Unlike other Polish cases, the locative case is never used without certain prepositions (a word that links the object of the sentence to its verb and subject). Practically speaking, this makes it quite easy for us to see when we should be using the locative, something that can be tricky with other cases. It is still important however, to learn the declensions (ending changes) that this case requires.
Noun Declensions in the Locative
Masculine singular nouns are treated the same as neuter singular nouns in the locative; with stems ending in hard consonants (bar -k, -g and -h) they take the ending -e, often accompanied by the letter -i- for consonant softening; kino [masculine] (Cinema) in the accusative, becomes kinie and stół [neuter] (table), becomes stole.
After soft consonants, and -k, -g and -h stem endings, the neuter and masculine singular nouns take the ending -u. In the locative pociąg [masculine] (train) is pociągu and lotnisko [neuter] (airport) is lotnisku.
For feminine singular nouns in the locative case, the ending -e is used after a hard consonant stem ending, and -i after a soft stem ending. One common example is Polska (Poland), which becomes Polsce in the locative. For soft femmenine endings, the locative case can look a little odd, take Anglia (England), for example, where the locative is Anglii.
For plurals the ending -ach is used for masculine, feminine and neuter nouns, and the endings -ich and -ych are used for plural adjectives, the former for any adjectives with stems ending in -g, -k or -i, and the latter for all other stems.
Adjective Declensions in the Locative
For singular masculine and neuter adjectives the ending is -im or -ym, while for feminine adjectives the locative ending is the same as the genitive, -ej.
Uses of the Locative
As the name suggests the locative case is largely used to indicate location. Consequently, as we have said, it lends itself to use with prepositions like w (in), po (along or over), na (on), and o (at a particular time), all of which help define the location of a sentence’s object.
So, we use the accusative when we are explaining where we live and where we are, because both of these require location.
To say where you are (in which country you are) you must use the preposition w, which means ‘in’: Jestem w Polsce (I am in Poland), is a good example, but remember the odd declensions which will leave some words with a double ‘I’ ending.
We also use the locative to indicate where things or people are. For this it’s worth knowing another useful Polish preposition, przy (by): Ona jest przy stole (She is by the table).
Using the prepositions na can also be useful to communicate locations, and again, the locative is used: Jestem na ulice (I am on the street).
We also ask questions about location using the accusative: ‘W którym domu mieszkasz?’ (which house do you live in?), and ‘na jakiej ulicy mieszkasz?’ (which street do you live on?), are two examples – the first masculine, the second feminine, each using a different locative preposition.
Overall, it’s relatively easy to determine when the locative case is required, and, despite looking quite daunting on paper, the declensions come easily with practice. The more you use those all-important prepositions, the more you will have to use the locative endings for verbs, and the more confident with those softened consonant endings, and grammatical exceptions you will become. You can even start practicing now, just look around the room and try to describe where things are.