Friday, 4 January 2008

Instrumental Case

Generally related to the English preposition 'with' or 'by' when referring to transportation.

Answers the questions-whom am I doing something with? With what am I doing something with? I am talking on the phone with Joseph. I am traveling by train. This is also a case of location, most commonly used with "Z" or with." also Przed-in front of Nad-above Pod-under, bellow Za- behind.


  1. Hey!
    Thank you so so so so much for this blog! I am learning Polish at the moment during my first year of Uni, and I'm struggling so much! This informaion is exactly what I have been trying to find for a looooong time!!! Finally, someone has presented it in a way that isn't as confuzzling as the language itself!!
    Thanks again,
    Aimee Myers

  2. Hi Aimee,
    Thanks for the encouragement - it's much appreciated! I still need to tidy up the locative and dative and then I'm thinking what to have a look at next, so if you've got any ideas...?
    Pozdram, Biluś

  3. I am studying the Polish language and have an example of the instrumental case that I can't
    explain. I hope that someone can help me. The example in contained in 2 sentences. Please excuse my spelling but my keyboard doesn't have the special Polish keys. The example is 'Marek i Piotr sa studentami Politechniki. Sa dobrymi przyjaciolmi, choc kazdy jest inny'. Please note
    the use of the instrumental case in 'studentami Politechniki' and 'dobrymi przyjaciolmi'. I don't
    understand why the instrumental is used here. My
    email address is .

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Thanks Anonymous - blogger didn't seem to like me linking to the post as I wanted, so cut and paste this link to your browser:

    Pozdram, Biluś

  6. Hi! Thanks for the site. I'm on chapter 3 of Hurra Po Polsku and I have no idea why we say for example:

    Kto to jest? To jest Amerykanka


    Kim on jest? On jest Amerykaninem

    Why do we use the instrumental case here??? Help!!

  7. Hey, James.
    To understand the use of the Instrumental, you have to take a look at the question. It all comes down to the difference between Kto (Nominative) and Kim (Instrumental). Normally, the Instrumental helps us give more information about people's nationality (On jest Francuzem), profession (On jest lekarzem), relation to the person speaking (On jest moim bratem) etc. If you already have a Subject that's in Nominative, you will have the predicative in Instrumental. It pretty much looks like this:
    (Subject / Nom) + verb "byc" + (predicative / Instr), and this is a rather fix structure.
    However, you can avoid using the Instrumental if you use "to" - a very friendly particle which helps us avoid the problems caused by the Instrumental. Whenever you have a structure involving "to" and the verb "byc", the noun will be in Nominative.
    So basically, both forms are correct, the meaning is the same - it's just a matter of nuance, for when you say On jest Francuzem, you are more specific about the subject of the sentence, you most likely have in mind a certain French.
    Just keep in mind that "to" goes with Nominative, but you can't have two Nominatives in a structure with the verb "byc". If you have a noun (or a pronoun) on the left side of the verb, on the right side you'll have the Instrumental for sure. It's like keeping the sentence balanced. With "to", you just avoid this situation by using the Nominative, but there will be situations when you won't be able to use this construction - like in the 1st person. You'll never say about yourself: To jest student, you'll say (ja) jestem studentem, so just keep an eye out on the neighbour to the left of the verb. If it's Nominative, then the neighbour to the right will be Instrumental.
    Hope that helps, and if it doesn't, lemme know, I'll ask The Book and try to make it clearer :)

  8. hello im lotfi from algeria i love what u sy i hope so we can talk someday in skype : lotfihandyman

  9. Hi Lofti - thanks for stopping by! What's your interest in the Polish language?

    Cheers, Bill :-)

  10. Hi. Many thanks for your very useful blog!
    I have to convert a few Polish sentences into Polish using either the biernika (accusative) or narzednika (instrumental) cases. We're given a statement and then change the words in brackets to the appropriate case forms. I don't know which case to use and what endings to use! Just a couple of examples:
    1. Interesujesz sie (muzyka hiszpanska)
    2. Lubisz (kawa).
    3. Bardzo lubie (niemiecka ekonomia)
    4. Mam (interesujaca ksiazka).
    Do you have any guidance? Many thanks!

