Polish grammar made easy. Genitive. Singular. Nouns

Last night I went to my Polish evening class, which is tends to be light on grammar and big on talking, but last night we discussed the genitive case for singular Polish nouns.

I haven’t found many easy Polish grammar resources on the internet, and the ones I have come across have been too complicated , so here is what I learnt.

It is the genitive singular (nouns) made easy.

Polish has three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter. The genitive is different depending on the gender of the noun being used. Now, this is difficult to learn and remember so  for each gender you learn a sample sentence illustrating how it is formed.

Negation, in Polish, requires the genitive, and so each of these sample sentences will need the genitive. There are three genders, three nouns and three example sentences.

Let us start with the feminine. Kawa is the word for coffee. It is feminine.  The genitive of kawa is kawy.

Ja nie lubię kawy.  ‘I don’t like coffee’.

And now the neuter. Mleko ‘milk’ is a neuter word. The genitive of mleko is mleka.

Ja nie lubię mleka.

And now the masculine. Brat ‘brother’ is masculine.

Ja nie lubię brata.

So, feminine nouns change the ‘a‘ to ‘y‘, masculine nouns ending in a consonant  add an ‘a‘ and neuter nouns change the ‘o‘ to ‘a‘.

This is a good start (apparently) with one caveat. Masculine nouns ending in a consonant (e.g. brat) will either add an ‘a‘ or … ‘u‘. This wasn’t mentioned in our class, and I can only assume that we were being protected by our teacher from overload, and that more information will be forthcoming next week. I’ll keep you posted.

Unfortunately, you have to learn the correct ending as it is not possible to guess predict in advance which it will be. E.g. The genitive of the noun adres is adresu.

And some are completely irregular.

Nevertheless this is a good start.

‘ve added this mainly so that when I loose the sheet of paper I scrawled my notes on I still have somewhere to refer back to. As do you, dear reader who is learning Polish 😉



How hard is Polish to learn?

While idly surfing the internet for Polish related links I came across a post with a title along the lines of ‘why Polish is easy to learn’. The gist was that Polish was just as easy to learn as any other language. Easy used in the sense of time taken.

Hmmm. The FSI have classified languages into groups according to the time needed to learn them, and this can be found (as always) in a rather dry wiki entry. The gist is that out of four groups Polish is positioned within the third category. i.e. it takes significantly more time to learn Polish than say Italian. It is not harder but it takes longer.

I’m sure that the FSI know their onions, but how about a random and impartial survey of one person trying to learn Polish and a language like … Italian!?

I’ve been learning the days of the week in Italian and Polish.

Let’s compare and contrast.

I wanted to learn the days of the week in both languages and also how to say ‘on Monday’ and so on. (I pretty much knew the Italian anyway).

Firstly, the days of the week in Italian are lunedi, martedì, mercoledì, giovedì, venerdì, sabato, domenica.

To say ‘on Tuesday’ or ‘on Tuesdays’, ‘martedì’ or ‘di martedì is used.  (In Spanish this is ‘ los martes’ and ‘el martes’.   A similar sort of vibe).

So for example, ‘On Friday we needed to bring our cat to the vet’ would be something like ‘Venerdì abbiamo bisongo di portare il nostro gatto dal veterinario’.  If anyone reading this could correct this sentence, that would be peachy.

As it happens, it was a simple case of an ingrowing claw. Easy to resolve. However, as anyone who has had to stuff an angry cat into a catbox will know, a trip to the vet is a harrowing and time consuming experience for all concerned. As is trying to coax an angry cat from under the bed. This is the kind of thing I deal with in my spare time … And this particular moggy is calm compared with another cat of ours (sadly now in the great cattery in the sky). Gardening gloves and teams were needed to take him the the vet.

Now, onto Polish. The Polish days of the week are :

poniedziałek, wtorek, šroda, czwartek, piątek, sobota, niedziela.

So far. So good.

But if you want to say ‘on such and such a day’ some of the word endings change giving:

w poniedziałek, w wtorek, w šrode, w czwartek, w piątek, w sobote, w niedziele.

And if you want to say ‘see you on such and such a day’, the endings change again. I haven’t learn ‘t these yet, but as an illustration ‘see you on Sunday’ (or c u on Sunday as my son might write) becomes:

‘do niedzieli’.

