wonderously beautiful.

Ta kawa jest brazylijska (adj. d1). — This coffee is Brazilian.

(additional information: in Polish, differently than in English, the adjectives
relating to countries and nationalities are written all in lower-case letters;
.. and we don't use stand-alone nationality adjectives to refer to people's
nationalities: in English you can say "He is a Pole (noun)." or "He is Polish (adj.)."
— in Polish you cannot say "On jest polski." ... unless you're talking about an
object (a material thing) that comes from Poland and has a masculine noun for
its name:
"To jest mój telewizor (masc.). On jest polski."
("This is my TV-set. It [literally: He] is Polish.");
the only way to talk about people is: "On jest Polakiem (noun, d5).", "Ona jest Polką
(noun, d5)." (the nominatives: "Polak" (masc.), "Polka" (fem.); unlike the
adjectives mentioned above, the nouns for representatives of nations are written
starting with a capital letter.)

DeNiro jest sławny (adj. d1). — DeNiro is famous.

Martin Luther King był odważny (adj. d1). — Martin Luther King was brave.
Jane była bardzo (adverb —adverbs are not inflected) dobra (adj. d1). — Jane was very good.
Musiałby być szalony (adj. d1), żeby to zrobić! — He would have to be crazy to do it!
Miejmy nadzieję, że będzie odpowiedzialny (adj. d1).
— Let's hope that he will be responsible.

c) There are some verbs that take the direct object in the instrumental. The list is not long, and even
though I don't intend to present here that entire list, I believe there must be only few that I have left out :)

(>) zostawać / stawać się (kimś (d5)) — to become (somebody) — talking about a role, a job,
a function, or about acquiring a certain quality or status; "zostawać" is only used to talk about jobs and
functions; "stawać się" is used when the personal aspect of the role is important; also, "stawać się" can be
followed with a stand-alone adjective, and then we have the same situation as in the point "b)" above)

Został aktorem (d5) w wieku dwudziestu trzech lat.
— He became an actor at the age of 23.
Wkrótce stał się bardzo sławnym człowiekiem (d5).
— Soon he became a very famous person.
Po pewnym czasie stał się całkiem nieznośny (a solo adjective - d1).
— After a (certain) time he became totally intolerable.
(>) ruszać — to move (something); actually, ruszać can take direct object either in the instrumental
or (like most other verbs) in the accusative — and it's not a matter of free choice, really:

- ruszać + a word in the accusative — when we move an object from one place to another (and
leave it there); it is usually, but not exclusively, used with objects that are rather heavy and difficult to move,
push, etc.; because the action is rarely continuous or repetitive, in most cases the perfective for of the verb is
used ("ruszyć" — ""to have moved""). Ex.:

Musimy jakoś ruszyć tę szafę (d4). — We have to move this wardrobe somehow.
(the nominative = "(ta) szafa" (fem.))
Jak to (d4) ruszyć? — How to move this?
(the nominative = "to" (neut.); the "it" doesn't always mean something physical:
this is a popular phrase to use in situations when you need to do something
difficult, especially when it's about solving some practical problem that you
have never tried yourself against before, so you don't know even how to start:
"Where do I start?", "How do I go about this?")
Ruszałeś moje rzeczy (d4)? — Have you touched [masc.v.form] my things?
(literally it is: "Have you moved my things?", but the kind of situation when
this sentence is used would be when you see that somebody was manipulating your
personal belongings while you were away (a visible evidence of which would
probably be that the things have changed position): in English the verb "to
touch" is used for the occasion;
the nominative: "(moje) rzeczy" (plural) → "(moja) rzecz" (sing.,fem,d1))
—Notice that the direct object in accusative means that the negatives for those sentences are built with the
direct object in the genitive:
Nie ruszaj moich rzeczy (d2)! — Don't touch my things!
(the nominative = "(moje) rzeczy" (plural))
Nie będę ruszać Twoich rzeczy (d2). — I will not touch your things.
(the nominative = "(Twoje) rzeczy" (plural))

And now we move from an actual off-topic to something on-topic :) — which is the second usage of the
verb ruszać — this time, finally, with a word that follows the verb being put in the instrumental:

- ruszać + a wo rd in the in str ume nta l — when we move move parts of our body, or when
we make controlled movements with an object by holding it in our hand(s) or as if we were holding it in our
hand(s). Ex.:

Boli mnie, gdy ruszam prawą ręką (d5). — I feel pain when I move my right hand.
(more literally: "It gives me pain when..."; the nominative = "(prawa) ręka" (fem.))

Nie ruszaj głową (d5)! — Don't move your head!

(...something you might hear at a hairdresser's :) ; notice that having the
direct object in the instrumental (and not in the accusative) in positive
sentences, the rekcja of this "ruszać" maintains the instrumental also for the
the nominative = "głowa" (fem.))

Rusz myszką (d5). — Move the (computer) mouse.

(the nominative = "myszka" (fem.))

Ludzie na łodzi powoli ruszają wiosłami (d5).

— The people on the boat slowly move the oars.
(the nominative = "wiosła" (plural), "wiosło" (sing., neut.))
(>) opiekować się (+ a word in the instrumental: kimś (d 5) / czymś (d5 ))
— to look after (somebody / something)

W weekendy opiekuję się moim chorym ojcem (d5).

— On weekends I look after my sick father.
(the nominative = "(mój) (chory) ojciec" (masc.))

Ta kobieta nie opiekuje się swoim dzieckiem (d5) dobrze.

— This woman doesn't look after her child well.
(the nominative = "(jej / (swoje)) dziecko" (neut.)
again, the direct object being in the instrumental case means that it stays in
the instrumental also in this negative sentence;
"dobrze" is an adverb — these are non-inflected: they always stay the same)

Czy będziesz opiekować się moim kotem (d5), gdy mnie nie będzie?
— Will you look after my cat when I'm not here?
(the nominative = "(mój) kot" (masc.);
side-note: notice that in Polish we put that subordinate clause — the part
after the "gdy / when" — in the future tense in this kind of situation: talking
about a a future possibility/condition)

(>) zajmować się (kimś (d 5) / czymś (d5 )) — to take care of / to deal with /
to be/get busy with / to do as one's occupation or special interest

W pracy zajmuję się rachunkowością (d5).

— At work I deal with accountancy. / ... I take care of the accountancy.
(the nominative = "rachunkowość" (fem.) —of course, there's no need for you to
remember this particular noun: I just had to think of something that you can be
dealing with at work, so as to demonstrate the meaning of the verb)

Zajmę się tym (d5)! — I'll deal with this! / I'll take care of this!
(the nominative = "to" (neuter))

Zajmij się swoimi sprawami (d5)! — Take care of your own business!
(meaning: "It's not your cup of tea!", "Mind your own business!";
"sprawy" (pl., d1) — matters, issues; "sprawa" (sing., d1))

Ona kiedyś trochę zajmowała się sportem (d5).

— At some point in the past she used to do (...) /
/ she used to have something to do with (...) sports.
(the slash separates two translation versions, each carrying a moderately
different meaning: that's because the Polish "zajmować się" is somewhat
ambiguous (imprecise): it's difficult to say clearly by the light of that
sentence if the "she" was an active sportswoman, or if she was doing something
"around" the sports: she might have been a sports journalist for example;
without a context we would usually assume an active involvement: i.e., that she
was doing the sports, that she was a sportswoman;
the nominative = "sport" (masc.))

Oni wiedzą, jak zajmować się dzieckiem (d5). — They know how to take care of a child.
(the nominative = "dziecko" (neut.))

(>) chwalić się (czymś (d 5 ) / also: kimś (d5 ) )

— to boast (about) something (somebody), to pride oneself on something
Mój sąsiad bez przerwy chwali się swoją znajomością (d5) japońskiego(d2).
— My neighbour incessantly boasts his command of Japanese.
(notice the use of the instrumental, but also the use of the genitive
— in the nominative: "the knowledge / command of Japanese"
= "znajomość (d1) japońskiego (d2)";
the nominative = "japoński" (adj., masc.))

Nie chwalę się swoimi sukcesami (d5). — I don't boast about my successes.
("moje / (swoje) sukcesy" (pl.,d1), "mój / (swój) sukces" (sing.,d1))

(>) kierować (czymś (d 5 ) / also: kimś (d5 ) )

— to steer / to direct (a team of people)
/ to drive (a car)

Mój tata kierował działem (d5) transportu (d2).

— My dad directed the transport department. ["... the department of transport."]
(the nominatives = "dział" (masc.), "transport" (masc.))

Kto kieruje tym samochodem (d5)? — Who is driving this car?

(the nominative = "(ten) samochód" (masc.);
side-note: an alternative — and equally much used — verb meaning "to drive (a
motor-vehicle)" is "prowadzić (r4)": notice that prowadzić comes with the
standard case government for transitive verbs, which means it is followed by a
word in the accusative; therefore, the sentence above, given the other verb for
"to drive", would look as follows:
"Kto prowadzi ten samochód (d4)?"))

Przypadek kierował jego życiem (d5). — Chance directed his life.

(the nominative = "(jego) życie" (fem.))

Kiedyś będę kierować miejskim autobusem (d5).

— I will drive a city bus some day / at some point in the future.
(the nominative = "(miejski) autobus" (masc.);
side-note: the same sentence using the alternative verb "prowadzić":
"Kiedyś będę prowadzić miejski autobus (d4).")

(>) sterować (czymś (d5 )) — to steer, to control

Pilot steruje samolotem (d5). — A/The pilot steers a/the plane.

(the nominative = "samolot" (masc.))

On nigdy nie sterował łodzią (d5). — He has never steered a boat.

(the nominative = "łódź" (fem.); no change of case for the object substantive —
but you already know that only the accusatives change)

Ruchami (d5) robota (d2) steruje komputer (d1).

— A computer controls the movements of the robot.
("ruchy" (pl.,d1), "ruch" (sing.,d1), "robot" (masc.,d1);
sorry for adding a little complication, but you should also be prepared for
this, because that's just an element of natural Polish: observe that the
sentence has an inversed word order — the subject ("komputer") has been moved to
the last position in the sentence; that sentence is in no significant way
different from this one: "Komputer steruje ruchami robota.", with the exception
that the first one — the one in the example — looks and sounds more natural: the
reader/listener would have a natural tendency expect the most significant,
informative part of the sentence to come at its end, so that's the position we
try to shift it to. In English, that same expectation of the reader/listener has
to be satisfied through the use of passive voice: "The movements of the robot are
controlled by a computer.")

d) As with the three cases before, we have a few prepositions which govern the instrumental case.
One of them is pretty characteristic, because it always comes with a word in the instrumental, and besides...
... We already know that the main function of the instrumental is to speak about the tools and means of an
action, which is something that in English we achieve most of the time by using constructions like "I did
something with something else", where the "something else" is the tool or the means — right?
Well, we also know that the preposition "with" is used in other contexts as well — for example, in the
sentence "I'm walking with my friend," the friend is not a tool :)
Now, the thing is that the Polish preposition "with" — "z / ze " — always comes with the instrumental,
but we use it only in the "together with" meaning; so, we say:

Naprawiam kran (d4) kluczem francuskim (d5).

— I'm repairing a/the faucet with a monkey wrench.
(the nominatives: "kran" (masc.), "klucz francuski" (masc.);
"kran" (the faucet) is the direct object here, and so — in the regular fashion
— it comes in the accusative; "klucz francuski" is the tool of the action and it
comes in the instrumental — there's no reason to put the Polish preposition "z /
ze" here, of course)

—And now look at this sentence:

Naprawiam kran (d4) z sąsiadem (d5).

— I'm repairing the faucet (together) with ~my~ neighbour.
(the nominative = "sąsiad" (masc.) → a female neighbour: "sąsiadka" (fem.))

—Notice the similarity and the difference between those two sentences. In English both of them could be
nearly identical — the only thing to do is to replace a tool with a person :) (even though adding the word
"together" does make the sentence read nicer). In Polish we don't use the "z / ze" when talking about
about about a tool / an instrument...
...HOWEVER: I guess that the association with the English usage, where "with" is applied to instruments,
might help memorizing that the case to be used after the Polish preposition "with" (i.e., the "z / ze") is
always the instrumental.
OK, I need to clarify here that "z / ze" is not used exclusively in the meaning of "together with": its usage
is really quite similar to that in English — the major (only?) difference probably lies in it never being used in
designating the tools and means of actions. See it for yourself on a few more examples:

Ona bawi się z jego dzieckiem (d5). — She is playing with his child.
(the nominative = "(jego) dziecko" (neut.)
notice the ambiguity of the English expression "to play with": it can mean "to
engage in mutual entertainment", but it can also be read as: "to manipulate, to
treat (a person) instrumentally" ― the right interpretation largely depends on a
context; in Polish, there is no equivocality here: to convey that more sinister,
underhand message of the English phrase, one would have to leave out the "z", so
as to make the sentence look this way: "Ona bawi się jego dzieckiem.")

Coś jest nie w porządku z tą truskawką (d5). Chyba jest zepsuta.

— Something is wrong [lit.: "not in order"] with this strawberry.
I think [lit.: "possibly / likely"] it is gone bad.
(the nominative = "(ta) truskawka" (fem.))

Bardzo lubię ciasto z truskawkami (d5). — I really like a cake with strawberries.
[lit.: "I much like..."]
(the nominative = "truskawki" (plural))
Mam masę kłopotów z moim kotem (d5). On w ogóle nie słucha się mnie!
— I have a lot of trouble with my cat. It wouldn't obey me at all!
(the nominative = "(mój) kot"
"słuchać się (r2) <kogoś (d2)>" ― to listen to and obey orders of somebody)

—As an ending note for the description of Polish preposition "with" — "z / ze" — (and of its usage with
objects in the instrumental case), let me remind you to be cautioned that the same-looking preposition "z /
ze" (but followed by a word in the genitive) has a very different meaning — look back into the section
about the genitive for details.

There are a few more prepositions which want the words that follow them to be in the instrumental.
Actually, I can now think of four, and let's hope that this is about all of them :) Here they are:

- "na d", "pon ad " — over, above

- "po d" — under
- "za " — behind (, beyond)
- "mi ędz y <kimś/czymś (d 5) > a <kimś/czymś innym (d5 )>",
"mi ędz y / po mię dzy <jakimiś ludźmi/rzeczami (pl ur al ,d 5) >",
— between <somebody/something> (and <somebody/something else>)
between <some people/things>
- "pr zed " — in front of, before

All of these prepositions define position in space (the last one can also be used to speak about time).
Remember that in Polish we have this situation where spatial (space-related, position-related) prepositions
can be followed by objects either in the grammatical case which is specific for those particular prepositions
(like the instrumental for "nad", "pod", "za", "przed") or in the accusative. (I'm talking here about
something I call the "dual-rekcja".) The accusative is used when a preposition comes with a verb
expressing the notion of "motion towards". Look back into the section about the accusative for more details.
Here we shall just have a few examples of the mentioned prepositions in circumstances where the verb does
not speak of a "motion towards" the location pointed to by them, and so — where they come with an object in
the instrumental:

("nad ")

Mucha lata mi (d3) nad głową (d5). — A fly is flying above my head.
(the nominatives = "ja" (pers. pronoun), "głowa" (fem.);
"mi" is the dative in the function of showing "the one who is affected by the
action" — again, when relating things in Polish we look at things from the more
personal perspective of "the one who is affected by the darned fly" rather than
from that of "the one whose head the insect is over" :);
yes, I know that the verb "to fly" is not exactly "static", but here it is used
in its imperfective, continuous form, so that the sentence doesn't tell us that
the fly would have been trying to reach a specific place above "my" head; no,
the fly was just flying there, aimlessly, hovering above my head: it might have
been even flying in circles ;))

Nad nami (d5) świeci słońce. — Above us the sun is shining.

(the nominative = "my" (personal pronoun))

Trzymam parasol wysoko nad głową (d5).

— I'm holding the umbrella high above ~my~ head.
(the nominative = "głowa" (fem.))

("pod ")

Zgubiłaś klucze? Poszukaj pod łóżkiem (d5).

— Have you lost [fem.v.form] the keys? Look/Make a search under the bed.
(the nominative = "łóżko" (neut.);
"szukać" (to make a search, to look for something) is not a verb associated
with motion: it's an action that goes on in a specific location, but does not
have the character of an aimed movement from a point A to a point B)

Nie ma nic lepszego pod słońcem (d5) niż truskawki!

— There is nothing better under the sun than strawberries!
(this is a fairly popular — even if a little oldfashioned now — way of saying
that something is really great and that you love it :))

Nie mogę się ruszyć! Utknąłem pod biurkiem (d5)! Pomocy!

— I can't move! I got stuck [fem.v.form] under the desk! ~Somebody~ help me!
(the nominative = "biurko" (neut.))

("za ")

Gdzie jest mój kot? On może być za szafą.

— Where is my cat? He/It can be behind the wardrobe.
(the nominative = "szafa" (fem.))

Za siedmioma górami (d5), za siedmioma lasami (d5),

żyła sobie kiedyś piękna królewna.
— (In a land situated) beyond seven mountains, beyond seven forests,
once upon a time there lived a beautiful princess.
(the nominatives:
"górami" = (d5,pl.) of "góry" = (d1,pl.) of "góra" (d1,sing.,fem.);
"lasami" = (d5,pl.) of "lasy" = (d1,pl.) of "las" (d1,sing.,masc.);
—this "Beyond seven..." (actually "Beyond the seventh..." would have been better
English) is the classic opening phrase for fairy-tales in Polish: for us to say
" a land far, far away" wouldn't be poetic enough :);
—you might also be interested in why it's "żyła sobie" (...'lived "to/for
herself"'...) — well, that's a subject for a separate short lesson.. but, very
briefly: adding "sobie" after a verb that doesn't really require it is a medium
used to emphasise a kind of solitude of the subject; it can also be a means to
focus the attention of the reader/listener on that person/character, to mark
him/her/it as one that the narrotor sympathizees with.)

