07 października 2010

Mini Breakthrough


I am starting to realise a mini-breakthrough in my understanding of cases. I've been testing out basic sentences with my interlocutor in the past few days . . . testing getting the cases right in simple examples. It's just a different way of thinking of sentence construction. I'm far from having them all figured out.

Successful examples from the morning (feel free to comment whether they are successful or not!):
  • Mam lekcje z Piotrem. (Piotr + Instrumental/Narzędnik)
    • I have a lesson with Piotr.
  • Lubię barszcz. (barszcz + Accusative/Biernik - in this example there is no change in the suffix)
    • I like barszcz.
  • Zjadłem ciasto z lodem lodami. (lody + Instrumantal/Narzędnik)
    • I ate cake with ice cream.
    • My interlocutor tells me that ice cream is always plural, unless it comes on a stick. If I ate cake and ice cream on a stick, I am apparently correct in saying 'zjadłem ciasto z lodem.'
  • To jest porftel Kolina. (Kolin + Genitive/Dopełniacz)
    • It is Kolin's wallet.
Have I got it right? I know there are a thousand variations in the rules, but I need to start with a few examples that work. I feel like I'm starting to get someplace with this and now I understand why my teacher is making me learn them. Soon, I should write a chart of the various case endings, because I can't remember them all at once just yet.

To make it more complicated, each case requires a different suffix (or sometimes none at all) depending on the noun's gender (male, female, or neuter), status (virile, non-virile), whether it is singular or plural, and on the spelling/sound of the nominative form. There are, of course, exceptions and irregularities. For example, masculine singular nouns almost always end with '-owi' in the Dative/Celownik, except for the following words:
  • ojciec --> ojcu (father)
  • pan --> panu (gentleman, man)
  • chłop --> chłopu (peasant, fellow)
  • brat --> bratu (brother)
  • pies --> psu (dog)
  • kot --> kotu (cat)
  • lew --> lwu (lion)
  • orzeł --> orłu (eagle)
  • świat --> światu (world)
  • Bóg --> Bogu (God)
  • diabeł --> diabłu (devil)
As with exceptions in English grammar, I'm always curious to define what possible similarities the exceptions have. Sometimes you can tease a pattern out of the exceptions . . . just enough to make you think you have it figured out. I hope that after a certain period of practice, applying the cases properly can become a matter of intuition, because I'm not really keen on remembering all these rules in detail. I often tell my English students that there are no rules . . . there are only groups of exceptions!

4 komentarze:

  1. I guess I've never seen 'a cake with ice cream'. oO

  2. If you have never had a birthday cake with ice cream then I feel bad for you! :) More likely it would be pie (apple) but cake is possible.

  3. Hi, rather you than me with this learning from scratch:)
    However,I recommend this chap's course as a primer. Very instructive and worth going back to again and again. I've had occasion to consult with him on gadu gadu (banter regarding the double negative - special case in Polish grammar of negative pronoun - zaimek) and found him most patient and helpful. http://grzegorj.w.interia.pl/kurs/0.html. He also has a grammar section which is best taken in the order provided though there are gaps as some of it is still under construction.

  4. Thanks a lot adthelad. I think I may have seen this long long ago but had forgotten it. It will be added to my list of resources.


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