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’.
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.
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!