Zobacz, czy ktoś nie idzie za nami (d5). — See if there is nobody walking behind us.
(the nominative = "my" (pronoun);
you might argue here that the verb "to walk" is definitely a "motion verb", but
again: the concept of "motion towards" is that the subject moves towards a
specific place in space — the subject's aim is to reach a specific location;
this is not the case here: if one person keeps following another there is no
place that the follower wants to reach)

("mię dzy ")

Między moim blokiem (d5) a blokiem (d5) mojego znajomego (d2)

stoją dwa inne budynki (d1).
— Between my (apartment) block and the block of my aquaintance
there are two other buildings standing.
(the nominative = "blok" (masc.), "(mój) znajomy" (masc.);
again, "(dwa) (inne) budynki", regardless of their position as last in the
sentence, are the subject here — this sentence could be rewritten this way (and
it would be totally all-right grammatically, only it would look unnatural,
having the informative part of the statement not where the reader/listener would
expect it, i.e., at the end of the sentence): "Dwa inne budynki stoją między...")
Między naszymi blokami (d5) stoją dwa inne budynki (d1).
— Between our (apartment) blocks there are two other buildings standing.

Gdy piszesz, rób większe przerwy (d4) między literami (d5)!

— When you write, make bigger gaps [spaces] between letters!
(the nominatives:
"(większe) przerwy" (pl.,d1), "(większa) przerwa" (sing.,fem.,d1),
"litery" (pl.), "litera" (sing.,fem.,d1);
"przerwa" — an empty space between two things (usually a little one), a gap, a
"robić" (to do, to make) has the standard rekcja (r4), so plural "przerwy" come
in the accusative (which looks the same as the nominative for most plural

W szkole (d6), przerwa to czas między jedną lekcją (d5) a drugą (d5).
— At school, the break is the time between one lesson/class and another
[literally: and the second ~one~].
(the nominatives =
= "szkoła" (fem.), "(jedna) lekcja" (fem.) "druga (lekcja)" (fem.);
side-note_1: "w szkole (d6 -locative)" results from the rekcja of the preposition
"w" ("in" (sometimes "at");
side-note_2: the "to " used here is not an "it" nor a "this"... actually, that's a
matter that surely deserves more than just a short mention :)... but, in a nutshell:
this "to" acts as a linking verb, working much like the English "to be", or the Polish
"być" when you want to characterize the subject by equalling it to another substantive:
it's use is limited only to substantives ― the "thing of reference" cannot be an
adjective here. One could say that the function of this "to" is quite similar to that of
the verb "być" as described in the point "b)" of this section (the section about the
instrumental): they are both ways of specifying the character or the qualities of the
subject; the difference is subtle, and so is the choice of the method to use.
In general terms, one could say that the variant with "być" is used more to talk about a
role, a function, something attained or acquired, and probably not exhausting all that
the speaker can say about that particular subject.
The construction with the "to", on the other hand, would be preferred when specifying
more intrinsic qualities and characteristics, or ones that are so dominant that they
practically encapsulate the nature of the subject (at least, from the speaker's
perspective), as if allowing for a clear categorization:
"<the subject> equals <a substantive representing a ciass of characteristic things>;
Ex.: "Kot to zwierzę domowe." ― "Cat is a pet animal."
However, this distinction is not very strict.
One important thing to remember is that "być" is always conjugated and, in this
function, it is always followed by an object in the instrumental (d5), whereas the "to"
is not inflected in any way and joins with substantives in the nominative (the "basic"
case, d1))

Żaba ma błony (d4) między palcami (d5), żeby lepiej pływać.

— A frog has membranes between ~its~ fingers in order to swim better.
(the nominatives: "błony" (pl.d1), "błona" (sing.,fem.,d1),
"palce" (pl.d1), "palec" (sing.,masc.,d1) — it's worth
mentioning here that the Polish "palec"/"palce" refer refer to any digit/digits:
both to the fingers, and to the toes)

Jaka jest odległość (d1) między tymi miastami (d5)?

— What is the distance between these cities?
(the nominative: "(te) miasta" (pl.d1), "(to) miasto" (sing.,neut.,d1))

Między czerwoną kurtką (d5) a niebieską (d5) nie ma różnicy (d2) w cenie (d6).
— Between the red jacket and the blue one there is no difference in price.
(the nominatives: "(czerwona) kurtka" (fem.), "niebieska (sukienka)" (fem.adj.),
"różnica" (fem.), "cena" (fem.);
"nie ma" comes with a word ("różnica") in the genitive... because? :)
That's right! — because it's a classic sentence of the
"there is no ... / there are no ..." type, whiere the direct object always comes in
the genitive — and the exact reason of that is explained in the section about
the genitive (shortly speaking: "mieć" is a typical r4-verb);
it's "w cenie (d6 -locative)" because the lexical unit "różnica w ..." uses
the "primary" rekcja for the preposition "w", which is one for the locative;
most colligations in which the preposition is coupled with a word other than a
verb use the "primary" case government of the prepositions they incorporate;
the locative is the case dealt with in the next section)

("prz ed ")

Przed szkołą (d5) czekali uczniowie (d1).

— There were students waiting in front of the school.
(the nominatives:
"szkoła" (fem.), "uczniowie" (students, pupils)) — plural,d1,
"uczeń" (a male student; also used in a non-gender-specific designation) — masc.
"uczennica" (a female student) — fem.;
additionally, a group consisting solely of female students would be referred to as: "uczennice" — pl.,fem.,d1
the word "uczeń" applies to the students of primary and secondary schools:
at the university level we have: "student" (masc. and generic), "studentka" (fem.),
"studenci" ("studentki") (pl.)
"uczniowie" is the subject of the sentence, but because it is also the most
material element of it (the sentence is all about saying that it was students —
and not somebody else — that were waiting in front of the school), we want that
word at the end, because that's where the reader's/the listener's attention
would focus)

Stanęliśmy przed wyborem (d5): poddać się, albo walczyć dalej.

— We stood [we came to stand] before a choice: to give up or to fight on.
(the nominative = "wybór" (masc.))

Rozmawiałem z nią (d5) przed dwiema godzinami (d5).

— I was talking [masc.v.form] with her two hours ago [literally: before two hours].
(the nominative = "(dwie) godziny" (plural))

>>> d6. the locative (miejscownik)

There will be no sub-points (a, b, c, ..., n ;)) in the description of this case. This case is used only following
certain prepositions. That's why in English terminology it is sometimes called "the prepositional case". The
name "locative" comes from the fact that many of the prepositions have to do with location. But — as you
have already seen — quite a number of prepositions associated with location come with objects in other
declension cases (the instrumental, the genitive, the accusative), and... there is at least one very important
preposition that does not refer to location and yet it always comes with the locative. We are going to start
with that one:

"o" — no mistake: just one letter "o" :) — it stands for: "about" (but only in the sense of something being a
subject/topic/matter of a conversation, etc., and not as a synonym of: "circa", "around", "approximately")

O kim (d6) mówicie? — About whom are you talking? / Who are you talking about?
(the nominative = "kto" (interrogative pronoun))

Rozmawiamy o naszym sąsiedzie (d6).

— We are talking / having a conversation about our neighbour.
(the nominative = "(nasz) sąsiad" (masc.); the feminine variant is "sąsiadka")

Ta książka jest o psach (d6). — This book is about dogs.

(the nominative = "psy" = plural of "pies")

Sąsiadka mówiła dobrze o Twoim psie (d6).

— The (female) neighbour spoke well of/about your dog.
(the nominative = "(Twój) pies" (masc.))

O czym (d6) był film, który oglądałaś wczoraj?

— About what was the movie that you watched [fem.v.form] yesterday?
(again, that's not an example of good English, but the syntax corresponds well
to that of the Polish sentence; the nominative = "co" (interrogative pron.))

Wczorajszy (adj.) film był o zaczarowanym kocie (d6).

— The yesterday's movie was about an enchanted cat.
(the nominative = "(zaczarowany) kot" (masc.))

There is also a different, second use to the preposition "o" — it is placed before the number of the hour when
giving the time; also: before one of several time-specifying nouns (most notably: the word "pora": the time,
the hour, the moment) — the corresponding English preposition for these situations is the "at". In this use
the preposition "o" also governs the locative:

Mój pociąg wyrusza o godzinie szóstej (d6).

— My train departs at six (o'clock). [more literally: "... at the sixth hour"]
(the nominative = "(szósta) godzina" (fem.))

Maybe it's not very pertinent to the essence of our subject here, but a few explanations seem inevitable. The number expressing the
hour in Polish is an ordinal number, and as such it is inflected in confirmity with the declension pattern of ordinal numbers, which
happens to be the same as that of adjectives. Also, it is customary to put that ordinal number after (rather than before) the word
"godzina" (in accord with the general tendency to place the more material words after those carrying less meaning). Usually,
however, — with the exception of the very formal or bureaucratic usage — the noun "godzina" is altogether omitted, leaving just the
"bare" ordinal number: still in the feminine variant and appropriately inflected:

O szóstej (fem.ord.num.,d6) zwykle nie ma mnie (d2) jeszcze w domu (d6).

— At six I'm usually not home yet.
[syntax translation: "At the sixth usually there is not me yet at home."]
(the nominatives = "szósta" (fem. ordinal no.), "ja" (pers.pron.), dom (masc.);
"domu (d6)" is demanded by the case government of the preposition "w": more
about it in a few lines' time :))

O tej porze (d6) zazwyczaj jeszcze pracuję (verb).

— At this/that time I'm usually still working. (... I'm usually still at work)
(the nominative = "pora" (fem.); "zazwyczaj" = "zwykle")

Other prepositions followed by a word in the locative case are:

- "w / we " — in, inside

("we" — like the "ze" for the "z" — is a version of the preposition used when necessary to make
pronounciation possible).
- "na " — on, on top of
- "po " — 1. over the surface/area/space of — said of people/things moving, spreading, spilling, etc., over an
area or space; all over
2. after — when speaking about time; notice that the contrasted word "przed" (before) uses d5)
- "prz y" — at, right next to; also: by me/you/him/her , by my/your/his/her side

And these are all the prepositions showing locative rekcja that I can think of. (I'm sorry, I don't have a list to
check that against, so you will have to rely on my memory, but I really doubt I could miss any significant one;
and I don't actually presume to create any complete lexicons — my goal is to present the most important and
representative examples.) Bear in mind, though, that those few prepositions — I'm talking especially of the
"o", "w" and "na" (about, in, and on) — are probably the most used of all.

Let's see some examples now, shall we? :)

("w / we ")

Dzień dobry! Czy Piotr jest w domu (d6)? — Good morning! Is Peter at home?
(the nominative = "dom" (masc.)
notice that in Polish we use the preposition "in" ("w") with the word "home",
and that we don't have a distinction between the "home" and the "house" — both
things (one's regular place of residence, and a stand-alone building to live in)
are called "dom")

O rany! W lodówce (d6) już nie ma mleka (d2)!

— Shucks! There's no milk left in the fridge!
(the nominatives = "lodówka" (fem.), "mleko" (neut.);
I think the reason for the "milk" landing in genitive case here must be obvious
for you all by now ― if it's not, I can only suggest that you come back to the
section on the genitive;
"już" actually means "already" or "anymore" ― here, it is used emphtically to
express the surprise and disappointment at not finding the milk when it's
needed, rather than to convey simple information or to intimate that the milk is
running out too quickly in the household ;) (that last allusion could have been
read, had there been an "already" there in the sentence): that's why I went for
the word "left" in the translation.)

Moja sąsiadka zakochała się w aktorze (d6) z telenoweli (d2).

— My (female) neighbour fell in love [fem.v.form] with [Polish uses an "in" here]
an actor from a soap-opera.
(the nominatives = "aktor" (masc.), "telenowela" (fem.);
the preposition "z" (from, of, out of) demands d2 (see the sect. on the genitive)
"to fall in love (with somebody)" — "zakochać się (w kimś (d6))")

Spróbuj postawić się w mojej sytuacji (d6). — Try to put yourself in my position.
(the nominative = "(moja) sytuacja" (fem.))

Co oni widzą we mnie (d6)? — What do they see in me?

[meaning: "What's (so) special about me?"]
(the nominative = "ja" (personal pron.))

Jacek całymi wieczorami siedzi w kinie (d6).

— Jack sits at [Polish uses an "in" here] the cinema all evenings.
(the nominative = "kino" (neut.))

O tej porze zwykle jestem w pracy (d6).

— At this time I am usually at [..."in" again] work [at my workplace].
(the nominative = "praca" (fem.))

Piękniejszego widoku (d2) nie ma w całej Polsce (d6)!

— There isn't a more beautiful view in the whole Poland!
(the nominatives = "(piękniejszy) widok" (masc.), "(cała) Polska" (fem.);
..yet another example of a "there is/are not / there is/are no" type of
sentence, and the use of genitive in it)

W pudełku (d6) są jeszcze dwie czekoladki (d1).

— There are still two chockolates left in the box.
(the nominative = "pudełko" (neut.));
Let me mention it again here that the preposition "w/we" also belongs to the group of those which can
alternatively be followed by an accusative object. However, the usage of the accusative with "w/we" is really
limited — remember that the directional "into" (for the "motion towards" situations) is already covered by
the preposition "do" for most purposes. Thus, the construction »"w/we" + accusative« is used mostly
in situations where something is being stuck or thrusted into something else, or when that "something else"
is the target of punches, kicks, shots, etc.

Look at these two examples:

Mam to w nosie (d6)! — I have this (up) in ~my~ nose!

(the nominative = "nos" (masc.);
here we have the "natural", "static" rekcja of the preposition "w" — for the
I guess you marvel at the choice of an example: yes, the phrase "mieć <coś> w
nosie" does have a figurative meaning :) : it means "to care nothing about
<something>", "to not give a darn about <something>"... I will also add that the version
featuring the nose is an euphemistic one :) —but I'm not saying more :))

Gość zdenerwował się [masc.v.form] i walnął [masc.v.form] mnie w nos (d4).

— The fellow/the guy got angry and smashed me in the nose.
(the nominatives = "ja" (pers.pron.), "nos" (masc.);
the nose was the target of a punch, so it comes in the accusative;
the direct object of the verb is the the "me" — that comes in the accusative as
well; "gość" (masc.) literally means "a/the guest", but in colloquial language
it is used to refer to any male character, just like "guy", "fellow", "bloke",
etc., in English)

Other examples:

Wbił widelec w kurczaka (d4). — He stuck the fork in the chicken.

(the nominative = "kurczak" (masc.))

Wbił wzrok w ziemię (d4).

— He stuck ~his~ eyes [literally: ~his~ sight, ~his~ look] in the ground.
(the nominative = "ziemia" (fem.);
this is quite a commonly used phrase when saying that somebody drooped their
head and remained standing with their eyes to the ground: so to avoid questions
and not to let others read anything out of their face, or when contemplating
something sad)

("na ")

Zawsze zostawiam klucze na stole (d6) w kuchni (d6).

— I always leave the keys on the table in the kitchen.
(the nominatives = "stół" (masc.), "kuchnia" (fem.);
in this sentence we have two different prepositions that both govern the
locative: "na" and "w";
in natural Polish the formula "... na stole w kuchni." would usually be preferred over
"... na kuchennym (adj.) stole." ("... on the kitchen table"), which is the more natural
way to say the thing in English.)

Poczekaj na mnie (d4) na ulicy (d6). — Wait for me (out) on the street.
(the nominatives = "ja" (personal pronoun), "ulica" (fem.);
notice that the verb "(po)czekać" is intransitive, and, being such it doesn't
take a direct object; however, those kinds of verbs often can, and often do,
take complements in form of the so-called "prepositional objects". The English
verb "to wait", used in a context like above, also takes an object via a
preposition: you wait "for somebody/something", not "wait somebody/something";
at least not in the regular, popular usage. The choice of the preposition is a
matter of the idiosyncrasy of a language,... (as we see in this example, where the English "to wait" is
complemented with "for" and "poczekać" is complemented with "na" (which more often corresponds to the English "on"))... but
such intransitive_verb-preposition colligations are stable, and they govern the
case of the following substantive in their own, specific way; very often when
the preposition of such colligation is one of those having "double rekcja" —
like "w/we", "na", "pod" — the rekcja of the entire colligation is the "dynamic"
"secondary rekcja" of the preposition (and that one, let me remind you, is
always for the accusative); that's the explanation of the reason for the
accusative "mnie" after the first "na" of the sentence;
the second "na" (in "na ulicy") has the normal locative function, so it comes
with "ulica" in the locative case: let me, however, reiterate it that if we had
a sentence like "Come out to me on/onto the street." (this supposed to be in imperative
mood) we would frame it this way: "Wyjdź do mnie na ulicę (d4).", because we
have a clear "motion-towards" situation here, and so the accusative form is
needed — see the section about the accusative — d4)

Mam bałagan na głowie (d6). Ale w głowie (d6) mam porządek.

— I have a mess on my head. But in my head I have an order.
(again, as in the first example in this group, we have the prepositions "na" and
"w" — and they both go with a word in the locative; the nominative = "głowa"

U psychoanalityka (d2) leży się na kozetce (d6).

— At a psychoanalist's one lies [rests] on a couch.
(the nominatives = "psychoanalityk" (masc.), "kozetka" (fem.);
side-notes: 1. when talking about visiting a professional to get a certain type
of service, the corresponding element to the English "at <name of a profession>'s" is
"u <name of a profession in the genitive>";
2. in Polish, the impersonal "one <does something>" is expressed by combining
the third person singular conjugation of the appropriate verb with the reflexive
pronoun "się": "jeść" - "je się" (one eats), "pić" - "pije się" (one drinks), "iść"
- "idzie się" (one goes (on foot))... etc.; no subject is present in this type
impersonal expression in Polish;
however, reflexive verbs, which already use the pronoun "się" because of that
reflexiveness, require the use of a different impersonal construction, one with
a dummy subject "człowiek" (a human, a person): "nudzić się" (to be getting bored)
— "człowiek się nudzi" (one is getting bored, lit.: a person is getting bored))

Najciekawsze informacje w tej gazecie (d6) są na ostatniej stronie (d6).

— The most interesting information in this newspaper are on the last page.
(the nominatives = "(ta) gazeta" (fem.), "(ostatnia) strona" (fem.);
it is worth noting that "informacja" (sing.,fem.,d1) is a countable noun in
Polish (for most of the popular contexts), so it is absolutely normal to speak
of it in plural: "informacje" (pl.,d1); "informacja" = "a piece of information"; the
noun is uncountable when used in the sense of "information service", e.g:
"informacja turystyczna" (tourist information))

Zobacz, co tam leży na ziemi (d6). — See what's lying there on the ground.
[that's in imperative mood, the person addressed being the gram. 2nd.p.sing.]
(the nominative = "ziemia" (fem.))

Siedź prosto na krześle (d6)! — Sit straight on the chair! [imperative, exactly like above]
(the nominative = "krzesło" (neut.))

