Polish Language Blog

Readers Ask – I Answer: Counting Things in Polish Posted by on Oct 22, 2009 in Grammar, Vocabulary

I was going to stay in bed and marinate under the covers for one more day (yes, my cold has morphed into a full-blown bronchitis now) but a reader’s email made me crawl out to face the enemy. The email had that panicky and ominous tone making it sound as if the intergalactic victory of good over evil (read: Polish grammar) depended solely on me.

So here I am, at your service.

What the reader wanted was this: please tell me how to count (in Polish, of course) the following nouns: dziecko (child, neuter), nauczycielka (teacher, female), pisarz (writer, masculine), jesień (autumn, feminine), mysz (mouse, feminine), and słoń (elephant, masculine). Though I am not entirely sure if the reader wanted słoń (elephant) or słońce (sun), so just in case I think I’ll do both.

Initially, I wrote back and told him to look up my previous posts on this subject, but he responded that this is the time when grammar explanations are not enough, he needs to see how it’s actually done in practice. OK, fine by me. And actually, I just wanted to throw those words at you (all my readers in general) and see what you could come up with in terms of counting them from one to five. But since the email had the “the world is going to end on Thursday at 3PM if you don’t help me” tone, I thought I’d just get up and do it myself.

But why do I have this strange feeling that I’m doing somebody’s homework here, huh?

Ok, but here we go.

  • dziecko (child) from one to five:
  • jedno dziecko, dwoje dzieci, troje dzieci, czworo dzieci, pięcioro dzieci
  • nauczycielka (female teacher) from one to five:
  • jedna nauczycielka, dwie nauczycielki, trzy nauczycielki, cztery nauczycielki, pięć nauczycielek
  • pisarz (writer, male) from one to five:
  • jeden pisarz, dwóch pisarzy, trzech pisarzy, czterech pisarzy, pięciu pisarzy
  • jesień (fall/autumn, feminine) from one to five:
  • jedna jesień, dwie jesienie, trzy jesienie, cztery jesienie, pięć jesieni
  • mysz (mouse, feminine) from one to five (this is a tricky one and I hope I got it right):
  • jedna mysz, dwie myszy, trzy myszy, cztery myszy, pięć myszy
  • słoń (elephant, masculine) from one to five:
  • jeden słoń, dwa słonie, trzy słonie, cztery słonie, pięć słoni (and we have a whole circus!)
  • słońce (sun, neuter) from one to five:
  • jedno słońce, dwa słońca, trzy słońca, cztery słońca, pięć słońc

OK, dear reader, I hope this is what you had in mind. And I hope I managed before your doomsday deadline.

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  1. Michael L. (dziadek):

    Droga Anna,
    I am sorry to her of your medical problems, however these “demanding” person/s who are able to use a computer to write to you for help either are “Lazy” using you as a “Crutch” for their ineptness or they are beyond any academia.This information can be obtained via other Internet sources or maybe they are just miserly to buy a book or program for their help…I wonder what they spend for cigarettes and alcohol.
    Take of your health and I hope you get better before the holidays. Just get a lot of TLC.
    Dziadek Majko

  2. Pete:

    Cool blog!!!

  3. Jonothan:


    First I’d like to say thaks for the information. I found it very helpful. I have also seen the word “dwaj” used for two. When is it used? I thought that “dwaj” was the masculine person word for “two”. Could you not say “dwaj chlopcy” (two boys)? Also, could you gave a breakdown of the numbers 1-5 for a masculine inanimate object like “dom” (table)? Thanks a lot.