Are Polish possessive pronouns really that difficult? I need an honest opinion here.
I have always thought they were one of those relatively straightforward bits in our convoluted language. But it turns out I might have been either mistaken or overly optimistic.
Yesterday I was asked this very complicated question:
Ok, so you say “moja książka” (my book) and “jej książka” (her book). But then you say: “On zgubił moją książkę.” (He lost my book) and because in this sentence “moja książka” is in the accusative (he lost kogo? co?) it became “moją książkę”. And when you say: “On zgubił jej książkę.” (He lost her book) only “książka” morphed into the accusative form, but not “jej”. Why is that?
And my answer: Because it’s Polish, that’s why.
But seriously, this is one of those instances when I realize that Polish possessive pronouns and their declensions can be totally incomprehensible even to the most dedicated learners (and to many Poles, too).
So, in order to make my life easier (because someone out there was bound to know the correct answer), I thought I’d ask this question to a couple of my native Polish friends. But ahem, their responses were not exactly all that helpful:
Friend #1: Dude, you’re right. This is weird. And how come I’ve never noticed this myself?
Friend #2: Because, duh, that’s how it is. Can’t you just tell your readers to memorize everything and stop bugging me?
I’ll ignore friend #2 for now, but yeah, friend #1 was right. We always tend to think about possessive pronouns as behaving kind of like adjectives. However, some of them think they’re special, or something.
Take a look:
- my – mój (singular, masc.), moja (singular, fem.), moje (singular, neuter), moi (plural, masculine-personal), moje (plural, all other)
- your – twój, twoja, twoje, twoi, twoje
- his – jego
- her – jej
- our – nasz, nasza, nasze, nasi, nasze
- your – wasz, wasza, wasze, wasi, wasze
- their – ich
And see this? Those guys that have only one form – jego, jej and ich don’t decline. The nouns they describe decline as usual, but those pronouns themselves – don’t.
All others that have all the “adjective-looking” forms behave like good little adjectives should.
And to the question of “why is that?” my answer still stands – because it’s Polish, that’s why!