Na niebie (d6) pojawiła się tęcza (d1).

— A rainbow appeared/has appeared in the sky.
(the nominative = "tęcza" (fem.);
as we've already seen in a few earlier examples, the thing that matters in the
sentence is what appeared in the sky; therefore, the word order is so set as to
put the word "tęcza" in the end, where it will get focused attention of the
Polish uses just one past tense, so, although there is a grammatical
differentiation between completed and uncompleted actions (by means of verbs
taking perfective or imperfective aspect forms), it is only from the context
that one can say if a completed action took place in a distant past or just a
moment ago, and what signifance for the present it has)

Jabłka rosną na jabłoni (d6). — Apples grow on an apple tree.

(the nominative = "jabłoń" (fem.))

("po ")

Samochód jedzie po ulicy (d6). — A/The car is going over a street.

(the nominative = "ulica" (fem.);
the only really well fitting preposition in Polish here is the "po" — (moving)
over (the surface of) — which to you, I understand, must look somewhat odd and
complicated :) "Samochód jechał na ulicy." would be understandable, but
incorrect, and it would look and sound really strange;
for the different verbs applicable to different manners of going ("iść",
"jechać", "lecieć"), look at one of the first examples in the section about the
instrumental — d5.)

Ruszyła (verb) maszyna (d1) po szynach (d6) ospale (adverb).

— The machine started ahead over the tracks sluggishly.
(the nominative = "szyny" (plural) (rails, railroad tracks);
this is a line from the famous Polish children's verse "Lokomotywa" ("The train-
engine") by Julian Tuwim;
yes, the first word of that line is a verb :) (inflected in the 3rd pers. past.
fem.) — the word order of this sentence is rather unusual (but fully correct!)
and motivated by the melodic plan of the verse (that's one of the great things
that the declension affords);
"ruszać" (when intransitive) = to move, to budge, to move ahead, to start, to set off)

Czekając na wyniki (d4), uczniowie nerwowo chodzili po korytarzu (d6).

— Waiting for the results, the students nervously walked (up and down) the corridor.
(the nominatives = "wyniki" (plural) (d1 looks the same as d4 for this noun) →
"wynik" (sing.,masc.,d1), "korytarz" (masc.))
we already know why it's "wyniki" in the accusative after "czekając na", right?
— it's because "czekać na" is a verbal colligation that (as a single lexical
unit) takes its object in the accusative)

Lubię chodzić po mieście (d6).

— I like to walk the city / ... to walk the streets. ["to wander over the area of the city"]
(the nominative = "miasto" (neut.))

Oni uwielbiają biegać boso po plaży (d6). — They love to run barefoot on the beach.
(the nominative = "plaża" (fem.);
"na plaży" would be fine if what was happening on the beach was static and
didn't involve moving over it ("Lubimy czytać na plaży." — "We like to read on the
beach."), or if a sentence was so constructed as to make the beach only the
univolved setting of an activity ("Będąc na plaży, uwielbiamy biegać boso."
— "When on the beach, we love to run barefoot." — "Będąc na plaży..." translates more
literally as "Being on the beach..." : "being" doesn't by itself connote
"uwielbiać" is preferred over "kochać" when referring to favoured things or
activities; "kochać" seems somewhat effusive and affected in such contexts,
unless you speak about activities which are your true life-passions)

Po tym zamku (d6) włóczy się duch (d1). — A ghost wanders over that castle.
(the subject of the sentence (a ghost) is the last word ("duch");
the nominative = "(ten) zamek" (masc.))

Potrąciłam niechcący szklankę (d4) i mleko rozlało się po całym stole (d6).
— I accidentally/unintentionally nudged the glass,
and the milk spilled over the whole table.
(the nominatives = "szklanka" (fem.), "(cały) stół" (masc.))

Wróciłam [fem.v.form] do domu (d2) po dwóch godzinach (d6).

— I came back home after two hours.
(the nominatives = "dom" (masc.), "(dwie) godziny" (fem.);
"domu" (in genitive) is caused by the rekcja of the preposition "do" (to): look
back in the section on the genitive case;
"wracać" = to come back, to return (v.i.))

("prz y")

Siedzę przy stole (d6). — I'm sitting at the table.

(the nominative = "stół" (masc.))

On ciągle siedzi przy komputerze (d6). — He sits at the computer all the time.
(the nominative = "komputer" (masc.);
"ciągle" (adverb) = constantly, continuously, all the time)

Stoję przy oknie (d6) i patrzę w niebo (d4).

— I'm standing by the window and I'm looking in the sky.
(the nominatives = "okno" (neut.), "niebo" (neut.);
"patrzyć na (/w) coś" (to look at (or in) something) is another colligation of an
intransitive verb with a preposition through which the verb affects an object;
we have already learned that such colligations, taken as a unit, have their own
case governments for those objects, and that these governments tend to be
accusative governments when the preposition involved is one of those having
"dual rekcja")

Jego blok stoi przy (ulicy (d6)) Piłsudskiego (d2).

— His (apartment) block stands at Piłsudskiego Street.
(the nominative = "ulica" (fem.); (***"Piłsudski" (surname in masc.form))
"przy" is the preposition used in giving an address; the word "ulica" — which
because of the rekcja of the preposition "przy" comes in the locative — is often
skipped when the context makes it clear that we're speaking of an address;
***trivia: streets in Poland are named with words (the names /the descriptors/ are
always capitalized, the word "ulica" is treated just like every other noun):
those words (descriptors) can be either:
-nouns (usually names of important people or historical events)
-or adjectives (ex.: (ulica) Długa — long (street), Szeroka — wide, Kwiatowa — flowery,
Warszawska — Varsovian [in a town ouside Warsaw this one will usually transform into an
exit road going in the direction of Warsaw]);
if the name of the street is a noun (as in our example, where "Piłsudski" is the
surname of one of Poland's greatest political leaders),
then it always comes in the genitive — that's because what we have there is a
structure with the meaning of "the street of <somebody /something>": this relation of
(grammatical) "belonging" is permanent and, since it is expressed by the "possessor"
being in the genitive, the inflection of the word "ulica" never influences the genitive
form of the descriptor (thus, you will always see the street referred to as
"Piłsudskiego" — in English-language publications that will be "Piłsudskiego Street" —
although "Piłsudskiego" is just a functional form of "Piłsudski");
if, on the other hand, the street name is an adjective (and it is always a feminine
variant of the adjective, because "ulica" is feminine),
then that (adjective) descriptor has to be inflected, just as all adjectives are; the
thing is, though, only two forms are required in most contexts: the nominative ("Długa /
Szeroka / Kwiatowa / Warszawska"), and the locative (for the more or less interchangable
reference prepositions "na" and "przy": "na/przy Długiej / Szerokiej / Kwiatowej / Warszawskiej))
Moja babcia była zawsze przy mnie (d6), gdy jej potrzebowałam.
— My grandma was [fem.v.form] always by my side when I needed [fem.v.form] her.
(the nominative = "ja" (personal pronoun))

—A general note on usage: in the examples above the only preposition to be used is "przy". It's worth
remembering, however, that in situations where things or people are not standing really close together
(almost touching) and when we're not speaking about emotional proximity, the preposition "obok" is often a
better choice — it is a bit more universal. Attention!: "obok" is always followed by words in genitive (d2)!
"tuż obok" means that the distance is really small. Look at these examples:

Szklanka stoi przy talerzu (d6). — A/The glass is standing right next to a/the plate.
(the nominative = "talerz" (masc.))
Szklanka stoi (tuż) obok talerza (d2). — ((nearly) the same meaning)

Na zdjęciu (d6) stoję przy moim koledze (d6).

— In the photo, I'm standing right next to my (male) friend.
(the nominatives = "zdjęcie" (neut.), "(mój) kolega" (masc.) [female friend is
"(moja) koleżanka"];
"zdjęcie" in the locative is dictated by the preposition "na" (obviously, the
picture is not a goal of any movement, so the preposition "na" operates in its
"primary rekcja" here))
Na zdjęciu (d6) stoję (tuż) obok mojego kolegi (d2). — ((nearly) the same meaning)

>>> d7. the vocative (wołacz)

The vocative is a very special case with an extremely limited use. It's sole role is to mark the person(s) or
thing(s) being directly addressed by the speaker — when the speaker wants to call them, call their attention,
summon them for witness or for help (like in exclamations: "God!", "God, ...", "Good heavens!", etc.), or
when the speaker needs to make it clear that the message of the sentence is directed to them, or that the
actual object of it is them.


Mamo (d7), chodź tu na chwilę. — Mom, come here for a minute. [imperative, 2nd.p.sing]
(the nominative = "mama" (fem.))

Nie, tatusiu (d7), dziś nie dam rady przyjechać.

— No, daddy, I won't be able to come over today.
(the nominative = "tatuś" (masc., dimunitive of "tato"/"tata" (two alternative
nominative forms);
side-note: "nie dać rady ((z)robić czegoś)" — colloquial: to be not able to
do/accomplish something, to have no possiblity/conditions to do/accomplish something)

Powiedz mi (d3) prawdę (d4), Aniu (d7). — Tell me the truth, Ann.
(the nominative = "ja" (pers.pron.), "prawda" (fem.),
"Ania" (feminine first name))

Ach, ty niedobry kocie (d7)! — Ah, you bad cat!

(the nominative = "(niedobry) kot" (masc.)
the "ty" is facultative, but a "ty" ("wy" - when adressing a group) placed
before a vocative adds an extra emotional quality to an exclamation))

(Mój) Boże (d7), to straszne! — (My) God, this ~is~ terrible!

(the nominative = "(mój) Bóg" (masc.);
in sentences corresponding to those in English which start "This is ...", the "is"
("jest") would usually be dropped, especially if what follows is a bare
adjective (or adverb); if the complement is a substantive, it comes in the
nominative, so we have, e.g., "To (jest) mój pokój (d1 ) " ("This is my room."),
no matter the presence or absence of the "jest" there: notice that this is only
so for sentences (clauses) starting with the demonstrative "to" — sentences with
a regular subject take the complement of "jest" in the instrumental: "Janek jest
dobrym dzieckiem (d5)." ("Johnny is a good child."), or, alternatively, they use
a "to" in a linking-verb function and then we neither have the "jest" or any
inflection for the predictate: "Janek to dobre dziecko (d5)."; I've been ranting
about the two ways of saying "<somebody/something> is <somebody/something else>" more
extensively at two different occasions earlier on :))

Matko Boska (d7)! — (Oh,) Mother of God! [literally: Divine Mother]

(the nominative = "Matka Boska" (fem.))

Jacku (d7)! Chodź na obiad! — Jack! Come for dinner!

[in English you would rather shout: "..., dinner's ready!"]
(the nominative = "Jacek" (personal name))

Zapłacisz mi za to, draniu (d7)! — You will pay me for that, you scoundrel!
(the nominative = "drań" (masc.))

...for other kind epithets that you may give to people that you're particularly fond of, and for their vocative
forms, contact your local Polish teacher ;))
... oh, all right, maybe just one more :) :

Łotrze (d7), dlaczego to zrobiłeś?! — Why did you do that, you rascal?!
(the nominative = "łotr" (masc.); it deserves a mention that in the Polish of
today "łotr" is mostly used with well-meaning attitude and a humouros intent:
the word doesn't isn't really offensive; it's not something you would say if you
were angry with somebody in earnest: "drań" — even though it's quite mild, too —
would be much better in those situations)

It is worth noting that:

a) although every noun has a vocative form, inanimate objects (shoes, doors, spoons, walls, etc.) are very
rarely addressed directly — this usually happens in fairy-tales or if the speaker is a child: children sometimes
personalize objects when they are causing them trouble, making them angry, etc.

b) for all practical purposes, the nominative is used instead of the vocative when addressing people by their
surnames. A thing for you to remember that except for special environments, like the army or the school, it is
really uncommon to call people by their bare surnames: under most other circumstances, doing that is
considered very rude. The typical form of address between adults who are not on first-name terms is to add
one of the conventional titles of respect before the uniflected surname; these titles are "Pan" ("Mr."), "Pani"
("Ms."), and "Państwo" ("Mr. and Ms." — referring collectively to a married couple) → in vocative, they
are: "Panie", "Pani", and "Państwo", respectively. Examples:

"Panie Wiśniewski, ..." ("Mr. Wiśniewski, ...")

"Pani Nowak!" ("Mrs. Nowak!")
"Panie Kowalski!" ("Mr. Kowalski!")
"Pani Kowalska, ..." ("Ms. Kowalski, ...")
"Państwo Nowakowie, ..." ("Mr. and Mrs. Nowak, ...")
"Państwo Kowalscy!" ("Mr. and Mrs. Kowalski!")

Let me remind you once more: the surnames above are all in the nominative. The variation of forms reflects
only the necessity to stay in agreement about the gender and number. And one more thing (as often: not
quite pertinent to our main preoccupation with the vocative here ;)) — what I've just shown you are examples
of the typical forms of address for the situations where you would have a need to call up people's surnames.
It is worth noting, however, that such need would, under normal circumstances, occur only a few times in the
course of an exchange/conversation (for example, at the times of saying hello and goodbye). During the
conversation itself, unless there might be a doubt as to who you are addressing, you would just start the
sentences with one of these polite sentence-openings:

"Proszę Pana, ..." (when addressing a man)

"Proszę Pani, ..." (when addressing a woman)
"Proszę Państwa, ..." (when addressing any mixed group of people, starting from a pair — a married
couple or two totally unrelated people of different sexes — ending with crowds on public meetings)

... yes, I guess that what I've said right above obliges me to complete the range with the forms used in
addressing groups made up solely of men or solely of women. Here they are:

"Proszę Panów, ..." —or just "Panowie, ..." (when addressing two or more men)
"Proszę Pań, ..." (when addressing two or more women)

These same five phrases would also be used when calling out or addressing adults whose name you don't

c) the use of the vocative with first names: it is growing increasingly more common for native Polish speakers
to employ the nominative rather than the vocative form in situations of calling out to another person (across
the street, from the window of a train, etc.), calling them up (to make them come near), or calling their name
to get their attention — i.e., in those instances where you would normally make a pause after saying that first
name. Thus, you would usually hear people call:

"Bartek! (d1)" instead of "Bartku! (d7)"

"Marek! (d1)" instead of "Marku! (d7)"
"Krzysiek (d1)!" instead of "Krzyśku! (d7)"

You would also hear people speak this way:

"Marek (d1), mam Ci coś do powiedzenia." (Mark, I've got something to tell you.)
—in utterances like those we can assume that there is a little pause made between the name being called and
the rest of the sentence that follows (so, actually, a better way to transcribe the last sentence would probably
be "Marek! Mam Ci (...)").

In informal, everyday language, this usage is acceptable (and practiced by nearly everybody) for situations
where we need to call somebody's attention, so that we can be sure they will listen to what we say.

However, when the personal address (made through the use of somebody's first name) is not so much aimed
at calling a person's attention (because they are already listening to you), but rather at showing them that
what you say is directed to them in a personal way — especially when it's accompanied by an emotional
involvement of the speaker (all kinds of declarations, apologies, promises, requests, etc.) — then you would
always prefer the vocative:

Marku (d7), muszę Ci się do czegoś przyznać.

— Mark, I must confess something to you / admit to having done something wrong.
Jacku (d7), przepraszam... — Jack, I'm sorry...

... and... at this point I'm sorry, too... because there's one more complication I want to bring in. I think you
may find the thing interesting, though (... otherwise I wouldn't be writing about it :)))

Introduction (... a longer one :) — Polish first names and their pet forms :

In Polish, for many first names there exist two or more popular pet forms, each carrying a different degree
of affection and being most suitable to a specific occasion/relationship.


The name "Anna" can take the following pet forms:

1. "Ania" (the most popular one: both nice, and kind, and friendly, and warm — but not to the point of
creating an intimacy),
2. "Anka" (a "brotherly" form: a good one for everyday use among friends and with the family — "low on
sugar" and quite familiar at the same time (spoken by a person who is not a good old friend this one
would sound a little rude)),
3. "Aneczka" (rare, cute and a little old fashioned, this form is something that parents and, especially,
grandparents might use),
4. "Anusia" (quite tender, for people that are really close)

Let's take "Krzysztof" now; it has just two popular pet forms:
1. "Krzysiek" (the form for everybody who is in any degree of familiarity with the guy),
2. "Krzyś" (that way you would call a little boy, so in a grown-up men this form of address means

Another name — "Jarosław":

1. "Darek" (the same thing as with "Krzysiek"),
2. "Daruś" (same as with "Krzyś"),
3. "Dareczek" (something pretty much like "Aneczka")

And one more example:

How about... let's see..."Małgorzata"? This is a good one, because there's quite a lot of pet form for it:
1. "Gosia" (this is like "Ania": a rather cute form and a fairly sweet one, but at the same time that's the
one which is most popular and the one to use for everyone that is at any degree of familiarity with the
2. "Gośka" (like with "Anka", but — perhaps just for me — it sounds even more brusque: not too kind at all
and really "low on sugar": in practice, only to be used in situations where you have reasons to be a bit
miffed with that person; close friends might also be accepted in using that one: exactly as a form of
showing the closeness of relationship allowing for a little bit of (affected) roughness),
3. "Gosieńka" (really sweet, dimunitive and sort of "in family-mode": to be used by family and maybe a
boyfriend (but a long-time one, rather than a fresh one ;)),
4. "Gosiunia" (sweet and ingratiating: almost entirely reserved for new boyfriends (unless the particular
"Gosiunia" hates the ass-kisser type :)),
4. "Gocha" (... sounds heavy, doesn't it? :) — well, so it is! this one is practically reserved for the old-time
good female friends; it's not really cute, but very warm all the same: in a rough, "comradely" kind of way),
5. "Małgosia" (this one is quite interesting; practically, it can be used like "Gosia", but it seems more
elegant (with less of the familiar cordiality)... and yet a bit cuter at the same time)

OK — enough! :)) (...which reads: end of the terribly long introduction :D)

Why am I telling you about all that? ... I don't know — probably, I just like to ramble ;))
And now seriously: for one thing, I wanted to show you a few pet-name forms and get you acquainted with
the fact that there are differences between them; and for the second, ... yes, I wanted to make a point about
the vocative for the pet names — and first names in general;
..the point is:

some name-forms sound better in the true vocative, and some have an affinity to the nominative.

