Polish Language Blog

Genitive Case, part 2 Posted by on Jul 21, 2008 in Grammar

Since we’re in the midst of a little grammar kick, I thought we might as well continue. But to keep things interesting, we should let the adjectives rest for a while and talk about something else. Remember when we discussed the genitive case – dopełniacz? Yes, I know, it was a while back. So here I’m going to give you some time to go and read the past entry about dopełniacz. It’s no rush, I’ll be here when you’re done. In the meantime, while you’re busy reading, I will prepare some new interesting dopełniacz examples.

OK, you’re back? That was quick!

Last time when talking about dopełniacz, I said that it has five different functions in Polish. And I think we discussed two of them in that post. Let’s review:

1. Possession – such as when something belongs to somebody.

  • Kot Alicji = Alicja’s cat (and here Alicja is in genitive)
  • zabawka kota = cat’s toy (here kot is in genitive)
  • dziecko sąsiada = neighbor’s baby/child (and here sąsiad is in genitive)

2. When a verb affecting the object expresses negation, the object’s case changes to genitive.

So now that we’ve reviewed the two uses of genitive you should be familiar with already, let’s tackle some new ones. Ready?

3. Dopełniacz is used in expressions of quantity.

In English you say:
some water, a lot of money, a few hours

In Polish you say:

woda (noun, feminine, plural: wody – yes, it can be a plural noun in Polish! singular genitive: wody) = water

pieniądz (noun, yes, it can be singular in Polish! masculine, non-person, plural: pieniądze, plural genitive: pieniędzy) = money

godzina (noun, feminine, plural: godziny, plural genitive: godzin) = hour

4. Dopełniacz is used in expressions of description or origin:

In English you’d say:
a girl from Poland.

And this is how it looks in Polish:

Polska (Poland) is a noun, and just like all the other nouns in Polish it declines, so the genitive of Polska is Polski (not to be confused with “polski” which is an adjective meaning “Polish”)

And what about description? How about:
season of the year
author of the book
owner of the house

In Polish:

rok (noun, masculine, non-person, plural: lata – yep, it’s one of them irregular nouns, singular genitive: roku) = year

książka (noun, feminine, plural: książki, singular genitive: książki) = book

dom (noun, masculine, non-person, plural: domy, singular genitive: domu) = house, home

So, now we’ve covered 4 out of 5 genitive uses in Polish, and I think we need a little break from grammar here. Wouldn’t you agree? Especially, since the last instance when this pesky dopełniacz is used will need a bit more explaining. But once when it’s explained, you’ll see, it will be actually very easy!

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  1. Patricia:

    It is so rewarding to have this Polish offered on this Blog.
    Thank You Anna

  2. Patricia:

    I have been catching up on The Polish Language.
    Thank You,Anna.
    However I am having a hard time to pronounce,correctly.
    It will come in time I hope.
    Have a good day,Anna.Smile.:)

  3. Magdalena:

    Niezły blog :):):)
    Polecam go wszystkim znajomkom uczącym się polskiego 🙂

  4. Anna:

    Hello Patricia and thank you for your kind words yet again. I hope that the voice samples are helpful for you. And if you have any questions regarding grammar, just ask and I will explain in future posts, OK?

    Cześć Magdalena!
    Dzięki! I cieszę się że mogę pomóc Twoim znajomym w nauce polskiego! 🙂

  5. Grazyna:

    Some children do have a cat=maja kota! 😉 Great job, Anna! Show the world that Polish is not as hard as it looks! 🙂

  6. Anna:

    Hola chica!
    Ah but you see, if dzieci mają kota, then it’s not a genitive kot but an accusative kot (kogo? co? instead of kogo? czego? remember?) 😉 As in:
    co masz? and czego nie masz?

  7. Grazyna:

    hahaha, yes, indeed, you are more than right m’lady! Unfortunately, it doesn’t decrease the severity of the mental phenomenon of ‘having a cat’= miec kota! 🙁 Anyway, Polish idioms are interesting too, aren’t they? 🙂

  8. Anna:

    hahaha! In my family we used to say “mieć kica”! LOL!