Genitive Case in Polish (Dopełniacz)

Category: Polish Cases

Genitive Case in Polish Language: Introduction

The Genitive case is a very important and widely used case in the Polish language. Make sure you learn the Genitive case!

When to use Genitive case

  • To show possession/ownership (czyje to jest? - whose is this?). Similar to how (in English) we use 's (It is John's hat).
  • For 'parts' of things - To say things like "a piece of cake" or "an episode of a tv show"
  • For negation/to negate the verb. If you use a verb that uses the Accusative case (e.g. lubić/to like), but make it negative (e.g. nię lubię = I don't like), then you should use genitive.
  • When comparing things - for example after 'better than' lepsza od you use genitive
  • With certain prepositions (and with where from/where to? skąd/dokąd?)- see the list of prepositions that use genitive below!
  • With containers or measurements (e.g. 'a cup of coffee' (coffee would be in genitive), 'a litre of water' (water would be genitive)). For details - see our page on containers, quantities and measurements in Polish to understand how to use the genitive case here. In English we say 'xxx of xxx' (a cup of coffee). In Polish it uses the genitive case instead of the word 'of'
  • If there are two nouns in a row, the 2nd noun will (normally!) be in genitive.
  • Also see the list of verbs below

Polish prepositions that use the Genitive case

Polish English
bez without
blisko near or close to
dla for
do to
koło by, close to
naokoło around
naprzeciw in front of
naprzeciwko in front of or opposite
obok by, next to
od from
około about (or at around the same area)
oprócz except
podczas during
prócz except
spod from under
u at
według acccording to
wśród between or in between
z off, from] *
zamiast instead of
znad from above

* "z" (=from) is a tricky one! It can also mean 'with' (and is commonly used to mean that), but when it means 'with' it is used with the Instrumental case

Verbs that use the Genitive case

Polish English meaning
bać się to be afraid/be afraid of
brakować / braknąć to be insufficient or to be missing
bronić defend
chcieć to want
dokonać to achieve
domagać się to demand
dotknąć to touch
dotyczyć to apply to
doznawać to experience or to feel
nienawidzić to hate
oczekiwać to wait for
odmawiać to refuse
odmówić to refuse
potrzebować to need
pragnąć to desire
spróbować to try
szukać search/look for
słuchać listen
uczyć się to learn or study
unikać to avoid
używać use
użyć to use
wstydzić się to be embarrassed
wymagać to demand
zapomnieć forget
zazdrościć to envy
żałować to regret
życzyć to wish

Noun/adjective conjugation for Genitive

Singular genitive conjugation

  Alive Not alive
Masculine Adjective -ego
Noun -a -a, -u
Feminine Adjective -ej
Noun -y

sometimes -i after words that end in -k or -y
Neutral Adjective -ego
Noun -a

Plural genitive conjugation

(of course, there are exceptions but this is the general rule)

Adjectives (plural) genitive: always end in -ych (or -ich if the word ended in k or g)

Nouns (plural) genitive:

  • Masculine plural genitive nouns: most end in -ów
    • A few special cases or exceptions to this -ów rule:
      • words ending in sz, cz, dz, dż, ź, rz or c: -y
      • Words ending in ś, ć, ź, dź, ń, l, j: -i
      • If a masc word ends in -ek, then remove the 'e' before adding the -ów
  • Genitive Feminine nouns (plural):
    • Most feminine nouns in genitive case have no endings. E.g. gazeta (newspaper, singular, nominative) turns into gazet (newspapers, plural, genitive). Remove the final a. This is similar to the neutral genitive plural rules.
    • If it ends in -ka or -ta, then take off the final a then add an "e" before the k. For example sardynka changes to sardynek
    • If it doesn't end in -ka then just remove the final a (for example piwa changes to piw)
  • Genitive Neutral (rodzaj nijaki) nouns (plural)
    • Most neuter nouns just drop the final letter - e.g. piwo (beer, nominative, singular) turns into piw (beers, genitive, plural)
    • If it ends in -ko or -ło, then take off the final o and then add "e" before the k. (similar rule as the feminine noun)
    • If the word is based on a foreign word and ends with -um (e.g. muzeum) then it takes -ów ending (e.g. muzeów)
    • Words ending with -ę should be replaced with -ą then add t to the end of it. (e.g. zwierzę (animal, Nominative case) turns into zwierząt (animals, Genitive)

Useful references

Month names in Genitive

It is useful to know the month names in genitive case. Please see how to write dates in polish for a list of month names in the genitive case.

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