I can imagine what you're thinking :) Well, yes... it's one of those things — you've got to acquire an ear for
the language... but there are some practical clues:

a) long names sound even more pretentious when they come in their vocative form ("Bartłomieju!" pfffff!
hahaha! :)) : it's best to avoid using them in the unshortened form anyway (I mean: it's better to use the pet
forms), except in formal situations. (As a general rule, being on first-name terms with somebody, you would
hardly ever use the "official", full form of their first name — unless it's one of the few names that don't have
pet forms applicable to simple friendship or companionship, in which case you would have to stay with that
basic, main form: "Robert", "Karol", "Marek", "Jacek", etc.; with the majority of names, however, it is possible
to find a proper pet variant, and then the "official" form would only come into play in some particularly
serious conversations.)

b) the "rough" and "a little rough" pet names (= "Anka", "Gośka", "Gocha") always come with the vocative
identical to the nominative (!!!)

c) the very cute forms always have a special vocative (different from the nominative), and the use of that
vocative is usually strongly preferred to the use of the nominative... so, even when just calling out to
somebody at a distance, or trying to make somebody look somewhere, you would always tend to say
"Aneczko!", "Anusiu!", "Krzysiu!", "Jarusiu!", "Jareczku!", "Gosieńko!", "Gosiuniu!", "Małgosiu!", etc.
d) for the pet names that are in the "middle area of sweetness", both the special vocative and the nominative
usually sound OK: a big degree of individual preference applies there, so I would personally call: "Aniu!"
(d7), "Krzysiek!" (d1), "Jarek!" (d1), "Gosia!" (d1) (while the correct vocatives would be: "Aniu!" (d7),
"Krzyśku!" (d7), "Jarku!" (d7), "Gosiu!" (d7))

But — LET ME MAKE IT VERY CLEAR (!): what I'm talking about here is the colloquial use. At school they
would teach you that you should ALWAYS use the proper vocative form of the first names in all the situations
of direct personal address — no matter if you call people from a distance, or just using their names to make
the message feel more personal; no matter if you make a pause or not. So, in theory, only my point "b)" above
relates to formalized, regulated usage: —because, indeed, those "rough" pet names have the vocative form
identical to the nominative.


And since we're already almost exhaustive about the vocative for names ;) let me inform you about a
characteristic form of personal address in Polish, one that is used a lot here. That form is:

"Panie (d7)/Pani (d7) + the vocative (d7) of first name or of a pet form of a first name"
(this form applies only to 2nd person singular address; let me remind you that the nominative of
"Panie"(d7) is "Pa n" (masc.,d1), and the nominative of "Pani"(d7) is "Pa ni " (fem.,d1), and that
those words correspond to English "Mr." and "Ms.", respectively)

This manner of address is very popular among people of the older generations, in which going on first-name
terms was reserved to relationships of close friendship (and even then, usually for the friendships made
before reaching 30-35 years of age). Poles who are under 40 today tend to shorten the interpersonal distance
and get on first name terms with most people of about equal age as soon as they get quite familiar with them.
However, this "courteous" form of first-name address would still be used a lot even by them: it is the natural
choice when talking to a person who is significantly older than you, or with people who you meet often and
with whom you are friendly but not close enough to justify the use of the first-name alone: some of your
neighbours, shop-assistants, etc. This is also a very frequently used form in workplace environments —
especially by bosses speaking to their subordinates.

Both the regular first-name form and the pet forms can be combined with "Pan (d1)/Pani (d1)" (which in
vocative turns to "Panie (d1)/Pani (d1)"), offering a wide palette of forms of address to suit different forms of
relationship and different degrees of reverence due. For example, you would probably not go beyond the
regular first name when addressing people your senior by 20 years or more. At the other end of the scale,
some bosses would have a habit of calling their subordinates by this formula and using one of the cuter pet
forms with it: an element of conduct which can be taken as both a way of fraternizing and a show of their
superiority (because those pet forms would naturally bring up connotations with parents-children

An important thing to remember is that this formula of address requires that the first name or the pet name
would always be in the vocative (!).

Let's have a few examples:

"Panie (d7) Marku (d7), ..." (for "Marek (d1)", a masculine first name),
"Panie (d7) Mareczku (d7), ..." ("Mareczek (d1)" is a pet-form of the name above, mostly
used with little boys , so this utterance would probably be the start of a request being made by Marek's

"Pani (d7) Anno(d7)! " (for "Anna (d1)", feminine)

"Pani (d7) Aniu(d7)!" (that one's warmer, because "Ania (d1)" is a pet form of "Anna"; this way
you could address a neighbour or a notably older friend)
"Pani (d7) Anusiu(d7)!" (that's vocative of the cute pet form of "Anna": "Anusia (d1)"; we can
assume that it is Anna's creepy boss speaking ;))

"Pani (d7) Małgorzato (d7), ..." (sounds very decorous, but this one would probably be the most
fitting when addressing an elderly lady by the name of "Małgorzata (d1)")
"Pani (d7) Gosiu (d7)!" (for all occasions where the level of reverence need not be quite as high; the
nominative = "Gosia (d1)")
"Pani (d7) Małgosiu (d7), ..." (from the pet form "Małgosia (d1)" — that one would probably be favoured
by the bosses... except for the most cheeky ones who could go further than that and say:
"Pani (d7) Gosieńko (d7), ...")
... I imagine that would do for now ;)))... but in case you'd like to have even more information (!!?! ;)) about
the vocative, you can look in here:
(recommended if you want to see a few moderately offensive epithets that you can give to people behaving
stupidly :))


And on this very personal note we end the little booklet on Polish declension :))

I hope you have found it at least a little bit useful :)

Let me apologize once again for my propensity to overload the explaining text to the examples with
information not pertinent to what those examples are meant to illustrate. I know it's something that probably
makes the booklet less clear than it might (or should) be, and I realize that it may be making it a little
confusing in places... I can only hope that it's not something too discouraging. It has certainly not been my
plan to overwhelm you. I just wanted you to be able to fully understand the example sentences and to follow
their structures and wording. I guess I was also acting on the notion that I cant't be sure when (or even — if)
there are going to be any follow-ups to this booklet, so I wanted to smuggle in a few extra topics of Polish
grammar and usage (however superficially treated). Last of all, I'm not a professional, I was improvising all
the way, I've had no set methodology or terminology: if I sin additionally about the composition, I can say I
have been already culpable anyway.

I also would like to thank my friend Rummenigge, who's waited long for the booklet to finally take shape,
continuously providing me with motivation to finish it, and Manuela, who gave me the inspiration to set
about it at all.

As said earlier, I'm not sure about how much time and effort I will be able to afford to work of this type in
the future, but I surely would love to have my share in popularizing Polish language and culture. Therefore, if
you have ideas for subjects related to Polish language that you would like to see covered in a similar fashion,
if there is something you couldn't yet find well-explained (and so, you would like to see an amateur tinkerer
like me dabble in explaining :)), you can always try your powers of inciting to action by writing at:

Until next time, it's barsorro signing off :)

Extended appendix: "declension questions"

... So... this is yet not quite the end of this booklet... :) There's still one thing about the declension that can
prove important and useful. I'm talking about something that I'm going to call "declension questions".

The thing is that for every sentence you can make question sentences inquiring about any substantive in that

Let's have an example in English:

"Manuela eats dinner at home at eight o'clock, using a fork and a knife."

And here's a volley of questions targeting each individual word in the sentence:

"Who eats dinner at home at eight (...)?"

"What does Manuela eat at eight?"
"Where does Manuela eat dinner?"
"What time does Manuela eat dinner?"
"What does Manuela eat the dinner with?"
So, OK... in English it's all pretty straightforward; even though at that last question we actually have a little
complication: we need to ask "What with..." and English syntax wants us to put that "with" at the end of the

Now let's take a Polish sentence:

"Manuela (d1) dała książkę (d4) z ciekawymi zadaniami (d5)

koledze (d3) swojego kuzyna (d2) dobremu w matematyce (d6)."

(the nominatives: "książka" (fem.),

"(ciekawe) zadania" (plural) → "(ciekawe) zadanie" (sing.,neut.,d1),
"kolega" (masc.), "(swój/jej) kuzyn" (masc.), "matematyka" (fem.))

I beg you take heart! :) This sentence is, indeed, a little intricate, but it is so on purpose (... which means we
have the things firmly under control :)): I wanted to have a single sentence that would feature substantives
appearing in as many declension cases as possible. And I succeeded in making one that has a substantive for
every declension case (save for the vocative)! :)

What do I need that for? Well, because what we have done with the English sentence above we should be able
to do with the Polish one, right? :) So, we're going to that, and this will help us make an observation.

But first, let's translate that sentence to English, so that we know exactly what we're talking about ;)

"Manuela gave a book with interesting (mathematical) problems

to a friend of her cousin (who is) good at maths."

[we will use the translation above, although it must be noted that:
- in English it would be better to say "...a book of interesting...", because I've
been thinking here of a book of exercises that is all a collection of
mathematical problems to solve: a sentence using "with" seems to suggest that in
the whole book there may be just a few mathematical problems;
- "... dobremu w ... / ... good at ..." ― the Polish preposition "w" in most
situations corresponds to the English "in"; however, you know it well that the
prepositions don't have direct analogues and that their translation always
depends on the context]

OK... and now, since the sentence are fairly similar in syntax, we will try making the questions in a parallel
manner ― in English and in Polish.

Let's put the sentence in both the languages here for easy reference:

"Manuela (d1) dała książkę (d4) z ciekawymi zadaniami (d5)

koledze (d3) swojego kuzyna (d2) dobremu w matematyce (d6)."

"Manuela gave a book with interesting (mathematical) problems

to a friend of her cousin (who is) good at maths."

(*1*) —a question about Manuela :)

( the interrogative pronouns to ask about the nominative (d1):
"kto ? / co ?" [who? /what?] )

"Who gave the book?"

"Kto (d1) dał książkę (d4)?"

—We are asking about the subject of the sentence (notice that in English questions about
subjects have a different syntax to other questions — we ask "Who gave the book?", NOT: "Who
did give the book?")...
... and our first interrogative for the subject — which also means: our first question word in the
nominative. "Kto ". This one is for people.
For objects, the interrogative word in the nominative is "co " ("what").
"Truskawka (d1) jest słodka." (A strawberry is sweet.)
"Co (d1) jest słodkie?" (What is sweet?)

What I want you to notice now that the question words have genders (which practically make
difference in questions for the subject; in interrogatives applied to other cases, the
interrogative gender hardly comes into play, as you will see for yourselves). The interrogative
applicable to humans, "Kto (d1)", is masculine (...yeah, it's a macho world, but it wasn't me
who invented these rules! :)) — that's why we have "Kto dał...?", and NOT "Kto dała...?"
or "Kto dało...?" — it is ALWAYS "Kto da ł...": the masculine verb form; and it doesn't
matter if the person asking the question can guess the gender of that subject or not — the
person asking must treat the word "kto" like a masculine noun; another example: the question
"Who is the best at maths here?" will always translate to "Kto jest tutaj najlepszy z
matematyki?" (... and NOT: "... najlepsza ..." (feminine adjective variant) or "... najlepsze ..."
(neuter adjective variant) ) ―even if asked to a group absolutely dominated by women, or to
one consisting entirely of girls or women.
Similarly with "co" — the difference being that "co" is ALWAYS neuter; that's why we have "Co
jest słodkie?" and NOT: "... słodki ..." (masc.adj.) or "... słodka ..." (fem.adj.); to
demonstrate how it works with a verb, let's take a sentence: "Co stało na stole?" ("What
stood on the table?") [only the past tense shows the difference]: you can see that it's not "...
stał?" or "... stała?" ―such forms would always be invalid.

To sum up: there are two interrogatives that yield in answer a substantive in the nominative...
(***1) ... those two question words are: "kto " and "co "
and it's worth remembering that when using them — that is: when asking questions about
the subject ("Who/What does/did/will do sth...?", "Who/What is/was/will be sth...?", etc.) we
have to treat the "kto" as a masculine pronoun, and the "co" — as a neuter pronoun.

(*2*) —a question about the book

( the interrogative pronouns to ask about objects in the accusative (d4):
"kog o? / c o? " [who? /what?] )

OK, let's think of another question... In our sentence we have

"Manuela (d1) dała książkę (d4) (...)" ("Manuela gave a book (...)"). So, let's ask:

"What did Manuela give (to the friend of ... bla bla bla)?"
in Polish:
"Co (d4) Manuela (d1) dała (koledze ... itd.)?"

So... It looks simple enough, practically like in English. And it is! ... Almost :)... Because.. —
why did I write the "(d4)" next to this "co"? —To remind you that this "co" here is asking about
the direct object of the sentence, about the direct object complement of the verb "dawać"
(which presents the standard government for the the accusative — "dawać <kogoś/coś (d4)>")
... Wait, wait, wait! :) — Have you noticed something? :)
"KO GO ś / CO ś" : ("somebody / something" (d4))...
...yes! :) — the question word for an accusative object is "co " — for things, but for people it's
"ko go " (not "kto", which is reserved just for the nominative, just for the questions about
subject). Let's make an exemplary sentence where the object would be a person:

"Dorota (d1) całuje swoją mamę (d4)." ("Dorota is kissing her mom.").
["Dorota" is the subject of the action, she's playing the lead part :), "mama" is "just" the
object, the one who has to submit herself to the kissing (whether she wants it or not ;)); the
verb "całować" has a standard rekcja for the accusative]

Now, the question about the object: "Who is Dorota kissing?", looks like this:
"Kogo (d4) całuje Dorota (d1)?"

—Can I be allowed a little digression? :):

notice that having a special question word for object is not merely a stupid complication — it can be
pretty useful. Let's imagine a situation where a person A is telling a person B the story of a movie. But A
isn't very good at telling things, so the B soon gets very confused about all the characters. At some point
in the story A shouts exitedly:
"I wtedy on ją pocałował!" — "And at that moment he kissed her!"
Now, let's imagine that the B was able to follow the story told by the A to the extent that B knows who the
man in that sentence above is. The thing that remains a mystery to B is who the girl that was kissed in
the movie was. In English, B has to ask:
"He kissed who?"
In Polish — just: "Kogo?"
Similarly, if it was the man's (the "active-kisser's" ;)) identity that was the riddle for B, in English the B
would have to ask:
"Who kissed her?"
In Polish usually it should suffice just to say: "Kto?"
—the digression ends here :)

Summary : the interrogative pronouns for accusative objects are —

(***2) "ko go ", "co "

side-note: Genders also exist here, but they come into play only if, for whatever reason, you'd have to
add an adjective to the interrogative pronoun; there is quite rarely need for this.
"Kogo kochanego całuje Dorota?" (the English translation cannot be quite literal, it would be
something like: "What beloved person is Dorota kissing?") — "kochanego" = the accusative of "kochany"
(adjective in the masculine form)
"Co ładnego dostanie Andrzej?" (again, the difference and limitations of English grammar enforce a
much changed sentence construction to carry the meaning...: "What will be the nice thing that Andrzej
will get?") — "ładnego" = the accusative of "ładny" (adj. in the neuter form)
... you would have noticed, however, that in the accusative the masculine and the neuter forms of an
adjective look the same.)

(*3*) —a question about the book's contents ;)

( the interrogative pronouns to ask about a substantive in the instrumental (d5):
"(z) ki m? / ( z) czy m? " [(with) who? / (with) what?] )

Moving on in our sentence we come to this point:

"Manuela (d1) dała książkę (d4) z ciekawymi zadaniami (d5) (koledze (d3)...)"

"Manuela gave a book with interesting (mathematical) problems (to a friend...)"

We have already dealt with the Manuela... ;) ... and with the book... But, I claimed that a
question can be made about every substantive in the sentence, right? :) Let's then now try to
make a question about the "z (ciekawymi) zadaniami" — "with (interesting) problems" —
element of the sentence.

Just to have it a little easier to make questions let's substantiate the "friend" with a pronoun
and make a little reordering. This doesn't in any way affect the element that we're interested in
right now.
"Manuela (d1) dała MU (d3) książkę (d4) z ciekawymi zadaniami (d5)."

"Manuela gave HIM a book with interesting (mathematical) problems."

... And now for a moment of frankness: simple grammatical transformations will not lead us to
particularly natural, clear and precise questions here — either in English or in Polish. But we'll
try to arrive at something that will be correct and that will let us have something
demonstrated... OK: no mysteries — this "something" is going to be the interrogative pronouns
to use in asking about those substantives in a sentence that come in the instrumental :)

Why do I say that the question sentences made by a simple transformation are less than
perfect? Because, in English, if we make a sentence like this:
"What did Manuela give him a book with?"
then we get into a big confusion, since the most obvious understanding of it would probably
be: "Using what did Manuela give him the book?", and we feel like shouting in response: "With
her hands, of course!" :D

However, if we change "a book with mathematical problems" for "a book of mathematical
problems", and then ask:
"What did Manuela give him a book of?"
then that is fairly unequivocal. (of course: for the maximum clarity and ease of
communication, we would rather say something like: "What was in the book that Manuela gave
him?", but this is a rephrasing that takes too far away from the the syntax of our examplary
sentence here).

But we're still going to have a little issue here... See, the elegant English syntax is not very
straightforward. Here's what I mean: according to the canons of proper English syntax, the
interrogative "what" must come in the beginning, while the second component of an
"interrogative phrase" (I'm talking of the interrogatives of this kind: "Of what...", "With what...",
"About what...", "On what...", etc.) is supposed to land at the very end of the sentence; which
results in question sentences looking like this: "What is it made of?", "What are you thinking
about?", "What will you do it with?", "What did you insist on?", etc.

Fortunately, there is a way out — we can rephrase our question in a way that would be less
elegant (yet still correct), but closer to the Polish syntax. Here's our modified question:

"A book of what did Manuela give him?",

... and now, we can even make it:
"A book with what did Manuela give him?"
... and not run into the former trap of ambiguity.

Let me translate the last one into Polish now:

"Książkę (d4) z czym (d5) dała mu Manuela (d1)?"

Make no mistake — this is still a sentence (a question sentence) in which the subject is
Manuela: the verb is "dała" ("she gave") and the performer of this action is the person/thing
who gave - the "giver" ― here, that is clearly "Manuela". That's why "Manuela" stays in the
nominative (d1) (nominative ⇔ subject of the sentence), and the "book" that lies af the
beginning of the sentence, being all the time the object of it (the direct object of the verb
"dawać (r4)"), is in the accusative ("książkę"). It doesn't matter much what position in the
word order the word "książkę" will occupy: because of the declension, the role of each
substantive in the sentence is demonstrated quite clearly by its form (the form dependant on
the declension case it is in) ― thus, its location in the sentence doesn't have all that much
significance (but, of course, it is not completely free either)... Speaking of word order, our
question in Polish would actually look nicer and more natural this way:
"Z czym (d5) książkę (d4) dała mu (d3) Manuela (d1)?"

