The Polish Instrumental case

The instrumental case is widely used in Polish in different situations and for different purposes, such as describing nationality, means of transport and professions.

Forming the insturmental. The 'general' rule

Male and neuter singular nouns end with em and feminine nouns end with ą in the instrumental. This rule is sufficient to recognise most instrumental singular endings.

Some examples of the instrumental using food words:

lemon (feminine noun) cytrina cytriną
sugar (masculine nouns) cukier cukrem
butter (neuter noun) masło masłem

The Instrumental case with prepositions

The preposition Z followed by the instrumental means 'with' and is shown in more detail here.

Przed, nad and pod are also followed by the instrumental.

The Instrumental case with travel

The instrumental case is also used when travelling by something.

The instrumental endings follow the same rules as above so em is added onto masculine nouns and ą onto feminine nouns, and here are some examples.

I travel by trainPodrózuję pociągiem
I travel by carPodrózuję samochodem
I travel by helicopterPodrózuję helikopterem
I travel by boatPodrózuję łodzią
I travel by taxiPodrózuję taksówką
I travel by tramPodrózuję tramwajem

Although, łodz 'boat' looks like a masculine noun, it is in fact feminine which is why it is łodzią in the instrumental.

If you are talking about the mode of transport then use latać when flying, pływać when on water and jezdzić for anything else.

So latam helikopterem 'I fly by helicpoter' , jeżdżę samochodem 'I go by car' and pływam statekiem 'I go by ship'.

The Instrumental case with professions

The instrumental is used to describe what someone does (as a job).

I am a waiter (man speaking)Jestem kelnerem
I am poet (woman speaking)Jestem poetką
I am a teacher (man speaking)Jestem nauczycielem
I am a teacher (woman speaking)Jestem nauczycielką
I am a student (man speaking)Jestem studentem
I am a student (woman speaking)Jestem studentką

Example sentences

The Instrumental case with nationalities

The instrumental is used to say 'I am English', 'I am Welsh' and so on.

I am English (man speaking)Jestem anglikiem
I am English (woman speaking)Jestem angielką
He is FrenchOn jest Francuzem
She is FrenchOna jest Francuzką

Example sentences