Now that this quick analysis is over, I think I’m fully equipped to answer the question of whether  Polish is indeed more difficult to learn than Italian. And I would say:

Probably not.

But is it more time-consuming to learn??

I should coco. Certainly for me. Interesting. Yes! Fun. Yes! Time consuming. YES!


Moon Face.


I love living in the UK. Yes I do!

You just couldn’t make this up.

Our government (here in the UK) are considering running negative ad campaigns in Bulgaria and Romania to discourage immigration into the UK.

However, if we refer to  the guide to Britishness (written by the government), for foreigners who would be citizens, it starts with ‘Britain is a fantastic place to live: a modern thriving society’.

Well, which is it? A fantastic place to live or complete dump?

If you are planning to take the citizenship test,  and are not buying into the UK being a rainy hellhole, then you better peruse the book carefully.

I tried the test. I thought that having been born in London and lived here all my life I would cruise through without a problem.

I tried a sample of the test on the guardian website and scored 7 out of ten. Among other things, I thought the Queen was older than she was and accordingly that the Jubilee celebrated 60 rather than 50 years. OK, I  already have a passport so being interested in the monarchy isn’t that important to me. But to you, dear reader, who is attempting the test, it could be the difference between citizenship or not. Although, if this negative add campaign takes off, you might not want to become one.

So despite having  lived here all my life, and absorbed the culture as it were,  and ‘what it means to be british’ , I still appear know only seventy percent of the answers.

FWIW. I love living in the UK.  I don’t like the general whinging that goes on about what a bad country it is, how social fabric is unravelling, neighbours not talking, violence increasing and the constant rain. It is a fantastic place to live. I say Bună and Здравейте to the neighbours and all is well.  (That was a little joke, my neighbours are Polish so I say Cześć).

The UK is superb, and I know it is not traditional to say it, but I feel lucky to live here, and proud of my country.  We are only let down by the people in charge. I didn’t vote for them, and we get the opportunity change them every five years.

BTW If rain is a problem for you, or you like your summers to be warm, than I’d consider somewhere with a more mediterranean vibe. Personally, I’m thinking of building an ark.

And the point of this post is? Well, yes I like the UK (hence the title), but there is is also a language related theme to this. It is distinctly possible that there may be more Romanian and Bulgarian spoken here over the next few years, and so what better time to expand on the Bulgarian and Romanian sections of this site.

I would like to add mini-courses on both languages, which would be  something of a new departure for SL which is more about phrases for travelling.

But first, Tagalog or maybe Malay, while I think about the best approach …



My Italian Challenge. A1 to B1. 2013

A1 to B1

After several years of picking up bits of Italian here and there, but never putting enough time and effort into the language to really improve, this  will be the year that I will improve substantially.

With this in mind, today  I had my first Italian lesson, with a native speaker, a teacher from italki. My level was judged to be at the end of A1 (A full definition of which can be found here), but in essence is:-

“Users can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. They can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.”

This seemed a fair enough evaluation to me. I get around in Italian comfortably enough in the most basic sense but struggle if I have to express more than the simplest ideas. So while I don’t have any particular inhibition in attempting to speak Italian, I really can’t.

My aim is to reach a comfortable B1 in the spoken language by the end of the year.  According to the CEFR wiki entry this includes: being able to describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans. Great, I like to talk and this would be peachy.



My first post. Languages, programming, dogs and musings.

This is my first post (the clue being in the title), or more accurately my first post on a blog hosted on Surfacelanguages.com.

As this is my first post, I feel compelled to set out what this blog is about. Obviously languages. A blog attached to SL would have to have some language related component. I find languages interesting.

I also find programming interesting. And so it was natural, after numerous false starts to create a language learning website, and also a place where I chart my own language learning journey, as well as general witterings about life, programming and so on.

Programming. Surface languages is powered by Ruby on rails, and this blog by word press. At some point, I will describe the tedious process of making them play nicely together, and adventures with my Raspberry Pi.

And dogs. I have a dog. Every morning, come rain or shine, we walk together and while I talk (generally when no-one can see me), he chases sticks, and that way I put my thoughts in order.

Musings. Anything else that springs to mind. Language related or otherwise.