More Pronoun Fun: Ci, Te Posted by Anna on Aug 8, 2008 in Grammar
Ok, so today I’m supposed to tell you how to figure out the gender when it comes to plural nouns and adjectives. But first, we need to talk just a tiny little but about those plural nouns and their genders.
You see, those plural nouns can be confusing. They are even to me. And I should know this stuff, I’m Polish. But even so, I sometimes have to stop and think about it.
That we have three genders in singular you know already. However, in plural, those three genders become two. And they’re no longer so nicely organized into masculine, feminine, and neuter. Oh no! Polish can’t be THAT easy!
Instead, our plural nouns have two bizarre genders called:
– personal masculine
– everything else.
Of course the second one isn’t really called that, it has a long and useless Polish name, but for all intents and purposes, you just need to remember that it encompasses everything that doesn’t fall into the first group.
And what does fall into the first group? As the name suggests – “persons”. Personal masculine plural is used to describe either more than one male person, or a mixed male-female group.
Everything else is non-“personal masculine”, be it a group of girls, a herd of cats or a pile of papers. Kind of sexist, wouldn’t you say?
How does all this work in practice? It’s not as hard as it looks, that’s for sure. The problem is that you need to remember those pesky singular genders, at least when it comes to persons.
So let’s pick an example.
Wspaniali ludzie (great, wonderful people), if I remember correctly was how our Japanese friend Atsuko described the people she met in Poland.
Ludzie (people) is a mixture of males and females one would presume, so you can safely state this plural gender is of the personal masculine variety.
The adjective here “wspaniały” had to agree in gender and number with the noun “ludzie”, hence “wspaniali”.
Now let’s try the same with “girls” (dziewczyny):
wspaniałe dziewczyny (in singular would be: wspaniała dziewczyna)
And these are the only two forms that our wspaniałe (wonderful) adjectives get when they describe plural nouns.
See, it wasn’t so bad?
And remember our little pronouns “ten, ta, to” (this) and how they can help us determine the correct gender? The same is true in plural, except of course, instead of “this” the word is “these”.
- ci – “these” for plural person-masculine nouns
- Te – “these” for all other plural nouns
Apart from male humans and mixed gender human company, everything else is described using the word “te” (these):
All this grammar overload makes me tired and I think we should stop now. Next time we’ll talk about something more fun!
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