Polish Language Blog

Dative Case, part 1 Posted by on Sep 17, 2008 in Grammar

It’s been a while since we talked about our lovely Polish noun cases, so I thought we might get back to it today.

But first, I have a little treat for you. One of our readers, as it turned out, is also a very talented poet. I mean, you have to be talented to write a poem about Polish declensions. Yep. That’s exactly what Fran did. Just take a look:

In Case of Polish

The Polish language is quite curious.
Seven cases! Yes, they’re serious.
The Nominative Case is so exquisite.
Answers the question: who or what is it?

If there’s few or even many,
Or you tell me there’s not any,
Look for something that’s a possession.
Carefully listen for a preposition
Od, ze, do, dla, or koło
Genitive case does a solo.

Now I know it sounds amusing
To what, to whom – it’s just confusing!
But if you listen to the help I give,
I lend to you this case of Dative.

I see I need to get going soon
Of course, I’d like to fly to the moon
Just remember when passing through
That any old direct object will do
And action or motion to anyplace
Always results in the Accusative case.

Whether in front or behind, above, under or below
There’s one more thing that you need know
Transportation is fundamental
When the case is Instrumental

Although it may seem quite apparent
About “on”, “in”, “by”, or “after” it is inherent
That these are prepositions of locations.
(I thank you now, for your patience.)
We’ve arrived at the case called Locative
And all that’s left – hey you! Vocative!

By Polish learner
Frances Turner

Isn’t that just great, or what?! Thank you so much, Fran, for agreeing to include it in here.

I was going to talk about dative today, but no matter what I say now, after reading Fran’s poem, it won’t look very impressive.

So let’s just stick to the basics. Dative – in Polish – celownik. The English name of the case came from Latin “casus dativus”, but where the Polish name “celownik” came from I have no idea. “Celować” is a verb and it means to aim (at somebody). Obviously, somewhere along the way, there is a connection to this grammatical case.

Next time, we will discuss how, when and where this case is used. Now let me read Fran’s poem again. She basically did all the hard teaching for me, all I will need to do next time is to give you some usage examples. And voila!

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  1. Thomas Westcott:

    dear Anna and Frances,

    May I have permission to copy your poem and send it to various friends and educators? Or better yet, copy the whole article?

    Last year (September 2007 until May 2008) I attended Jan Matejko Polish Saturday School in Wauconda, Illinois, USA. I do not know how to make that web address a link, but that site does or did have a page about the famous Polish artist Jan Matejko.

    While there I made friends with both my classmates who were children and with various staff members. I am sure that those educators would appreciate your poem, Frances, and your article and blog, Anna.


  2. Fran Turner:

    Hi Tom,

    Please spread my little poem on to any and all you think may appreciate and/or need it.


  3. Eva:

    Your blog is brilliant! I have just found it as I was looking online for something on Polish cases. I am Polish but I have lived in NYC since 2000. I am a PhD student in Linguistics. I have some posts on culture and vocabulary – about the word “proud” – if you feel like it, read and let me know what you think. Other than that -keep writing! I would love to know more about you.

    Eva(I changed from Ewa because the way Americans prononced it was way too close to a name of a certain disease in Polish…)