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Grammatical gender of nouns

Noun is an inflected part of speech determining things, objects, places and persons. Noun is inflected for numbers and cases, and it has genders.

In Polish, there are three genders in singular number: masculine (ten), feminine (ta) and neuter (to). In plural number, there are two genders: masculine personal (ci) and non-masculine personal (te).

Nominative singular of most nouns has the following endings:

  • Masculine gender ends with a consonant (e.g. syn, pies, brat).
  • Feminine gender ends with -a (e.g. mama, ulica, córka).
  • Neuter gender ends with -o (e.g. kino, auto, nazwisko or -e mieszkanie, spotkanie).

Number of nouns

Nouns can have singular or plural number.

Singular number is used when talking about one object (e.g. siostra, dom, pies, dziecko).

Plural number is used when talking about a number of objects (e.g. siostry, domy, psy, dzieci).

Some nouns have only plural number (e.g. drzwi, okulary).

Inflection of nouns

In the Polish language, there are seven cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, locative and vocative. The case of a noun is determined by means of a question.

Singular number
Gendermasculine animate (ten)masculine inanimate (ten)feminine (ta)neuter (to)
Nominative
kto? co?
syn, piessport, pomidormama, ulicanazwisko, mieszkanie
Genitive
kogo? czego?
syna, psasportu, pomidoramamy, ulicynazwiska, mieszkania
Dative
komu? czemu?
synowi, psusportowi, pomidorowimamie, ulicynazwisku, mieszkaniu
Accusative
kogo? co?
syna, psasport, pomidormamę, ulicęnazwisko, mieszkanie
Instrumental
z kim? z czym?
synem, psemsportem, pomidoremmamą, ulicąnazwiskiem, mieszkaniem
Locative
o kim? o czym?
synu, psiesporcie, pomidorzemamie, ulicynazwisku, mieszkaniu
Vocative
synu, psiesporcie, pomidorzemamo, uliconazwisko, mieszkanie
Plural number
Gendermasculine personal (ci)non-masculine personal (te)
Nominative
kto? co?
synowiepsy, sporty, pomidory, mamy, ulice, nazwiska, mieszkania
Genitive
kogo? czego?
synówpsów, sportów, pomidorów, mam, ulic, nazwisk, mieszkań
Dative
komu? czemu?
synompsom, sportom, pomidorom, mamom, ulicom, nazwiskom, mieszkaniom
Accusative
kogo? co?
synówpsy, sporty, pomidory, mamy, ulice, nazwiska, mieszkania
Instrumental
z kim? z czym?
synamipsami, sportami, pomidorami, mamami, ulicami, nazwiskami, mieszkaniami
Locative
o kim? o czym?
synachpsach, sportach, pomidorach, mamach, ulicach, nazwiskach, mieszkaniach
Vocative
synowiepsy, sporty, pomidory, mamy, ulice, nazwiska, mieszkania

Nominative

Nominative is the basic form of a noun. In a sentence, nominative is never used with prepositions. Nominative answers the questions: kto? co?

In nominative singular, most nouns have the following endings:

  • Masculine gender ends with a consonant (e.g. syn, pies, brat).
  • Feminine gender ends with -a (e.g. mama, ulica, córka).
  • Neuter gender ends with -o (e.g. kino, auto, nazwisko or -e mieszkanie, spotkanie).

Some nouns have non-typical endings in nominative singular:

  • ending -a also appears in masculine gender (ten kolega, mężczyzna, dentysta),
  • ending ę appears in neuter gender (to imię, kurczę),
  • nouns in feminine gender may end with a consonant (ta krew, kość).

Genitive

Genitive is used after prepositions: obok, bez, od, do, z, naprzeciwko, dla. Genitive answers questions: kogo? czego?

Some verbs (e.g. bać się, życzyć, szukać, słuchać, uczyć się) require the use of genitive: Uczyć się języka polskiego. Życzyć wszystkiego najlepszego..