Why is it more natural? — well, that's pretty simple: the actual question phrase ("Z czym...")
looks best at the very beginning of a sentence.

And now — well, we have the question phrase! And in it: our seeked interrogative pronoun! :)
This is what we've been aiming for, right? :)
"Z czym (d5)..." ≈ "With what..." — which means that the interrogative pronoun to ask about
substantives in the instrumental is " czy m ": when what we're asking about is a thing.

Can there be a situation in which we would have to make a question about a part of a
sentence in the instrumental, where that part of a sentence would be a person?
Of course, there can! Look at our example question about the book:
"Z (r5) czym (d5) książkę (...)".
Why did I put the "(r4)" after the "z"? — because if "z" means "with"... →

/...reminder: "z/ze" can also mean "from" or "out of",

and then it comes with the genitive: look into
the section on the genitive in the first part
of the booklet for more details.../

→ ... then it is ALWAYS followed by a word in the instrumental; in other words: the preposition
"z" in the function of the English "with" shows a constant case government for the instrumental

And we often do things with other people, right? ;))

For example:
"Często oglądam (r4) telewizję (d4) razem z (r5) bratem (d5)."
— "I often watch television together with ~my~ brother".
(the verb "oglądać" has the standard rekcja (for the accusative (d4));
the nominatives = "telewizja" (fem.), "brat" (masc.))

You would often say that as an answer to the question:

"Who do you (usually) watch television with?"

OK. First, let's change the syntax of this question sentence from the elegant to something less
stylish but more Polish-user-friendly ;) :
"With whom do you (usually) watch television?"

And, hey presto, ― we're just a tiptoe away from the translation in Polish! :
"Z (r5) kim (d5) (zazwyczaj) oglądasz (r4) telewizję (d4)?"

So, here we arrive at our second interrogative pronoun in the instrumental — this time, one
that is used when dealing with people: "kim ".

Notice that, although the rekcja of the preposition "z/ze" is probably the most frequent reason
for the use of the instrumental form in nouns and pronouns referring to people, it is not the
only one possible. See the following examples (you may wish to consult the section about the
instrumental in the first part of the booklet for the explanation of the role of the instrumental case in
those examples):

question: "Kim (d5) Pan jest?" — "Who are you, (Mister)?"

answer: "Ja jestem tu szefem (d5)!" — "I'm the boss here!"
(here we have the use of the instrumental in talking about a role in life...
speaking of which, we can further exploit this function of the instrumental and
make an example that would coincidentally be a serious philosophical inquiry as
well :) :
"Kim (d5) jestem?" — "Who am I?"
("Kto (d1) ja jestem?" would sound a little clumsy; it could also be read as a
question about more elementary facts about one's identity: name, nationality,

... and there is one very typical question about a role in life that is not so terribly philosophic,
and therefore, which probably everybody hears in their life at least once :) (...OK, I can now
imagine some hair-splitting personalities argue that hardly any guy would ever hear precisely
the question below, but... I'll leave it for your homework to make a variant for a masculine
subject ;))):

question: "Kim (d5) chciałaś być/zostać, gdy byłaś mała?"

— "Who did you want to be/become as you were little?"
answer: "(Wtedy) chciałam być/zostać aktorką (d5)."
— "(At that time) I wanted to be/become an actress."

The need to employ the instrumental variant of the personal interrogative pronoun (i.e. the
"kim") can also be motivated by the use of one of the prepositions (other than just the "z/ze"
mentioned earlier) that affiliate with the instrumental:

question: "Nad (r5) kim (d5) mieszkasz?" — "Above whom do you live?"
(in other words — "Who is your neighbour from above?"... actually, this paraphrase not
only looks better in English, but, translated, would have also looked a little
more literate in Polish; nonetheless, the example sentence is well
understandable and very natural Polish as well))
answer: "(Mieszkam) na d (r5) panią Malinowską (d5)."
— "I live above Mrs. Malinowska."
(the nominative = "pani Malinowska")

question: "Mi ęd zy (r5) kim (d5) a kim (d5)

stoisz na (r6) tej fotografii (d6)?"
— "Between who and who are you standing in this photo?"
(I'm marking the use of the locative — d6 — only for your full information (it's
conditioned by the rekcja of the preposition "na"); the thing we're really
interested here is the use of "kim" and its motivation)
short answer: "Mi ęd zy (r5) Anią (d5) a Krzyśkiem (d5)."
— "Between Ania and Krzysiek."

And let's take one more example. This one will demonstrate a situation in which we have to use
the instrumental variant of the personal interrogative pronoun because the object of the
question is a direct object complement of one of the very few verbs that govern the
instrumental. The sentence may seem difficult at the first glance, but you will see that it's not
that bad at all :) :

"Kim (d5) ze (r2) swojej rodziny (d2)

najbardziej (adv.) lubisz się chwalić (r5)?"
— [liberal translation:] "Who out of your family are you most proud of?"
("chwalić się" — to boast of, to brag about, to be proud of (look in the section of the
instrumental) — is a verb which governs the instrumental; you already know that,
customarily, "się" is not left as the last word in longer sentences, hence the
inversion of the word order to: "... się chwalić?";
the "ze" (variant of "z") used here is: "out of / from" — this preposition governs
the genitive: that's why "swoja rodzina" is put in the genitive in the sentence;
a more literal translation of the entire sentence would be:
"Who of your family do you most like to boast about?")
Let's answer it now:
"Ze swojej rodziny najbardziej lubię
chwalić się (r5) moim kuzynem Mirkiem (d5)."
(the nominative = "(mój) kuzyn Mirek" (masc.))
And now, to get a bit of balance, let's make a couple of questions about instrumentals, where
the instrumental is a thing. I'll try to be sparing with comments :) :

Q: "Czym (d5) otworzysz (r4) tę butelkę (d4)?"

— "What will you open this bottle with? / What will you use to open this bottle?"
(the nominative = "(ta) butelka" (fem.))
A: "Otworzę (r4) ją (d4) zębami (d5)!"
— "I'll open it [lit.: "her"] with ~my~ teeth!" (Children! Don't try this at home! :D)
(the nominatives: "ona" (pers.pron.),
"zęby" (plural) → "ząb" (sing.,masc.,d1))

Q: "Czym (d5) jedziesz do (r2) szkoły (d2)?"

— "What (transport) do you go to school by?"
(the nominative = "szkoła" (fem.) — the genitive is enforced by the rekcja of
the preposition "do")
A: "Autobusem (d5) / Metrem (d5) / Taksówką ( d5) / Tramwajem (d5)."
— "By bus / By subway / By taxi / By tram."
(the nominatives = "autobus" (masc.), "metro" (neut.),
"taksówka" (fem.), "tramwaj" (masc.))

Q: "Czym (d5) ubrudziłaś [fem.v.form] bluzkę (d4)?"

— "What have you soiled ~your~ blouse with?"
(the nominative = "bluzka" (fem.);
remember that in the past tense (and only in it!) we have different verb forms
for the feminine and the masculine subjects in the second grammatical person
(the "you" person — there's no neuter gender in that person): in this example we
can see that it's a female who is being asked — had the question been posed to a
male, "ubrudziłeś" would have been used... of course, we probably wouldn't have
been speaking of a "bluzka" then, but rather of a "koszula" (a shirt: also a
feminine noun in Polish): "Czym (d5) ubrudziłeś koszulę (d4)?" :)))
A: "(Ubrudziłam ją (d4) sobie...) Sosem pomidorowym (d5)."
— "(I've soiled "her" »for me«...) With tomato sauce."
(the nominative = "sos (noun) pomidorowy (adj.)" (masc.);
for the explanation of the mysterious "for me", look into the point "a)" of the
section on the instrumental in the main part of the booklet: there's a
practically identical example sentence there)

Q: "Czym (d5) zarysowałeś [masc.v.form] stół (d4)?"

— "What have you scratched the table with?"
(the nominative = "stół" (masc.))
A: "Zarysowałem [masc.v.form] go (d4) spinką do mankietów (d5)."
— "I've scratched it/"him" with a cufflink."
(the nominatives = "on" (pers.pron.), "spinka (do mankietów)" (fem.))

Q: "Czym (d5) zazwyczaj zajmujesz się (r5) po południu?"

— "What do you usually do in the afternoon?"
(look into the point "c)" of the section on the instrumental for an explanation
and usage examples of the verb "zajmować się (r5)")
A: "Po południu zazwyczaj słucham (r2) muzyki (d2)."
— "In the afternoon I usually listen to music."
(when "Czym zajmujesz się..." is a question about common, everyday things,
rather than something serious, it is unnatural to use the verb "zajmować się" in
the answer — you just go straight to the verb describing what you do: I watch
television, listen to music, go shopping, etc.;
the verb "słuchać (r2)" (to listen) is one of those few that have a nonstandard
rekcja — "słuchać" takes the direct object in the genitive.)

And now, just to have example where the instrumental for a thing would be enforced by the
case government of a preposition:

question: "Pod (d5) czym (d5) się schronisz, gdy zacznie padać?"
— "Under what will you take shelter when it starts raining?"
(in Polish, contingent future events are often expressed in future perfective
tense, so the subordinate clause here would literally translate to: "... when it will
start raining.", or even "... when it will have started raining." (both of which are, of
course, totally invalid by the rules of English grammar);
the main use of the verb "padać" is to communicate an occurence of
precipitation (usually of rain, but it can also be snow or hail); in that
function the verb "padać" appears without a visible subject (like the "dummy
subject" "it" in English) and is conjugated in 3rd.pers.sing. (so, we can speak
of an "imaginable subject" "it" in Polish (that's not official nomenclature :));
I will also admit that a simpler, and therefore more natural for casual
language, way of making this sort of inquiry would be to ask: "Gdzie się
schronisz, ... / Gdzie się schowasz, ..." ("Where will you take shelter / hide, ...");
however, somebody might well want to be more specific and put in a more
elaborate question like the one in the example;
"(s)chronić się" ― to take shelter / refuge ("schronić" is the perfective aspect
answer: "Gdy zacznie padać, schronię się pod (r5) tamtym drzewem (d5)."
— "When it starts raining I will take shelter under that (farther) tree."
(the nominative = "(tamto) drzewo" (neut.))

Summary : the interrogative pronouns for objects in the instrumental are —

(***3) "ki m", "c zym "
— but usually they are presented this way: "( z) kim ", "(z ) czym "
(and the reason for that we'll learn soon :))

(*4*) —a question about the one who was affected ;)

( the interrogative pronouns to ask about the dative:
"ko mu? / cze mu? " [to/(for) whom? / to/(for) what?] )

Let's recall the sentences of our main example:

"Manuela (d1) dała książkę (d4) z ciekawymi zadaniami (d5)

koledze (d3) swojego kuzyna (d2) dobremu w matematyce (d6)."

"Manuela gave a book with interesting (mathematical) problems

to a friend of her cousin (who is) good at maths."

Well, we're proceeding sequentially, so as you can already guess we're going to take on the
"friend" now :) But first, let's make our sentences simpler — we'll cut all the extra information
that doesn't affect either the sense or the basic syntax.

"Manuela (d1) dała książkę (d4) koledze (d3) swojego kuzyna (d2)."

"Manuela gave a book to a friend of her cousin."

OK, there's no reason for delays. The question we want to ask is about the friend — who is the
person that gets the book. In other words, he is the person(/thing) affected by the action of
giving. The direct object of that action in this example is the book. The friend is the indirect
object. In English we have him designated in that role by the prepositional phrase "to a friend"
— in Polish all you need to mark that role is the right declension case: the dative (d3).

So, in English we need to ask about the person who was given the book this way:

"Who did Manuela give the book to?"

"To whom did Manuela give the book?"

But in Polish we don't have anything like "do kolegi (swojego kuzyna)" in this sentence —
we just have "koledze (swojego kuzyna)": without any prepositions, right? So, it's only
logical that we would need a single special question word to get this dative form of the noun
"kolega" in answer.

This question word — for the situations like here: where we're asking about a person — is
"ko mu (d3)".

Q: "Komu (d3) Manuela (d1) dała książkę (d4)?"

— "To whom did Manuela give the book?"
A: "Ona (d1) dała książkę (d4) koledze (d3)."
— "She gave the book to a friend."

Notice that this "... swojego kuzyna (d2)" ("... of her cousin") is just an addition to the noun "kolega" —
it's an important addition in terms of the meaning (because it tells us that it's not actually a friend of
Manuela but of her cousin) but it doesn't affect the form of the word "kolega". This "swojego kuzyna"
part just "hangs on to" the main word "kolega", and it is the "swojego kuzyna" part that is dependent
on the "kolega", not the other way around. In the course of inflecting a compound like "kolega swojego
kuzyna", only the main substantive would undergo changes: "kolega swojego kuzyna" (d1), "kolegi
swojego kuzyna" (d2), "koledze swojego kuzyna" (d3), "kolegę swojego kuzyna" (d4) (...).

And now we have to leave our main example for a moment, because need to learn about the
dative question word for material objects, for things. That word is "cze mu ".

Maybe it is in order to avoid confusion with questions about things in the dative that some
people think it incorrect to use "czemu" in the meaning of "why" (... and demand that "why" =

However, in fact... there is very rarely a ground for such confusion, because material
(inanimate) things become indirect objects only very rarely. You don't often come to think in
terms of material things "being affected" by an action — in the way of being a beneficiary or
suffering the consequences of an action involving another thing (that "another thing" being the
direct object of a verb).

So, actually, there are (probably ;)) only two specific situations where we would use "czemu" to
ask about a dative object:
1) when talking about animals —which wouldn't normally be referred to as "ktoś"
(somebody) in Polish,
2) with some specific verbs that take direct objects in the dative — there are really only a few
of them: the only one I can think of right now is "przyglądać się <komuś/czemuś> (d3)" — to
be looking intently, carefully, long and in an inspective way at somebody or something; to be staring at
... let me first generally demonstrate the use of that verb, a situation where it would fit:

Dlaczego tak mi (d3) się przyglądasz (r3)?

Pryszcz mi wyskoczył, czy co?
— Why are you staring at me so? Have I grown a pimple on my face or what?
[warning: the second sentence is far from a literal translation]
... and now for a an example that will demonstrate the use of "czemu" as an interrogative dative

Kobieta (d1) długo przyglądała się (r3) zdjęciu (d3).

— [in a liberal translation:] The woman took a long time inspecting the photo.
(the nominative = "zdjęcie" (neut.))

As you can already guess, we will want to inquire about the thing that the woman was
inspecting so carefully. This means that we will have to ask a question about the object of the
verb "przyglądać się", and — since we know that this strange verb takes the direct object in
the dative — we will have to use a dative interrogative word (... in this case: the one that refers
to a thing, rather than the one used when asking about people).

OK — since we already know (very precisely ;)) what we want to do, let's do it :) :

Czemu (d3) przyglądała się (r3) kobieta (d1)? — "What was the woman inspecting?"

Fine — let's come back for a minute to our "czemu/dlaczego" digression. You might say that
there is a potential for confusion right in this example, because somebody might interpret this
sentence as saying: "Why was the woman staring?"... Well... actually... not really. The thing is
that "przyglądać się" is not normally used without an object, so if there is no other
substantive (noun or a pronoun) in the sentence, the (interrogative) pronoun "czemu" will
always be assumed as the object of that verb. Look at those examples and the natural

Czemu się przyglądasz? — What are you looking (intently) at?

Czemu przyglądasz się temu kotu (d3)?
— Why are you staring so inspectively at that cat?

Yes, the first sentence could be interpreted as "Why are you staring so inquisitively?", but this
wouldn't be the first interpretation that would cross the mind of a native speaker. The verb
"przyglądać się" really wants an object — even if it is not strictly obligatory.

Right... Let's now come back to our "1)" circumstance in which we might need to use the
interrogative pronoun for a material thing: a situation where an indirect object of an action is
an animal.

Teraz myję głowę (d4) mojemu psu (d3). — Now I'm washing my dog its head.
(the nominatives = "głowa" (fem.), "(mój) pies" (masc.))

The direct object of the verb "myć" (to wash) here is the head, but that action affects the whole
dog as an individual :) — the doggie will be pleased (or not :)) for having its head clean and
fragrant of shampoo :)

Now we want to ask who/what was that whose head was washed. Because we know we are
obliged to speak about our dear doggie as about a thing ;), we know we have to ask it this

Czemu (d3) myjesz teraz głowę? — For/to what are you washing the head now?

... this is a pretty bad English sentence, but there's just no way to make a direct translation that
would keep the proper word relationships: the use of indirect objects is much more limited in

... but, wait a minute! :)... just look what a coincidence we have here! Amazing! Because —
what could the sentence "For what are you washing your head now?" be understood to mean
in English? Let's make a little transformation and we get: "What are you washing the head now
for?", right? And that can basically be read as "Why are you washing your head now?" —
Well — amazingly, it's the same in Polish! And, while we practically didn't have a confusion
when we were dealing with the verb "przyglądać się" (because — let me repeat the explanation
— that one wants a direct object and that object has to be in the dative, so the "czemu" would naturally be
interpreted as that direct object — unless there was another thing in the dative case in the sentence),..
here — in the "animal situation" — we are getting into a little confusion. Why? Because with
"myć" we have the direct object in the (standard) accusative, and as for the indirect object we
often cannot have a clue if the situation involves one or not... Therefore:

"Czemu myjesz teraz głowę?", given no context, can with — equal justification — be
understood to mean:

Czemu (d3) myjesz teraz głowę?

— [liberal translation:] Whose head are you washing now?
(notice that the English question pronoun "whose" (= belonging to whom/what)
applies equally to humans, animals, and things)


Czemu (= Dlaczego) teraz myjesz głowę?

— Why are you washing your head now?

So... in conclusion — yes... in some situations it may be better to use "dlaczego" (rather than
"czemu") to avoid ambiguity :)

As we already know, it is most ucommon that we would need to pose dative questions about
things. Let's then finish off the section dealing with dative questions by making a few more
examples in which we will ask about people:

Q: Komu (d3) najbardziej lubisz dawać prezenty (d4).

