Polish grammar

The case endings:

The description how they are formed is below the table.

nominativewithout suffix
genitive-a for animate, -a or -u for inanimate creatures
dative-owi, rarely also -u
accusativelike genitive for animate beings, like nominative for inanimate beings
locative-u or -e ; before the ending -e there is a consonant change
vocativemostly like locative
nominative-owie, -y , -i, -e for personal names, -y, -i, -e for other nouns
genitive-ów, sometimes -y, -i
accusativelike genitive for names of persons, like nominative for other nouns
locative -ach
vocativelike nominative

Nouns of masculine gender have the most difficult declension. Very important is the difference between nouns denoting persons, animals and things. We call nouns denoting things „inanimate”.
What are the endings ?
The first important thing is : in many cases, when we add the ending, the form of the noun changes : pies – genitive : psa. Especially popular are : disappearing e or ie (pies – psa, rachunek – rachunku) and ó changing into o, also ą changing into ę (stół – stołu, dąb - dębu). Such changes must be remembered, there are nouns with and without these changes.
There is also a change in spelling only, before an ending soft consonants with ' change into the combination consonant + i : koń – konia, zięć – zięcia. It's just a spelling rule, so it has no exceptions.

1. Genitive. In names of persons and animals the ending is -a. In case of other names it's -a or -u, and it is difficult to foresee which one will be correct. The best idea is to learn the ending of at least most popular words.

2. Dative. In most cases it's -owi, just in some exceptional nouns it is -u.

3. Accusative. Here the rule is simple : in names of persons and animals, accusative is like genitive, so the ending is -a. In other (inanimate) nouns accusative is equal to nominative.
Widzę człowieka, konia, stół. I see a man (person), a horse (animal), a table (inanimate).

4. Instrumental. Here the ending is -em.

5. Locative. The situation becomes more complicated here. The ending depends on the last consonant of the noun.
If the noun ends in -k, -g, -ch, -l, -j, c, cz, dz, ż, rz, sz or a soft consonant, the ending is -u. Else, the ending is -e, but there is a change of a consonant before -e. Examples:
-u : o człowieku, roku, grzechu, królu, koniu, zięciu, działaczu, malarzu
-e : in most cases the consonant changes into a soft one, so we add -ie : chłopie, dębie.
But nouns in -t have -cie (kot – kocie), -d : -dzie (kod – kodzie), -r : -rze (doktor- doktorze), -ł : -le (szczegół – szczególe).
6. In most case, the vocative is like the locative.

7. Nominative plural. Here the situation is particularly complicated in case of personal names.
With other nouns, it's relatively simple :
If the noun ends in -k, -g – the ending is -i. If the noun ends in -l, c, cz, dz, ż, rz, sz or a soft consonant, the ending is -e. Else, the ending is -y : koty, kody, szczegóły, grzechy, konie.
The personal names can have an ending -owie, -i, -y or -e. Before -i and -y there can be a consonant change.

8. Genitive plural. Most nouns have here the ending -ów. Only some nouns ending in -l, or a soft consonant can have the ending -i. Some nouns ending in c, cz, dz, ż, rz, sz can have the ending -y. Many Polish speakers hesitate here.

9. The rest of plural is simple :
Dative ends in -om
Accusative is like genitive in names of persons, and like nominative in other names
Instrumental ends in -ami
Locative ends in -ach
Vocative in plural is always like nominative.

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