Some masculine inanimate nouns in genitive singular form have the ending -u. Often, these are short words (soksoku), loan words (barbaru), words indicating means of transport (autobusautobusu), masculine nouns, which name a week day (wtorekwtorku), or uncountable nouns (cukiercukru).

Movable (reduced) e

Some nouns, when inflected, undergo changes in the root (e.g.wtorekdo wtorku).

Plural nouns, which are feminine and neuter in singular number, have the so called zero ending in genitive. If in the word ending there are two consonants, in between such consonants a vowel will appear e (e.g. sukienkasukienek, jajkojajek).

Dative

Prepositions followed by dative: ku, dzięki, przeciw. Dative answers a question: komu? czemu?

Dative follows some verbs: dać, dziękować, obiecać, pomagać, powiedzieć.

In the Polish language, endings of dative are in masculine gender -owi (e.g. mężowi, nauczycielowi) and -u (e.g. bratu, psu). In feminine gender, noun has the ending i/-y (e.g. babci, ulicy and e/-ie koleżance, dziewczynie).

Note! Alternating sounds:

  • ch + e = sze (muchamusze)
  • d + e = dzie (wodawodzie)
  • g + e = dze (kolegakoledze)
  • k + e = ce (matkamatce)
  • r + e = rze (siostrasiostrze)
  • zd + e = ździe (gwiazdagwieździe)
  • dz → g (koledzykolegom)
  • ć → t (klienciklientom)

Accusative

Accusative follows prepositions: na, pod, przez, nad, w. Accusative answers the questions: kogo? co?

Accusative is used after the following verbs: mieć, lubić, jeść, kupować, czytać, znać, oglądać, prosić. However, if such verbs follow negation, the case is changed to genitive (kogo? czego?).

Some nouns, when inflected, also show changes in the stem (e.g. piesmam psa).

Instrumental

Instrumental follows prepositions: nad, pod, przed, za, między. Instrumental answers questions: (z) kim? (z) czym?

Locative

Locative is used after the following prepositions: na, po, o, przy, w(e). Locative answers the questions: (o) kim, (o) czym?

Nouns with a hard stem have in locative the ending -e (e.g. oknona oknie, sklepw sklepie).

Nouns in neuter and masculine gender with a soft stem and a stem ending with k, g, ch have in locative the ending u (e.g. mieszkaniew mieszkaniu, rokw roku).

Some nouns in feminine gender have the ending i/-y (e.g. kuchniaw kuchni, pracaw pracy).

Note! Alternating sounds:

  • ch + e = sze (muchao musze)
  • d + e = dzie (wodaw wodzie)
  • g + e = dze (nogao nodze)
  • k + e = ce (matkao matce)
  • ł + e = le (stółna stole)
  • r + e = rze (rowerna rowerze)
  • sł + e = śle (krzesłona krześle)
  • st + e = ście (miastow mieście)
  • t + e = cie (uniwersytetna uniwersytecie)
  • zd + e = ździe (gwiazdao gwieździe)

Vocative

Vocative is used when addressing someone.

Gerunds

Nouns which name acts and states are called gerunds. For most verbs, they are formed by cutting off an inflectional ending and adding a suffix to the stem -anie, -enie, -cie, e.g.:

  • budowaćbudowanie
  • biegaćbieganie
  • projektowaćprojektowanie
  • chodzićchodzenie
  • robićrobienie
  • mówićmówienie
  • byćbycie
  • pićpicie
  • myćmycie

Forming feminatives

Feminatives are formed from most masculine nouns by adding the suffix -ka, e.g.:

masculine genderfeminine gender
dyrektordyrektorka
lekarzlekarka
bibliotekarzbibliotekarka
programistaprogramistka

In the Polish language, there are no feminative forms of some masculine names of academic titles, professions or job positions. A masculine name is then supplemented with the noun pani, E.g.:

masculine genderfeminine gender
prezydentpani prezydent
ministerpani minister
profesorpani profesor
dyrektorpani dyrektor

In job advertisements and some communications names of job positions may relate to both genders although feminatives ......

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