— To whom do you most like giving presents?
(the nominative: "prezenty" (plural) → sing. = "prezent" (masc.))
A: (Najbardziej lubię dawać prezenty) mojej mamie (d3).
(the short answer would be the thing outside the parentheses: "Mojej mamie.", or
even just: "Mamie."; the nominative = "mama" (fem.))

a policeman asking a group of passengers on a train:

Komu (d3) (z Państwa) ukradziono zegarek?
— 'For whom' (of you, Ladies and Gentlemen) a watch has been stolen?
(this is a ridiculous translation: I'm adopting the "for whom" structure here
only to reflect the use of the dative in Polish; a correct English sentence to
ask that question would be: "Who of you has had their watch stolen?")
A: Mnie (d3)! — (For) me!
(the nominative = "ja" (pers.pron.))

Q: Komu (d3) z Was kiedykolwiek to (d4) się przydarzyło (r4+r3)?

— To whom of you has this ever happened?

( "przydarzać się":
"<coś (d4)> przydarza się <komuś (d3)>"
— "<something> happens <to somebody>" )

A: Mnie (d3) nie, ale mojemu koledze (d3) — tak.

— Not to me, but to my friend — yes.
(the nominative = "ja" (pers.pron.), "(mój) kolega" (masc.))
on a school trip — teacher speaking:
Q: Mam (r4) jeden dodatkowy sweter (d4). Komu (d3) jest zimno?
— I have one spare/extra sweater. Who is cold?
(the nominative = "(jeden dodatkowy) sweter" (masc.))
A: Chyba Manueli (d3) — aż się trzęsie!
— It seems that Manuela is — she's even shivering!
(the nominative = "Manuela" :))

Komu (d3) jest łatwo w dzisiejszych czasach?

— For whom things are easy nowadays?

Komu (d3) podoba się taka piosenka (d1)?

— Who likes this kind of a song (.../ a song like this one)?
(consult the point "b)" of the section on the dative in the first part of the
booklet for an explanation of the meaning and use of the verb "podobać się")

Komu (d3) śniło się coś ładnego (d1) tej nocy?

— Who dreamt of something nice this night?
(same as above: "śnić się" is used differently than the English "to dream", so
you might want to re-read the explanation given in the first part of the

a person waking up in a hospital after being saved from a serious accident:

Komu (d3) mam dziękować (r3) za uratowanie życia?
— Who should I thank for saving my life?

Komu (d3) z Twojej klasy najczęściej pomagasz (r3)?

— Who of your class do you help most often?

Komu (d3) mogę o tym powiedzieć (r3)?

— Who can I tell about this?

If you have doubts about the reasons why the objects (mostly: indirect objects) that the
questions above are about have to be dative objects, look into the section on the dative... or
ask your Polish teacher :))

Now it's high time we moved on, so let us just have a summary on the dative question words:

Summary : the interrogative pronouns for dative objects are —

(***4) "kom u", "cz emu "

(*5*) —the question of whose friend in the end that was ;)

( the interrogative pronouns to ask about the genitive:
"ko go? / cze go? " [of whom? / of what?] )

Let me start with a little clarification :) I have used the word "whose" in the title of this point
— but that was to make the sentence shorter and, actually, it can be a little misleading... But
I'm not sorry for having done that, because that might even help us to sort out one thing in the
The English interrogative possessive pronoun "whose" stands for "of whom"/"of what" — and
that refers to any kind of belonging or possession. Notice, however, that this pronoun does not
cover the situations involving the use of the non-possessive "of". For example, if we have a

"This statue is made of stone."

then there is no place for the pronoun "whose" in the question about the material that statue
is made of:

"Of what is that statue made?",

or, more correctly:

"What is the statue made of?"

Let's take another example:

"The girl is afraid of spiders."

― and the question about the object of the girls fears comes as:

"What is the girl afraid of?"

These, then, would be the examples of questions about objects in what remains of the
functional genitive in English.

Now we let's move on to Polish, where things look quite similar. There is also a separate
possessive interrogative, and two other, non-possessive genitive interrogative pronouns.

The interrogative possessive pronoun is "czy j". However, since the pronoun stands for a
"possessor" of something/(somebody) (something/somebody specific), and the word
designating that something must always appear in a sentence with that pronoun, in effect the
pronoun acts much like an adjective: it adopts a gender form appropriate to the gender of the
object of possession (the thing or person that belongs to the "possessor"). Thus, relating to the
object of possession being masculine, feminine, and neuter, respectively: we have three
variants of the interrogative possessive pronoun: "czyj", "czyja", "czyje".

It should also be noted that the Polish possessive pronoun "czyj" is, practically, applicable only
to human possessors (i.e., it would not be used in the instances of a thing belonging, being part
of, or being related to another thing);
also, it's use as an introduction to subordinated clauses is very limited (compared to
English) ― but that's not something we'd be getting interested in right now.

Let's have a few examples instead, shall we? :) :

Q: Czyj (interrog. possessive pron.) to jest parasol (d1)?

— Whose umbrella is this?
A1: Mój (possessive pronoun). — Mine.
(this is an example of a question about the possessor being answered with a
possessive pronoun;
notice the gender agreement of the two possessive pronouns with the gender of
the object of possession ― "parasol" (masc.); by the way, "parasol" is the
subject of the question sentence)

A2: To jest parasol (d1) mojej siostry (d2). — This is an umbrella of my sister.
[in proper English: "This is my sister's umbrella."]
(the nominative = "(moja) siostra" (fem.);
here we have the question about the possessor answered with a noun ― and that
means a use of the genitive;
the noun in the genitive has its own gender and, unlike a possessive pronoun,
it doesn't show any dependence of form related to the gender of the object of
possession ― in other words: there would always be one genitive form "mojej
siostry", regardless if the "thing" that belongs to "my sister" were to be
"parasol", "sukienka", or "dziecko"))

Q: Czyj e obrazy (plural,d1) były najdroższe na aukcji?

— Whose paintings were the most expensive at the auction?
A: Najdroższe były obrazy (d1)
sławnego malarza (d2), Jacka Malczewskiego (d2).
— The most expensive were the paintings
of the famous painter, Jacek Malczewski.
(the nominatives = "obrazy" (plural) → "obraz" (sing.,masc.,d1),
"(sławny) malarz" (masc.), "Jacek Malczewski" (proper name))

Czyja pomoc (fem,d1) była bardziej przydatna

― moja (possesive pron. in fem. variant) czy mojego brata (d2)?
― Whose help was more useful ― mine or my brother's?
[more literally: "(that) of my brother"]
(the nominative = "(mój) brat" (masc.))

OK, we've already seen questions that use the interrogatives about a possessor when that
possessor is a person. In case of animals, the word "czyj" can be used, too...

"Czyje futro jest najmiększe?" — " 'Whose' fur is the softest? "

... but it is strongly recommendable to use more precise — and, unfortunately, a bit more
complex — constructions instead:

Q: Futro (d1) jakiego zwierzęcia (d2) jest najmiększe?

— The fur of what kind of an animal is the softest?
A: Najmiększe jest futro (d1) kota (d2). — The softest is the fur of a cat.

As you can well see by that example, the "more complex" question is not only more clear in
Polish, but it's a better alternative in English as well: "whose" could suggest that we're talking
about someone's coat made from an animal's fur.

When dealing with material things the use of "czyj", or "whose", is completely out of the
question. Just look at this statement sentence:

"Drzwi tego domu (d2) są zamknięte." — "The door of this house is closed."
(remember that the Polish noun for "door" only comes in plural, the same way as
the "scissors" do in English)

There's no doubt that neither in English nor in Polish will the following question be acceptable
as a way to ask about the building that the door is part of:

"Czyje drzwi są zamknięte?" — "Whose door is closed?"

The above is understandable in a figurative sense (both in Polish and in English it could be read
as: "The door to whose room is closed?"), but we're not dealing with these kinds of nuances
here. In the stricter sense that we're after here, one needs to ask:

"The door of/to what is closed?"

And that, in Polish, will make:

"Czego drzwi są zamknięte?"

In a similar way, if we had a sentence:

"Wyniki (d1) badań (d2) są bardzo zaskakujące."

— "The results of the research are very surprising."
(the nominatives = "wyniki" (plural) → "wynik" (sing.,masc.,d1) — note that
"wynik" in singular is used mostly when referring to a game score,
"badania" (plural) → "badanie" (sing.,fem.,d1) — this world,
too, used in plural most of the time)

then we could ask a question like:

"The results of what were (very) surprising?"

→ "Czego wyniki były (bardzo) zaskakujące?"

As you can see — there is a possessive application for one of the genitive interrogative
pronouns trom the head of this section: i.e., for the "cz ego ", which relates to material things.

I'm not giving you many more examples of that application, though, because — as I guess you
can see yourself — those questions don't strike one as particularly natural. It looks as though,
historically, mankind must have been more interested in these instances of belonging where
the possessor was a human being than in those where one thing would be subordinately
related to another :) : both in Polish and in English we get a special interrogative pronoun
("czyj", "whose") for the human possessors, and in both of the languages questions about the
"possessor-thing" often seem somehow clumsy and wanting a more elaborate asking formula
to be precise and meaningful.

OK, that was a stretched argument :) Yes, one does use the "czego" to inquire about
possessor when that possessor is a material thing. And I think that those two examples above
have demonstrated it quite well.

The reason for which I want to skip more examples of the use of "czego" in asking about
possession is that I would like to finally move on to such instances of the usage of genitive that
will allow us to see the second of the genitive interrogative pronouns in action — the "kogo"
(and those will be the kinds of settings where "czego" will be in play as well).

Before we get to that, though, one little formality regarding our main example sentence. As we
remember, the sentence ran:

"Manuela (d1) dała książkę (d4) z ciekawymi zadaniami (d5)

koledze (d3) swojego kuzyna (d3)..."

"Manuela gave a book with interesting (mathematical) problems

to a friend of her cousin..."

And you can probably guess as well that the question that we will want to make now, will be:

"Whose friend did Manuela give the book to?"

And you already know, too, that we will use "czyj"... Unfortunately, I have one more complication for
you... so, please, treat the following remarks more as trivia than something for you to learn and to
remember at this stage, OK? :)

Look closely at the question sentence, and you will see that the compound "whose friend" is a dative
complement of the verb "to give" — the friend together with his "possessor" are the indirect object of the
action of giving the book ("the book" is the direct object of the action).

This will be be seen more clearly if we shuffle the word-order of the question:

"To whose friend did Manuela give the book?"

Now, remember what I said about the pronoun "czyj" having those three gender forms and adjusting
itself to the noun specifying the object of possession? I said that the pronoun behaved like an adjective.
And so it does. And, although adjectives as such have not been a point of particular focus for us here, you
know that they follow declension. Consequently, the pronoun "czyj" will do so, too.

What, in effect, means that our inquiry about whose friend was given the book will look as follows:

"Cz yj em u koledze (d3) Manuela (d1) dała książkę (d4)?"

where "czyjemu" is the dative form of "czyj" — the masculine variant of the pronoun (it has to agree in
gender with "kolega" which is masculine)

So much for the formality. We can now proceed on with discovering the use of the genitive
interrogative pronouns "kogo" / "czego".

What are then the situations, where those two would apply? Well, that's quite simple — the
section on the genitive in the first part of the booklet could give you plenty of clues :) The
short answer is: the genitive interrogative (both the "czego" and the "kogo") is used with all of
the non-possessive functions of the genitive.

Let's start with my personal favourite ;) — the situation in which a word is put in the genitive
because it is the direct object in a negative sentence (... which, as we know, means that
instead of the normal accusative, we have to use the genitive). Let's start with the special case:
the "there is no / there is not" (... and "there are no / there are not") type of sentence.

"W mieście nie ma świeżego powietrza (d2)."

— "In a city there is no fresh air."
(the nominative = "(świeże) powietrze" (neut.))

This sentence can be an answer to the question:

"Czego (d2) nie ma w mieście?" — "What isn't there in a city?"

"Czego (d2) nie ma na niebie w nocy?" — "What isn't there in the sky at night?"
(notice that perhaps a more natural question sentence in English would be
something like "What can you not find in the night sky?", but the one above also
is correct and fairly normal)

... now, the shortest (and fully correct) answer to that could be just:
"Słońca (d2)." — "The sun."

"Słońce" is put in the genitive because the question demanded that — being a question in the
negative. One look at a longer version of this answer will make things absolutely clear: "W nocy
na niebie nie ma słońca (d2)."

Teacher asking in the beginning of a lesson:

"Kogo (d2) dzisiaj nie ma?" — "Who isn't there (in the class) today?"

"Dziś nie ma Ani (d2)." — "Ania isn't there today."

(of course, the answer could be just "Ani.")

"Kogo (d2) nie ma dzisiaj na imprezie?"

— "Who isn't there at the party today?"

"Dzisiaj na imprezie nie ma

dwóch moich kolegów (d2), Jacka (d2) i Krzyśka (d2)."
— "My two friends aren't there at the party today, Jacek and Krzysiek."
(the names of the friends stand in the same relation to the verb phrase "nie ma"
as the piece of the sentence that describes who they are ("dwaj moi przyjaciele
(d1)"), so both those elements of the sentence come in the genitive)

Let's now use a couple of transitive verbs which would normally take their direct objects in the
accusative, but which will have to take them in the genitive, because the sentences I am going
to set them in are going to be negative sentences; we're going to ask questions about those
direct objects.

"Czego (d2) nigdy nie pijesz wieczorem?"

— "What do you never drink in the evening?"
"Wieczorem nigdy nie piję kawy (d2)."
— "I never drink coffee in the evening."
(the nominative = "kawa" (fem.))

Just for a reminder: a typical transitive verb, like "pić" (to drink), takes its complement in the
accusative in all the positive sentences:

"Co (d4) zazwyczaj pijesz wieczorem?"

— "What do you usually drink in the evening?"
"Wieczorem piję herbatę (d4)." — "I drink tea in the evening."
(the nominative = "herbata" (fem.))

"Czego (d2) najbardziej nie lubisz w pieczonym kurczaku?" — ...

... here we have to watch out about the translation: this is a negative sentence which
apples the negation "nie" to the transitive verb "lubić <kogoś/coś (d4)>", but... the most
natural intensifier to use in this sentence in Polish is "najbardziej" (the most), so probably the
right translation would be:

... — "What do you dislike the most in a roasted chicken?"

— without the "not" typical for negative sentences. However, let me stress it again (!) : we
cannot forget that in the Polish originial this is a typical negative sentence (a negative
question) and that for this reason we have the "czego (d2)" (instead of "co (d4)") as our
interrogative pronoun for the direct object here. Let's take another, similar example:

"Kogo (d2) najbardziej ni e lubisz w swojej szkole?"

— "Who do you dislike the most at your school?"

"Nauczycielki (d2) chemii." — "The (female) chemistry teacher."

(literally this is "The (female) teacher of chemistry.", so the "chemii" is, in fact,
another noun in genitive here (d1 = "chemia"), but that's not so important at
this point;
the nominative = "nauczycielka" (fem.))

I hope that it's not quite necessary by now to say that a sentence like:
"I like the (female) English teacher."
uses the accusative for the object, and therefore looks like this:
"Lubię nauczycielkę (d4) angielskiego (d2)." ("... the teacher of English.")

But — and this is quite important — notice that the question word for the object of the last
sentence would have to be the interrogative personal pronoun for the accusative... and that
this interrogative personal pronoun in accusative — "kogo (d4)" — looks the same as the
interrogative personal pronoun in genitive: "kogo (d2)".
Yes, the word looks the same, but it's quite important to pay attention to whether a question
sentence we're dealing with is negative or positive, because on that depends whether that
particular "kogo" wants us to answer with a genitive (in case of a negative question sentence)
or with an accusative (when the question sentence is a positive one) — in other words: whether
the "kogo" in the question sentence is the "kogo (d2)" or the "kogo (d2)".

Let's bring those examples with the verb "lubić <kogoś>" closer together, to see the
difference clearly:

"Kogo (d2) najbardziej nie lubisz w swojej szkole?"

"Nauczycielki (d2) chemii."
"A kogo (d4) najbardziej lubisz?"
"Nauczycielkę (d4) angielskiego."

One or two more examples of these negative-sentence-related genitives:

"Czego (d2) nie pamiętałeś [masc.v.form] na (r6) teście (d6)?"

— "What did you not remember on the test?"
"Daty (d2) odkrycia (d2) Brazylii (d2)."
— "The date of the discovery of Brazil."
(the nominatives = "test" (masc.), "data" (fem.),
"odkrycie" (masc.), "Brazylia" (fem.))

Let's have the positives for comparison now:

"Co (d4) pamiętasz (r4) z (r2) ostatniej lekcji (d2) historii (d2)?"
— "What do you remember from the last history lesson?" ["... lesson of history"]
(the nominative = "(ostatnia) lekcja" (fem.), "historia" (fem.))

"Chyba tylko datę (d4) odkrycia Brazylii."

— "Probably only the date of the discovery of Brazil."

"Czego (d2) nigdy nie oglądasz w telewizji?"

— "What do you never watch on television?"
"Horrorów (d2)." — "The horror movies."
(the nominative: "horrory" (pl.) → "horror" (masc.))

... and the comparison with positives:

"Co (d4) on ogląda (r4) często w telewizji?"
— "What does he watch on the television often?"
"Horrory (d4)!" — "The horror movies!"

A policeman interviewing a witness and showing him some portrait photos::

"Kogo (d2) z nich nigdy Pan nie widział?"
— "Who of them have you never seen?"
"Mężczyzny (d2) w ciemnych okularach." — "The man in the dark glasses."

... whereas, on the positive side:

"A kogo (d4) widział (r4) Pan wtedy na ulicy?"
— "And who have you seen in the street at that time?"
"Chyba tego mężczyznę (d4) z wąsami."
— "Probably that man with the moustache."
(the nominative = "(ten) mężczyzna" (masc.) — well... ridiculously enough this
word ("a man") ends with an "-a" and has a declension pattern typical of a
feminine noun (!), like for example "kobieta" ("a woman"))
Let's now see two examples of a situation where the direct object of a sentence would always
come in the genitive, because that is demanded by the rekcja of the particular verb (look
back into the point "c)" of the section on the uses of the genitive for more details). To ask about
the objects of the sentences with one of those particular verbs we will always use a genitive
interrogative pronoun (whether a sentence is positive or negative will not play a role here).

