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Masculine, Feminine to Neuter or Sexy Polish Grammar



Don't get too excited - this only refers to the fact that in Polish all nouns have grammatical gender and so do their adjectives. Men and boys and male names are masculine, as are all masculine animals such as ram and stallion. Conversely women, girls, female names and female animals such as mare and hen are female. Nothing surprising in that but every noun that ends in the letter - a - is feminine. Because of this Maria and kobieta (woman) and dziewczyna (girl) and ryba (fish) and woda (water) are feminine. There are even a few seemingly masculine words, such as Fatherland –Ojczyzna the endings of which cause to be grammatically feminine. Certain abstract concepts are feminine because they end in –ość- for instance mądrość.


Sexy Polish Grammar

Nouns, which end in consonants are masculine, therefore the name Tomasz is masculine as is its owner! But we can move to the interesting situation where widelec (fork) is masculine, whereas łyżka (spoon) is feminine. The last letter of the first person singular defines the gender, but it is not as simple as that because there is also the grammatical neuter. As a generalisation nouns that end in – o - tend to be neuter.


With the nouns come adjectives, normally the adjective is before the noun. Even if the adjective comes from a proper noun or name such as Poznanian, it is spelt without a capital letter. The adjective must agree with the noun, therefore it takes on the sexual orientation of the noun. Both the adjective and the noun decline. This is tedious because one actually has to learn it; fortunately there are relatively few irregularities. The benefit of attaching indicators of role or function to the adjective and noun is that sequential syntax becomes unnecessary. This soon becomes self-evident when reading literary Polish; it also applies to official administrative Polish documents but normally from those very little is evident! The position in the sentence does not necessarily attach grammatical significance or priority. Thus the English sentence – The mouse eats the cheese – can in Polish be written – the cheese eats the mouse – because the endings of the Polish words for mouse and cheese make it quite plain, which is the subject and which the object.


Whether it is an advantage or not is difficult to say, however there are actually fewer nouns in Polish than English. There are fewer names to learn and these names have significantly wider meanings than their English equivalents. When discussing something technical, one finds that the noun is insufficiently specific so one has to add an adjective. Later on the student notices that a substantial proportion of technical and financial names do not appear to be indigenously Polish. This is probably because during the nineteenth century technology and finance were largely administered by German speakers. The Polish language is still much purer than most, but first there was Latin and after the German a sprinkling of French, English words now enter the language. This actually makes speaking Polish more interesting.




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