  11. Hi, with pleasure - although we're on the move for a while, so check back here in a few days and Sam is going to offer some guidance.
    Cheers, Bill :-)

  12. HELP!
    I just need a pointer with regards to the sentence

    'Piotr i Pawel sa studentami politechniki'

    Why does politechniki end as it does. I have crossed checked my noun/adjective declension tables, and can't fathom out why it ends ...niki?
    Can you please give any pointers? Cheers!

  13. Hi, please have a look at the latest post about Accusative and Instrumental, hopefully it helps.
    As for "studentami politechniki", here we have a case of Instrumental (studentami) - please see comment above as for why you use "student" in the Instrumental - and Genitive (politechniki). The question you would ask to get the answer "politechniki" is czego (as in Oni sa studentami czego?. The ending "-niki" is just the Genitive of feminine nouns ending in -a after the consonants k or g (the same for klinika - kliniki, butelka - butelki, kolezanka - kolezanki, droga - drogi).
    So you need Instrumental to describe Piotr i Pawel as students and the Genitive in order to point out what they study.
    The structure would be
    Oni (Nominative) sa (KIM - Instrumental) (CZEGO - Genitive).

  14. Thanks Ruxandra
    As an native English person, I do find the 7 cases rather difficult to grasp, but luckily, I have since fathomed it out - it isn't half as hard I had initially thought. My biggest problem is trying to 'analyse' sentences to then use the appropriate cases, thus giving the appropriate endings for nouns, adjectives etc. Of course when talking English, I don't have to analyse anything - it comes intuitively!

  15. :) As much as I wished to encourage you, I can't say there will come a time when endings and cases won't be a problem. The good news is some things eventually do come naturally even in Polish and it's always amazing to look back and see just how far you've made it. After three years of living and working in Poland and being constantly mistaken for one of them, I am still pleasantly surprised to hear myself speaking this language. It's a good thing you analyse a lot because at least you have the guarantee you'll get everything right. And even though it might seem you have no intuition yet when it comes to Polish, rest assured it is there and will make itself heard.

  16. Czesc Ruxandra et al

    Could anyone give me any explanations of the different question words used in the different cases?

    Mianownik N (who/kto? what/co?)
    Dopełniacz G (of who/kogo? of what/czego?)
    Celownik D (to whom/komu? to what/czemu?)
    Biernik A (whom/kogo? what/co?)
    Narzędnik I (with whom/z kim? with what/z czym?)
    Miejscownik L (about whom/o kim? about what/o czym? where/gdzie?)

    I have to give the appropriate questions using Kogo? or Co? in relation to the Biernik case.

    1. Mama zna mojego profesora. Kogo ona zna?
    2. Dziewczyna lubi studenta. Kogo ona lubi?
    3. Piotr pije sok. Co on pije?

    I've noticed that the word 'kogo' means 'of who' (in the Dopelniacz case), and 'whom'. (in the Biernik case).

    In essence, when you are asked a question in Polish, do the question words (as above) give a clue to which case to use?

    I've a bit of a headache trying to get used to this. Is this important to understand? :-/

  17. Hi,

    I'm afraid we're both struggling for time to answer questions like this, I'm really sorry. If you can't find the answer on this blog, then perhaps you might ask a native Polish speaker or - even better - a teacher of the Polish language, I'm sure they'd be glad to help.

    Best wishes, Biluś

  18. Hi Bilus, I sorted out my query...!
    I have a lot of work (understatement) to do before my GCSE Polish exam in May!!!!!!!
    Dziekuje Bardzo!

  19. Prosze bardzo i pozdrowienie!


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