Let's start with the very popular verb "używać" (to use), which even many Poles try to employ —
wrongly — with complements in the accusative; just like they would (correctly) do with most
other verbs. Here is the only correct way of asking about its object: always through the
genitive interrogative "cz e go " - both in positive and negative question sentences. (There's
hardly ever a situation that requires "kogo" to be used... but if there were, then that would be
the "kogo (d2)", and not the "kogo (d4)" ... and this is important and worth remembering, no
matter that the shape of the word is the same ;)) :

"Czego (d2) używasz (r2) do ochrony przed słońcem?

Naprawdę używasz (r2) tego beznadziejnego kremu (d2)?
Nie używaj (r2) go (d2)!"
— "What do you use for protection against the sun?
Do you really use that worthless creme / skin lotion? Don't use it!"
(the nominative = "(ten beznadziejny) krem" (masc.))

To have a comparison, let's change "używać (r2)" for a fairly synonymic verb with a "normal"
case government — "stosować (r4)" (to apply, to use):

"Co (d4) stosujesz (r4) dla ochrony przed słońcem?

Naprawdę stosujesz (r4) ten beznadziejny krem (d4)?
Ni e stosuj go (d2)!"
— "What do you apply for protection against the sun?
Do you really apply that worthless lotion? Don't apply it!"

Notice that in this second example the last sentence ("Nie stosuj go!") also uses the
genitive object — that is so because the last sentence is a negative sentence (... which requires
accusative objects to change into genitive ones). Unfortunately, the pronoun "him" (standing
for the masculine "krem") has same-looking declension forms for d2 and d4.
The next example duo will better illustrate the difference, because we shall have a feminine
object in it, and in the feminine gender the declension of pronouns is more varied. We're going
to use another of those "always-the-genitive" verbs: "bronić (r2)" (to defend) :

"No i kogo (d2) Ty bronisz (r2)? (Bronisz (r2)) Tej kłamczuchy (d2)?
(Bronisz (r2)) Jej ( d2)?! Nie broń jej (d2)!"
— "Geez, who are you defending? That (female) liar? Her?! Don't defend her!"
(the nominative = "(ta) kłamczucha" (fem.))

... let's now use a transitive verb with the standard case government,
so as to see the difference:

"No i kogo (d4) Ty zapraszasz (r4)? Tę kłamczuchę (d4)?

Ją (d4)?! Nie zapraszaj jej (d2)!"
— "Geez, who are you inviting? That (female) liar? Her?! Don't invite her!"

And now let's take a look at a couple of examples, where the object of the question comes in
connection with one of the prepositions that govern the genitive. We're going to make
sentences with just a few from a good number of those prepositions — see the point "e)" of the
section on the uses of the genitive for a more complete list of such prepositions.

Q: "Dla (r2) kogo (d2) jest ta paczka (d1)?" — "For whom is that parcel?"
A: "Dla (r2) mojej przyjaciółki (d2), Ani (d2)." — "(It's) for my friend Ania."
(the nominative = "(moja) przyjaciółka" (fem.), "Ania" (fem.))

Q: "Od (r2) kogo (d2) jest ten list (d1)?" — "From whom is this letter?"
A: "Od (r2) jej cioci (d2)." — "From her aunt."
(the nominative = "(jej) ciocia" (fem.))

"Z (r2) czego (d2) jest ten długopis (d1) — z (r2) plastiku (d2)
czy z (r2) metalu (d2)?"
— "What is this ballpoint ~made~ of — (is it) ~made~ of plastic or of metal?"
(the nominatives = "plastik" (masc.), "metal" (masc.))

Let me once again remind you at this point that the same-looking preposition "z/ze" has the
meaning of "with", and that it is exactly by the declension case of the word that comes after
the "z/ze" that we judge which of the prepositions it is (the "with" or the "from/of"). The "z/ze"
with the meaning of "with" we have already covered, because that one governs the
instrumental (and the interrogatives for the instrumental came in the booklet two sections
before the present one), but I can think of a good illustrative example, showing well the
difference between the two different "z's" and their respective interrogative pronouns:

Q: "Z czego (d2) jest ten chleb (d1)?"

— "What is this this bread ~made~ from?"
(the use of "czego" — d2 — tells us that we're dealing with the "made of / made
from" meaning of "z";
this question, although not terrifically precise in its wording, would be a
very normal, and quite unequivocal, way of asking about the flour that the bread
was made from)

A: "Ten chleb (d1) jest z (r2) mąki pszennej (d2)."

— "This bread is ~made~ from wheat flour."
(the nominative = "mąka pszenna" (fem.) — of course, there's no reason you
should try to remember this kind of vocabulary: I just wanted to make things
complete by showing a possible answer;
if we used the instrumental instead (which wouldn't be fair to the question,
which clearly asks "Z czego (d2)...", and not "Z czym (d5)..."), we would get:
"To jest chleb z mąką pszenną (d5)." (This is bread with wheat flour."), which wouldn't make any
real sense)

and now for the contrasting example:

Q: "Z czym (d5) jest ten chleb (d1)?" — "What is this bread with?"
(... which in Polish is understood to mean: "What is this sandwich with?", "What
components does this sandwich contain?")
A: "To jest chleb z (r5) serem (r5)." — "This is bread with cheese."
["This is a cheese sandwich."]
(the nominative = "ser" (masc.);
playing at making the switch of cases again, this time from the instrumental to
the genitive, (which is, like before, an action against the clear intention of
the question which uses "czym (d5)" and not "czego (d2)"), we would arrive at:
"To jest chleb z sera (d2)." ("This is bread (made) of cheese."), which makes sense only as long
as you decide that something made of cheese can justly be called "bread" :))

Well, this is definitely enough on the subject of the question words for objects in the genitive!
So, it's time for:

Summary : the genitive interrogative pronouns are —

(***5) "kog o", "cz ego "
(*6*) —a question about the "ins" (... but not about the "outs" :))...
... which makes it a question about the "abouts" :)))
( the locative-related interrogative pronouns:
"(o ) k im? / (o) cz ym? " [(about) who? / (about) what?] )

And so we finally arrive at the last stop — the last substantive element in our main examplary
sentence that we want to make a question about. By making a question about that last
substantive, we're going to learn about the interrogative pronouns for the last remaining case
we haven't covered yet here — the locative.

Let's recall the examplary sentence:

"Manuela (d1) dała książkę (d4) z ciekawymi zadaniami (d5)

koledze (d3) swojego kuzyna (d2) dobremu w matematyce (d6)."

"Manuela gave a book with interesting (mathematical) problems

to a friend of her cousin (who is) good at maths."

The last element of this sentence we're going to ask about is that "at math". Let's make a
sensible question to our examplary sentence that would get us the "at maths" prepositional
phrase in answer. I suggest we skip over the whole complication of who is whose friend :), as
well as the book theme, and just ask:

"What is the friend good at?"

→ polonization in progress... :)
→ "At what is the friend good?"

Well, the last one must look really ugly to an English native-speaker (because it looks ugly
enough to me :)), but I choose to call that correct... and, more importantly, it lets us jump
straight to the Polish counterpart:

"W czym (d6) (ten) kolega jest dobry?"

(OK, the "ten" ("that / the") is optional, but since we assume that the person that
is being asked this question must be certain of the person that we're asking
about, putting the "suggestive" "ten" makes the question more natural... Well,
there is another reason for the presence of the "ten" there... but that one is
even more obscure and explaining it would have brought about another lengthy
digression ;)))

What do we see in the Polish question? We see our first interrogative pronoun (the question
word) for the locative — "cz ym (d6)".

Now, let's think why we use a question word for the locative there. Well, we can look back into
the section describing the usage of the locative and that would tell us that the use locative
case is only required by the rekcja (case government) of certain prepositions. Let's look at the
question and the answer now:

"W (r6) czym (d6) ten kolega (d1) jest dobry?" — "What is the friend good at?"

"On (d1) jest dobry w (r6) matematyce (d6)." — "He is good at maths."
(the nominative = "matematyka" (fem.))

Well, as you might have noticed earlier, Polish uses here the preposition "w" (which usually
translates into "in"), while English has the "at" in that place. That's just a question of the
prepositions not matching each other in different languages. We won't worry about that. The
thing that we're interested in is that the Polish preposition "w/we" governs the locative, which
means that if we have a question like:
"W <wh at > <somebody> <verb [+ direct object]>?", then that "what" would usually
come in the locative variant = "czym (d6)".

I say "usually" because "w" is one of those "dual rekcja" prepositions that are followed by words either in
the instrumental (d5) or the locative (d6) in static situations, and by words in the accusative case (d4)
in some dynamic situations, especially those where the notion of "motion towards" comes into play.
As has just been said, "w/we" is one of those prepositions — in the "static" situations it comes with the
locative, in the "dynamic" ones ("poking" something with something, aiming into something,
sticking/driving one thing into another, etc.) it comes with the accusative.

Therefore, given sentences like:

"Rowerzysta (d1) nie wyhamował i ud er zy ł w drz wi (d4) samochodu (d2)."

— "The cyclist was unable to slow down and he hit the side of the car."
(the nominatives = "drzwi" (always plural), "samochód" (masc.);
notice that in Polish the verb "uderzać" (to hit, to strike) usually operates on its object
through a preposition (mostly through the "w"); "uderzać" doesn't use a preposition when
the object of the hitting is an animate substantive, e.g.:
"Ten chłopiec uderzył mojego psa (d4)." — "This boy hit my dog."
(not: "... uderzył w mojego psa.");
just so that you would have the complete information: the locative of "drzwi" is
"drzwiach (d6)" — of course, this form is of no use in this sentence)

... or:

"Słysząc te słowa, dziewczyna (d1) ud er zy ła go (d4) w tw ar z (d4)."

— "On hearing these words, the girl hit him in the face."
(the nominatives = "on" (pers.pron.), "twarz" (fem.).);
the object in this sentence is the "on", but the adverbial "w twarz" is strictly
associated with the verb, and so the nature of the action influences the case government
of the preposition "w" in it (and dictates the use of the accusative instead of the
the locative of "twarz" is "twarzy (d6)" — once again: the use of that form would have
been a language error there)

... we would have to ask about the object of the preposition "w" by using an accusative interrogative, and
so, respectively, the questions would look as follows:

"W co (d4) ude rz ył rowerzysta (d1)?" — "What did the cyclist crash into?"

"W co (d4) ude rz ył a go dziewczyna (d1)?" — "What did the girl hit him in?"

I hope that you found fairly clear this little reminder of the fact that some prepositions in Polish present
two different case governments (the "w/we" being one of them) — and that, consequently, where the
accusative rekcja applies, it also applies to the interrogative pronoun for the object of such preposition.
But the accusative is not our particular business at this time, so let's leave the slight digression and come
back to our locative...

We're going to try making a few example questions asking about substantives preceded by
the "locative prepositions": the "w", "na", etc. I'm not listing here all those prepositions, and I'm
doing it for a purpose — or even a few purposes.
One is that we just want to see the mechanism, so we don't really need to try out every
combination. Another is that "na" is yet one more "dual rekcja" preposition, and I really want to
avoid making any more of the digressions like the one above... (just kidding! :)).
The third, and the most important reason, is that in most of the instances of speaking about
something being in something else, or something lying on something else, etc., the only
natural way to ask about that "something else" is to simply ask "Where...?". If the word that
comes after the "w" or the "na" is just a name for a place where something is situated, then it's
only in some special situations that you would ask "In what did you... ?" or "On what will you...
?" — don't you agree? Usually, you would just ask "Where did / do / will you ... ?"

So, with a sentence like:

"Manuela jest w (r6) domu (d6)." — "Manuela is at home."


"Samochód stoi na (r6) ulicy (d6)." — "A/The car is standing in the street."

(the nominatives = "dom" (masc.), "ulica" (fem.);

not a hint of a "motion towards", so the prepositions come in their more usual,
primary rekcja (for them, that's the locative one))

it would be rather daft to make up questions like:

"W (r6) czym (d6) jest Manuela?" — "What is Manuela in?"


"Na (r6) czym stoi (d6) samochód?" — "What is a/the car standing on?"

I'm sure you will agree that in any language the only reasonable way of asking a question that
would get us an answer like "(Ona jest) W domu." ("She's at home.")
or "(Stoi) Na ulicy." ("It's (out) in the street.") must be:

"Gd zie jest Manuela?" — "Where is Manuela?"


"Gd zie stoi samochód?" — "Where is the car (standing)?"

Of course, grammatically speaking those questions a little higher above — the ones starting
with the prepositional phrases "W czym..." and "Na czym..." — are correct. They are just
pretty weird — also because they make it seem as if the person who is asking them already
knew the answer: that person appears to know that Manuela is IN something (while she could
be out of any closed spaces) and that the car is standing IN/ON something (while the person
answering might just want to say: "It's over there!"). In fact, the obvious naturality of using the
question pronoun "gdzie" to ask about a location has led to some prepositional questions
adopting special, implicit meanings:

"W czym jest Manuela?" → "W co ubrana jest Manuela?"

— "What is Manuela dressed in?"
"Manuela jest w czerwonej bluzie."
— "Manuela is in / is wearing a/the red blouse."

Well, "Na czym stoi samochód?".. .. just looks very weird... :) A native Polish speaker would
be rather perplexed facing that question: quite certainly it would be one of his or her last
guesses that this question might want an answer like "Na ulicy." :) (I suppose a lot of people
would give the answer that first springs to my mind: "Na kołach!" — "On ~its~ wheels!" :)))
On the whole, there aren't all that many locative-governing prepositions (look yourself into the
section on the locative in the main part of the booklet). Of the three that go only with the
locative, two — "po" and "przy" — again refer to location in space, which means that questions
about their objects would usually be constructed with the interrogative "gdzie".

Well, there is one exception here... The preposition "po" can mean "all over", "over the surface of",
but it can also mean "after" — when talking about events in time, when describing some
chronology of things that happen. And, no matter what the meaning, that preposition always
takes the locative.

Let's see then what we shall get if we try asking in Polish: "After whom do you come in?".

This example question might seem strange at first, but given a proper context it becomes
perfectly natural: what I'm thinking about here is a scene in a hospital waiting room — people
are sitting on every free chair and a new person wants to know who is the last in the queue and
who comes right before that last person.

We already know that the question sentence will start with "Po (d6)..." and that it will
require the interrogative pronoun for the locative (d6) case. We already have one for material
things (and animals ;)) — "czy m (d6)". Here we need one for people (humans).

This is our question:

"Po (r6) kim (d6) Pan/Pani (d1) wchodzi?"

So, here we have our personal interrogative pronoun for the locative: "ki m (d6)".

Just for the sake of symmetry...

... Actually, it's not easy to make a natural question that would start with "Po czym...",
especially one that would allow making a grammatically similar sentence in English. ... Yes, it's
quite difficult... All right, I'll be content with making one that is natural in Polish and needs a
little "extra" in its translation to English:

"Po (r6) czym (d6) jest Ci niedobrze?"

— "After (eating) what are you feeling sick?"
(side-note: the way of speaking about feeling sick (queasy, nauseated) in Polish
is similar to how we express the liking of something by means of the reflexive
verb "podobać się" (we talked about it in the section on the dative in the main
part of the booklet); a few examples to illustrate the use of the adverb
"niedobrze" in that role:
"Jest mi (d3) niedobrze." — "I feel sick."
"Czy jest Ci (d3) niedobrze?" — "Are you feeling sick?"
"Nam (d3) było niedobrze." — "We were feeling sick.")

[I don't think that "After what are you feeling sick?", or even "What are you feeling sick after?", is a
sentence sounding clear in English, so the word "eating" needs to be added in the translation.
In Polish, "Po czym Ci jest niedobrze?" has just one very apparent meaning — one associated with
eating something bad.]

OK, so we found "po" as one "locative-case-only" preposition... We have also seen that it isn't
probably too often that we would see or make questions whose objects would come preceded
by it.

And so we reach the point that has been one of my goals here. Namely — the preposition "o"
("about"). Why are should we be interested in it? Because it is a preposition that has a single
type of rekcja (case government): for the locative — just like "po"; however, unlike "po", this
preposition is used a lot both with human and material objects. Which means that both
question types "O kim...?" and "O czym...?" will be very natural and easy to make for
whatever noun that we may expect as the answer.
Taking any possible noun at all we can always make a successful attempt at asking about it
one of these two questions:

"Who am I thinking about?"

or "What am I thinking about?"

which in Polish translates, respectively, as:

"O (r6) kim (d6) myślę?"


"O (r6) czy m (d6) myślę?"

(... and the verb "myśleć" (to think) can even be quite safely replaced with a
couple of others, like "mówić" (to talk) or "pisać" (to write))

There's no doubt about it, is there? :)

All right, let's have a little pause here, because that's a good place for our standard summary:

Summary : the interrogative pronouns for the objects

of the prepositions that govern the locative are —
(***6) "( o) kim ", "(o ) czym "

Now I'd like you to notice that the interrogative pronouns, the pair of them, used for asking
about substantives in the instrumental and those applicable to substantives in the locative look
absolutely identical — it is "kim / czym" in both cases. Therefore, in order to make a
distinction between them, we tend to put the preposition "z" ("with") before the "kim / czym"
to show that it's the interrogatives for the instrumental case that we have on our mind, and to
put the preposition "o" before those same question words — when we want to make it clear
that we're after the interrogatives for a locative object.

The choice of these particular pronouns is dictated by the fact that their case governments are
constant — there are no alternatives for the declension case of the objects of these
prepositions — and by another fact: that practically any noun or pronoun can make a sensible
combination with the prepositions "with" or "about". (When I say "sensible" I mean natural,
easily found in real language usage.)

One clarification, in case you might have doubts if the preposition "z" indeed serves to makes
things clear and unambiguous. Well, yes, I agree — "z" (or "z/ze", to be precise) in Polish is
also the language sign for a totally different preposition ("from, out of"), and that one goes
together with the genitive. But notice that there's no mistaking between the interrogative
pronouns for the genitive ("kogo? / czego?") and those for the instrumental ("kim? /
czym?"). The only inclarity we can have is whether the pair ("kim? / czym?") is, in a given
context, a pair designating the instrumental, or the locative. The use of "z kim...?" or "z
czym...?" removes any doubts that it's the instrumental we're after.


And now, since we're not going to look for interrogative pronouns referring to the vocative case...
:))) ...

— Why?! : There is simply no way to ask any questions about a word placed in the
vocative case! :) (A person being called by their name is neither the subject or an object
(direct or indirect) of any action — the written call to their name doesn't describe any action. It
doesn't even implicit any action.)

