Polish noun genders: how to recognise and learn them
Polish noun genders are something that you may be confused about but fear not – I’m about to give you an easy-to-digest introduction to what Polish noun genders are all about!
What’s a noun gender?
A noun gender is a quality of a noun (such as an object or a person, for example) that denotes whether it’s feminine, masculine or neutral.
I know this sounds weird when you’re a native English speaker and haven’t learned a language that has genders before…
Let’s start with the obvious ones:
The word ‘woman’ in Polish (kobieta) is feminine, and the word ‘boy’ (chłopiec) is masculine. That’s easy to remember, isn’t it?
The tricky thing is that objects have genders too. A ‘car’ (samochód), for example, is masculine and ‘tea’ (herbata) is feminine. An ‘egg’ (jajko) is neither feminine nor masculine – it’s neuter.
Is there any logic to this?
Yes – luckily, there is some logic to it, which I’m going to explain below.
Before I move on, though…
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So, how can I recognise what gender a noun is?
It’s easier than you think. There are, of course, some exceptions to this rule, but in the vast, vast majority of cases, you can tell a noun’s gender by the last letter of that word.
Feminine noun gender in Polish
Nouns which are feminine will normally end with the letter A: herbata (tea), kawa (coffee), mama (mum).
Neuter noun gender in Polish
Nouns which are neuter will normally end with the letter O: dziecko (child), oko (eye), piwo (beer).
Masculine noun gender in Polish
Nouns which end with letters other than A and O will normally be masculine: dom (house), kot (cat), autobus (bus).
Why do I need to know what gender a noun is?
If you’re not that much into grammar, you might be wondering why on earth you would need to know the grammatical gender of a noun.
Well, the answer is simple.
You need to know this to be able to form sentences correctly. The gender of a noun you’re using will affect the endings of other words in that sentence. Let me give you an example.
To say ‘This is a big house’, you will say:
To jest duży dom.
But, if you’re talking about a sofa (kanapa), you will say:
To jest duża kanapa.
Can you see the difference?
The word ‘big’ (duży/duża) changes depending on the gender of the noun (‘house’ is masculine and ‘sofa’ is feminine).
How to learn Polish noun genders?
Learning Polish noun genders doesn’t have to be seen as an overwhelming task because it’s actually quite logical, unlike in other languages.
For example, in French, there’s no easy way to tell what gender a noun is – they all end in different letters and there’s no one rule that says that if a word looks a certain way it will be masculine or feminine.
And you thought Polish was difficult to learn!
If ever you come across a noun which is an exception and doesn’t follow the rules I explained above, you can use my tips from this article on how to memorise noun genders in other languages, to memorise those exceptions.
Some exceptions include:
Tata (dad) and poeta (poet) are masculine despite the A at the end.
Moc (power) and sieć (net) are feminine despite not having an A at the end.
So, this is it – Polish noun genders in a nutshell! I hope you’ve found it useful!
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Take care Polish learners!