Polish Made Easy. Prepositions. Do and Na

Polish is choc full of prepositions.

Prepositions are words such as ‘at’, ‘to’, ‘in’ and so on. Do and na, are Polish prepositions and both used in the sense of to, as we do in English:

I am going to the shop.

There is only one version of to in English, and this doesn’t vary. So, ‘I go to the shop’ and ‘I go to the swimming pool’ both use the same preposition.

Polish uses a different preposition depending on the place to which you are going. This means that the first decision you must make is do I use na or do I use do?

Idę na basen ‘I go the swimming pool’.
Idę do domu ‘I go the house’.

Luckily, there is a rule to help you remember this, although with exceptions that we will come to later.

Big open places tend to use na. Small places tend to use do.

So, if you are going to a shop (a small place) the preposition do will be used.

Idę do sklepu ‘I go to the shop’.

So, if you are going to an airport (a big place) the preposition na will be used.

Idę na lotnisko ‘I go to the airport’.

Exceptions

There are of course exceptions. For example, poczta post office (not really big) uses the preposition na. But they are easy to remember if you associate the place with somewhere you know of, or have been frequently. Whenever you think of poczta, think of the largest post office that you have ever been too.

After a while na will stick. After all, post-offices are really huge aren’t they.

Cases

You can’t escape from cases if you want to speak Polish. Each preposition uses a special case, and the noun that follows the preposition must be put into the required case.

OK. Let’s start with the easier of these two prepositions.

Na + acc = to

Na uses the accusative case

The Accusative Case

Now the accusative case for inanimate objects, and this naturally includes buildings, swimming pools .. for masculine and neuter nouns is identical to the nominative.

The nominative case (the dictionary form) is the form of the word you find in the dictionary. It is the form that you learn. It is the form without any changes being made to the ending.

So, basen in the nominative and basen in the accusative are the same! Easy.

This leaves feminine nouns. In Polish, these mainly end in a. Change the a to ę and you have the accusative.

So, poczta in the nominative becomes pocztę in the accusative.

There are exceptions, but Polish Made Easy is about trying to be 90% grammatically correct with a few simple rules. The next 10 percent requires time, talking, practice and grammar books.

Once you know that you need to use the preposition na with a word. You are as we say ‘sorted’.

Idę na uniwersytet. Idę na basen. Idę na lotnisko.

Now, let us move on to do, which requires the genitive.

Do + gen = to

The Genitive Case

I will look at the genitive properly later, but for now do the following which covers many feminine and neuter words:-

If a words ends with an a in the nominative, change the a to a y.

If a words ends with an o in the nominative, change the o to an a.

Otherwise add a u to the nominative or dictionary form.

I’d like to explain the logic I’ve used here …

… for anyone who knows how the Polish genitve works, or who is interested in why this will give you a correct ending in 80 percent of the time. BTW 80 percent is a guess, it could be 50 percent or 90 percent. I have no idea. But when you are starting, this is more than you would achieve otherwise. Honestly, some of the grammar rules are so arcane it freaks me.

There are spelling rules in Polish which prevent a y from following a k or g. So the genitive of Polska is Polski and not Polsky, but essentially (to us English) they have the same sound. If you are speaking, no-one is going to know whether you mentally spell the word with a y or i.

Masculine words ending in a consonant, either have u or a added to the end, and you have to learn this! However, many ‘masculine’ common places that you are going to go to such as the park or pub, take u in the genitive.

Yes, there are also a lot of exceptions, but this is just to get you started!

Peace,

MF

Polish Made Easy. An Introduction

As anyone who reads this blog will know, I have been learning Polish this year and my progress has been slow. Polish is a complicated language with a complicated grammar, that you need to get to grips with to talk without sounding like

a total numpty or complete muppet.

For the non-native English speakers among you the words ‘numpty’ and ‘muppet’ can be used to describe someone who is doing something rather badly.

It is fine to talk like a numpty, and that is how we all start, but you don’t want to do it for ever.

Grammar is considered by many to be pointless, boring, unhelpful and not to be emphasised. It is not fashionable to talk about it. Grammar is like an embarrassing relative (and I have a few). They are there, but no-one really wants to talk about them too much. And if they do, it is in hushed whispers, on dark nights, around dying embers etc.

For a language such as Polish (and I imagine all the slavic languages), grammar is

very important!

Without learning grammar, you can not construct accurate sentences.

Spanish or Italian (for example) are more forgiving, and I think it is possible to absorb the grammar for these languages without forcing it.

So this brings up a dilemma.

Grammar books tend to overcomplicate, with exceptions that can only be learnt by practice and exposure to the language, and but yet contain too much information. And yet, it is important to learn enough grammar so that you can understand how to make (largely) correct sentences, and to provide a solid foundation to speed up learning.

What I have decided to do, partly to help with my own understanding of Polish, is to write a series of Blog posts on this topic called Polish Made Easy.

These will illustrate the most essential chunks of Polish grammar, along with ways to remember them.

As I understand them!

Everyone’s an expert. And that includes me.

Right?

Peace,

MF