... then we can ask a different, last question ;)) : why that whole lecture about the interrogative
pronouns for all the cases of the declension?

Of course, one answer could be that it's simply one of the things that a person wanting to speak
Polish needs to know about the language anyway, and that it happens to be in connection with the
declension system that I'm describing in this booklet. Well, that's a passable reason, but not the
true one: if it were the situation, I would have a big temptation now to move on to other case-
related interrogatives, like the adjectivial:
"jaki (d1)?, jakiego (d2)?, jakiemu (d3)?, ..."
( fem.: "jaka (d1)?, jakiej (d2)?, jakiej (d3)?, ..."
neut.: "jakie (d1)?, jakiego (d2)?, ..." ), or the determinative:
"który (d1)?, którego (d2)?, któremu (d3)?, którego (d4)?, ..."
( fem.: "która (d1)?, której (d2)?, której (d3)?, którą (d4), ...?",
neut.: "które (d1)?, którego (d2)?, ...")...

... well, I do have that temptation and I will probably yield to it in a sequel to this booklet (if
there's going to be one, of course :))... but for now I have a goal, and that goal is different.

The goal is to present to you these question words as declension case designators, in which role
they are much used by Polish speakers, and especially by children who are still building their
vocabulary, including the inflected forms. The names of the cases ("mianownik, dopełniacz,
...") can be pretty intimidating and they don't help much in associating a given inflected form
with its function and usage. Everyday users of a language need something more practical. And so,
while some of them might not remember the names of all the cases, or know their canonical order,
or even be aware the exact number of them, most will know that:

- there is a case (a word-form) that answers the questions

"kto / co ?"
—and that this is the case where this "kto(ś) / co(ś)" is doing something, or has done
something, or will do something... of course, we know the precise name for the substantive
playing this role in a sentence: it's the subject ( Polish: "podmiot" ;))
(... and the case is, as we know, the nominative ("mianownik"))

- there is a case used to answer the questions

"kogo / czego ?"
—... as in, for example,
"Kogo / Czego nie ma (gdzieś)?"
("Who / What isn't there (somewhere)?").
So, for example, if a child needs to be taught that one needs to use the genitive object with
the verb "dotykać" ("to touch", this verb has a constant case government for the genitive), then
you will tell the child that it's "dotykać - kogo?, czego?, a nie: kogo?, co?", and make it recall the
correct way to you say, for example, "There is no fire in the chimney." —
— "W kominku nie ma — kogo, czego?
⇨ Czego nie ma w kominku?
⇨ W kominku nie ma ognia (d2)."
... which means that "to touch fire" is composed as follows:
"dotykać (r2) — kogo,czego? ⇨ czego? — ognia (d2)
⇨ dotykać ognia (d2)"
Of course, it is quite probable that somebody might meet the noun "ogień (d1)" inflected
into "ognia (d2)" in the combination "dotykać ognia" earlier than in "nie ma ognia" : and the
word context in which you will have seen and remembered that inflected form may well be
something yet totally different. Therefore, when trying to recall the correct inflected form of a
given substantive, sometimes you may need to run through your mind a few verbs,
prepositions, or verb colligations with the rekcja for the genitive, thus trying to find a
combination in which you have already seen the substantive inflected. For example, you might
remember the proverb "Nie ma dymu (d2) bez (r2) ognia (d2)." ("There is no smoke without fire."),
and then, knowing that the preposition "bez" has the rekcja for the genitive, you would arrive
at the correct genitive form for "fire" ― "ognia (d2)".
But the phrase "Kogo / Czego nie ma ... ?" is probably the one most commonly used as
a test/reference phrase to check genitive substantives against, because of its universality (it
fits well with practically any substantive).
(... so this is what an average Pole needs to know
about the genitive ("dopełniacz") ;))

- there is a case to answer the questions

"komu / czemu ?"
—... and the convenient way to continue is to go with:
"Komu / Czemu się przyglądam?"
("Who / What am I looking inquisitively at?").
Again — "przyglądać się" is one the few verbs with a (constant) dative case government,
and, additionally, it is a verb can be used to make sensible questions about most substantives.
There's also a big likelihood that, if you've ever seen the dative form of a given substantive,
you would have seen it in a context of this verb.
Let's have a hypothetical situation that we want to say "This cat is cold." (... in the sense
that it is suffering from low ambient temperature, not that it's dead... :)); we will also assume
that we remember the format of the dative phrase that we should use in such situation::
"Komu(ś) / Czemu(ś) (d3) jest zimno.". We should now try to remember the form of
"(ten) kot (d1)" that fits the sentence: "Przyglądam się (komu?/czemu?) ..." ...
⇨ If we're lucky we may recall that this sentence, with cat in it :), will read:
"Przyglądam się (temu) kotu (d3)."
... And we know that the stencil "komu?/czemu? — temu kotu" will also fit the sentence we
want to construct:
"Komu(ś) / Czemu(ś) jest zimno." ⇨ "Temu kotu (d3) jest zimno."
Again, there's no guarantee that the situation will not be the opposite, in other words: that
you'd have seen "kot" inflected into "kotu" in "Temu kotu jest zimno." earlier than in "Przyglądam
się temu kotu.". Quite probably, you may remember that inflected form in a context different
from those two mentioned — for example, in a sentence like:
"Codziennie z rana daję mojemu kotu (d3) miseczkę mleka."
("Everyday in the morning, I give my cat a little bowl of milk.")
The important thing is that (— while it's very good that you'd be counscious of this "mojemu
kotu" being called the dative form — you would also try getting into the habit of looking at
and memorizing sentences with these "deconstructive" interrogatives pasted in:
"Codziennie z rana daję ((facultative r3), r4)
(—k om u? / cze mu ?— ) mojemu kotu (d3)
—k og o? / co?— miseczkę (d4) —ko go ? / cz eg o?— mleka (d2)."
(Regarding the last "kogo?/czego?": always when having two nouns back-to-back,
the second one will be in this possessive/categorizing function that is
described by the use of the "of" in English. It is especially true where the
first of the nouns is a name of a container: a bowl, box, packet, etc.)
Memorizing the "deconstructive form" of a sentence is helpful in being then able to get quick
mental access to a desired inflection form of a substantive. Based on the sentence from the
previous example, we can quickly build a sentence like: "My cat doesn't like the new toy.":
"—Komu(ś) / Czemu(ś)— nie podoba się nowa zabawka (d1)."
⇨ kom u? / c zem u? — m oje mu kot u
⇨ "(komu? / czemu?) Mojemu kotu nie podoba się nowa zabawka."
(...and, just for a reminder, the case we've been talking about here
is the dative ("celownik"))
- there is a case to answer the questions
"kogo / co ?"
—... and there is an awfully long list of handy continuations, because — as we know —
these are the interrogative pronouns for the accusative, which is the standard case for a direct
object. This means that you're quite free to take your pick — yet, one of the most popular
"testing" verbs used is "widzieć" (to see). Then, trying to find the accusative inflection form of a
given substantive turns into trying to come up with such form as to answer correctly the
"Kogo / Co widzę?"
For example:
"truskawka (d1)" ⇨ "Kogo / Co widzę?"
⇨ "Widzę —kogo?/co?— truskawkę (d4)."
I don't have an idea of what to say more here... apart from one thing — while all cases are of
equal importance and there's no way to speak a really correct Polish without the ability to put
most substantives into any of the 7 declension cases, yet the accusative and the genitive are
the two that you definitely should pay a special attention to, because most things will become
direct objects of some action sooner or later in the sentences you will want to make.
(... and that's all in the way of commentary for the accusative ("biernik") :))

- there is a case to answer the questions

"z kim / z czym ?"
— a good full question sentence in this case seems to be:
"Z kim / Z czym nie mam problemów?
("Who / What do I not have problems with?")
... even though there are some particular substantives that this question might not perhaps be
the most fortunate for :) For example, "truskawka":
"Z kim / Z czym nie mam problemów?
Nie mam problemów z truskawką (d5)."
Okay, a sentence: "I don't have problems with a strawberry." does look stupid :), and maybe it isn't
something that you would want to memorize as a contextual sentence for the instrumental
form of a noun like that. Neither may you want to check a noun like "truskawka" against the
backdrop of this sentence to see if it looks and sounds OK (because something that looks and
sounds silly has a difficulty in appearing right :))...
Well, I cannot deny that.. But, overall, that "test sentence" is good and pretty universal;
besides, it's not so that it is fixed and finite, and that we cannot modify it to better fit particular
circumstances... Just imagine a situation — somebody refuses to eat a strawberry, because it
doesn't seem fresh enough to that person. Another person says, however: "I don't have a
problem with this strawberry. I can eat it.". Now, there's nothing particularly unnatural about
those sentences, right? Here we go then:
"this strawberry" → "ta truskawka"
"a problem" → "problem" → "Nie mam —kogo? / czego?— problemu (d2)"
(I'm sure that you already know why it's "problemu (d2)" (or "problemów (d2)", in the earlier
sentence) :))
And, the beginning of our test/reference sentence slightly reworked, we can now apply it to
help us remember the instrumental for "truskawka"::
"Ja nie mam problemu —z kim? / z czym?— z tą truskawką (d5).
(Ja mogę ją zjeść.)";
With many substantives there will be no need to employ much imagination or inventiveness,
"Z kim / Z czym nie mam problemów?"
"Nie mam problemów —z kim?/z czym?— z kotem (d5)."
"Z kim / Z czym nie mam problemów?"
"Nie mam problemów —z kim?/z czym?— z dzieckiem (d5)."
Well... I now thought of the noun "problem" itself :) "I have no problems with a problem." looks
fantastically philosophical :)) OK, there will naturally be quite a number of exceptions for which
this phrase will be a useless context. Universal solutions are hardly ever bullet-proof :) It's
even better if you don't cling to just one context at absolutely all times — but it's also good if
there is one that you can try with most substantives. (In general, the more contexts you see a
word in, the better a chance it nests in your memory). For the noun "problem" (or "problemy
(plural)") it's apparently better to use a context as follows:
"Z kim / Z czym trzeba się zmierzyć?"
("Who / What is there a need to face / to confront?")
"Trzeba zmierzyć się —z kim?/z czym?— z problemem (d5)."
("One has to face a problem.")
"Trzeba zmierzyć się —z kim?/z czym?— z problemami (pl.,d5)."
("One has to face problems.")
(...those were notes on contextual questions for the instrumental ("narzędnik"))

- there is a case to answer the questions

"o kim / o czym ?"
— to complete a contextual question you can go for any of the popular verbs that come
followed by the preposition "about" — "myśleć" (to think), "mówić" (to speak), "rozmawiać" (to
talk, to converse); for example:
"O kim / O czym teraz myślę?"
("Who / What am I now thinking about?")
... Hmm... And I suggest that we accept one can think about anything... even about a
strawberry :)) ... Oh, I forgot about the verb "marzyć (o czymś)" (to dream (about sth), to crave
(after sth)) ! :)
Let's try that one...:
"(duża, czerwona) truskawka" ((a big red) strawberry)
"O kim / O czym często marzę?" (Who / What do I often dream about?)
"Marzę często —o kim?/o czym?— o dużej, czerwonej truskawce (d6)."
("I often dream about a (big red) strawberry.")
Let's make the "locative reference-questions" for our two other nouns "on-call" :)
:"(jej) kot" ((her) cat)
"O kim / O czym nie lubię rozmawiać?"
("Who / What do I not like to talk about?")
"Nie lubię rozmawiać —o kim?/o czym?— o (jej) kocie (d6)."
("I don't like to talk about (her) cat.")
:"(jego) dziecko" ((his) child)
"O kim / O czym lubię mówić?"
("Who / What do I like to speak about?")
"Lubię mówić —o kim?/o czym?— o (jego) dziecku (d6)."
("I like to speak about (his) child.")
(...those were notes on contextual questions for the locative ("narzędnik"))

- and, while everybody knows that there is no way to ask a question that would get a
vocative in return, and we can't speak of an actual contextual sentence for a word in
that declension case, it is customary to add an expletive like "och" or "hej" to denote a
stand-alone vocative (when there's no text cotext to make the declension case self-
"Hej, kocie (d7)!" ("Hey, (you) cat!")
"Och, truskawko (d7)!" ("Oh, (you) strawberry!")
"Och, dziecko (d7)..." ("Oh, you child...")
(... and that's the vocative ("wołacz"))


I'm going to give you a summary listing of the cases and the questions they answer. Before I do it,
though, let me clarify one thing. While introducing to you the "contextual questions" I kept saying
that they help memorize the inflection forms (or help make the "test of the ear" for a form you're
trying to bring up from your memory). That is definitely so! I only don't want you to get an
impression that the inflection forms are so unpredictable that the only route to knowing them is
learning them by heart (in contexts). It is not so — the declension patterns are mostly regular. With
time you're going to see the patterns; maybe you will even want to analize and remember some of
them. Personally, I would rather count on a subconscious recognition and application of the
patterns. Of course, I may be in the wrong with my approach; the truth is, though, that hardly any
native speaker of Polish (even a well-educated one) knows those patterns in an analitical way. We
just have a "feel" for them. And the way we get that feel is by remembering the shapes of some
inflected forms as we see them properly used in contexts that require them — this lets our minds
grasp the patterns and then carry them over to other similar words (similar in their shape, having
the same gender, being animate or inanimate, etc.).

Should you, however, badly crave to know the mechanisms that you can apply to find the right
inflected forms... well, I gave you the link in the preface, but I can repeat it here (... together with an
advice not to do it, unless you have a bad itching for it :)) :


So, let's move on quickly to the promised summary:

d1 — declension case one — pierwszy przypadek deklinacji

the nominative — mianownik
characterizing interrogatives:
kto? / co?
this is the basic form of a substantive, so there's hardly a need to make contextual question
and answer sentences for it, but we can make them here as well:
Kto / Co to jest?
To jest (kto? / co?) kot (d1).
To jest (kto? / co?) truskawka (d1).
To jest (kto? / co?) dziecko (d1).

d2 — declension case two — drugi przypadek deklinacji

the genitive — dopełniacz
characterizing interrogatives:
kogo? / czego?
a standard contextual question:
Kogo / Czego tu nie ma?
Tu nie ma (kogo? / czego?) kota (d2).
Tu nie ma (kogo? / czego?) truskawki (d2).
Tu nie ma (kogo? / czego?) dziecka (d2).

d3 — declension case three — trzeci przypadek deklinacji

the dative — celownik
characterizing interrogatives:
komu? / czemu?
a standard contextual question:
Komu / Czemu się przyglądam?
Przyglądam się (komu? / czemu?) kotu (d3).
Przyglądam się (komu? / czemu?) truskawce (d3).
Przyglądam się (komu? / czemu?) dziecku (d3).

d4 — declension case four — czwarty przypadek deklinacji

the accusative — biernik
characterizing interrogatives:
kogo? / co?
a standard contextual question:
Kogo / Co widzę?
Widzę (kogo? / co?) kota (d4).
Widzę (kogo? / co?) truskawkę (d4).
Widzę (kogo? / co?) dziecko (d4).

d5 — declension case five — piąty przypadek deklinacji

the instrumental — narzędnik
characterizing interrogatives:
z kim? / z czym?
a "standard" contextual question (of my personal invention ;)):
Z Kim / Z czym nie mam problemów?
(note that from the grammatical point of view it wouldn't have made a difference if this question
was "Z kim? / Z czym mam problemy?": the instrumental is the case wanted for the object
of this sentence anyway; the choice is only dictated by my preferrence for the positive message :))
Nie mam problemów (z kim? / z czym?) z kotem (d5).
Nie mam problemów (z kim? / z czym?) z (tą) truskawką (d5).
Nie mam problemów (z kim? / z czym?) z dzieckiem (d5).

d6 — declension case six — szósty przypadek deklinacji

the locative — miejscownik
characterizing interrogatives:
o kim? / o czym?
a standard contextual question (one of a choice):
O Kim / O czym (teraz) myślę?
(Teraz) Myślę (o kim? / o czym?) o kocie (d6).
(Teraz) Myślę (o kim? / o czym?) o truskawce (d6).
(Teraz) Myślę (o kim? / o czym?) o dziecku (d6).

d7 — declension case seven — siódmy przypadek deklinacji

the vocative — wołacz
the case is used as a form of personal address and in exclamations, therefore, the only
contextual help can come in the form of interjections and calling words, like:
Och, Ach, Hej, Cześć, Witaj, ...
the noun denoting a person or (rarely) a thing thus addressed, placed after one of these
interjections, comes in the vocative:
Witaj, kocie! (d7)
Och, truskawko! (d7)
Hej, dziecko! (d7)

Okay... What's there to say? We're done! :))

This booklet most certainly does not exhaust what I can say about the Polish declension :)) One
important thing that has been left out are the three more interrogatives / subordinate clause
introducing pronouns that follow the declension — they are:

- "który (masc.) / która (fem.) / które (neut.)..

..które (pl.non-personmasc.) / którzy (pl.person-masc.)"
(—-which is pretty much equivalent to the English "which"),

- "jaki / jaka / jakie .. jakie / jacy"

(—-which is more tricky to describe shortly, as it doesn't have a simple counterpart in
English, but which is used to ask questions about what something is like, and to introduce
subordinate clauses starting in English: "... like these/those that..."),

- "czyj / czyja / czyje .. czyje / czyi"

(—-which, actually, we have talked a bit about when discovering the interrogatives that
characterize the genitive case: "czyj" corresponds to the English "whose", but applies only to
human possessors).

Full declension patterns for those three would also let us define the declension suffixes for the
adjectives (they are quite regular and the patterns are not too complex there) and for the personal
possessives. It would be very useful, too, if we got to talk about the inflection patterns for the
personal pronouns.
However, all of those matters would require us to explain a few additional intricacies of Polish
grammar in a little more detail, (for example: the difference between the personal-masculine and
the non-personal-masculine plural gender), and that would further pump the booklet's size.
The idea for this guide was to familiarize you with the declension and show you how is it used — to
give you the "where, when, and why" to the system. And even that on a modest scale and in a
limited scope, because: a) I'm not a professional philologist; b) I was hoping to make the guide
simple and inviting. I feel I have failed on that second goal with the volume of this document as it is
— all the more reason not to cram more stuff into it :)

Nobody is saying that this must be my one and only production, though :)))

For the time being — I hope you enjoy (to a degree, at least :)) learning from what you have here. I
wish it can benefit your Polish!


Feel welcome to write me with your doubts, questions, and suggestions: