Polish/More on nouns - genders

Depending on the classification chosen, there are either three or five genders in Polish:

  • masculine (męski):
    • masculine personal (męski osobowy)
    • masculine animate (męski nieosobowy żywotny)
    • masculine inanimate (męski nieosobowy nieżywotny)
  • feminine (żeński)
  • neuter (nijaki)

In plural męskoosobowy (masculine-personal) and niemęskoosobowy (non-masculine-personal) are used for masculine personal and the remaining ones respectively.

Unlike German, and more like Italian, it is usually possible to find out gender by looking at the noun ending and the meaning of the noun.

  • Nouns that end in -a are usually feminine.
    • Exceptions include words that end in -ista which mean followers of some ideology (like komunista, communist) - they are person-masculine
    • And words that end in -awca/-owca and describe professions (like sprzedawca, salesman; kierowca, driver) that are also person-masculine
    • One particularly annoying word is "mężczyzna" which means adult male person - obviously person-masculine.
    • Some other masculine words, like "tata" (dad), "poeta" (poet), "sędzia" (judge).
    • Some words that end in a consonant are feminine, eg. gałąź (branch), jesień (autumn), łódź (boat or a Polish city), myśl (thought), noc (night), podróż (journey), pomoc (help), postać (figure), północ (north and midnight), rzecz (thing), sól (salt), twarz (face), and wieś (countryside).
    • Their declension is quite similar to declension of feminine nouns that end in "-a".
  • Nouns that end in -ść are usually feminine.
    • They are often abstract nouns, like miłość (love, from adjective miły, nice, old Polish "loved") and wysokość (height, from adjective wysoki, high)
  • Nouns that end in -o, -e, or -um are usually neuter.
    • Examples: dziecko (child), zawiniątko (package), jedzenie (food), wyjście (departure, exit, solution), zwierzę (animal), muzeum (museum). NOTE: Some nouns that end in -e are plural and require plural verbs, eg. grabie (rake), Katowice, nożyce (scissors), skrzypce (violin), spodnie (pants), and szczypce (pliers).
  • Most other nouns that end in a consonant are masculine, and their exact gender depends on their meaning. The most usual exceptions are nouns that are animate-masculine which aren't really animate, especially in the spoken language.
  • Nouns that end in -i or -u in nominative singular are rare and are mostly of foreign origin. Native Polish words ending in -i are feminine, like gospodyni (hostess or farmer's wife) or pani (lady). NOTE: Some nouns that end in -i are plural and require plural verbs, eg. drzwi (door), Helsinki, nożyczki (scissors), and obcęgi (tongs).

Now some examples:

Gender Meaning Nominative Accusative
Feminine Coffee Kawa Kawę
Neuter Milk Mleko Mleko
Person-masculine Adam (male name) Adam Adama
Animate-masculine Cat Kot Kota
Inanimate-masculine Computer Komputer Komputer
  • "Adam pije kawę" - Adam drinks coffee
  • "Kasia widzi Adama" - Kasia sees Adam
  • "Kot pije mleko" - A cat drinks milk
  • "Adam widzi kota" - Adam sees a cat
  • "Adam ma komputer" - Adam has a computer

< Polish pronunciation < ^ Polish ^