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Nouns – Cases and Case Use Part III Posted by on Feb 24, 2011 in Grammar

Today we will finish talking about cases. The two that we have left is Locative (miejscownik) and Vocative (wołacz).

Locative Case (o czym? o kim?)

Locative indicates a location and is required after the prepositions w in, na (on, at), o (about), po (after), przy (near, during, while)

Ona jest teraz w szkole  Now she is at school -Loc.

Po kolacji idziemy do kina After dinner-Loc. we are going to the movie.

Muszę kupić znaczki na poczcie I have to buy stamps at the post-office-Loc.

Biblioteka stoi przy ulicy Wars The library is next to Wars Street-Loc.

There are several different locative endings in Polish:

  1. -ie used for singular nouns of all genders, e.g. niebo → niebie.
    • brat → bracie
    • rzeka → rzece
    • noga → nodze
  2. -u used for:
    • Some masculine singular nouns, e.g. syn → synu, dom → domu, bok → boku, brzuch → brzuchu, worek → worku*, nastrój → nastroju*, deszcz → deszczu, miś → misiu, koń → koniu, Poznań → Poznaniu, Wrocław → Wrocławiu, Bytom → Bytomiu** [* In a few cases, a vowel change may occur, e.g. ó → o, or a vowel may be dropped. ** Final consonants in Wrocław and Bytom used to be soft, which is still reflected in suffixed forms, hence -i-.]
    • All neuter singular nouns ending in -e, e.g. miejsce → miejscu, życie → życiu
    • Some neuter singular nouns ending in -o, e.g. mleko → mleku, łóżko → łóżku, ucho → uchu
  3. -i used for:
    • Feminine nouns ending in -ia, e.g. Kasia (“Katie”) → o Kasi (“about Katie”), Austria → w Austrii (“in Austria”)
    • Feminine nouns ending in -ść, e.g. miłość (“love”) → o miłości (“about love”)
  4. -ach used for plural nouns of all genders, e.g. kobiety (“women”) → o kobietach (“about women”)
  5. -ich / -ych Used for plural adjectives of all genders, e.g. małe sklepy (“small shops”) → w małych sklepach (“in small shops”)
  6. -im / -ym Used for masculine and neuter singular adjectives, e.g. polski język (“Polish language”) → w polskim języku (“in the Polish language”)
  7. -ej Used for feminine singular adjectives, e.g. duża krowa (“big cow”) → o dużej krowie (“about a big cow”)

Vocative Case (O!)

The vocative case is the case used for a noun identifying the person (animal, object, etc.) being addressed and/or occasionally the determiners of that noun. A vocative expression is an expression of direct address, wherein the identity of the party being spoken to is set forth expressly within a sentence.

Feminine nouns usually take -o, except those ending in -sia, -cia, -nia, and -dzia which take -u, and those ending in -ść which take -i.

Masculine nouns generally follow the complex pattern of the locative case, with the exception of a handful of words such as Bóg → Boże (“God”), ojciec → ojcze (“father”) and chłopiec → chłopcze (“boy”).

Neuter nouns and all plural nouns are the same as in the nominative case.

Usually, the Nominative case functions as a de facto Vocative:

Adam, chodź tu! (Adam -Nom., come here!).

Asia, przynieś książki! (Asia – Nom. bring books)

However, in conjunction with titles, the Vocative is obligatory:

Dzień dobry, panie profesorze! (Hello, professsor-Voc.!).

In addition, the vocative remains prevalent:

  1. To address an individual using his/her function, title, other attribute, family role
    • Panie doktorze (Doctor!), Panie prezesie! (Chairman!)
    • Przybywasz za późno, wybawco (You arrive too late, savor-Voc)
    • synu (son), mamo (mom), tato (dad)
  2. After adjectives, demonstrative pronouns, and possessive pronouns
    • Nie rozumiesz mnie, moja droga Kasiu! (You don’t understand me, my dear Kasia -Voc!)
  3. To address an individual in an offensive or condescending manner, e.g.
    • Zamknij się, pajacu! (“Shut up, you buffoon!”)
    • Co się gapisz, idioto? (“What are you staring at, idiot!”)
  4. After “Ty” (second person singular pronoun)
    • Ty kłamczuchu! (You liar!)
  5. Set expressions, e.g.
    • (O) Matko!, (O) Boże!, (Mother!, Oh God!)

The vocative is also often employed in affectionate and endearing contexts such as

Kocham Cię Mamo! (“I love you Mom!”)

Tęsknię za Tobą, moja Żono. (“I miss you, my wife.”)

I think we covered everything. If I missed anything or if you have questions, please let me know in comments below. It will probably take a little time and a lot of patience to understand and remember all of it, but don’t give up!

Do następnego razu! (Till next time…)

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About the Author:Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew up in Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.


  1. MiMaS:

    Kasiu, let me disagree with statement “Usually, the Nominative case functions as a de facto Vocative”. Especially when used for first names. Please do not publish such examples. Even though it’s more and more commonly used (especially by people who don’t really care what they say, or at the beginning of letters, mainly emails) such usage is wrong and comes to degradation of the language. Vocative should be Vocative nothing more.
    So your examples should rather be:

    Adamie, chodź tu! (Adam -Voc., come here!).

    Asiu, przynieś książki! (Asia – Voc. bring books)

    Please do not use Nominative in place of Vocative – his is wrong and … simply ugly. 🙁

    Vocative itself is pretty and should be used correctly. Addressing you with Vocative “Kasiu” or me with “Michale” is much more correct, pretty and also more … personal and honest than using Nominative “Kasia” or “Michał”. Really. Being native Polish speaker for 37 years I do hear the difference.

    Kind regards,

    PS. Apart from small mistakes/misunderstanding like this one, this blog is really nice. I do appreciate what you write and do recommend this reading to my English-speaking colleagues and coworkers. Keep up the good work 😉

  2. Juliana:

    Thank you very much ! The explanation is great ! 🙂

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