Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Genitive Case

The case that marks a noun as being the possessor of another noun (which is why it's also widely known as the possessive case). Thus "Danuta's brother" is brat Danuty (or Danuty brat) and "father's automobile" is samochód ojca (or ojca samochód).

In Polish, the genitive is also used:
  • with direct object after a negated verb (thus Mam klucz (I have a key) with the accusative is negated as Nie mam klucza (I don't have a key) with the genitive).
  • after words naming quantity or measure (corresponds to of in English: szklanka herbaty (a glass of tea), dużo czasu (a lot of time).
  • after certain verbs, such as: potrzebować (to need), słuchać (to listen to ), szukać (to look for), uczyć (to teach), uczyć się (to study, learn), używać (to use).
  • Cardinal Numbers from 5-21, 25-31, 35-41, 45-51, etc... are followed by the genitive plural (thus Zyzio ma sześć lat, Tomasz ma piętnaście samochodów).
  • Finally, genitive is used with a wide range of prepositions. Several express the starting point of moton: z domu (out of the house), z koncertu (from the concert), od Danuty (from Danuta). Other prepositions requiring the genitive case are u (by, in the presence of), do (to, into), dla (for, on behalf of), and bez (without).
Via Frank Y. Gladney's excellent Elementary Polish


  1. HaHa, Interesting choice of words as for the introduction, especially the word "zajebiście" xD

  2. Glad you like it and thanks for stopping by! :-)

  3. This is a great site. I've been living in Poland for a year now and am only just beginning to tackle Polish. Thanks for making things so clear. I also strongly recommend the "Hurrah Po Polsku" series

  4. One question there any way of telling whether masc. sing. nouns end in "a" or "u" or do you just have to learn them?? Is there a list anywhere??? Thanks! :)

  5. Hey Jim. Unfortunately, when it comes to those nasty Genitive "koncowki", "a" and "u", there is no list, and most native speakers just... feel the right ending :) However, it may often happen that you will hear Polish people using different endings for the same word - very many of them admit not knowing the endings (or not caring about them). Yet, there are some guidelines that might prove useful at least with some words, just until you start "feeling" those endings. So I'll write that list for you in a few days, maybe that helps.

  6. I'm looking forward to that, too - I thought it was just me who guessed those endings! Very reassuring... :-)

  7. After the verb "mieć" (to have), the Accusative case is used and not the Genitive.

  8. Yes, it is, but if you have the verb in its negative form, then you need the Genitive, and "to have" is no exception.

  9. good! thanks, i was totally confused with genitive case.


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